Novak (novak) wrote,

Personal/Theological Notebook: International Tapas with Bill and Helen; Fides and Kenosis

Thursday night featured a bit of extra entertainment with a dinner invitation from my Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen, who live nearby. They treated me to a dinner at La Merenda, a sort of Italian/Tapas place, although it's really much more diverse than Italian. Call "Italian" something more like the restaurant's starting place or inspiration, that that gets closer to the truth. Along with the night's special of a Hong Kong beef dish, we indulged in:
La Merenda Salad (Italy) Arugula, pine nuts, strawberries and aged Gorgonzola with balsamic vinaigrette

Roasted Squash Ravioli (Italy) Handmade walnut ravioli stuffed with locally grown squash, nutmeg, gorgonzola, and crushed amaretti cookies tossed in sage and browned butter topped with parmesan cheese

Lumpia Shanghai (China) Cigar-thin eggrolls filled with pork, cabbage, and ginger, fried to a crisp and served with a sweet chili dipping sauce

Massaman Chicken Curry (Thailand) Thai curry with coconut milk, chicken, peas, carrots, potatoes, lemongrass and cinnamon served with a side of rice

Empanadas (Colombia) Savory fried pastry stuffed with seasoned braised pork and potatoes

Rushing Waters Trout (Wisconsin) Sautéed and served with shallots, Swiss chard, garlic and potatoes topped with browned butter

Argentinian Style Beef (Argentina) Grilled beef tenderloin marinated in chimichurri sauce, served over mashed sweet plantains with crushed walnuts
Good stuff, and well worth making a reservation. The place, though obscure and out-of-the-way, looking more like a garage from the outside, was lively and packed on Thursday night. So we ate and drank (my 2005 Chateau Grande Cassagne "G.S.", Costières de Nîmes, France, was okay; Helen's Spanish 2005 Maximo Tempranillo was better), and exchanged news. They told me more about Ben and Becca's travels or travel plans while I filled them in on the interview process. They got some laughs as I described my feelings of being on the edge of finally getting out of school and out of this sort of formal "extended adolescence" that being in school partially reduces me to, with the additional description of my related horror of finding more strands of white in my hair and lines around my eyes. It may have only been some six years ago that I was still being mistaken for a high school student, but the years – not the mileage – finally seem to be catching up, some.

Fides got going on Thursday as well, before I met Bill and Helen, and it was interesting to see the increasing diversity of the students showing up for this grad student Lectio Divina-sort of reading and prayer group: Law, Business, English, and Philosophy as well as Theology now being represented. We decided to read the Gospel of John this semester and it was interesting to read the Prologue with another group of eyes, since I've spent so much time with it over the last few years in just our theological circle. That's been outrageously fruitful, of course, especially in the circle of the Seminar on the Jewish Roots of Christian Mysticism, but to hear the meditations on this passage – what I consider the most radical and important piece of human literature, ever – by people coming from different professional or personal angles was refreshing.

Fr. Kurz's thoughts on thinking of it in light of the Spiritual Exercise's meditation on the Incarnation was particularly striking to me: it got me thinking that the principle task of Jesus, his ultimate achievement, was to truly and simply be human. That is, that all of the human race, symbolized in Adam, have never fully succeeded in being human; that in grasping to be God and in the systemic corruption of what sin and evil does to us, we have never seen a fully-actualized human being until Jesus. For the first time I thought of the kenosis, the "self-emptying" of Christ (described famously in Philippians 2) simply as the normal and proper human response to God, as not a distinctively divine act or process of Christ; not the emptying of the divine in order to become human, but as what is ultimately the normal human act in light of existence with God. That humanity is so messed up that it took the Incarnation – God become human in Jesus – to actually pull that off for the first time in history, well, that's just part of the crappy side of our story. But it was the first time I saw kenosis as purely an act of authentic humanity, and that was cool to see.
Tags: christology, family, food, incarnation, jesuits, jesus, johannine literature, milwaukee, personal, prologue to john, restaurants, theological notebook, wine

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