Meditation on Eating


A chapter titled ' Where We Go Wrong (and Right) in Eating' in Brett McCracken's book , Gray Matters, takes the challenge of analysing our relationship with food in light of life as a follower of Jesus. A thoughtful piece.  I am taking a big chunk of the chapter as an offering to you. Read it and Eat.

Eat for connection instead of using food to ameliorate our stress or emotional turmoil. Food as escapism is not limited to the realm of gorging on Twinkies and potato chips after a bad breakup. It can be a bad habit of foodies as well. Sometimes our obsession with eating gourmet or “artisan” food can be equally consuming and self-focused. The gourmands who get weak in the knees over the Valdeón cheese samples at Whole Foods and can’t go a day without some sort of Marcona almond acai granola bar are equally at risk of relying on food for narcissistic boosts of self-esteem or comfort. The temptation to turn to food for comfort is widespread and—to an extent—understandable, but is it the best way? Perhaps we should instead think of food as a way to—paradoxically, perhaps—get outside of ourselves. Eating food should bring together rather than isolate human beings. Instead of eating food as a way to detach from the world, perhaps we might try eating as a way to reconnect. It’s actually a pretty natural fit. “Food connects,” writes Tim Chester. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends. And it connects us with people around the world. Consider what you had for breakfast this morning. Tea. Coffee. Sugar. Cereal. Grapefruit. Much of it was produced in another state or country. Food enables us to be blessed by people around the world and to bless them in return. As a habit that every human has in common, eating brings us together. And as something that involves ingredients from all corners of the globe—sometimes all at once—food connects us with one another. It reminds us that we are part of a global ecology; that what we are eating originated somewhere, for granted have origins in specific cultures and geographical locations. It’s like a World Civilizations class every time we eat. In his book Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Duke Divinity School professor Norman Wirzba suggests that in a trinitarian theology, “all reality is communion” and that even eating should be conceived of in relational terms of membership, belonging, responsibility, and gratitude. Eating “joins people together, to other creatures and the world, and to God through forms of ‘natural communion’ too complex to fathom,” writes Wirzba. “It establishes a membership that confirms all creatures as profoundly in need of each other and upon God to provide life’s nutrition and vitality.” Far from a solitary and self-indulgent activity, the universality of food should remind us of our interconnectedness every time we eat. Tom Beaudoin in Consuming Faith writes “The body is not a closed system but an open one, utterly reliant on the world.”
Indeed, the greatest of all meals for Christians—the Eucharist—rebuffs the isolationist mode of consumption. It’s a sacred means of connection and solidarity. In it we identify with the suffering of Christ. We connect with our Saviour and his body: our fellow believers throughout the ages. And it’s thoroughly countercultural. It may seem odd to think about eating in terms of connection, solidarity, humility, and suffering rather than as a matter of satiating our primal needs and emotional urges. But in the meal Christ gave us, the Eucharist, the former is exactly what eating is. It’s about getting outside of ourselves and reflecting on the bigger picture.

At our kitchen work we attempt to bring the pieces together and to create a place where food becomes an integral part of community - one to another - something that joins us together.