Search for Love

The Unnamed Religions – A Search for Love
Advent 14
Pink Fruit of Paradise Recipes

It is considered a delicate color. Associated with romance, tenderness, sweetness, and charm, pink is the color of universal love of ones’self and of others. Representing compassion and nurturing, as well as love, pink is comprised of red’s sense of action and the insight of white.

In color psychology, pink is a sign of hope. Studies completed using scientific methods have proven that exposure to pink can have a calming effect on one’s nerves. It is even used to calm violent prisoners, although prolonged exposure to the color can have the opposite effect.

On this the third Sunday of the season of Advent, many will light a pink candle to represent love. The need one has to express and receive love is universal. A common theme in the previously ancient religions discusses of Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, the Golden Rule, also found in future to-be-discussed Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, is predicated upon this universal love. The Golden Rule of doing unto others what you yourself would want done to you is two-way thinking. It is a reciprocal acknowledgement that we are indeed equal and alike in our need for respect, kindness, consideration, and happiness – all the components of the emotion we call love.

The indigenous religion of Finland was an unnamed polytheistic religion. It evolved from shamanism and included animism and spirit recognition for animate and inanimate objects. Finnish pagans revered nature and their creation myth had the world being created from the egg of a diving duck. Their main god was Ukko, the sky and thunder god who was celebrated on April 4th. Similar to the Norse god Thor, he also had a magic hammer. Thunderstorms were believed to be the result of Ukko sleeping with his wife, Akka. His sacred animal was said to be the ladybug which was called by the Finnish a word that translates into “Ukko’s cow”.

Common in the stories of the Torah and the Bible are the Canaanites, a people who lived in the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. They feature in many scriptures as enemies of the Israelites. However, during the first part of the twentieth century, on the coast of Syria, archaeological findings were unearthed that referenced the unnamed polytheistic religion of the Canaanites. Their supreme deity was El and his son Baal, also a god of thunder. One of its most popular myths told of a battle between Baal and Mot, the Canaanite god of death. Baal began the fight and was easily overcome by Not. Without their god of thunder and thunderstorms, the land falls into a devastating drought. All the other gods, led by El, worked together to free Baal. It is the Canaanite goddess of war, Anat, was finally goes to the underworld empire of Mot to free Ball and slay the god of death. The religion slowly became the victim of Israeli conquests until it, like Mot, was vanquished and disappeared.

Another unnamed religion intertwined with nature was found to have been worshipped by the Minoans on the island of Crete. Bull masks and horns were thought to be used in their rituals and some have been discovered in recent excavations. Also discovered was evidence that some of these rituals involved contests in which the faithful would attempt to chase a bull, capture it, and ride it – much like our modern-day rodeo events! Of particular note is that the main deity in this Minoan unnamed polytheistic religion was a female nature goddess. There are only a handful of religions that are matriarchal. The Minoans did have male deities but they were smaller than the females and some archaeologists doubt they were even considered gods at all. Snakes and double-headed axes were also used in their rituals and there is evidence of human sacrifice which probably is the basis for the myth of Thesus and the Minotaur.

Another religion, semi-unnamed but known by the people of the region, is the Olmec religion. These Mesoamerican people are considered to be the forefathers of the Mesoamerican religions previously (along with what has to be my favorite recipe name – Spotted Rooster!). It is the universal need for love and the resulting questions of where one came from and how one is loved in life that leads historians, theologians, and archaeologists to be certain these ancient inhabitants of lower North America and Central America as well as northern South America had their own religion. Evidence indicates a jaguar god of rain and fertility but it is unclear as to whether the jaguar was the highest deity or one of eight separate yet equal gods. Considered related to shamanism, the religion of the Olmec people appears to have involved dancing, the wearing of masks, and the use of hallucinogenic herbs.

So why does religion seem to be a part of every culture? George Saunders explains it this way: “The universal human laws – need, love for the beloved, fear, hunger, periodic exaltation, the kindness that rises up naturally in the absence of hunger/fear/pain – are constant, predictable, reliable, universal, and are merely ornamented with the details of local culture.”

In an essay discussing Abraham Maslow’s “Need Hierarchy”, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UCSB Dr. Thomas J. Scheff related how the need for universal love is predicated upon our existence and how it leads to having a belief system that directs our social and personal interactions. “ Maslow ranked needs at each level in terms of their immediacy for survival. For example, breathing is more immediate than the need for food: avoiding suffocation takes precedence over the absence of food and water. But immediacy is only one way of ranking needs. Another way would be in terms of long term, rather than moment-by-moment dependency. As will be apparent in the discussion below, in ranking of this kind, there may be virtually no difference in rank between the various levels. For example, in modern societies, one is completely dependent on others to provide sustenance and security for survival, so the level of belonging is just as important as the first two levels.”

One the needs required for survival, both physical and psychological, are met, then the need for love is recognized and conveyed to others. Self-esteem is based in part on what others think of us and what we think of ourselves. The need for a belief system becomes a part of how we show self love and social love. It is how we give respect to the creation around us. The lack of love is often seen as a main component in mental health issues. Of course, seldom does a person really lack in having love. It might be hard to hear in what one is told or to see in one’s self-perception. Maybe it was that fact that led to the believing in higher existence, in spirits that could love in spite of our humanness. However a religion came into being, the love expressed and sought goes without saying as being paramount to life.

Pink Grapefruit – the Fruit of Paradise
The name grapefruit really comes from the Latin for fruit of paradise and the pink grapefruit is considered the sweetest variety. Coupled with some sliced raw kohlrabi, it makes a simple yet delightful appetizer. Combine it with a vegetable-filled cold tabouli salad and you have a great yet easy luncheon. In fact, use some left-over brown rice instead of tabouli and those left-over veggies and you’ve not only fixed a healthy meal, you’ve cleans out the refrigerator! Grapefruit adds an interesting flavor to a salsa and can substitute for lime in a guacamole. However, for a surprising and unexpected dish, serve this delectable soup!

Easy Carrot and Grapefruit Soup
2 Tblsp butter
1 cup each diced carrots and potatoes
½ cup minced onions
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup pink grapefruit juice
½ cup cream (or half-and-half)

Over a medium heat, melt the butter and then sauté the onions until tender. Deglaze the pan with the grapefruit juice and then add the carrots and potatoes. Cook them until tender, mashable tender. Add the chicken broth and heat over a medium-low heat for about ten minutes. Slowly add the cream or half-and-half and continue heating for another five minutes over a reduced heat. The mixture can be pureed in a food processor or blender is you prefer a creamier mixture. This should be done prior to adding the cream. The substance of the potatoes combined with the tartness of the grapefruit and the sweetness of the carrots make this a wonderful addition to any soup repertoire!


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