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I might be godless, but I am no sinner.

The holidays are about done, and I have yet to perform my one religious obligation. But it’s only a couple of days away.

I grew up quite religious, with a good array of traditions. However, I quit carrying my cross almost 20 years ago, realizing that a sinless life is more easily lived in the absence of judgment.

Robert & Kevin Archer, Spring 1966
Now tell me, could I steer you wrong on this? (Thanks for the photo, Mom!)

Content to be a kind person, a good neighbor, and a helpful resource, I find that my life is more fulfilling in the here-and-now than I could have hoped for it to be in the there-and-after.

I’ve babbled on sufficiently in this and other spaces about my eschewing of holiday traditions, too. But it’s time I let you know about a monstrous inconsistency.

As if my very non-existent soul depended upon it, I partake of Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day, so that I might have good luck in the coming year. There’s nothing anyone can do to talk me out of it. You can go on endlessly about the irrational superstitions associated with the act. You can map out my entire previous year and ask me just where I think all that luck kicked in. We can argue about self-determination and self-actualization, or philosophize ad nauseam, ad infinitum, about how a small speckled legume can or cannot have influence on the forces of life.

And while you’re busy trying to tear down my temple, I’ll be in the kitchen practicing my faith. Hey, we’ve all got our quirky beliefs, don’t we?

As my dear friend Iliana would say, “Don’t pull the Devil by the tail.” In other words, make your own pot of soul food. Here’s your recipe!

Black Eyed Peas

Yields: 4 Servings


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 cup black eyed peas
4 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons sea salt
black pepper


Warm the oil in a 5 quart soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, celery, allspice, thyme, and garlic. Sauté for another 5 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, peas, and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes.

Add salt and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add black pepper to taste.

Enjoy with Good Fortune!

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