Oct 202018

Today is the birthday (1859) of John Dewey, a US philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with the philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the fathers of functional psychology. Dewey was a well-known public intellectual in his day, he was also a major voice of progressive education and liberalism. Although Dewey is known best for his publications about education, he also wrote about many other topics, including epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, art, logic, social theory, and ethics. To try to keep this post under control I’ll speak to his philosophy of education only. Even so, things may get lengthy.

Dewey’s educational theories were presented in My Pedagogic Creed (1897), The School and Society (1900), The Child and the Curriculum (1902), Democracy and Education (1916), Schools of To-morrow (c.1915) with Evelyn Dewey, and Experience and Education (1938). Several themes recur throughout these writings. Dewey continually argues that education and learning are social and interactive processes, and thus the school itself is a social institution through which social reform can and should take place. In addition, he believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.

The ideas of democracy and social reform are continually discussed in Dewey’s writings on education. Dewey makes a strong case for the importance of education not only as a place to gain content knowledge, but also as a place to learn how to live. In his eyes, education should not revolve around the acquisition of a pre-determined set of skills, but rather the realization of one’s full potential and the ability to use those skills for the greater good. In addition to helping students realize their full potential, Dewey goes on to suggest that education and schooling are instrumental in creating social change and reform.

In addition to his ideas regarding what education is and what effect it should have on society, Dewey also had specific notions regarding how education should take place within the classroom. In The Child and the Curriculum (1902), Dewey discusses two major conflicting schools of thought regarding educational pedagogy. The first is centered on the curriculum and focuses almost solely on the subject matter to be taught. Dewey argues that the major flaw in this methodology is the inactivity of the student; within this particular framework, “the child is simply the immature being who is to be matured; he is the superficial being who is to be deepened.” He argues that in order for education to be most effective, content must be presented in a way that allows the student to relate the information to prior experiences, thus deepening the connection with this new knowledge.

At the same time, Dewey was alarmed by many of the “child-centered” excesses of educational-school pedagogues who claimed to be his followers, and he argued that too much reliance on the child could be equally detrimental to the learning process. According to Dewey, the potential flaw in this line of thinking is that it minimizes the importance of the content as well as the role of the teacher. Dewey advocated for an educational structure that strikes a balance between delivering knowledge while also taking into account the interests and experiences of the student. Dewey became one of the most famous proponents of hands-on learning or experiential education, which is related to, but not synonymous with experiential learning. He argued that “if knowledge comes from the impressions made upon us by natural objects, it is impossible to procure knowledge without the use of objects which impress the mind”

In The School and Society and Democracy of Education, Dewey claims that rather than preparing citizens for ethical participation in society, schools cultivate passive pupils via insistence upon mastery of facts and disciplining of bodies. Rather than preparing students to be reflective, autonomous and ethical beings capable of arriving at social truths through critical and intersubjective discourse, schools prepare students for docile compliance with authoritarian work and political structures, discourage the pursuit of individual and communal inquiry, and perceive higher learning as a monopoly of the institution of education. For Dewey and his philosophical followers, education stifles individual autonomy when learners are taught that knowledge is transmitted in one direction, from the expert to the learner. Dewey not only re-imagined the way that the learning process should take place, but also the role that the teacher should play within that process. Dewey’s qualifications for being a teacher were, a natural love for working with young children, a natural propensity to inquire about the subjects, methods and other social issues related to the profession, and a desire to share this acquired knowledge with others, and not a set of outwardly displayed mechanical skills.

For many, education’s purpose is to train students for work by providing the student with a limited set of skills and information to do a particular job. As Dewey notes, this limited vocational view is also applied to teacher training schools who attempt to quickly produce proficient and practical teachers with a limited set of instructional and discipline skills needed to meet the needs of the employer and demands of the workforce. For Dewey, the school and the classroom teacher, as a workforce and provider of a social service, have a unique responsibility to produce psychological and social goods that will lead to both present and future social progress.

The best indicator of teacher quality, according to Dewey, is the ability to watch and respond to the movement of the mind with keen awareness of the signs and quality of the responses he or her students exhibit with regard to the subject-matter presented. As Dewey notes, “I have often been asked how it was that some teachers who have never studied the art of teaching are still extraordinarily good teachers. The explanation is simple. They have a quick, sure and unflagging sympathy with the operations and process of the minds they are in contact with. Their own minds move in harmony with those of others, appreciating their difficulties, entering into their problems, sharing their intellectual victories.” Such a teacher is genuinely aware of the complexities of this mind to mind transfer, and has the intellectual fortitude to identify the successes and failures of this process, as well as how to appropriately reproduce or correct it in the future.

As well as his very active and direct involvement in setting up educational institutions such as the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (1896) and The New School for Social Research (1919), many of Dewey’s ideas influenced the founding of Bennington College and Goddard College in Vermont, where he served on the Board of Trustees.

Dewey’s works and philosophy also held great influence in the creation of the short-lived Black Mountain College in North Carolina, an experimental college focused on interdisciplinary study, and whose faculty included Buckminster Fuller, Willem de Kooning, Charles Olson, Franz Kline, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Paul Goodman, among others. Black Mountain College was the locus of the “Black Mountain Poets” a group of avant-garde poets closely linked with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance.

This site https://learn.uvm.edu/program/john-dewey-kitchen-institute/ focuses on the John Dewey Kitchen Institute at the University of Vermont, Dewey’s alma mater, and also where he is buried. Dewey thought that cooking was a useful arena for his educational principals, less because it engaged students in practical activities, and more because cooking can spark curiosity, inquiry, and creativity if approached in the right way. At this point you might want to glance at the Chameleon Cook tab here if you have not already. My chameleon cooking is somewhat like Dewey’s idea of education. If you just take a recipe, learn it, and then repeat it mechanically you have learned nothing. If you take a recipe and begin to ask questions, you are more in line with Dewey: practice leads to inquiry via curiosity. “What would happen if I do it this way?” “Is this ingredient essential?” etc. etc. So . . . let’s take eggs Benedict. Classic eggs Benedict has four layers: toasted muffin, ham, poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce.  What would happen if you replaced the muffin with toast, or the ham with bacon, or the poached egg with a fried egg, or the Hollandaise with Béchamel?  Those are all very straightforward changes, but they get the process started. Get more radical, replace the ham with poached spinach. Those of you who know your cooking will know that all of these substitutions have been done before and are classic dishes in their own right. How are you going to be original? How about scrambled egg instead of poached? Really funky might involve switching out everything, such as, scrambled egg on fried zucchini, over a crumpet, with cheese sauce. Perhaps not. You figure out what works for you.

Oct 192018

Today is the birthday (1873) of John Barton “Bart” King, a US cricketer, active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who was regarded as the best US all rounder of his day. You might think that being the best at cricket in the US is not saying much, but he played in first class cricket against English and Australian teams and was a key player in defeating them.  Don Bradman called him “America’s greatest cricketing son” and he was made an honorary member of the MCC.

King was born in Philadelphia in 1873. Early in his life, he worked in the linen trade in his family business, but when it was clear that he was cut out for cricket, which, at the time, was played in the US by men who had independent means and could devote themselves wholly to the sport, his teammates set him up in a sinecure selling insurance.

King came to cricket only after first playing baseball. He began to play club cricket at Tioga Cricket Club in 1888, aged 15, starting out as a batsman. Tioga was one of the lesser Philadelphia cricket clubs. King played his first recorded match for the club in 1889, when he was tried as a bowler due to his physique (he was 6’1”). He took 37 wickets for 99 runs for the club in the 1889 cricket season. King played for Tioga until 1896, when he joined Belmont Cricket Club, the premier team in the US.

In 1893, the Australian team stopped by Philadelphia on its way home from a tour of England. Australia fielded a strong side, but the team was tired after a long tour and trip. In spite of this fatigue, the Australians chose to face the full strength of the Gentlemen of Philadelphia in a three-day match starting September 29th. On a small ground at Belmont, the September grass was coarse. It had been rolled so that the ball moved very quickly across the ground. The Australian side, fielding first, dropped many catches and could not cope with the short boundary, allowing the Philadelphians to reach a total of 525 runs. King came in to bat last, at number 11, making 36 runs. The leading Australian bowlers, Hugh Trumble and George Giffen, took 2 for 104 and 0 for 114 respectively. When the Australians came to bat, they hoped that they would, by now, have recovered from their tiring journey, but ran into problems when dealing with Bart King’s developing swing bowling. The side was all out for 199, with King taking 5 wickets for 78 runs. The Australians followed on and were all out again for 268, allowing the Gentlemen of Philadelphia to win by an innings and 68 runs.

The cricket world was stunned that a single US city could turn out a side capable of beating the full strength of Australia. The Australians won the return match on October 6th by six wickets, but the Australian captain, Jack Blackham, said to the Americans, “You have better players here than we have been led to believe. They class with England’s best.”

King joined the US cricket team’s tour of England in 1897. The tour was very ambitious, and was arranged mainly for educational purposes: few on the US side expected to win many matches. Previous tours had tended to involve amateur English sides with a low level of competition. In 1897, the tour started on June 7th at Oxford, ending in late July at The Oval almost 2 months later. The schedule included fifteen matches against all of the top county cricket teams, the Oxford and Cambridge University teams, the Marylebone Cricket Club, and two other sides, though only a few of the counties thought it worthwhile to put their best elevens on the field.

While the tour initially aroused some curiosity, many English fans lost interest until Bart King and the Philadelphians met the full Sussex team at Brighton on June 17th. King demonstrated his batting ability in the first innings with a fourth-wicket stand of 107 with John Lester. He then took 7 wickets for 13 runs, and Philadelphia dismissed Sussex for 46 in less than an hour. King took 6 for 102 in Sussex’s second innings, helping the Philadelphians to victory by 8 wickets.

Despite the excitement surrounding King’s performance, the Americans did not fare well overall, and the results may have been worse than hoped for by the tour’s promoters. Philadelphia won only two of their fifteen matches, losing nine and earning a draw in the remaining four. After their win against Sussex, the only other win of the tour came against Warwickshire. During this match, King took 5 for 95 and 7 for 72 and scored 46 runs. According to Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, King proved himself to be the best bowler on the US side and had to do much of the work. He bowled 300 overs, more than anyone else in the team, taking 72 wickets with a bowling average of a little over 24 runs. In addition to his bowling, King scored 441 runs as a batsman at a batting average of just over 20.

Following the 1897 tour, many English counties were interested in securing King’s services. It was thought that he would not play as a professional, so alternative means of remuneration had to be found: one county reportedly offered to arrange a marriage with a widow who had an income of £7000 per year. In the end, King returned to the United States.

The Philadelphian team returned to England in 1903. This proved to be King’s most successful tour, particularly his performances in the matches against Lancashire and Surrey. King played in 13 of the 15 matches on the tour, missing two with a strained side. In his first match, against Cambridge University, he took 5 for 136 and 4 for 28. He followed that with 8 for 39 in the first innings against Oxford University, though the match was eventually abandoned as a draw due to rain. In his next match, against Gloucestershire, he took 2 for 26 in the first innings but did not bowl in the second. He also took 7 for 51 and 2 for 28 against a strong MCC side at Lord’s. Then came the Lancashire match at Old Trafford. In Lancashire’s first innings, King bowled 27 overs and took 5 wickets for 46 runs. The Philadelphians passed Lancashire’s first innings score, but their lead was quickly overtaken in Lancashire’s second innings. With the wind strong over King’s left shoulder, the scene was set for him to dominate the opposition. In his first over after the lunch break on day two of the match, he yorked one of Lancashire’s opening batsmen and his replacement with successive balls. He clean bowled two more batsmen in his second over, and bowled a stump out of the ground in the third. In 3 overs, he had taken 5 wickets for 7 runs. After this performance, King had to be rested in the field. One batsman was run out before King returned to take 4 more wickets, ending the innings with 9 for 62. The Philadelphians won next morning by nine wickets.

Against Surrey on August 6, King was overpowering again. It was in this match that King gave what Barker called his finest first-class performance ever. Batting first, he scored 98 runs in the Philadelphian’s first innings before being run out, and he then took 3 for 89 in Surrey’s reply. In the second innings, he made 113 not out and then took 3 for 98. Surrey lost the match by 110 runs. Apparently, King was so exhausted after his performance that he fell asleep during a speech by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Alverstone at a banquet after the match.

King played in his last two international matches in 1912, against Australia. His performances were of the highest quality, given that he was nearly 40. In the first match, he took 9 wickets for 78 runs to help Philadelphia win by 2 runs; in the second, Australia won by 45 runs despite him taking 8 for 74.

King died at a nursing home in his native Philadelphia in 1965, two days short of his 92nd birthday. The Times of London ran an obituary for him, which quoted Plum Warner as saying that: “Had he been an Englishman or an Australian, he would have been even more famous than he was.”

Though King focused on bowling throughout his career, he was also a very fine batsman. In 1905, he established a North American record batting record by scoring 315 at the Germantown Cricket Club. The following year, he scored 344 not out for Belmont against the Merion Cricket Club, setting a North American batting record which will almost certainly never be beaten. He scored 39 centuries in his North American career, and he topped 1,000 runs in six seasons. He took over 100 wickets in eight seasons, including a double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in four seasons. In his whole career, he scored 19,808 runs at an average of 36.47, and took 2,088 wickets at an average of 10.47. He took all 10 wickets in an innings on three occasions, and took 9 wickets in an innings five times. One of these occasions, in the Gentlemen of Ireland’s first innings in 1909, was followed by a hat-trick in the second innings.

King was one of the first bowlers to be able to deliver outswing and inswing balls. He used the outswinger most often, and rarely used the inswinger because he did not want batsmen getting used to it. In consequence it was deadly. As you can see from the first photo, his delivery was unusual – sort of a mix of baseball pitching and conventional bowling. He began his run up with the ball clutched in both hands behind his head, but then released it with a straight arm. He was never given a no-ball for throwing.

For today’s recipe I am reminded of the classic US statement, “As American as apple pie,” which to me is about as absurd as saying, “As American as pizza.” Wild apples are indigenous to Asia, and were brought to North America by European colonists. In the sense that the US was colonized by English immigrants you can peg apple pie as “American” in that it was an immigrant also. So was cricket. “American as pizza” is actually a better twist on the saying inasmuch as tomatoes were first domesticated in Mexico, and then used for pizza in Naples before returning to the US. It’s also true that US pizza is markedly different from Neapolitan pizza. Maybe, “As American as pumpkin pie” would be even better because it fuses a North American cultigen with European cooking style. Frankly, my sister’s apple pie recipe is the best there is, and I have given that already — http://www.bookofdaystales.com/johnny-appleseed/ — any other, US or otherwise, would be second-best. Apple pie with cheesecake using Philadelphia cream cheese seems like an ideal blending for today’s recipe because King was from Philadelphia. Here’s one idea:

Oct 182018

The final ruling in Edwards v Canada (AG)—also known as the Persons Case—was handed down on this date in 1929 by the Lord Chancellor for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, at the time the final court of appeal for the British Empire. The legal case, presented by a group of women known as the Famous Five, began as a reference case in the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that women were not “qualified persons” and thus ineligible to sit in the Senate. The case then went to the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council. The Judicial Committee overturned the Supreme Court’s decision. Despite the common name, the case was not strictly about whether women were “persons” (although the question came up), but, rather, whether they were “qualified.” The Persons Case was a landmark case in two respects. The case established that Canadian women were eligible to be appointed senators and also established that the Canadian constitution should be interpreted in a way that adapts to changing times.

In 1916, Emily Murphy, a well-known activist for women’s rights, and a group of other women attempted to attend a trial of Alberta women accused of prostitution. She and the rest of the group of women were ejected from the trial on the grounds that the testimony was “not fit for mixed company”. Emily Murphy was outraged and appealed to Charles Wilson Cross, the Attorney General of Alberta, arguing, “If the evidence is not fit to be heard in mixed company, then … the government … [must] set up a special court presided over by women, to try other women.” Much to her surprise, the minister not only agreed, but appointed her as the magistrate. On her first day on the job, however, her authority to preside as a judge was challenged by a lawyer on the basis that women were not considered to be “persons” under the British North America Act. In 1917, the Supreme Court of Alberta ruled that women were persons. Some time later, Emily Murphy tested the issue in the rest of Canada by allowing her name to be put forward to Prime Minister Robert Borden as a candidate for Canadian Senator. He rejected her on the grounds that women were not “persons”. In response to a petition signed by nearly 500,000 Canadians that asked that she be appointed to the Senate, Borden stated that he was willing to do so, but could not on the basis of an 1876 British common law ruling that stated that “women were eligible for pains and penalties, but not rights and privileges”.

Some years later, Emily Murphy asked four other prominent Albertan women to join her in a petition to the federal government on the issue of women’s status. On August 27th, 1927, the four other women (Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, and Henrietta Muir Edwards) joined her for tea at her house. The five women, later to be known as the Famous Five (or the Valiant Five) all signed the petition, asking the federal government to refer two questions relating to women’s status to the Supreme Court of Canada. The two questions were:

  1. Is power vested in the Governor-General in Council of Canada, or the Parliament of Canada, or either of them, to appoint a female to the Senate of Canada?
  2. Is it constitutionally possible for the Parliament of Canada under the provisions of the British North America Act, or otherwise, to make provision for the appointment of a female to the Senate of Canada?

In Canada, the federal government has the power to refer questions to the Supreme Court of Canada to clarify legal and constitutional issues. Ernest Lapointe, who was Minister of Justice in the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, reviewed the petition and recommended to the federal Cabinet that the questions be narrowed down from two to one, relating to the appointment of women to the federal Senate of Canada under section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867 (now known as the Constitution Act, 1867).


On October 19, 1927, the Cabinet submitted this question for clarification to the Supreme Court of Canada:

Does the word “Persons” in section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?

Emily Murphy, speaking for the five petitioners, originally objected to this change in the wording of the question, which she described in a letter to the Deputy Minister of Justice as “a matter of amazement and perturbation to us”. On behalf of the petitioners, she asked that the Government withdraw the single question and refer the original two questions to the Supreme Court, along with a new, third question:

  1. If any statute be necessary to qualify a female to sit in the Senate of Canada, must this statute be enacted by the Imperial Parliament, or does power lie with the Parliament of Canada, or the Senate of Canada?

After further correspondence with the Deputy Minister and consultation with their lawyer, however, Emily Murphy advised the Deputy Minister that they accepted the single question posed by the Cabinet.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard the case on March 14th, 1928, and issued its decision on April 24th, 1928. Francis Alexander Anglin, Chief Justice of Canada, wrote the majority judgment, with Lamont J. and Smith J. concurring. Mignault J. and Duff J. wrote separate concurring opinions. Anglin C.J.C. began by reviewing the provisions relating to the appointment of Senators under the Constitution Act, 1867. Section 23 of the Act sets out the qualifications for a Senator. Senators must be at least thirty years old, must be a British subject, must own real and personal property with a net value of at least $4,000, and must live in the Province for which they are appointed. Section 23 uses the pronoun “He” to describe these qualifications, which contributed to the argument that only men could be appointed to the Senate.

Section 24 then provides:

Summons of Senator

  1. The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen’s Name, by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the Senate; and, subject to the Provisions of this Act, every Person so summoned shall become and be a Member of the Senate and a Senator.

The question for the Court was whether women could be “qualified persons” under s. 24 and thus eligible to be appointed to the Senate. Ultimately, all five Justices held that the meaning of “qualified persons” did not include women. The Court interpreted the phrase “qualified person” based on their understanding of the intention of the drafters of the Constitution Act, 1867, despite acknowledging that the role of women in society had changed since that date. In 1867, women could not sit in Parliament. Thus, if there were to be an exception to the practice from that period, it would have to be explicitly legislated. The Court held that the common law incapacity of women to exercise public functions excluded women from the class of “qualified persons” under section 24 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

A common misinterpretation of the case is that the Supreme Court held that women are not persons. On the contrary, the majority judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada noted explicitly, “There can be no doubt that the word ‘persons’ when standing alone prima facie includes women.” The Court also made this point clear in its formal judgment. The Court did not respond directly to the question as posed by the federal Cabinet. Instead, the Court gave its own interpretation of the question and then answered that re-formulated question:

The formal judgment of the court was as follows:

 Understood to mean ‘Are women eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada’, the question is answered in the negative.

At that time, however, the Supreme Court was not the final arbiter of constitutional questions in Canada. The five women then took the case on appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, at that time the court of last resort for the British Empire. Since their names were listed on the appeal documents in alphabetical order, Henrietta Muir Edwards was listed as the first appellant, leading to the case being entered as Edwards v Canada (Attorney General). However, it is more generally known as the Persons Case, from the subject matter.

The Lord Chancellor, Viscount Sankey, writing for the committee, found that the meaning of “qualified persons” could be read broadly to include women, reversing the decision of the Supreme Court. He wrote that “[t]he exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours”, and that “to those who ask why the word [“person”] should include females, the obvious answer is why should it not”. Finally, he wrote:

    [T]heir Lordships have come to the conclusion that the word “persons” in sec. 24 includes members both of the male and female sex and that, therefore, … women are eligible to be summoned to and become members of the Senate of Canada, and they will humbly advise His Majesty accordingly.

Finding a distinctively Canadian dish as a celebration is difficult, and, unfortunately, poutine has routinely won votes searching for the national dish of Canada. Poutine has many varieties, but is basically fried potato chips, curds, and gravy. I am not a big fan of potato chips to begin with, and when they are doused in gravy and cheese I find them even less appealing. The French and Belgians are in the habit of slathering chips in gravy and other sauces, so it is no great surprise that this dish originated in Quebec, although the exact place of origin is contested.

To maintain the texture of the frites, the cheese curd and gravy are added immediately prior to serving the dish. The hot gravy is usually poured over the room-temperature cheese curds, so that the cheese is warmed without completely melting. It is considered important to control the temperature, timing, and the order in which the ingredients are added, so as to obtain the right food textures. There are many variations of poutine. Some restaurants offer poutine with such toppings as sausage, chicken, bacon, brisket, or Montreal-style smoked meat. Some poutineries even boast dozens of variations of poutine. More upscale poutine with three-pepper sauce, merguez sausage, foie gras or even caviar and truffle can be found.

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Oct 172018

Today is the birthday (1912) of pope John Paul I (born Albino Luciani) who served as pope of the Catholic church and sovereign of the Vatican City from 26 August 1978 to his death 33 days later. Many readers will remember his successor John Paul II who took the papal name of his predecessor in honor of him, but John Paul I is a faint memory for most people, if they remember him at all. Although I take only cursory interest in the dealings of the Catholic church because I find its doctrines largely repellant, I am always interested in papal elections, and I followed the election of John Paul I closely. The impression I got at the time, was that John Paul I was a humble man who had intentions of downplaying the pomp of the papacy, much like the current pope. He was something of a compromise choice between two factions of the Curia who were divided by those who had supported the radical changes that John XXIII had made, especially via Vatican II (which dramatically overhauled the mass), and those who supported Paul VI, who was more traditionalist. His choice of the papal name John Paul signaled that he too was going to thread the needle between the two, and he did for the short period of his reign. He had rigidly traditional views of contraception, abortion, homosexuality, clerical celibacy, ordination of women, divorce, and sexuality in general, but he showed signs of overhauling the role of the papacy, and the Catholic church in general, in world affairs. Conspiracy theories abound concerning his death, because he was relatively young (65) when he died, and appeared to be in good health. Not a few (mostly amateur) historians have entertained the idea that he was poisoned by someone in the traditionalist faction of the Curia.

John Paul was noteworthy in many respects. He was the first pope born in the 20th century. He was the last pope (for now) to have been born in Italy – a long tradition stretching back to Clement VII, elected in 1523. His death 33 days after his election stirred the Curia into action to change its ways and start considering (seriously) candidates for pope who were not Italian-born, so as to give a more universal face to a church whose name (with a lower-case “c”) means “universal.” He was the first (and only) pope who chose a regnal name that had not been used before who called himself “the first.”  The current pope adopted a new regnal name also, but he styles himself simply pope Francis (or Francesco). John Paul I stuck as a name historically because his successor also called himself John Paul and became “the second.” His regnal name was also unusual in that he was the first pope to have two names. John Paul I’s reign, while not the shortest, was one of the shortest in history, and made 1978 the first year of three popes since 1605.

Pope Paul VI died on 6th August 1978, ending a reign of fifteen years. Luciani was summoned to Rome for the conclave to elect the new pope. He was not considered papabile at the time though mentioned upon occasion in several papers, but a few cardinals approached him with their opinion that he would make a fine pontiff because he was more warm and pastoral like John XXIII and less Curial, as Paul VI had been. Luciani was elected on the fourth ballot of the August 1978 papal conclave. Luciani had previously said to his secretary, father Diego Lorenzi and to father Prospero Grech (later a cardinal himself), that he would decline the papacy if elected, and that he intended to vote for cardinal Lorscheider, whom he had met in Brazil. Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines told him: “You will be the new pope.”

When he was asked by cardinal Jean-Marie Villot if he accepted his election, Luciani replied, “May God forgive you for what you have done” but accepted election. After his election, when Cardinal Sin paid him homage, Luciani said: “You were a prophet, but my reign will be a short one”. In the aftermath of the election, the pope confided to his brother Edoardo that his first thought was to call himself Pius XIII in honor of Pius XI, but he gave up on the idea, worried that the traditionalist members of the Church might exploit this choice of regnal name. Instead he chose John Paul, ostensibly because John XXIII had made him bishop and Paul VI had made him cardinal and patriarch of Veneto, his home region.

During the days following the conclave, the cardinals were generally elated at the reaction to John Paul I, some of them happily saying that they had elected “God’s candidate”. Argentine cardinal Eduardo Francisco Pironio stated, “We were witnesses of a moral miracle.” Mother Teresa, commenting about the new pope, said, “He has been the greatest gift of God, a sun beam of God’s love shining in the darkness of the world.” British primate cardinal Hume declared: “Once it had happened, it seemed totally and entirely right. We felt as if our hands were being guided as we wrote his name on the paper”.

After he became pope John Paul laid out six plans which would dictate his pontificate:

To renew the church through the policies implemented by Vatican II.

To revise canon law.

To remind the church of its duty to preach the Gospel.

To promote church unity without watering down doctrine.

To promote dialogue.

To encourage world peace and social justice.

After his election, John Paul I quickly made several decisions that would “humanize” the office of pope, admitting publicly he had turned scarlet when Paul VI placed his stole on Luciani’s shoulders when he visited Venice on 16th September 1972. He was the first modern pope to speak in the singular form, using ‘I’ instead of the royal “we”, though the official records of his speeches were often rewritten in more formal style by aides, who reinstated the royal “we” in press releases and in L’Osservatore Romano. He initially refused to use the sedia gestatoria (a papal throne carried shoulder high through the streets) until others convinced him of its need in order to allow himself to be seen by crowds. He was the last pope to use it. He was the first pope to refuse to be crowned. Instead of a coronation, he inaugurated his papacy with a “papal inauguration” where he received the papal pallium as the symbol of his position as bishop of Rome.

Here is a small sample of John Paul threading the needle. In 1975, when he was still cardinal, Luciani said this in a talk to a group of nuns about ordaining women:

You will ask: what about … the priesthood itself? I can say to you: Christ bestowed the pastoral ministry on men alone, on his apostles. Did he mean this to be valid only for a short time, almost as though he made allowances for the prejudice about the inferiority of women prevalent in his time? Or did he intend it to be valid always? Let it be very clear: Christ never accepted the prejudice about the inferiority of women: they are always admirable figures in the Gospels, more so than the apostles themselves. The priesthood, however, is a service given by means of spiritual powers and not a form of superiority. Through the will of Christ, women — in my judgment — carry out a different, complementary, and precious service in the church, but they are not “possible priests” … That does not do wrong to women.

So . . . women are really, really admirable, but they can’t be priests because God does not want this. If you want to know why I have no time for Catholic dogma, look no farther. White men have dominated the papacy for 2000 years, and even today they are not ready to give it up. Maybe if the Catholic church starts ordaining women or electing people of color as pope, Christ will return and Armageddon will commence !?!?!?! Although I am a dyed-in-the-wool Presbyterian from birth, and an ordained minister, I am an acknowledged wayward servant in that regard, also, because I detest so much about Christianity as it is preached and practiced in the modern world, regardless of flavor. I’ll leave railing against Presbyterians for another post. They get far more ire from me than Catholics. Atheists are not exempt either.

On 29th September 1978, 33 days into his papacy, John Paul I was found dead lying in his bed, with a book opened beside him, and the reading light on. According to a Vatican doctor, he probably died around 11 pm of a heart attack that occurred on the night of 28th September. John Paul I’s funeral was held in Saint Peter’s Square on 4th October 1978, celebrated by cardinal Carlo Confalonieri. In his eulogy of the late pope, he described him as a flashing comet who briefly lit up the church. He then was laid to rest in the Vatican grottoes.

John Paul was born in Forno di Canale (now Canale d’Agordo) in Belluno, a province of the Veneto region of northern Italy. Belluno is known for a kind of stuffed pasta called casunziei whose stuffing is beetroot and potatoes, sometimes flavored with poppy seed, sometimes nutmeg. If you want to make these at home you will need fresh pasta (see HINTS) rolled into thin, large rectangles. The filling consists of 2 cups of beets that have been roasted peeled and mashed, 1 cup of mashed potatoes, 1 cup of fresh ricotta, and 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, and sauté them in a deep skillet with a little butter, and with salt and pepper to taste, until the dish is fragrant. Cool to room temperature and then use a tablespoon of the filling to stuff the pasta. Cut the pasta in squares, place the filling on one side, and fold the other side over to form a rectangle. Cook in boiling water for a minute or two so that the pasta is cooked but still al dente. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. Serve with a cream sauce.

Oct 162018

Two of the Oxford Martyrs, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, were burnt at the stake in Oxford on this date in 1555. The third, Thomas Cranmer was burnt 5 months later on 21st March 1556. They have become celebrated in English church history because they were caught up in the politics of the day and executed for their faith. Latimer and Ridley are honored by the Anglican church on this date, because of their martyrdom. Cranmer has a separate feast day.

Being a cleric in Tudor England was a dangerous business. Henry VIII broke with Rome and declared himself head of the Church of England purely because he wanted a divorce. He had no interest in changing anything else in the church. There were reformers within the English church who wanted to see changes, but they held off until Henry died, because the upper clergy were split between traditionalists and reformers, and Henry sided with the traditionalists, refusing to allow any changes in doctrine or ceremony. When Henry’s son, Edward, was crowned king, the reformers saw their chance. Thomas Cranmer was archbishop of Canterbury early in Henry’s reign and facilitated the split with Rome to be able to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The annulment also put the legitimacy of Mary, Catherine’s only daughter, in jeopardy. Edward, Henry’s third child, took precedence over Mary for the throne because of Salic Law (male heirs take precedence over females, regardless of age) – and, interestingly, Salic Law has only recently been overturned in England.


Edward was 9 years old when he came to the throne in 1537. He had been raised Protestant, but he was king in name only. England was governed by a regency council, and the reform of the church was left in the hands of bishops, of whom Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were key players.  Because Edward was in no position to oppose reform of doctrine and ceremony as Henry had done, the bishops had free hand, and the foundations of the current Church of England were laid at this time. Cranmer was the chief architect of reform. He was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the reformed Church of England. He published the first officially authorized vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany, under Henry, but his major reforms were under Edward. He wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church. With the assistance of several Continental reformers to whom he gave refuge, he changed doctrine in areas such as the Eucharist, clerical celibacy, the role of images in places of worship, and the veneration of saints. Cranmer promulgated the new doctrines through the Prayer Book, the Homilies and other publications. As the chief reformer under Edward, his fate was sealed when Mary came to the throne. Latimer and Ridley were lesser players, but their fate was also sealed because of their closeness to Edward.


When Edward died in 1553, the church and government were thrown into turmoil. The royal council knew that if Mary ascended the throne, England would be forced back to Catholicism, and there was considerable opposition to this possibility. In consequence, Edward’s council convinced him to name his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as his successor, and to declare both of his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth as illegitimate, when it became clear he was dying. On 17th June 1553 the king made his will noting Jane would succeed him, contravening the Third Succession Act.

Ridley signed the letters patent giving the English throne to Lady Jane Grey. On 9th July 1553 he preached a sermon at St Paul’s cross in which he affirmed that the princesses Mary and Elizabeth were bastards. By mid-July, there were serious provincial revolts in Mary’s favor and support for Jane in the council fell. As Mary was proclaimed queen, Ridley, Jane’s father, the Duke of Suffolk, and others were imprisoned. Ridley was sent to the Tower of London. Throughout February 1554 the political leaders who were supporters of Jane were executed, including Jane herself. After that, there was time to deal with the religious leaders of the English Reformation and so on 8th March 1554 the Privy Council ordered Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer to be transferred to Bocardo prison in Oxford to await trial for heresy.


Latimer was a bit of an odd man out. Before the English Reformation he had been a staunch papist, even describing himself as “as obstinate a papist as any was in England”. But in the mid-1520s he was converted to Protestantism through the teaching of prominent scholars, and became as zealous against the Catholic church as he had once been for it. He even advocated a new translation of the Bible into English even though William Tyndale’s translation of the Greek Testament was still banned. In 1539 when Henry VIII was confronted with radical Lutheran teaching from the continent he produced the Six Articles, reaffirming the heart of Catholic doctrine:

Transubstantiation (real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the mass),

The reasonableness of withholding the cup from the laity during communion,

Clerical celibacy,

Observance of vows of chastity,

Permission for private masses,

Importance of auricular confession.

Latimer opposed the Six Articles and was promptly imprisoned in the Tower of London. When Edward came to the throne he was restored to favor, and became the royal preacher until 1550. He was chaplain to the duchess of Suffolk when Mary came to the throne, and so, unlike Cranmer and Ridley, was not in the direct line of fire. He could have fled England, as many other high churchmen did, but he chose to remain and was caught up in Mary’s net, which ensnared all prominent Protestant theologians who remained. At his heresy trial in Oxford Latimer is recorded as saying, “’I thank God most heartily that He hath prolonged my life to this end, that I may in this case glorify God by that kind of death.” The prosecutor replied, (and I paraphrase), “If this faith takes you to heaven, I won’t be joining you.”

Latimer and Ridley’s death sentence was carried out just north of Oxford city wall where Broad street is now while Cranmer was taken to a tower to watch. Ridley burned extremely slowly and suffered a great deal: his brother-in-law had put more tinder on the pyre, in order to speed his death, but they caused only his lower parts to burn. Latimer is supposed to have said to Ridley, “Be of good comfort, and play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” This was quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

A small area cobbled with stones forming a cross in the center of the road outside the front of Balliol College marks the site of execution. The Victorian spire-like Martyrs’ Memorial, at the south end of St Giles’ nearby, commemorates the events. It is claimed that the scorch marks from the flames can still be seen on the doors of Balliol College (now rehung between the Front Quadrangle and Garden Quadrangle).

It is painfully easy, and all too common, to point to events like the execution of Latimer and Ridley, and say, “Look where religion leads.” It is a lot wiser to say, “Look what happens when religion and politics get entwined.” Mary did her best in her short reign to get rid of all people who had stood in her way, and because religious matters were deeply tied to her succession, religious leaders were swept up in her persecutions. I’ll admit that she had the deep convictions of her faith, but she was also a ruthless monarch, and the Catholic church by her day had become more a tool of state than an avenue to spiritual truth. People still use religious doctrine to buttress political beliefs, and this practice is as wrongheaded now as it was in Tudor times – and leads down the same paths.

I have given quite a few Oxford recipes in the past, so here’s video on Tudor cooking from the kitchen of Hampton Court, built by Henry VIII’s primate cardinal Wolsey.

Oct 152018

On this date in 2012 Norodom Sihanouk (នរោត្តម សីហនុ), also known as សម្តេចឪ, (father prince), who was both king of Cambodia and prime minister at one time, died of a heart attack. The anniversary of his date of death is a federal holiday in Cambodia.

Sihanouk was born to the Khmer royal family in the French Protectorate of Cambodia, the only child of the daughter of the king, Sisowath Monivong. When Monivong died in 1941, Sihanouk was appointed king by the French Governor-General of Indochina, Sihanouk’s appointment as king was formalized the following day by the Cambodian Crown Council, and his coronation ceremony took place on 3rd May 1941. During the Japanese occupation of Cambodia, he dedicated most of his time to sports, filming, and the occasional tour to the countryside. In March 1945, the Japanese military, which had occupied Cambodia since August 1941, dissolved the nominal French colonial administration. Under pressure from the Japanese, Sihanouk proclaimed Cambodia’s independence and assumed the position of prime minister while serving as king at the same time.

Post-war, Sihanouk secured Cambodian independence from France in 1953. In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated the throne and formed the political organization Sangkum, which won the 1955 general election. As prime minister, he governed Cambodia under one-party rule, suppressed political dissent, and declared himself head of state in 1960. A 1970 military coup ousted him and paved the way for the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic. Sihanouk fled to China and North Korea, forming a government-in-exile there and a resistance movement. After the Cambodian Civil War resulted in victory for the Khmer Rouge in 1975, Sihanouk returned to Cambodia, now renamed Democratic Kampuchea, as its figurehead head of state. Although initially supportive of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, his relations with them declined and in 1976 he resigned. He was placed under house arrest until 1979, when Vietnamese forces overthrew the Khmer Rouge.

Sihanouk went into exile again, and in 1981, he formed FUNCINPEC (Front uni national pour un Cambodge indépendant, neutre, pacifique et coopératif), a resistance party. The following year, Sihanouk became president of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), a broad coalition of anti-Vietnamese resistance factions. This coalition retained Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations, making Sihanouk Cambodia’s internationally recognized head of state. In the late 1980s, informal talks were carried out to end hostilities between the Vietnam-supported People’s Republic of Kampuchea and the CGDK. In 1990, the Supreme National Council of Cambodia was formed as a transitional body to oversee Cambodia’s sovereign matters, with Sihanouk as its president. In 1991, peace accords were signed and the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was established the following year. The UNTAC organized general elections in 1993, and a coalition government, jointly led by his son Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, was subsequently formed. In 1993, Sihanouk was reinstated as Cambodia’s head of state and king. In 2004, he abdicated again with his son, Norodom Sihamoni, elected as his successor.

Between 2009 and 2011, Sihanouk spent most of his time in Beijing for medical care. He made a final public appearance in Phnom Penh on his 89th birthday and 20th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords on 30th October 2011. Thereafter, Sihanouk expressed his intent to stay in Cambodia indefinitely, but returned to Beijing in January 2012 for further medical treatment at the advice of his Chinese doctors.

In January 2012, Sihanouk issued a letter to express his wish to be cremated after his death, and for his ashes to be interred in a golden urn. A few months later, in September 2012, Sihanouk said that he would not return to Cambodia from Beijing for his 90th birthday, citing fatigue. On 15th October 2012, Sihanouk died of a heart attack.

Sihanouk pursued an artistic career during his lifetime, and wrote several musical compositions. He produced 50 films between 1966 and 2006, at times directing and acting in them.


Cookbooks often say that curries originated in India, but the word “curry” and its cognates, which are more or less the same in virtually all south and southeast Asian dialects, is no more useful than the word “stew” and no more helpful in talking about specific dishes. The curries of south and southeast Asia are incredibly diverse with individual names for specific dishes that may or may not include the word “curry.” “Red curry” is a common name for dishes in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia, but their ingredients and spices vary to the point where you cannot think of them as in any sense the same dish, except that they have a red color. Here is a video of how to make Cambodian red curry with chicken. I make this dish quite often although I commonly buy the curry paste to save time. Notice that Cambodian curry looks more like a thick soup than a stew. A main meal in Cambodia often consists of a soupy stew, rice, and grilled fish.

Oct 142018

Today is the birthday (1906) of Johanna “Hannah” Cohn Arendt, a German-born philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is counted among the most important political philosophers of the 20th century. Arendt was born in Hanover, but largely raised in Königsberg in a secular merchant Jewish culture to parents who were supporters of the Social Democrats. Her father died when she was 7, so she was raised by her mother and grandfather. After completing her secondary education, she studied at the University of Marburg under Martin Heidegger, with whom she had a brief affair, but who had a lasting influence on her thinking. She obtained her doctorate in philosophy in 1929 at the University of Heidelberg with Karl Jaspers.

Arendt married Günther Stern in 1929, but soon began to encounter increasing antisemitism in 1930s Germany. Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, and while researching antisemitic propaganda for the Zionist Federation of Germany in Berlin that year, Arendt was denounced and briefly imprisoned by the Gestapo. On release, she fled Germany, living in Czechoslovakia and Switzerland before settling in Paris. There she worked for Youth Aliyah, assisting young Jews to emigrate to Palestine. Divorcing Stern in 1937, she married Heinrich Blücher in 1940, but when Germany invaded France in 1940 she was detained by the French as an alien, despite having been stripped of her German citizenship in 1937. She escaped and made her way to the United States in 1941 via Portugal.

She settled in New York, which remained her principal residence for the rest of her life. She became a writer and editor and worked for the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, becoming an American citizen in 1950. With the appearance of The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951, her reputation as a thinker and writer was established and a series of seminal works followed. These included The Human Condition in 1958, and both Eichmann in Jerusalem and On Revolution in 1963. She taught at many American universities, while declining tenure-track appointments. She died suddenly from a heart attack in 1975, at the age of 69, leaving her last work, The Life of the Mind, unfinished.

Her works cover a broad range of topics, but she is best known for those dealing with the nature of power and evil, as well as politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. In the popular mind she is best remembered for the controversy surrounding the trial of Adolf Eichmann, her attempt to explain how ordinary people become active supporters of totalitarian systems, and for the phrase “the banality of evil”. She is commemorated by institutions and journals devoted to her thinking, the Hannah Arendt Prize for political thinking, and on stamps, street names and schools, amongst other things.

Here is a sampling of her writing, all of which is poignant and right on target:

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.

The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.

There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.

Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.

The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.

The third world is not a reality, but an ideology.

No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes.

I have given well-known Königsberg recipes before, including for Königsberger Klopse here — http://www.bookofdaystales.com/immanuel-kant/  Now I will switch gears and talk about Königsberg marzipan, a confection that was traditionally produced in the German city of Königsberg, but not now that it is the Russian city of Kaliningrad. Königsberg’s first marzipan production was established by the Pomatti brothers in 1809, who became confectioners of the Royal Prussian Court. They were joined by Sterkau, Petschliess, Liedtke, Siegel, Steiner, Gehlhaar, Plouda in Kneiphof, as well as Wald in Berlin and Schwermer in Bad Wörishofen.  Königsberg marzipan is known for its flamed surface, which results in a golden-brown finish. It contains rose water and is often filled with jam. These characteristics distinguish it from the more common Lübeck Marzipan, which also frequently comes in more elaborate forms. First a video – apologies for the German, but it’s not hard to understand:

Now that you have the idea, you might want to try to replicate these dainties. They are not hard to make, just time consuming. Marzipan is not difficult to make from scratch, but I often buy it readymade.

Königsberger Marzipan


500 gm marzipan
350 gm powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp kirsch
1 tbsp rosewater
2 tbsp water
maraschino cherries and candied lemon peel


Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F.

In a bowl, knead the marzipan with 200 grams (approximately 1 cup) of the powdered sugar into a smooth dough.

On a baking board, roll the dough to 1 cm (approximately ¼ inch) thick. Cut out small shapes like hearts or circles. Cut narrow strips from the remaining dough.

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl. Whisk the egg yolk in a separate bowl. Brush the strips with the egg white and lay on the outsides of the shapes like a border. Use knitting needles or wooden skewers to indent notches into the border. Brush the edges with the egg yolk. Place the marzipan hearts and circles on a baking sheet and bake on the top shelf until starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To decorate: in a bowl, stir the remaining powdered sugar with the kirsch, rosewater, and water until smooth. Brush into the centers of the hearts and circles. Cut the cherries and lemon peel into small pieces. Decorate the marzipan cakes with the cherries and lemon peel.

Oct 132018

Today is Rwagasore Day in Burundi, commemorating the day in 1961 when crown prince Louis Rwagasore, prime minister of Burundi, was assassinated shortly before Burundian independence. The investigation into his murder was clearly mismanaged by the Belgian authorities, in charge at the time. Many believe that the mismanagement was deliberate because the Belgian government was involved in the assassination.

Louis Rwagasore was the son of Mwami (king) Mwambutsa IV and his first wife, Thérèse Kayonga. He attended Groupe Scolaire d’Astrida (now Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare) in Rwanda. He briefly attended university in Belgium, but left to spearhead his country’s anti-colonial movement. He founded a series of African cooperatives to encourage economic independence, but these were quickly banned by Belgium in 1958. That same year he established a nationalist political movement, Union for National Progress (UPRONA). Believing that the royal family should transcend partisan politics, his father promoted him to Chief of Butanyerera, but Rwagasore turned down the appointment so that he could devote himself fully to the nationalist cause. Rwagasore, a Ganwa (a royal kinship group identified with Tutsi), married a woman who most people thought was a Hutu. It is believed that Rwagasore did so in a bid to play down the ethnic divisions between ethnic groups, especially between Tutsi and Hutu, which he believed the Belgian colonial rule had pitched against one another. At the first UPRONA Congress in March 1960, Rwagasore demanded complete independence for Burundi and called on the local population to boycott Belgian stores and refuse to pay taxes. Because of these calls for civil disobedience, he was placed under house arrest.

Despite setbacks, UPRONA won a clear victory in elections for the colony’s legislative assembly on 8th September 1961, winning 80 percent of the vote. The next day, Rwagasore was declared prime minister, with a mandate to prepare the country for independence

Just two weeks later, on 13th October 1961, Rwagasore was assassinated while dining at the Hotel Tanganyika in Usumbura (modern-day Bujumbura). The assassin, a Greek national named Jean Kageorgis, was accompanied by three Burundians, all members of the pro-Belgian Christian Democratic Party (PDC). Within three days, all four suspects were arrested and they quickly implicated two high-ranking members of the PDC (Jean-Baptiste Ntidendereza and Joseph Biroli), with one initially admitting his guilt but later retracting his confession. Following the assassination inter-ethnic rivalries between the Hutu and Tutsi within UPRONA flared.

Historians have suggested that the Belgian colonial authorities may have played a significant role in the assassination although no official inquiry has ever been carried out. As early as the 1970s, René Lemarchand, an expert on Burundian history, claimed that the PDC’s European secretary, Ms. Belva, was told by the Belgian regent Roberto Régnier that “Rwagasore must be killed.” In addition, several days before his assassination, Rwagasore filed a complaint against seven Belgian officials including the Belgian Governor-General, Jean-Paul Harroy and Régnier. Before being executed for the murder, Kageorgis explicitly accused Harroy and Régnier of responsibility.

In 2011 the Belgian journalist, Guy Poppe, published De moord op Rwagasore, de Burundese Lumumba (The Death of Rwagasore, the Burundian Lumumba) which claimed that irregularities in the investigation of the prince’s murder included, among other details, a lack of questioning of witnesses including Harroy, Régnier, Kageorgis’ Belgian fiancée, and Ms. Belva. Poppe discovered that files from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s archives, including a transcript from an interview that was conducted with Régnier following his return to Belgium from Burundi, had been lost. Poppe also claimed that the Foreign Ministry had threatened to fire three former colonial officers if they traveled to Burundi in order to testify during Kageorgis’ trial. Poppe noted the investigation’s failure to follow up links between the Burundian PDC party and the Belgian Christian Social Party (PSC-CVP).

Red kidney beans are the dominant staple in Burundian cooking. Also used commonly are corn, bananas, plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, peas, and manioc.  Some lamb and mutton is used, but it is not common, nor are cooked desserts. On the whole, the recipes are relatively plain and simple. Here is a recipe for Burundi beans and bananas.

Beans and Bananas


500 ml dried red kidney beans
4 green bananas or plantains, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp palm oil
1 small onion, peeled and sliced thin
red pepper


Soak the beans in cold water for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Drain the beans, place them in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes. Drain.

Heat the palm oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry until uniformly golden-brown, stirring often. Add the beans and bananas, season with salt and red pepper to taste and continue frying for 2 minutes. Cover with water and let the beans and bananas simmer until the water has reduced and thickened considerably. Serve hot.

Oct 112018

Today is the feast of St Philip the Evangelist also known as St Philip the Deacon, not to be confused with Philip the Apostle. He first appears in Acts 6 as one of “the seven” – men who were chosen to take care of the sick and needy so that “the twelve” (i.e. the Apostles) could devote themselves to prayer and preaching. “The seven” are conventionally treated as the first church deacons, whose duties were more menial than those of the Apostles. The complete text is:

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” [Acts 6:1-4]

You can see the very beginnings of a hierarchy in the church in this statement, which has the ring of truth to it. Paraphrase it as: “We were chosen directly by Jesus, and are too important to do menial things.” Jesus, who washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper, would not have approved. But the seeds of the hierarchical structure of so many Christian denominations was sown within that act, and the rot commenced. (Pardon the cynicism of an ordained minister). Any kind of inequality or rank within a church goes against the express teachings and actions of Jesus, and is, therefore, unChristian.

Of “the seven” only Stephen and Philip stand out, and it is not because they were good at waiting on tables. Both were noted for their preaching ability. Stephen was the first Christian martyr, condemned to be stoned to death by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy. Philip gets a whole chapter devoted to his activities (Acts 8), and is mentioned again in Acts 21 as Paul’s host for a few days as he is traveling and preaching. Philip is conventionally called the Evangelist more than the Deacon because he is more noted for his preaching than his ministry to the poor.

In Acts 8 it is noted that Philip traveled to Samaria where he preached and performed miracles. Going to Samaria was itself a noteworthy act because Samaritans and Judeans did not see eye to eye in those days (as you may know from the story of the Good Samaritan). It was quite common for Jews going from Galilee to Jerusalem to make a detour around Samaria.  In Samaria he met and converted Simon, now called Simon Magus, the surname indicating that he was a magician or sorcerer. Subsequently Simon had a clash with Peter which seems to indicate that Simon converted to Christianity because he thought the wonder working of Philip and the Apostles was a marketable skill, and that it could be bought.

Subsequently Acts 8 says that an angel instructs Philip to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza where he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch (a powerful official), sitting in his chariot and reading from Isaiah. He asks Philip to interpret the passage for him, and in doing so Philip converts him, and then baptizes him in a nearby river. This passage is frequently quoted during adult baptisms in evangelical churches. After he has baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts gets a bit difficult to interpret:

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

However you want to interpret the text, Philip has clearly become an itinerant evangelist. He is not mentioned again until this brief passage in Acts 21:

Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

This is one of the “we” passages in Acts, describing Paul’s travels, and giving the impression that these parts are taken from an actual journal of one of Paul’s companions – although this interpretation is disputed. In any case, at this point Philip appears to be settled in Caesarea Maritima with his four daughters. This is one of the rare cases in the Greek Bible where someone is called “the evangelist” (found in only 2 other places). There are no more references to Philip. He is one of the few male disciples who is not an apostle who gets some coverage. In fact, he gets more attention than many of the apostles.

From a very early period, Philip the Evangelist came to be confused with Philip the Apostle. The confusion was largely due to the fact that Philip the Evangelist was more active than Philip the Apostle.  The designation of “the twelve” is certainly very early, but I suspect it was not Jesus’ doing. It was a construction of the gospel writers, including the author of Luke who wrote Acts as a companion volume.  All the gospels, except Mark, were written after the destruction of the temple in 70, and none were written by eyewitnesses. Having twelve apostles was important to the narrative because it reflects the 12 tribes of Israel narrative (also a construction). The gospel writers cannot even agree on who the 12 were. Some of Jesus’ followers, such as Peter, James, and John, were very important to the early church, but most have faded from history, and Paul, who was not a disciple of Jesus until after his death, is more important to the development of the church than all of the apostles put together because he spread Christianity outside of Jerusalem, and his new churches survived the destruction in 70. Philip does not rival Paul in this respect, but his evangelical work was obviously notable.

A classic Samaritan dish would be appropriate for today’s celebration, but we know no more about actual recipes from ancient Samaria than we do about ancient Judea. Classic ingredients would have been lamb, olives, figs, grapes, dates, lentils and barley, same as Judea. I came across a modern Samaritan dish for potatoes stuffed with lamb that might fill the bill as long as you remember that potatoes are a New World cultigen, and probably did not make it into Middle Eastern cuisine until at least the 17th century or later.

Split baking potatoes in half, and scoop out some of the insides. Sauté some chopped onions in olive oil until lightly colored, then brown ground lamb with them. Moisten with a little broth, and season with salt and pepper to taste, as well as with some parsley, allspice and cinnamon. Pack the lamb stuffing in the hollowed out potato halves and bake in a moderate oven (350°F) for one hour. Bake them on a rack over a baking tray with a little broth in it, so that the baking environment is moist.

 Posted by at 9:03 pm
Oct 102018

Jean-Antoine Watteau, commonly known as Antoine Watteau, a French painter in the style dubbed Rococo, was baptized on this date in 1684. His birth date is unknown. Watteau is credited with inventing the genre of fêtes galantes, scenes of bucolic and idyllic charm, suffused with a theatrical air. Some of his best known subjects were drawn from the world of Italian commedia dell’arte and ballet.

Watteau was born in October 1684 in the town of Valenciennes which had recently passed from the Spanish Netherlands to France. Watteau may have been apprenticed to Jacques-Albert Gérin, a local painter.His first artistic subjects were charlatans selling quack remedies on the streets of Valenciennes. He left for Paris in 1702. And there he found employment in a workshop at Pont Notre-Dame, making copies of popular genre paintings in the Flemish and Dutch tradition. It was in that period that he developed his characteristic sketchlike technique.

By 1705 he was employed as an assistant by the painter Claude Gillot, whose work represented a reaction against the turgid official art of Louis XIV’s reign. In Gillot’s studio Watteau became acquainted with the characters of the commedia dell’arte, a favorite subject of Gillot’s that would become one of Watteau’s lifelong passions. Afterward he moved to the workshop of Claude Audran III, an interior decorator, under whose influence he began to make drawings admired for their elegance. In fact, throughout Watteau’s lifetime, his drawings were much more popular than his paintings. Audran was the curator of the Palais du Luxembourg, where Watteau was able to see the magnificent series of canvases painted by Peter Paul Rubens for Queen Marie de Medici. Rubens would become one of his major influences, together with the Venetian masters he later studied in the collection of his patron and friend, the banker Pierre Crozat.

In 1709 Watteau tried to obtain the Prix de Rome and was rejected by the Academy. In 1712 he tried again and by then was considered so good that, rather than receiving the one-year stay in Rome for which he had applied, he was accepted as a full member of the Academy. He took five years to deliver the required “reception piece”, but it was one of his masterpieces: the Pilgrimage to Cythera, also called the Embarkation for Cythera.

Watteau lacked aristocratic patrons; his buyers were bourgeois bankers and dealers. Among his most famous paintings, beside the two versions of the Pilgrimage to Cythera, one in the Louvre, the other in the Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, are Pierrot (long identified as “Gilles”), Fêtes venitiennes, Love in the Italian Theater, Love in the French Theater, “Voulez-vous triompher des belles?” and Mezzetin. The subject of his hallmark painting, Pierrot (Gilles), is an actor in a white satin costume who stands isolated from his four companions, staring ahead with an enigmatic expression on his face.

Watteau’s final masterpiece, the Shop-sign of Gersaint, changes his usual pastoral forest locale for a mundane urban setting at an art dealer’s.

Watteau alarmed his friends by a carelessness about his future and financial security, as if foreseeing he would not live for long. In fact he had been sickly and physically fragile since childhood. In 1720, he traveled to London to consult Dr. Richard Mead, one of the most fashionable physicians of his time and an admirer of Watteau’s work. However, London’s damp and smoky air offset any benefits of Dr. Mead’s wholesome food and medicines. Watteau returned to France and spent his last few months on the estate of his patron, Abbé Haranger, where he died in 1721, perhaps from tubercular laryngitis, at the age of 36. The Abbé said Watteau was semi-conscious and mute during his final days, clutching a paint brush and painting imaginary paintings in the air.

His nephew, Louis Joseph Watteau, son of Antoine’s brother Noël Joseph Watteau (1689–1756), and grand nephew, François-Louis-Joseph Watteau, son of Louis, followed him into painting as a career. Here’s my customary gallery. Watteau is not a fav of mine, so this is more for completeness than interest:

Valenciennes, Watteau’s birthplace, is noted for its fish dishes and sole Valenciennes is a standard of chefs worldwide.

Fillets of Sole Valenciennes


salt and pepper
¼ tsp ground mace
¼ tsp dried thyme
6 sole fillets
½ cup dry vermouth
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp melted butter, plus extra
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp minced onion
30 small mushroom caps
chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges


Preheat the oven to 325°F.


Combine the mace and thyme with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the fillets. Place the fish in a buttered skillet with a lid.

Combine the vermouth, lemon juice and butter and pour over the fish. Sprinkle with the chives and onion. Place the mushrooms on and around the fish. Cover the pan and very slowly bring it to a boil over low heat. Immediately uncover the pan and place it in the oven. Bake, basting often with the wine-butter mixture, for fifteen minutes.

Place the fish on a heated serving plate and pour over the cooking liquid and mushrooms. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.