I still experiment, but I typically start my curry with oil, turmeric and mustard seeds. I call it the aromatic miracle.

I still experiment, but I typically start my curry with oil, turmeric and mustard seeds. I call it the aromatic miracle.

When I first started cooking curry, I was in a small, dark and depressing dorm room in a Bible college in eastern Kentucky that sits in the foothills of the appalachian mountains. I had an Indian friend named Jeff, and he had two 10 cup rice cookers. In one we cooked curry, in the other basmati rice. We would take a few cloves of garlic and a couple onions, cut them fine, and then add them to oil we had warmed in the rice cooker we were treating like a stove top. We made some of the worst curry and some of the best friends during this time. We and some others did this five to six nights a week during the school year for two and half years.

Years later, in the flatlands of the rustbelt in northwest Ohio, in an old, spacious, two story rental house on main street in Findlay, I was far removed from the rice cooker chef I once was. In my kitchen an Indian girl from Warangal showed me how she grew up seeing curry begin. Oil in the pan, stove on medium heat, black mustard seeds, turmeric and patience. Wait for the mustard seeds to pop. It smells like the beginnings of popcorn, before the microwave bags reached market saturation. The dish is still wide open at this point. It could go many places from here. But I found my preferred starting place. Vegetable oil works, but olive is better and ghee is best. More on that later…

The aromatic miracle I like to call it, born out of the strange friendship of a Kentucky hunter and Indian business major. Such is life and the special kinds of culinary grace that sometimes accompany it.

First, I need Jesus. Not like, I used to need him, then I got him, now I don’t need him anymore. No, not like that. I still need him everyday. Why? Because I’m still a sinner. So, to my non-Christian friends, I’m not better than you. To my Christian friends, I’m not better than you. To those who have cheated on their wives, I’m not better than you. To those who had sex with their girlfriends before marriage, I’m not better than you. To the arrogant, the insolant, the pervert and the pagan, in the same way I think you need Jesus, I need him. Any Christian pretending to be better than anyone is behaving in a non-Christian manner. The whole premiss of our faith prevents us from acting better than others. We cheated on our God, murdered him, and though he rose from the dead and saved us from our sins, we continue to fail him everyday. We are better than nobody, and only better off than everybody because our God shows us grace in an unending and incessant pursuit of love that cannot be stopped. I’m not a holy man, but an unholy one clothed in the holiness of my God who died for my sins, and changes me everyday. As my Pastor likes to say, it’s not my job nor my goal to impose Jesus on anyone, but to propose him to everyone.

Second, because of God’s grace I’ve managed to pursue my fiancĂ© in a manner that I can point to and say, “this is one of many awesome ways to do this well.” I haven’t walked the only path nor the best, but a real good one. I learned everything about this from Jesus and those who follow him, and I have been able to follow through because I relied on his Spirit to empower me and his people to look out for me. That’s how it works.

Third, it’s not over. I have a six month engagement and then a lifetime of marriage. I’m still going to need a community of Jesus-Butt-Kicking-People to rock my world from time to time. I still need to take all the emotional risk in our relationship as much as possible, and I still need to be praying and preparing for our future. This is far from over, and I’m just as dependent on Jesus right now as I ever was.

Last, I was single for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with being single, there’s something wrong with idolizing it. You get absolutely nowhere in ministry by trying to make yourself unattainably holy. There are legitimate reasons for being single, but if you’re not mature enough, rich enough, healthy enough or just generally not ready enough, then start working towards those things. Some of the best wisdom I received was that everyone is either called to celibacy or marriage. The problem is thinking that being called to marriage means you have a divine right to it, you don’t. I had to accept that, and I personally prepared myself as best and as fast as I could by God’s grace trusting that even if I never married, the spiritual growth that would come from preparing for it would be worth it because it would mean being closer to Jesus. To be honest, that’s how I’m still functioning. Jesus is my teacher, and I run out on him all the time and he is nothing but patient with me.

Jesus is the man, and he’s the point of all this.

I just want to make that clear if I can.

My quick reflections and initial reactions to the Dark Knight Rises. I think the last Batman film appealed to a wider audience than usual, and that much of that wider audience won’t like this film as much because it’s more drama centered on Bruce Wayne’s character than on action. The Joker was a huge appeal in the last film, such that many overlooked the fact that his primary function in the story was to reveal the depth of Bruce Wayne’s character through how he chose to utilize the symbol of the Batman.

Let me say one thing about what I didn’t like about this film: the previews. I hate previews that giveaway what would have otherwise been mind-blowing surprises in the theater. Almost every single “surprise” scene was given away in one of the previews, especially the explosions on the football field. That was a powerful scene that was robbed by the lack of surprise. I knew it was going to happen so I almost ignored it while I was watching. I believe this had to be a compromise Christopher Nolan made to appease the studio which was nervous about getting the same hype they did for the last film in lieu of now being Jokerless. They must have felt the need to give away too much too early in order to draw people back in. As far as I’m concerned they should have just shown a picture of a bat in the previews and nothing else, and the hype from the last film combined with their secrecy would have driven people out of their minds to go see it. As it is, everyone who has seen the previews has seen a good bit of the shock and awe the film has to offer by way of action.

That being said, the bulk of the action is pretty old school, with almost a medieval feel to it as cops take to the streets and have hand to hand combat with the villain’s henchmen. Batman and Bane fight hand to hand on several occasions in what serves to be like a superhero UFC match. It’s gritty in an old school comic book way, with some effects to make the punches sound like a butcher tenderizing meat, but still just two really strong guys beating the snot out of each other. It is more about what the fight means for good and evil than how flashy it is. Those people wanting Iron Man style action will only get a minimal dose. The action feeds the drama in this film, not the other way around. This entire series has been a rather unique take on Batman, that melds the best of the themes that have been with the character over the years with current sentiments and style. It’s a masterpiece, and I would say it’s Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus if I didn’t believe that he is just getting started.

There’s much to said about any film, more than I have time to give to a mere hobby. But some folks have been asking me what I thought in some more detail so I thought I’d crank a bit of that out. Try to ignore the previews, and watch this film with a mind focused on a powerful story more than than an eye for flashy effects. With the proper viewing emphasis, I think it’s indisputable that Nolan is out-screenwriting and directing everyone, winning more awards, and making more money than everyone but James Cameron doing it. I think the questions of how and why Nolan is pulling this off are the most compelling aspects of this entire project.