As I watch the growing protest in the Catholic Church against the call for priests to be required to report child abuse confessions, my mind goes to Islam's Sharia law. Forgive me, I can't help it.
The church is fighting, as you have read in this paper, the call by the child abuse royal commission for priests to face criminal charges when they fail to report child sexual abuse that has become known to them in the confessional.
Confession is a cornerstone of Catholic religious practice, a regular event, often weekly, for practising Catholics.
The person confessing to a priest who may be seated behind a partition opens with the words “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned”, discusses those sins with the priest, is given a penance that may be a prayer to recite a certain number of times, and is absolved of those sins.
Catholics believe, or are supposed to believe, that the priest in the confessional is channelling God, that they are talking with God through the priest, although I suspect the godliness of priests has been reduced more than a modicum in the past decade.
I have used those words in confession, as a student at a Catholic high school, where the irreverent lark was to try to shock the priest into making an irreligious exclamation.
Very few of my friends at school, by the way, became practising Catholics as adults, which may say something about my choice of friends.
For believers, though, the relief is absolute and immediate, and as critics of the practice point out, the absolution leaves the abuser free to offend again.
I suspect this absolving of sin helps explain how God-fearing priests can sexually abuse children more or less continuously. A clean slate on Sunday, a new victim on Monday.
The church insists that what happens in confession is secret under what it terms the Seal of the Confessional, that a priest who breaks this secrecy is to be excommunicated. And so, it says, a priest hearing confession should not be subject to law requiring child abuse suspicions to be reported to police.
No mention by either side at this stage, by the way, of reporting murder to police.
So the Catholic Church wants a separate Catholic law for Catholics to override the wider community's law.
Just as radical Muslims want Sharia law to override the wider community's law.
The Catholic law would allow priests to keep secret their knowledge that another priest was sexually abusing children, perhaps even weekly, and Sharia law may allow the amputation of a thief's hand.
Which do you see as the most extreme?
For years I've eaten bread only at weekends as part of a weight-loss or at least weight-maintenance program, imagining that there is a direct correlation between the amount of bread I eat and my weight.
Beer, of course, has little to do with it, as do the cakes my wife insists on making. Most recently, by the way, she's been knocking up a wonderful cumquat syrup cake.
But now that every day is a Sunday, or if it's busier than usual a Saturday, bread and I have been seeing too much of each other, and the main culprit is a slow-cooker bread my wife bakes. It is no knead, knocked up in a couple of hours, and wonderfully moist and textured. Maybe not bread with gravitas but a favourite among all those who walk through our kitchen.
Bread and I have been seeing too much of each other, and the main culprit is a slow-cooker bread my wife bakes. It is no knead, knocked up in a couple of hours, and wonderfully moist and textured.
My wife uses a slightly modified version of a recipe by online cook Gina Matsoukas, and while that is for baking in a slow cooker my wife bakes the bread now in the oven. Both work well, although the slow cooker loaf needs browning in an oven or under a grill if that matters to you.
Here is how my wife makes it.
Mix 2 cups plain flour, 1 teaspoon dried yeast, 1 cup of warm milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon or a slurp of olive oil, and spoon into the slow cooker that is greased and lined with baking paper and not turned on, or a greased bread tin, drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, cover with plastic film and leave to rise for an hour or so in a warm spot or a couple of hours in a less warm spot.
Turn the slow cooker to high, sit the lid on baking paper stretched over the top (to reduce condensation dripping onto the dough), and cook for two hours. If you're baking, 20 minutes to half and hour in a hot oven.
On our jaunt to Cairns we've been making this bread in a camp oven, and for reasons that I suspect are all in the mind it tastes even better.
The bread keeps well, but it won't.