Friday, November 30, 2007

In Hope We Were Saved

The encyclical letter
of Pope Benedict XVI addresses one of my favorite topics. Of course, since faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for, it is about faith just as much as hope. As with Saint Paul's letters, it starts theologically and then moves to practice, engaging with contemporary philosophical and political thought.

Here there is vibrant Faith which engages the modern world and proclaims eternal Truth with authority as nowhere else in Christendom. To be sure, one can find this person with vibrant faith, that person who engages modern though and then yet another who speaks with authority; however, to have all three witnesses united in one person is crucial for the ongoing health of the Church. As Zadok says in his blog entry: I think this encyclical deserves particular attention for the manner in which it manages to incorporate some pretty serious biblical exegesis and modern philosophy in a fairly accessible manner.

This encyclical is related to the previous Deus Caritas Est.

The encyclical Spe Salvi was initially released in English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. There's a page at the Vatican which lists some of the latest documents, with various translations.

Getting back to Spe Salvi, in the more academic early section there is this paragraph:

7. We must return once more to the New Testament. In the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews (v. 1) we find a kind of definition of faith which closely links this virtue with hope. Ever since the Reformation there has been a dispute among exegetes over the central word of this phrase, but today a way towards a common interpretation seems to be opening up once more. For the time being I shall leave this central word untranslated. The sentence therefore reads as follows: “Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen”. For the Fathers and for the theologians of the Middle Ages, it was clear that the Greek word hypostasis was to be rendered in Latin with the term substantia. The Latin translation of the text produced at the time of the early Church therefore reads: Est autem fides sperandarum substantia rerum, argumentum non apparentium—faith is the “substance” of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen. Saint Thomas Aquinas,4 using the terminology of the philosophical tradition to which he belonged, explains it as follows: faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see. The concept of “substance” is therefore modified in the sense that through faith, in a tentative way, or as we might say “in embryo”—and thus according to the “substance”—there are already present in us the things that are hoped for: the whole, true life. And precisely because the thing itself is already present, this presence of what is to come also creates certainty: this “thing” which must come is not yet visible in the external world (it does not “appear”), but because of the fact that, as an initial and dynamic reality, we carry it within us, a certain perception of it has even now come into existence. To Luther, who was not particularly fond of the Letter to the Hebrews, the concept of “substance”, in the context of his view of faith, meant nothing. For this reason he understood the term hypostasis/substance not in the objective sense (of a reality present within us), but in the subjective sense, as an expression of an interior attitude, and so, naturally, he also had to understand the term argumentum as a disposition of the subject. In the twentieth century this interpretation became prevalent—at least in Germany—in Catholic exegesis too, so that the ecumenical translation into German of the New Testament, approved by the Bishops, reads as follows: Glaube aber ist: Feststehen in dem, was man erhofft, Überzeugtsein von dem, was man nicht sieht (faith is: standing firm in what one hopes, being convinced of what one does not see). This in itself is not incorrect, but it is not the meaning of the text, because the Greek term used (elenchos) does not have the subjective sense of “conviction” but the objective sense of “proof”. Rightly, therefore, recent Prot- estant exegesis has arrived at a different interpretation: “Yet there can be no question but that this classical Protestant understanding is untenable.”5 Faith is not merely a personal reaching out towards things to come that are still totally absent: it gives us something. It gives us even now something of the reality we are waiting for, and this present reality constitutes for us a “proof” of the things that are still unseen. Faith draws the future into the present, so that it is no longer simply a “not yet”. The fact that this future exists changes the present; the present is touched by the future reality, and thus the things of the future spill over into those of the present and those of the present into those of the future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mercy and Justice

With Leon Podles book, Sacrilege, out recently I find various comments on a posting his at Touchstone's Mere Comments about
Huessein and Punishment very interesting. A significant percentage of the comments show, in my opinion, the same social irresponsibility. To turn a blind eye and to stop one's ears against just condemnation just compounds the problems. In fact, having browsed through the various comments on that thread, I think I'll have to put Podles book on my little library list though I'd rather ignore the whole matter.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Immaculate Conception

From First Things:

The project known as Evangelicals and Catholics Together is now in its thirteenth year—following its initial statement, “The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium,” with much-discussed statements on salvation, Scripture, and the Communion of Saints.

The group is currently engaged in studying what can be said together about the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a number of participants were asked to prepare preliminary papers. Though these are only first thoughts and not final positions, we thought our readers would find them interesting. With the permission of the authors, we will be posting five of these papers over the next five days—papers by Edward T. Oakes, J.I. Packer, T.M. Moore, Cornelius Plantinga and Matthew Levering.

It will be interesting to see how this relates to current discussion about the 'least common denominator' phenomenon.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sin and Grace

Father John Heidt (Anglican) writes:

Whereas the Protestant Evangelical starts with sin and atonement, the Catholic builds his theology upon creation and grace. The Catholic believes that we are sinful but we are not depraved; we are sick human beings but we are still human; we have lost our likeness to God but we are still made in His image. We can never excuse our sinfulness by saying that we are only human, for, after all, what more do we want to be!

The Catholic recognizes the horror of sin because he first has some idea of what we are meant to be. It is his glimpse into the natural law of creation that also makes him want to obey the law of God. The doctrine of creation leads to repentance; without it man’s attempt to obey the moral law leads only to neuroses.

Grace restores the divine image in man. Salvation comes through growth in grace, not through some kind of substitution deal between Jesus and His Father. Because grace saves us from the effects of our sins, we are no longer slaves but friends of God. Though our sins make us unworthy to come into His presence, by divine grace we are made worthy to stand before him.
Through the re-presentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the sacraments rather than morality are the primary means of our salvation, “sure and certain means by which we receive grace.” That is why moral theologians such as Kenneth Kirk and Robert Mortimer insist that in the celebration of the sacraments the safest course must always be followed. And that is why Anglo-Catholics along with the rest of the Catholic world cannot accept any change in their administration that runs counter to the plain witnesss of scripture and the practice of the undivided church or casts doubt upon their reality in a period of reception – not even for the sake of establishing some sort superficial political alliance with our fellow-Christians.

Friday, November 23, 2007

soundtrack for Thanksgiving beauty

Need a soundtrack to go along with the beauty of, say, the Blue Ridge Parkway on Thanksgiving day with sunshine and clouds playing tag? Anton Bruckner's Mass in F minor is wonderful (I was listening to performance conducted by Sergiu Celibidache).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Catholicity of the Church

There's a wonderful little book: Mary: the Church at the Source which contains essays by Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar. I particularly like the concluding essay by Balthasar, which contains this paragraph:

Jesus Christ is called the Alpha and Omega: he has not only bound us back to our lost beginning, the Father, but has also set us in motion toward his absolute future. He alone is the force that binds together the beginning and the end, the force that can reconcile in itself, as the higher third, the two divergent world views: past and future, Buddhism and Marxism. For only in him is God presence, and so he alone can be the way back to the origin and ahead toward the consummation. Buddha, in pure faith prefers the lost, bygone origin to everything present, to all apparent being. Marx, in pure hope, prefers the absolute goal to everything present, to all that actually exists. Christ alone establishes absolute love. This love, looking out from the present being of the world, which is affirmed by God, embraces at one and the same time both the beginning and the end.

This concluding essay (The Catholicity of the Church), while only twenty pages, addresses all the core issues in Balthasar's typical wide-ranging manner. If someone were to say to me, "Not that I've any interest in entering the Catholic church, but I'm really interested in what prompted you. Can you recommend a short article that gets are what's most important from your viewpoint?" then this article by Balthasar is what I'd recommend.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NT Wright interview

NT Wright was interviewed by Trevin Wax on November 15, 2007 at Asbury Seminary and the transcript and audio podcast are online. Here's a little excerpt:

The word “salvation” denotes rescue. Rescue? What from? Well, of course, ultimately death. And since it is sin that colludes with the forces of evil and decay, sin leads to death. So we are rescued from sin and death.

Now those may be the same event as the present and future justification. But the word “salvation” and the word “justification” are not interchangeable.

It’s as though, supposing we have a class that starts at 9:00 in the morning and suppose that 9:00 in the morning also happens to the be the moment when the sun rises in the middle of winter. Now you can say “sunrise” or you can say “the beginning of class.” Those denote the same moment, but they connote something quite different. One is a statement about things that are going on in the wider world. Another is a statement about something very specific that’s happening this morning in my educational experience. They may be the same moment.

In the same way, justification present and future correspond to salvation present and future, but they’re different language systems to talk about different sorts of events that happen to be taking place at the same time. That’s hugely important. And it happens when we’re reading Isaiah, as well as when we’re reading Paul actually.

People have often said, “Your idea…” (pointing to me) “…that future salvation will be based on the whole life led.” I say, Excuse me. I didn’t write Romans 2:1-16! Romans 2:1-16 is Romans 2:1-16. The evangelical tradition has screened out Romans 2 because it didn’t know what it was there for. Because the great evangelical tradition to which I’m hugely indebted tends to say, “We know a priori that Romans 1:18-3:20 basically says, ‘You’re all sinners and that’s it’ in order that then, 3:21 and following can say, ‘You’re all saved by grace through faith.’” And so they screen out the fine tuning of what 1:18-3:20 is actually about.

Why no conversion story

I came into the Catholic Church this past Easter, after 57 years in evangelical/charismatic congregations. I've not written any testimony about that as I don't have much to say on that score that others haven't said many times, for example here.

However, this entire blog and the related Little Library spring from the conversion.

Childrens' Books

In a meditation on children's literature, Tony Esolen mentions the Young Folks' Shelf of Books. This collection is also known as the Collier Junior Classics, which I read about fifty years ago and still remember the books' appearance.

Blessed Antonio Rosmini

"This afternoon at Novara there will be beatified the venerable servant of God, Antonio Rosmini, a great figure of a priest and an illustrious man of culture, animated by fervid love for God and the Church. He bore witness to the virtue of charity in all of its dimensions and at a high level, but that for which he was mostly known was his generous commitment to what he called "intellectual charity," that is to say the reconciliation of faith and reason. May his example help the Church, especially Italian ecclesial communities, to grow in the awareness that the light of reason and that of grace, when they walk together, become a source of benediction for the human person and for society." - Pope Benedict XVI

Sunday, November 18, 2007

With Regard To Americanism

Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical in 1899: TESTEM BENEVOLENTIAE NOSTRAE
Concerning New Opinions, Virtue, Nature And Grace, With Regard To Americanism. This is still relevant today.

Friday, November 16, 2007


For many of us, the first books we remember spending time with were volumes from this or that encyclopedia. Further, it didn't matter a great deal how out of date the entries were; in fact, differences from popular opinion just added interest. Of course, one didn't get poetry there; nevertheless, only the narrow-minded would take encyclopedias as being in conflict with poetical viewpoint.

My little library only has room for a one volume encyclopedia: Aristotle's Basic Works.

And in Charlottesville

And in Charlottesville at St Thomas Aquinas parish, Fr Augustine Thompson founded (2005) a schola that regularly sings at Sunday's early Mass, see their home page.

By the way, Fr Thompson's book "Cities of God" is reviewed by Amy Welborn, who says:

it's a book bursting with fascinating details, thoroughly and carefully related.

You may wonder..huh. A book about...what? Italian Communes? Religion? Why should I care?

For the same reason any of us should care about history - there's no way to understand the present without an awareness of where we have been. A truism, of course, and a point Catholics think that we get, but the thing is...we don't. We amateurs don't at least. We think we've got the general outlines of the past, but as history marches on, it's becoming clear how much of that outline was simply wrong and, in many cases, weighted by the prejudices of previous generations of historians who could not or would not tell the truth.

Part of this, too, is rooted in our refusal (or inability) to truly think historically - that is to allow the past to be the past without our hindsight. To see people and their choices in the context of their times, in the framework of what they knew and believed and what they could do, as opposed to what we think they should have done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dr William Mahrt

Dr. William Mahrt is a professor of music history at Stanford who also directs a Gregorian schola (the St. Anne Choir) at St. Thomas Aquinas parish on Homer Avenue in Palo Alto, California.

There's an article on Gregorian Chant as a Paradigm by Dr Mahrt at Musica Sacra, as well as an article On Music in Catholic Worship.

The Stanford alumni magazine has an article, On Wings of Song which remarks:

Perhaps it isn’t so surprising, then, that not everyone who is devoted to plainsong in its religious setting is Roman Catholic. Susan Weisberg, a social worker at Stanford Hospital who joined the choir in 1989, is Jewish, but her attraction to the liturgy is longstanding. “When I was young, growing up in New York in the pre-Vatican II days, I would go to midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral regularly on Christmas Eve,” she recalls. “I was fascinated by the mystery—the words, the music, the incense. This music has always been with me.”

For years, after moving to Stanford with her husband, Law School professor Robert Weisberg, JD ’79, she attended the feast day Masses sung by the St. Ann Choir. Weisberg finally summoned the courage to ask Mahrt if she could join.

“I didn’t know anything about the notation and the liturgy and the Latin: I was a three-time loser. Would anyone with these daunting odds want to continue? Yes,” she says emphatically. “Bill is so knowledgeable, and he’s so enthusiastic about the chant. I’m thoroughly hooked.”

Catholic Media

The Protestant Reformation leveraged the printing press and Pentecostals leveraged radio and then television (for a general history, my little library uses Alister McGrath's Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution - A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twentieth-First).

With its inherent ability to cross-reference and interconnect, the Internet's World Wide Web gives the Catholic Church a communications media most suitable to its nature. However, I suspect it will take thirty years or so before that becomes widely understood.

Sacrament of Confirmation

There's an interesting discussion about the sacrament of confirmation at Canterbury Tales, Taylor Marshall's blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Adore, be silent, rejoice

There are pages about Blessed Antonio Rosmini at the English Rosmini Centre.

Hopefully, English translations of Rosmini's writings will become more widely available after his beatification on November 18th, 2007.

Dear valued customer

I got a newsletter from Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship today.

It began: "Dear valued customer,"

[long pause]

I think I'll go to early Mass tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gregorian Chant workshop

We went to a two day workshop on gregorian chant, led expertly by Scott Turkington, at Saint John the Beloved in Mclean. There were 100 people at the workshop, with the knowledge of chant generally far above our own; nevertheless, we had a great time and learned a good deal. It was also a good opportunity to make connections with future friends. I'll be posting more on this later and also on questions about parish liturgy and ecclesiology which arose or gained more prominence.

How to effectively broaden and deepen the liturgical practice in one's parish is a difficult matter and, I think, there are lots of ways to get off track if one loses patience and charity.

Even if one is in a parish where latin is rare or non-existant, it seems to me that gregorian chant is excellent voice training for the choir and, for that matter, for anyone wanting to improve their vocal skills. That's the track I'm probably going to take, concentrating on the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Pater Noster using versions in the Liber Cantualis. And just for variety, the beautiful hymn, Adoro Te Devote. There are some useful midi files here and some mp3 files here. More advanced material is at Musica Sacra.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

On Willow Creek

As Fr. Robert Hart says, Oops:

Everyone from plumbers, to doctors, to generals, knows that to "rethink all of our old assumptions" is to choose the path of unlearning, to un-educate and "dumb down" your own mind. It is to throw away the wealth of knowledge gathered over many years that is essential to doing the job.

The Spirit Catches You

Speaking of Kant, I'd intended to leave science & technology out of the library altogether; however, that proved unrealistic. So, having added the Critique, I also added Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You, and You Fall Down in order to maintain the little library's balance. Given the restriction to a dozen books, and wanting to interact with current society without being restricted by it, a certain amount of breadth has to be given up.

The short brush strokes on this blog aim for an impressionistic oil of folks enjoying a dinner, of Fish Soup of course.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Kant's Critique

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason may seem lonely and out of place in my little library. It will be a good while before I get back to it. For now, I just want to remark that while philosophers may have particular uses, within their systems, for the virtual instruments they create, the tools can often be used in quite a different fashion than is customary in the world's traditions. In particular, the Critique of Pure Reason is useful for waving away various overconfident or even atheist nonsense, irrespective of the other critiques, once one acknowledges God's initiative.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gospel Hymn

1 WRETCHED, helpless, and distrest,
Ah! whither shall I fly?
Ever gasping after rest,
I cannot find it nigh:
Naked, sick, and poor, and blind,
Fast bound in sin and misery,
Friend of sinners, let me find
My help, my all, in thee!

2 I am all unclean, unclean,
Thy purity I want;
My whole heart is sick of sin,
And my whole head is faint;
Full of putrefying sores,
Of bruises, and of wounds, my soul
Looks to Jesus, help implores,
And gasps to be made whole.

3 In the wilderness I stray,
My foolish heart is blind,
Nothing do I know; the way
Of peace I cannot find:
Jesu, Lord, restore my sight,
And take, O take, the veil away!
Turn my darkness into light,
My midnight into day.

4 Naked of thine image, Lord,
Forsaken, and alone,
Unrenewed, and unrestored,
I have not thee put on;
Over me thy mantle spread,
Send down thy likeness from above,
Let thy goodness be displayed,
And wrap me in thy love.

5 Poor, alas! thou know'st I am,
And would be poorer still,
See my nakedness and shame,
And all my vileness feel;
No good thing in me resides,
My soul is all an aching void
Till thy Spirit here abides,
And I am filled with God.

6 Jesus, full of truth and grace,
In thee is all I want;
Be the wanderer's resting-place,
A cordial to the faint;
Make me rich, for I am poor;
In thee may I my Eden find;
To the dying health restore.
And eye-sight to the blind.

7 Clothe me with thy holiness,
Thy meek humility;
Put on me my glorious dress,
Endue my soul with thee;
Let thine image be restored,
Thy name and nature let me prove,
With thy fulness fill me, Lord.
And perfect me in love.

(Charles Wesley)

Communion of Saints

Of course, any discussion of community also reminds me that "I believe in the communion of saints." There is both an "already" and a "not yet" aspect to this and one holds both with a bit of tension. Folks who say the Apostle's Creed have, no doubt, a range of understanding of what this communion of saints means. The Catholic Church teaches, in the compendium:

194. What is the meaning of the “communion of saints”?

This expression indicates first of all the common sharing of all the members of the Church in holy things (sancta): the faith, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the charisms, and the other spiritual gifts. At the root of this communion is love which “does not seek its own interests” (1 Corinthians 13:5) but leads the faithful to “hold everything in common” (Acts 4:32), even to put one’s own material goods at the service of the most poor.

195. What else does “the communion of saints” mean?

This expression also refers to the communion between holy persons (sancti); that is, between those who by grace are united to the dead and risen Christ. Some are pilgrims on the earth; others, having passed from this life, are undergoing purification and are helped also by our prayers. Others already enjoy the glory of God and intercede for us. All of these together form in Christ one family, the Church, to the praise and glory of the Trinity.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Most folks are part of multiple communities: family, friends and work communities being dominant for many with Church overlapping for some. The overlapping of various sorts of communities contributes to general well-being and institutional vitality.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Friends

Friday we went up to Winchester to get Timba

who is very happy in her new home with us.

Yesterday we took our new friends from Wales, Mike and Kathy, on a country drive up Big Stoney Creek Road to the buffalo farm near Paint Bank

and then we took the mountain road across to Gap Miles. We'd intended to eat at the Moxie Cafe in Union, WV but they're in the process of moving, perhaps to near Lewisburg. We got various goodies at the Mennonite stores in Gap Miles and then went to Moncove Lake to have our tea and cinnamon buns.

We went on up Route 3 and then went back across the mountains on Route 311 into New Castle and then headed back to Shawsville. It's wonderful to meet new friends and also to have beautiful little country roads to explore with them, with fall leaves still on the trees under the crisp, bright blue sky.

It turns out that Mike & Kathy are good friends of Mom & Dad's old friends Al and Kay. When we first met them yesterday, they greeted us with "and how are Nancy and Marjorie?" and it was great to find out the particular way we're connected to them in this small world. Maybe sometime we'll be able to visit them in Swansea. If so, I'd probably worship at Saint Joseph's whereas MaryAlice is more inclined toward West Cross Community Church. If an Evan Roberts were in Swansea nowadays, might he possibly visit both?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Baby Skibitsky!

pregnancy week by week

Wonderful news: Megan and Jeff are expecting!

One of the things I'm looking forward to is painting with our grandchild. Fingerpainting with vivid colors on long sheets on what will become Christmas wrapping paper. And later, perhaps, learning to do more than that, myself. We can learn together which is one of the joys of having children, and grandchildren: one can relive one's childhood, consciously. Not manipulatively or with an agenda but just participating in the whole joy of life.

I've long thought that The Oxford Book of Children's Verse should have included some of Shakespeare's sonnets: From fairest creatures we desire increase, etc. A pregnant etc.

Also, there's the wonderful ontological category change: one's own child now becomes a parent, a peer, and we can talk more equitably. And pray for all with fervent joy.

Fetus is, of course, a good Latin baby name and one hesitates perhaps for more, not yet knowing appearance or personality. Still, there is the urge for the name. I've no preference myself, except for twins - how can you say such a thing, I think to myself! Anyway, to celebrate I think I'll type a poem, not about naming but it's relative, linguistics. And not by me, but Wystan Hugh Auden (when he was 62):

Natural Linguistics

Every created thing has ways of pronouncing its ownhood:
basic and used by all, even the mineral tribes,
is the hieroglyphical koine of visual appearance
which, though it lacks the verb, is, when compared with
our own
heaviest lexicons, so much richer and subtler in shape-nouns,
color-adjectives and apt prepositions of place.
Verbs first appear with the flowers who utter imperative odors
which, with their taste for sweets, insects are bound to obey:
motive, too, in the eyes of beasts is the language of gesture
(urban life has, alas, sadly impoverished ours),
signals of interrogation, friendship, threat and appeasement,
instantly taken in, seldom, if ever, misread.
All who have managed to break through the primal
barrier of Silence
into an audible world find an indicative AM:
though some carnivores, leaving messages in urine,
use a preterite WAS, none can conceive of a Will,
nor have they ever made subjunctive or negative statements,
even cryptics whose lives hang upon telling a fib.
Rage and grief they can sing, not self-reproach or repentance,
nor have they legends to tell, though their respect for a rite
is more pious than ours, for a complex code of releasers
trains them to walk in the ways which their un-ancestors trod.
(Some of these codes remain mysteries to us: for instance,
fish who travel in huge loveless anonymous turbs,
what is it keeps them in line? Our single certainty is that
minnows deprived of the fore-brains go it gladly alone.)
Since in their circles it's not good form to say anything novel,
none ever stutter or er, guddling in vain for a word,
none are at loss for an answer: none, it seems, are bilingual,
but, if they cannot translate, that is the ransom they pay
for just doing their thing, not greedily trying to publish
all the world as we do into our picture at once.
If they have never laughed, at least they have never talked drivel,
never tortured their own kind for a point of belief,
never, marching to war, inflamed by fortissimo music,
hundreds of miles from home died for a verbal whereas.

"Dumb" we may call them but, surely, our poets are right in assuming
all would prefer that they were rhetorized at than about.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Chicken Soup

The recipe over at Meanwhile, Back at the Kitchen prompted MaryAlice to say:

This is the way "real" soup is made not poured into a saucepan from a can & whisked around with some water! This is why "gourmet" restaurants charge so much for their food - it is tedious and takes time but most of it is not really "hard".

I thought of the old song, This is the way we wash our clothes, etc, this week, and looked it up. There is an order of housewifely duties set forth in it that women have been doing for centuries, that gave focus & so-called "meaning" to their days, and eventually added up to a life well lived taking good care of their families. Part of this taking care includes the preparation of food - very time consuming but overall, important. O, yes, we eat to live & not live to eat; this I have to remind myself of constantly.

And for me to reply:

Yes, I agree. While William Blake asserted that architecture is the foundation of culture, the part that best survives barbarism, I think he is definitely wrong. Cuisine is the foundation of culture. Not the haute cuisine of restaurants and royalty but the kitchen cooking that sustains life and spices it with time consuming dishes, as you say. The cooking of simple dishes that have simmered centuries and which coordinate with community and season.