Vegan ham reviews

Nothing seems to attract so much derision in a vegetarian diet as the prospect of a vegetarian ham.

Some, more serious vegetarians object to mock meats, and I’ve heard enough non-vegetarians dismiss the idea with disgust. “Why not eat the real thing?” But nobody looks at a sausage and asks, “why don’t you eat real snake?”

The fact is I liked ham before, and just because I don’t eat animals, it doesn’t mean I don’t tidbits of something chewy, smoky and savory in a hot or cold dish. That’s good enough to call it ham. Or even Spam. I liked it fried, in sandwiches, after all. If I can have that in a format I’m willing to eat, I will.

And they exist, in several different brands. But they’re almost all imported from Taiwan frozen, in one kilogram logs so large they can be fairly mistaken as a weapon. They’re not particulary easy to get, and a kilogram is a lot if you don’t like it. But I’ve never seen reviews (in English anyway, and the only other language I read is Esperanto.)

I want to help other would-be vegetarian ham eaters. My husband Jonathan and I bought three of these frozen ham logs — all vegan; be warned, some exist with egg white — over the Christmas holiday. As we eat them, I’ll review them.

Importing old articles from LowPlastic.com

It has been three years since I’ve added anything to my plastic-use reduction blog, LowPlastic.com, and the domain expires today. I’ve woved the old content to here and will tagging it — if I can — “low plastic.”

If I write anything else on the subject, it will be there.

Moving the ministry to RevScottWells.com

From here on, the focus of my writing ministry will be at RevScottWells.com, and that is

  1. interpreting Universalist Christianity for today, particularly in practical and popular ways, and
  2. identifying and developing methods to operate churches and other ministries more efficiently and economically, including worship and leadership development,

plus short notices and news as appropriate.

An archive of my writing, to date, will be mirrored at BoyintheBands.com, which will continue with miscellaneous religion news, pop culture and opinion. UniversalistChristian.org will continue as a documents archive, and will grow slowly to support my work at RevScottWells.com.

The name “Boy in the bands” started as wordplay on the stage play and film The Boys in the Band, and the Geneva bands I wear when preaching. The play doesn’t match my experience as a gay man (and never has), I’m hardly a boy, and I only preach occasionally (though I do still wear bands) so even if the name ever made sence as a public persona, it doesn’t now.

Changing domains means a hit to readership, but in time that heals. That said, I’d appreciate you reading my blog here, and sharing the word.

Thanks.

Crossposted at RevScottWells.com

Congregation count at the current UUA Board meeting

The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association is in the middle of its October meeting.

No great thought on my part, but I did note that there is a net loss of two congregations, per the Changes in Congregational Status (PDF) report.

The First Universalist Society of Salem (MA) has merged with First Parish in Beverly (MA).
All Souls Church UU (Durham, NC) has dissolved.

Does anyone know how true the musings I’ve heard that All Souls, while not paricularly Christian itself, came out of the aftermath of discussions in the early 1990s to start a Christian church there?

Sobering news in any case, and my best wishes to the parishoners in their new settings. (The All Souls website resolves to the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship site.)

Unitarian Universalism is not heresy

I’ll not hide the lede: Unitarian Universalism is not heresy, even when it’s not right.

It’s hurtful and vexing that it’s a common assertion that Unitarian Universalism is a heresy, and that it is built on heresies. [Here’s a link to a Google search for “unitarian universalist heresy” to underscore my point.] At worst, this claim demonstrates an adolescent rebellion against ghosts of authority. At best, it’s an assertion of choice in religion, with faulty etymology that overlooks the possibility of bad and harmful choices. Somewhere in between, proud heretics radiate the message “doesn’t play well with others” and “is impressed with own self.” Little wonder we’re the butt of jokes: we don’t even know when we’re insulted, or insult ourselves.

And you can see, off to one side, the more shark-like of opponents nodding in agreement. Unitarian Universalism is a heresy, and surely a damnable one, and their own opinions are — of course — true and edifying. That’s some deflective cover for their own shortcomings.

I don’t think it’s too controversial — though I’ve been wrong before — to say that people do make choices, so far as they are capable, and intend to choose the right. Praising heresy isn’t about valuing good choices, but devaluing the possibility of making the right choice, sticking to it and building from it. And I think that’s why so many people who enter Unitarian Universalism by the front door leave by the back. If one choice is as good as another, there’s a better chance the right answer is out there. Because if one choice is as good as another, then Unitarian Universalists — collectively — won’t work to cultivate it among ourselves. And if a spirit of heresy is true, why is there such little high-level discussion about theology, or indeed any serious disagreements?

Harsh words, perhaps, but look around our general fellowship. What do we have to show for ourselves? Are you satisfied with that?

Introductions to Universalism

A nice chat with other member of Universalist National Memorial Church after services today, over coffee. As sometimes happens, the matter of books came up, which merged with another comment about Hosea Ballou, and from there to books about Universalism.

I recommended two smallish, straight-forward books and a documentary history, if with reservations. Both are institutional histories, and both are irenic towards Unitarianism, positing Universalism as a close relation rather than a religious tradition on its own terms. Fine as denominational works, but also a bit unsatisfying for informing a faith, particularly a Christian faith. Of course, theological universalism is hot now — in evangelical circles, and so many of the faith-forward works are better for evangelicals. And the academic works are good for academics.

There’s room for a primer. In the mean time, here are those three books.

  • The Larger Faith by Charles A. Howe
  • American Universalism by George Huntston Williams
  • Universalism in America: A Documentary History of a Liberal Faith, ed. by Ernest Cassara

All three are from Skinner House, but only the first two are available at the UUA Bookstore.

Transcription workflow notes

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but I’ve not been inactive. And since I have the day off today, I thought I’d catch you up. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be putting up two chapters from the 1946 Parish Practice in Universalist Churches as text; I’ve previously posted it as a scanned PDF.

I want to discuss my workflow. I can do the odd report, but I’d like to see more Universalist and other documents transcribed, and to have typographic errors discovered and corrected. I shouldn’t be the bottleneck.

In the past — going back twenty years or so — I would photocopy a book, carefully crop it into a single column, rephotocopy these onto letter size and take them to a central computer center where they would be processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). I’d get a file back, and then edit it.  Later, I would use a flatbed scanner at home and OCR software at home, but some documents required the images being edited to one column. These processes were very time consuming. Sometimes, transcribing by keyboard was more efficient!

Image capture and OCR software have improved markedly. Today, instead of scanning, I take a picture with my phone, and use a graphical front-end to powerful OCR software to process the text. It’s not always clean — a second snap and process is sometimes necessary — but the improvement over twenty years ago is striking.

In particular, on my Ubuntu Linux (14.04 LTR) machine, I use YAGF — “Yet Another Graphical Front-end for cuneiform and tesseract OCR engines” with the tesseract engine.

Universalist polity document from 1951

Since I earlier opined that some of our conflicted Unitarian Universalist polity is the product of Universalist and Unitarian inheritances, I thought it best to “show my work” — or rather, some original documents.

1951 Universalist Laws of Fellowship, Government and Discipline

Some carryovers are obvious, and some fixes necessary. I recall a senior minister telling me of how a General Convention in the 1950s ground to a halt, as it was the final court of review. Can you imagine a General Assembly stopping in its tracks over a MFC matter? Well, I can, but I wouldn’t want to… But I also think there are protections lost from over-correction. What other continuations do you see? Things you’d like to see come back?

I’m also reorganizing and cleaning up the my documents site — UniversalistChurch.net — a bit, and will add more documents as time allows.

One day later: I’ve edited and put up the set from 1946. http://universalistchristian.net/…/1946-universalist…/

Noteworthy changes 1946 to 1951: higher standards for parishes and the education of ministers; easier to deactivate or sidestep under/dysfunctional state conventions. Note sure it’s germaine, but the 1946 set was job printed and bound, and the 1951 set was mimeographed and stapled. But the laws would go through three more revisions, until 1958, which should be seen less as Universalist than as pre-UUA.