Changes to The Socratic Project

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Tomorrow marks the 9-month anniversary of the beginning of The Socratic Project. We are having great conversations with readers in dozens of countries, from Egypt to Germany to India (India! someday we shall meet!), even though the website looks much different than I initially planned.

As the saying goes, “When we make plans, God laughs.” My plan was to post a new question every day for a year. Somehow I forgot to factor in the caretaking of ailing parents, the increased demands of a preteen child, and, oh yeah, the novel that is scheduled for release in October 2014, if only I can get the rewrites finished by December 1st.

As Janine Fugate wrote so eloquently in Is It Ever Okay to Quit?, sometimes we need to reevaluate our priorities in order to maintain our sanity.

Beginning in October, we will be reducing our posts to twice a week. Sunday Thoughts will continue through October, and a second post will appear on Mondays.

In November, posts will appear only on Mondays. (MN Masala will appear the last Monday of the month.) To get The Socratic Project posts as an email, click on the subscribe button in the upper right hand corner.

Thank you for being part of this conversation as we continue to learn about each other.

Sunday Thoughts with Bob Pickering

Bob and June Pickering

We are often too busy to stop and pray. In fact that is why I write at 5 am–there are few if any interruptions and distractions. It is quiet; still, the coffee is hot and the sugar is sweet. How great can it get?

By 8 o’clock my calendar kicks in and prayer and spiritual thoughts will have to fit in between my daily activities. On a lot of days they just do not quite get on the agenda.

In a sense we are victims of our own busy schedules trying to meet the needs of family, friends and business associates. That leads to a good life and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But calendars can become a type of prison.

In the 1980s June’s and my calendars were so full that we met at the tennis club on Saturdays after my tennis and her workout to visit with each other! It was a full life, very rewarding and there was very little spiritual growth involved. We were happy as clams and did not realize that we were prisoners of our calendars. Continue reading

MN Masala: Shrimp in Tomatillo Sauce

Jane and Chux

By Jane and Chux: Have you ever had an amazing meal at a restaurant that you wanted to recreate at home?  We have had a number of those experiences during our travels over the years: Chocolate Pate in San Francisco; buttery, garlicky Shrimp Scampi at El Sid in Nogales, Mexico; rich, caramel Tart Tatin in Paris; and Shrimp in Tomatillo Sauce in Palm Springs, California. This amazing shrimp in tomatillo sauce was at the El Mirasol Mexican restaurant.

Ever since then, we have tried to replicate this dish at home.  We didn’t perfect it until this year!

In the past, we used either too many chilies that took away from the nice rich tangy flavor of the tomatillos, or we did not use the right cooking method.  This year, we cut back on the chilies and roasted both the tomatillos and the onion on a grill to boost the flavors.

We also used a little sugar and salt to balance the sourness of the tomatillos.  It was perfect!

We felt we were transported back to the colorful and festive atmosphere of El Mirasol.  All we needed now were El Mirasol’s extra-large margaritas.

P.S. If you have extra tomatillo sauce, add it to your cheese quesadillas or use as a spread on turkey sandwiches. Continue reading

What is masculine?

By Cindy Moy: In preparation for this post, I watched a documentary titled Mansome, produced in part by actors Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. Mansome was supposed to discuss the question of what it means to be a man.

I learned way more about male grooming habits than I ever wanted to know. I can’t un-see that you know! (I would dearly like to eliminate the documentary’s discussion of ‘batwings’ from my mind. Google it if you want to know more, because we will not be discussing that here.)

Apparently masculinity is directly related the amount of hair on a man and where it is located. As to what an appropriate amount of hair is, and how much should be where, no one on the show could agree.

I will spare you the details because I like you and do not want to traumatize you. Let’s just say that for me, the highlight of the documentary was Bateman and Arnett taking a bath together.


Anyway, at one point Bateman remarked that “a real man is accountable.”
That seems like a darn good answer to the definition of manhood.
Now I need to go wash out my eyes.

How do you define masculine?

Tomorrow: Shrimp in Tomatillo Sauce in MN Masala with Jane and Chux

Did you keep your class ring?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: When I was in high school, everybody ordered a class ring at the end of junior year. It was a declaration of school pride. It announced us as seniors. SENIORS!! It was the most important piece of jewelry we would wear until we replaced them with wedding bands, just like our parents had done before us.

Today, kids do not get class rings. My daughter did not even consider it. Neither did any of her friends.

High School Ring

Alas, I have two such rings. One from high school and one from law school, and both were eventually replaced with a wedding band. I rarely wear the wedding band, much less the class rings. Continue reading

What is a Muslim’s view of Jesus?

Sarita Agerman

By Sarita Agerman: I recently observed a conversation among several individuals who were venting steam about all the things they loathed about Islam, muslims and extremists (with each term being used interchangeably) and explaining how Islam was a source of great evil in the world and that Jesus (pbuh) was the only way to Salvation. Not wishing to get involved, I read their comments from a distance and reflected on them afterwards. And, I’m sure you’ve all experienced this sensation, here are the words which I wish I’d said at the time: 

I have a great love and respect for Jesus (pbuh) which was nurtured when I was a Christian and continues to grow and develop now as a Muslim. When Jesus said that he was ‘The Way’ I believe that he was right. If you follow his teachings about being fair to others, loving your neighbour (always the hardest to love) and showing compassion, then I believe you’re on the right path. Just as Jesus showed compassion to the Samaritan woman (who was despised for her religion, race and misdemeanors) he demonstrated that we have a responsibility to each other as human beings which transcends arbitrary labels. Continue reading

Do you know an educator that made a difference?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Imagine teaching the Holocaust to white, Christian, small-town schoolchildren in present-day Tennessee. How does an educator bring the concept to them in a way they can understand? Paper clips.

Educators in Whitwell, Tennessee, a blue-collar town of about 1600 people with no Jewish residents and few students of color, created an after-school Holocaust Education class for 8th graders as a method for teaching respect.

The students were overwhelmed by the number of Holocaust victims. They learned that Norwegians wore paper clips on their lapels to protest Nazi occupation.  The students decided to collect six-million paper clips–a paper clip for each Jewish life taken by the Nazis. Continue reading

Sunday Thoughts with Bob Pickering

Bob and June Pickering

Thought for Week: This week we will meet people who are in need. Some will be hungry, some ill and others just may need a door opened for them. We are blessed with the spirit of helpfulness so let us look out for others- let’s lend a helping hand in God’s name.

From Hillary Clinton: You can decide to bring people together, or you can fall prey to people who wish to divide us. You can be someone who educates yourself, or you can believe that being negative is being clever and being cynical is fashionable. You have a choice!

(Philippians 2 vs. 3&4)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Bob Pickering is the author of thirty one Days of Grace and God is my Spinach. His writing focuses on being a whole person in spirit, mind and body. Bob and June, his wife of more than 40 years, have four children and nine grandchildren.

Tomorrow: Do you know an educator that made a difference?

MN Masala: Lamb Spiedies

Jane and Chux

By Jane and Chux: I was first introduced to spiedies when I lived in Endicott and Binghamton, New York more than 30 years ago.  I quickly learned that spiedies are special to that region of New York and were served at local eateries, bars and summer festivals.

Spiedies are meat kabobs made with a marinade of olive oil, vinegar, spices and mint.  I recall they were the perfect snack for bars and festivals because of how they are traditionally served.  You take a slice of soft Italian white bread and wrap it around the cooked meat on the skewer and pull the meat off with the bread.  The kebab can then be eaten like a sandwich.  Delicious.

This summer while at the Minnesota State Fair, we purchased a spiedie from a visiting New York vendor.  It was exactly as we remembered all those years ago.  We were then inspired to make our own lamb spiedies as one of our last summer grilling hurrahs.

We used our Yakatori grill, which is perfect for grilling these small skewers of meat over high heat; however, spiedies can be made on any grill.  This marinade can be used for any meat you like (chicken, beef, pork, or lamb).   Spiedies tend to be very tangy given the amount of vinegar in the marinade.

We added some sugar to balance this out, yet some tartness is what makes it a spiedie.  After grilling these kebabs, take a fresh slice of Italian bread, pull off the meat and enjoy with your favorite beverage!  Or serve the skewers on their own with some sides (as pictured). Continue reading

Describe your Most Magnificent Day

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: The adage is to live each day as if it is your last. That would be great, except in the real world, laundry needs to be done, meals need to be cooked, children need to be bathed, and paychecks must be earned.

It is way too much pressure to think about The Last Day.
Instead, let’s think about how we would define our Most Magnificent Day.

  • On my Most Magnificent Day, I would awake after 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. (If your Magnificent Day does not involve sleep, good for you; I declare you superior.)
  • My Most Magnificent Day would involve some time with The Family, and some time without.
  • The time with The Family would involve an adventure, preferably in another country, but foreign travel is not required. (We had a great time visiting the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.)
  • My Most Magnificent Day would include hanging out with The Sis. It doesn’t matter what we do; we always have a good time.
  • My Most Magnificent Day would include time with my friends, and time with friends would most likely involve wine and excellent food and much, much laughing.
  • My Most Magnificent Day would conclude with some quiet time by myself with a great book.

Reading through this list, I’m not sure if my dream of a Most Magnificent Day is too big or too small.

What do you think? Describe your Most Magnificent Day.

Tomorrow: MN Masala with Jane and Chux