My Master's Degree is centered around the use of art in religion. This is actually a pretty big subject. I could easily make a dissertation out of just trying to explain what is it is all about and why I am studying it. Ready -
O.K. I'll spare you. (Believe me when I say the restraint I am imposing on myself right now is of legendary proportions.)
Any who - when I started my degree I choose to limit my research to the use of art in the Orthodox Copitc, Egyptian, Church (another paper in that - yes you just dodged another one).
I attend the closest Coptic Church every few weeks as part of my research and field study, and, because I find I am enjoying it. People are beginning to recognize me and I am made to feel quite welcome there.
As a rule the Copts take the injunction of caring for the poor and needy very seriously (Matt 25:35 - 40). Every service I have attended at the Coptic Church to date has included a discussion from the pulpit about the subject. What with the - ah-hem - in-ter-es-ting things happening in Egypt recently there is a significant number of poor and needy in the local Coptic community; people who are fleeing the turmoil in Egypt with little more then the clothes on their backs for the safety of the Coptic diaspora. I have come to observe that the Copts understand that just giving people handouts does not equal caring for the poor and needy. The Coptic community finds creative ways to provide the care these people need with out taking their dignity. (Ummm, waxing political here - could certain of our government agencies learn something useful here - would they?).
Food. Great home made Mediterranean dishes. The supplies needed to make this great food is purchased and given to the 'poor and needy' who make all kinds of home made dishes, frozen take-away style - pastries, cookies, entrees, pickled stuffs, pints of sauces, and so on. After services on Sunday and at other activities throughout the week the dishes are sold. Proceeds go to buy things people need, and supplies to make more prepared dishes to sell. A few people I talked to who were buying the food did so not because they really needed it but because they knew they were providing care and service to people in need. Many others commented on the service these prepared dishes provided to them. Busy mothers bought plates of sweets and cookies for their children's school lunches; dual income families bought prepared dinners so they could come home from a long day's work to a quickly reheated home cooked meal; college students stocked up on enough food to see them through a week of long days spent in class and at study.
I bought a plate of samosa style pastries; I don't read Arabic so I don't know what they are called nor do I have any idea what is in them; although it is Lent this week so I was inform they are vegetarian. I also got a quart of frozen falafel batter. As soon as I got home I set about fixing myself a lovely Egyptian lunch. While I heated up a pastry and fried spoonfuls of falalel batter in some healthy coconut oil, I pondered upon the thought that I would have paid at least $30 plus tip for this amount of the exact same food at the local Mediterranean Restaurant. I have enough for three maybe four meals. Even as I watched my falafel balls fall apart I was pleased to think that the measly $6 I paid was helping another fellow being in need, as I enjoyed the food they prepared to serve my needs - I think I received the greater gift.
So, I drained the excess oil from the crumpled falafel, then, tossed in some diced carrots, celery and zucchini, some cilantro, cooked rice, and spinach - - -
Falafel stir fry? Anyone?