The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Schismatics Returned

You have probably heard of the Catholic Church's recent move to bring back the schismatic group called The Society of Saint Pius X back into the fold. You may have heard that one of the bishops is a holocaust denier and an anti-Semite (those two seem to go hand in hand, don't they?) You may have wondered why it took the Pope so long to issue some kind of retraction, apology or statement in the wake of massive public outcry.

At first, some of the logic made sense: They wanted to re-unite people who have left, and they respect their intellectual freedom. An anti-Semite is an unacceptable choice for a bishop from a pastoral standpoint, but in theory at least his personal political views should be personal. However, that argument doesn't hold up all too well when you see that people are being excommunicated for speaking out in favor of the ordination of women, such as what happened to activist Fr. Roy Bourgeois. So much for intellectual freedom.

Other people ask me: Why did the parents of a child in Brazil who recently had an abortion get excommunicated, but murders, rapists and others do not face such a public shunning? I really can't give any good answer to this. I suppose all mortal sins carry with them a de facto excommunication, which holds until a penitent person reconciles with God and those they have wronged. Maybe the excommunication is just a way to draw public attention for other reasons. Hey, don't ask me, I don't support the move. But symbols are powerful and if you try to gauge where the Vatican is at based on what they emphasize and focus on, it does not paint a very good story.

Bringing the schismatics back is flawed on other levels. Denying the legitimacy of any of the Church councils is not permitted, yet these schismatics do not recognize the authority of Vatican II. So if I get this right, if you deny Vatican II, you can be welcomed back into the Church with open arms, even after you have had a forbidden ordination . . . but simply speak in favor of women's ordination and you are out. The math is easy here.

So many people put the pope on such a pedestal that they can't see the glaring bullshit right in front of them. This is basic common sense, and the only thing stopping people from seeing it are the rose-colored glasses. I am disappointed in my fellow Catholic at times like these, because they usually impress me by having that agrarian kind of common sense.

That begs the question then why would I want to be part of a church that crosses the line of sheer absurdity so often? That is a question for another day, but I can say that if I based my faith on the antics of the hierarchy I would have been gone a long time ago. That's just not where it's at for me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting Wax Off Apples

I have heard all the arguments in favor of it, but I still don't like (nor do I trust) artificial wax on apples. For starters, I just don't like the taste and texture of it, regardless of whether there are no ill health effects.

I have tried different kinds of off-the-shelf solutions that supposedly remove it, but they end up leaving an even worse taste--sometimes an outrageously bad taste. And bad, as they say, is not good.

But alas, I have found a way to handle this: The hot water valve on the company coffee machine.

I put my apple in a cereal bowl and pour some hot water over the apple. I swish it around in the hot water for a few seconds, then wipe it off firmly with a paper towel. You can see the waxy film in the water, so it is doing some good.

At home, I simply get hot water from the tea kettle to do the same thing.

Am I reducing the nutritional value by subjecting the apple skins to hot water? I don't know. It does cause some slight discoloration and for apples with thin skin you can end up reducing the crunchiness of the skins substantially. However, most apples taste just fine. I suppose if there are any living microbes on the skin they might be killed off, but I don't imagine too many microbes surviving under a wax coating in the first place. The apple does not spend much time in the hot water, though.

The end result is that the apples tastes better.

Added Later: I have read that sometimes the wax can actually hold in pesticide residue that the growers did not clean off. Getting the wax off offers you then a better chance of getting any leftover pesticide residue off, as well!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rice & Water

What's the difference between standing water and sitting water?

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I am happy as a lark today. I cooked up some whole-grain, brown rice and it turned out beautiful, tasty and fluffy. It is from a 25 lb bag of rice that I got dirt cheap at GFS. I made another variety of rice last week, and it was a soggy, mooshy mess. It was hard enough to finish one batch of it, good thing I don't have 25 lbs of it. This new stuff is great.

People claim that rice is so difficult to make. I suppose that can be true, considering my experiences last week. But it seems that if you stick to the rules, most rice can turn out just fine. You just get some rice and use double the amount of water as rice. Throw a little bit of salt, butter or a bay leaf in. When it comes to a boil, put a lid on it and reduce the heat as low as it will go and still boil. After about 40 minutes, it is done and just needs to be fluffed up and seasoned (half the time for white rice). They say don't take the lid off while cooking, but I have done it on occasion to stir and it turned out fine. Squeeze a lime at the end and throw in some chopped cilantro and you can duplicate Chipotle rice.

I'll be making some fried rice from a recipe from Scott soon. It is also great to make what Erin and I call Chipotle a la casa--dump some beans and rice together and slobber with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, cheese, chopped onions--whatever you have on hand. It is a great meal that can be eaten on a regular basis. Pat and I like to have a batch of beans and rice available in the fridge at all times.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Before we form opinions about other people, we should consider not where they are but how far they had to go to get there.
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My creative juices have been a little dry lately, so that is often a good time to pay a visit to my "drafts" folder to see if there is anything there I can use. That's where I found this statement above. I don't remember if I came up with it or whether it is an adaptation of something I had heard. A wiser man probably had a better idea when he suggested we just don't judge at all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

News & Views

I've often been told I don't share enough personal information on my blog. Contrary to popular lore, I do listen to my gaggle of critics, such as they are. So in an attempt to balance things out, here are some goings on:

* I dropped one of my two classes this semester. It required a huge time commitment in the form of several nights a week of hard study. It just wasn't feasible. This has been a season of paring down. I've spent a lot of my life living vicariously through my dreams. Now, I'm trying to figure out what I can actually do and do well. There's a time where you put the rubber to the road, when the only way to make a dream into reality is to get the nuts and bolts in order and do the actual steps it takes to get there. I'm very acutely aware of the gap between what I think I can do and what I actually do. It requires me to be honest with myself and strategic with my time.

* There have been a lot of transitions in my life lately. The Catholic Worker has been a boatload of fun. My eyes were tearing up last week when we had a beautiful dinner set-up and ready to offer to any hungry person who came to the door. The house is often filled with warm laughter and the budding of a community. We may really be on the verge of doing something great here. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

* Not all transitions are easy, such as my newly single life. I try to stay as busy as possible and that helps. Down time is killer. I've come painfully close to making contact, again. It is at those moments where little angels cause my hand to miss when I guide the mouse pointer over to the "send" button. The painful reality is that sometimes the best way to care about someone is to leave them alone. I just hope they know that.

* I've had a cold/sore throat the last 2 months straight. My throat has been hurting a lot when I sing. I hope it is just a function of the cold and not a more serious vocal issue.

* I believe there was a real musical chemistry when I played with Kris and Bonnie at St. Francis. We just seemed to blend well together as a group. I've played with a number of musicians and it doesn't always happen like that. I hope we don't wait until next year to play together again! I just found my banjo finger picks so I am ready to kick it up a notch!

* My uncle is coming down next month to spend a week with me. He'll be in town for a massage therapy workshop. I'm sure he'll enjoy the deluxe accommodations at the Catholic Worker house!

* You could say I am still church hopping, but the difference is that I am not all over the board, anymore. I've settled nicely in about 3 places. I am growing to like St. James the Less more and more, the parish there has impressed me from day one and continues to do so. I enjoy taking the occasional romp to St. Francis, usually to give Pat a ride or just for a change of scenery. It feels like a home away from home. Like my prof says, "how could you not like it there?" Sundays nights I play guitar with the group at Ohio Dominican. I've even brought out the banjo a few times! The group there has a strong enthusiasm for playing at mass, and that is so refreshing. In college, I had to drag singers kicking and screaming to accompany me for mass on campus. This is altogether different.

What else do you want to know?

Homeowners: It's Time

Homeowners can start contacting their lenders to see if they qualify for mortgage assistance or refinancing from the new Obama plan. You usually have to meet the following criteria, taken from this site:

  • have obtained their mortgage before Jan. 1, 2009;
  • have a primary mortgage of less than $729,500;
  • live in the property;
  • fully document their income by providing tax returns and pay stubs;
  • sign a statement of financial hardship; and
  • go for counseling if their total household debt - including auto loans, credit cards and alimony - totals more than 55% of their income.