i stole this book from the methodist church library when i was desperate for something to read. (f.y.i. don’t usually read books by methodists.) and, as i figured, there was a lot about “being in relationship with the entire earth community,” “honoring our bodies,” and other demonstrations of suspicious language choices. but despite all that, i found lots of things that prompted me to think. and that’s how i do a book review; i don’t tell you what it said, only what i thought it should have. 😉
the author begins by pointing out the two reasons for which god designed eating; delight and sharing. the whole momentum of the book was built towards forcing us to re-evaluate eating. to move it away from being either a means or an obstacle, but a working out of god’s grace in the very fabric of creation. food is something that is man-handled most unapologetically by the world. and as long as we are willing to let food be subject to such indecencies, by merit of considering it an inconsequential “neutral” in life, the more they will be able to do so. instead, reclaim it. it’s when we change our narratives that we change our practices, not vice versa. so what’s food good for?
when a baby is born one of it’s first experiences is of food. and consequently of trust or distrust. is this a good place to be, or not? food is tied inescapably to life and to culture. in turn, it speaks to the quality of that life and culture. while it is easy to overlook the values of our food, because eating is such an everyday practice, it doesn’t negate the fact that our food speaks. and it is the simplest things that speak the loudest. our god isn’t a distant or abstract one, but one who is deeply invested in us. it’s the ordinary practices of our lives that we meet him. not on the mountaintops, but in the quiet. in the little things. god built us to need to eat, like all day long. it’s ridiculous really. i’m sure he could have been a tad more efficient. but maybe he wanted to inundate the boring of our lives with food, with delight, and with the capacity to share and fellowship with one another. all moving us to remember his goodness. grace.
when we think about food, is this at the forefront of our minds? is our first thought gratitude, or have we succumbed to guilt and fear? do we overflow, do we feast, do we rejoice? or do we horde, ration, manipulate, and count? and which response do we share with those at our table or unintentionally pass down to our children? are we teaching them to think of food only in terms of it’s monetary or calorie equivalents? or as an unaccounted for and excessive grace given to us by the father? home is where we learn the practices for an abundant life. relationships, gratitude, and jouissance spill over from the kitchen table.
eating with people is one of the basic ways to build and maintain relationships. the author pointed out that feasting is only such when it is the celebration of the participating community. not a celebration of your cheese or your service wear. but your people. a true celebration requires the element of spontaneity, of trust. so are you building it? do we think of food as an instance of god’s unmerited, abundant favor, do we rejoice in it, honor it, and then share it generously? do the ordinary moments of our lives speak loudly of the god we serve? because in this world, the human economy is premised on scarcity and fear. if we fail to soak ourselves in god’s narrative, we will be listening to their’s. and in the end, the world’s narrative castrates god’s vision. mindless eating is not only boring, but destructive. purposed, joyful eating, on the other hand, opens to us a vision of the table in heaven. and then prompts us to share it.
i think one of the ways that we reclaim food is by making it. let it pass through our hands. don’t be afraid of service. don’t discount the mundane, but own it. be glad that god has filled so much of our lives with the opportunity for ministry, for delight in giving and receiving, and for people. jump on it. don’t microwave the opportunity away because you think life should be filled with something more important. whatever vocation god has given you, big or small, it is a channel of his grace to someone else. do it well. and while the world may demean the mediocrity of kitchen bound slavery, realize that god loves it. so much so he filled the world with hungry, needy people. and made your table their refuge of grace. it’s there that people come closest to their hunger, acknowledge their dependency, thank god for his supply, and then feast on his goodness. all of that, three times a day.
i still can’t get over how god has packed the potential for so much delight into the ordinary act of refueling. if you get bored eating, it can only be because you haven’t tried very hard. “just as our bodies are primordially created good, created for enjoyment and delight, so is the eating that sustains that goodness. food appeals to our senses in a way that is analogous to the way certain paintings music, sculpture, and dance appeal to our sense of beauty. like art, food engages us. something is wrong if we fail to enjoy food. in fact, eating is so enjoyable, so much a part of god’s intentions, that it’s under appreciation is almost a crime.” connect the dots. let god be the god of your food. “we don’t want to miss the grace that infuses our lives and by which god reveals graciousness with every bite.” we eat in response to god’s goodness.
on the other hand, “junk food, quickly prepared, thoughtlessly eaten, eaten alone or in front a of the tv, and scarfed down – how can these practices not impact us? is this abundant life? the ready accessibility and relative low cost of food – food made cheap through federal policy and corporate subsidies – leads to unappreciative eating, obesity, and poor health. it can also lead to attenuated relationships and to the transmission of misperceptions to our children. rather than contributing to our delight and the enjoyment of our households, these dynamics have reduced the joy and quality of our lives.” so don’t let them.