20 October 2015

To stir or not to stir...good question


I enjoy cooking, and find all kinds of reasons to include sauces and spices in simple vegetable concoctions. Mustard and raisins and chia seeds...they can all make their way into the least likely main dishes. And I like the idea of stir fry. Now I'm sure there are times when real chefs tell us not to stir, as the result will be too thin or too mushy or too something. OK, I get that, but generally my meals are better served if the flavours are allowed to blend.

Here in Australia, we have a national commitment to stirring. By this I am not referencing the culinary arts, but rather the troubling kind. You know, someone who stirs up situations only to 'get a rise' out of someone or some group. "He's just a stirrer" is a brand of commendation in Oz. So as a messianic Jew, this comes naturally to me. I was always a bit of a rebel, and an activist, especially in my later teens, and that has stayed with me through the decades.

But what about troubles that really do need to be calmed? I read a report last year during hostilities in Israel from the Economist here It had to do with kidnappings and resultant closures of walls and the stirring of bad blood. There the term is one we should avoid. This infusion of hostilities into the already-troubled waters of Israel and the Palestinian conflict is not a good blend.

Neal Colgrass of Newser online service wrote in January this year North Korea is alleging America Is 'Stirring Up Bad Blood. Colgrass quotes the BBC, National Public Radio and the Associated Press in his article. There is trouble brewing, to be sure, and that brew is titled 'bad blood.'

Stirring bad blood seems to be the mantra of those who want to malign any involvement of outsiders. Of course 007 would have us learn the difference between martinis made well and unwell, but that's another imagery. Here we are talking about stirring for the sake of stirring, or stirring for the sake of making things better. And that's something with which everyone will not agree.

Koreans will not agree with US sanctions.
Palestinians will not agree with Israeli force.

The Houston Astros baseball team probably agree with the writer (Adam Chandler) of Taylor Swift and her curse as he recounts the troubles Taylor stirs up when she performs at baseball stadia during the Major League Baseball season.

I guess, the bottom line is... when you stir things up, is it for the greater good? Is it for the best purposes? Or are you only a stirrer for stirring sake? I like the idea of soul-stirring music and dance and art. I am often inspired by the likes of Simon Tedeschi whom I heard perform Mussorgsky's Paintings at an Exhibition a fortnight ago in Sydney's Angel Place. I'm inspired by the paintings from the Hermitage I saw in Melbourne's National Gallery last month. The dance performed by the Sydney Ballet Company in Triptych earlier this month was soul-stirring, to be sure. And almost every time I see a performer at an Olympics standing on the top platform having earned the gold medal, and hearing their national anthem played, it's almost the definition of stirring. Let's let that be our goal in stirring today. And tomorrow. How's that?

The Bible says of the wicked, "Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men who devise evil things in their hearts; they continually stir up wars." (Psalm 140.1-2). Good prayer King David.

Peter the good friend and colleague of Yeshua, who was a very capable minister of the Gospel and who died to make it known throughout the world, said this in his general letter, "I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder." (2 Peter 1.12-13). So this arousal to good memory, this stirring of the mind, is intentional, to bring us to a reminder, to call to mind good things. This is rehearsal. This is good stirring. Let's practice this one today. OK?

1 comment:

Isaac said...

Hey Bob,
Thanks for the thoughtful post. I appreciate the insight on "stirring things up" for a good cause as opposed to stirring for the sake of stirring. The imagery of stirring up makes me think of bringing something submerged to the surface. Why not aim at awakening our intellects and emotions rather than unnecessary controversy and conflict.

Again, I appreciate the insightful reflection. Keep it up!