Eating Tomatoes Makes You a Christian

Salafist Muslims proclaim that eating tomatoes might lead you down the false path to Christianity.

The group posted a photo on its page of a tomato – which appears to reveal the shape of a cross after being cut in half – along with the message: “Eating tomatoes is forbidden because they are Christian. [The tomato] praises the cross instead of Allah and says that Allah is three (a reference to the Trinity).

[God help us]. I implore you to spread this photo because there is a sister from Palestine who saw the prophet of Allah [Mohammad] in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating them [tomatoes]. If you don’t spread this [message], know that it is the devil who stopped you.”

Silly fundamentalists. Eating tomatoes will lead you to worship Coatlicue.

It’s Mabon, so … canta y no llores

The Marquez Brothers of Pueblo, Colo., playing at the Harvest Festival at the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City.

My approach to the eight-festival Pagan calendar works like this: the cross-quarter days are for ritual—be that outdoor bonfires or black candles at midnight.

The quarter days—solstices and equinoxes—are for public and communal celebrations: with the whole public, not just with other Pagans.

The fall equinox offers choice of harvest festivals: the Chile & Frijoles (pinto beans) festival in Pueblo (bigger) or the Holy Cross Abbey Winery Harvest Festival in Cañon City—smaller but still crowded.

M. and I chose the latter this year, buying elderberry jam and garlicky goat cheese and drinking Abbey wines under the blazing sun.  Two guys in charro outfits up from Pueblo played a rancherarockbillysoft rock mix, which is exactly what you expect from a Pueblo band.

Vineyard at Holy Cross Abbey, Cañon City, Colorado

Now the Myth-Making Begins

That stuff on the winery home page about “simple Benedictine Fathers had a dream”—sounds good, right? Don’t the grape vines just look right next to the Gothic Revival abbey?

But the Holy Cross Benedictines were not “simple.”  They were school teachers for the most part, running a well-respected secondary school for boys (boarding and day students) from the 1920s until it closed in 1985. Like so much Catholic education, it was a victim of demographics: not enough new monks and priests coming up, not enough church financial support to afford to pay lay (non-monastic) teachers, so no way to keep the doors open and the lights on.

After that, the dwindling number of elderly monks rented out their buildings to the community college and other users.

The winery, meanwhile, did not open until 2002. It employs no monks in its day-to-day operations. The monks could not have made wine for sale in the 1920s anyway because of Prohibition. Their mission was educational.

But the idea of “monks making wine” is so appealing that in a generation people will be strolling the grounds of the abbey talking about how the Benedictines came to Cañon City “a hundred years ago” to plant vineyards and bottle  some good cabernet franc. I would bet money on it.

It is not unlike saying that the local morris dancers or village harvest festival represent an unbroken survival from ancient Paganism instead of—in either case—something (re)invented by an antiquarian-minded vicar.

Of course, that Chile & Frijoles Festival—great street festival that it is—is a relatively new creation too. This was its seventeenth year.

It represents a conscious attempt by Pueblo’s elite to re-cast the city’s image as a tourist-friendly sort of Santa Fe North, instead of the grimy steel mill town that it was for decades, dominated by union Democrats with Italian and Slavic surnames.

But Pueblo does have a good climate for growing peppers.

(As to the post’s title, the musicians played “Cielito Lindo,” of course.)

Religion and Foodways

Read this post about an Egyptian television cooking show and the importance of foodways in religion, if only for the all-too-typical “Polish cookies” anecdote.

I cannot see any Pagans today using the “Polish cookies” line, although we do have all too many people invested in boundary maintenance.

What is [any subdivision of’] Pagan cooking, anyway? And what would be considered objectionable food?

Cocktails for Pagans

Bohemian Spritz
Bohemian Spritz (New York Times photo)

Who says that today’s Pagans are not influencing the larger culture?

The New York Times’ Style section offers the “right drink” for every winter holiday party, including the Bohemian Spritz for “dilettante Pagans” celebrating the solstice. (If that link is problematic, try this one.)

For those slightly weary of the familiar fa-la-la, or for those who are opposed to even the slightest whisper of organized religion, a solstice party provides a refreshing diversion. While actual hard-core pagans [sic] are probably drinking something murky and ancient, a more streamlined beverage might be better for dabblers. The Bohemian Spritz (another creation of Vandaag’s Katie Stipe) is a light, fizzy wine drink with compellingly arboreal undercurrents, provided by pine and elderflower cordials. It is ideal for welcoming the long nights, for putting the Krampus back in Christmas.

One question, where do you get pine liqueur?

UPDATE: Apparently one looks for Zirbenschnapps or Un Sapin, described as “very hard to find—even in France.”

Why You Should Lock Your Car While Shopping at Whole Foods

“Ethical consumers less likely to be kind and more likely to steal, study finds,” is the subhead on an article in the lefty British newspaper The Guardian.

OK, several caveats. This is one study by two social scientists in Canada. Science reporting in the daily press is sometimes sensationalized, and, further, I think you can design a psychological survey to prove anything. (Actual social scientists may want to differ, but that is my impression.)

But it’s ironic to see The Guardian sticking it to Al Gore:

When Al Gore was caught running up huge energy bills at home at the same time as lecturing on the need to save electricity, it turns out that he was only reverting to “green” type.

If I am at all inclined to believe Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, it is because in my youth I met too many people who preached “peace and love, man,” but who would steal anything not nailed down. Their professions of morality in some areas seemed to excuse (to them) their behavior in other areas.

A PDF file of the study itself is available at Professor Mazar’s site.