Thursday, January 17, 2013

"For even the wise cannot see all ends" - A Question Concerning Capital Punishment

Though matters concerning capital punishment are often debated on a basis of pure political and economic thought, when it comes to matters of life and death, such discussions surpass the bounds of political rhetoric. As with all matters of ethics, it is important to examine the intention and motive behind the matter at hand; and this topic is no exception.

A spirit of retribution appears to be the main governing motive behind capital punishment. Yet because it is impossible to restore the life that was lost, capital punishment seems to arrive at an insatiable end. To return death with death is hardly a reasonable solution, for what is accomplished in doing so? What in taking another life rectifies the life already taken? For the life of the victim is not restored, nor does the heart of the convict come to contrition. As the old saying goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Upon execution under the state, the cause of death stated on the felon’s death certificate is homicide. Homicide is defined as, “the deliberate and unlawful killing of another person.” What one man was sentenced to death for, another is justified under the law, to commit the same offense. By sentencing one to death, one is assuming the authority to violate life. Are we, as human beings, adequate judges of fellow human beings? J.R.R Tolkien provides beautiful insight into such questions. The character, Frodo, in expressing his wish that the creature, Gollum, would have received the penalty of death for his actions, receives this response from the wise wizard, Gandalf: “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the wise cannot see all ends.” The very act of sentencing of a criminal admits to our own fallibility as human beings, and the judge and jury are no exception to this reality. In essence, man has no claim to another man’s life, and is not fit to judge otherwise.

However, while we are not worthy judges of who deserve life and who deserve death, this is not to say we should idly regard those who have taken life. Rather, I would argue for a sentence of life incarceration as opposed to the death penalty. Life incarceration prohibits the convict from committing additional offense to society, yet allows more fully for human error in the event that someone be wrongly accused. This alternative, under the appropriate conditions, would aim at a goal of the convict’s repentance rather than a recompense that cannot be fulfilled.

To violate life in any form is to negate the value that life itself holds. Therefore, let us value life and thus do all we can to preserve it.

 This blog post is an official entry for the <a href="">Law Blogger’s Scholarship</a>, sponsored by The Law Office of Joshua Pond, <a href=""></a>.

©Madeleine Stokes 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Photo Friday: Simplicity

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”
- Thomas More

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And the Feast goes on ... the 12 Days of Christmas

"Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Christ descends from the heavens, welcome Him!
Christ is now on earth, O be jubilant!
 Sing to the Lord, the whole earth

 Homemade hot cocoa mix - made with all wholesome and natural ingredients. :)
Click here for the recipe.

Vasilopita - St. Basil Day Bread.
Click here for the recipe.

"I behold a strange but very glorious mystery:
Heaven -- the cave;
The throne of the Cherubim -- the Virgin.
The manger -- the receptacle in which Christ our God,
Whom nothing can contain, is lying".

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

(A lighter) St. Basil's Day Bread

The Feast of the Holy Hierarch, St. Basil is commemorated within the Church by the baking of St. Basil's Bread. (Click here to read the beautiful story of St. Basil the Great.)

This year, I was deemed with the task to bake this delicious and festive dessert. As I scanned through the various recipes, they all seemed to follow a similar trend: lots of butter, sugar and heavy ingredients. After the many days of Christmas cookies, egg nog and fudge the thought of another  overly sweet and syrupy dish made my insides squirm a little bit. So, I took a risk. I set out to construct a version of the delicious bread that is just a bit kinder to my already weighed down and sluggish body. After the preparing and baking was complete, we said a short prayer of St. Basil and . To my delight, the cake turned out beautifully, moist and scrumptious.

(This lighter version was adapted from this recipe.)

Vasilopita/ St. Basil's Day Bread



* 1.5 cup all purpose flour
* 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
* 2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/2 tsp. baking soda
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* 1/2 cup butter or earth balance
* 1/2 cup applesauce
* 2 Tbs. of coconut oil or some other oil
* 1/2 cup unbleached sugar (or to taste)
* 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
* 3/4 cup greek or natural plain yogurt
* 1/4 cup of milk of choice (or can replace milk with an additional 1/4 cup of yogurt)
* 6 eggs
* 2 tsp. lemon juice
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1 tsp. almond extract
* Additional 1/2 cup of sweetener of choice (agave, table sugar, honey, truvia, stevia, xylotol, etc.)


*1/2 cup slivered almonds
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*1.5 Tbs. of honey/agave

(And don't forget the coin to put in the St. Basil's bread!)

To Prepare:

 Preheat oven to
350ºF and grease 2 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a small bowl combine almonds, brown sugar and honey/agave. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil well. Mix in applesauce, agave and remaining sweetener. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla and almond extract.

Begin slowly adding in flour mixture to larger bowl, alternating between flour and milk/yogurt. Mix all ingredients well. 

To Bake:

*Spread the almond topping around in the bottom of each 8-inch pan. (Make sure the pan is greased well.) You can also choose to top the cake after baking it if desired. 

* Wrap the St. Basil coin in foil and hide under the batter. 

*Split the batter between the two 8-inch greased pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until firm. If needed, turn the oven off and keep the cake in there for several additional minutes. 

*Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, cut, serve, say your prayer (Apolytikion to St. Basil attached below) and enjoy!

May your year be blessed, regardless of if you find the coin or not!

Hymn to St. Basil the Great:

"In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil."


Products used in making this cake:
EfaGold Coconut Oil - 16 fl oz (Google Affiliate Ad)
Stevia Leaf Alcohol-Free - 2 fl oz (Google Affiliate Ad)