Eating, Tables and Deeper Things

This blog is mostly about food. About Eating. As the subtitle says, it’s about ‘the food we eat and the tables we share.’ It’s recipes and words, reflections and quotes, suggestions for reading and good places to eat. But underneath it all is a deep sense that the business of eating is about far more than good taste.

I am a religious person, a Christian. Not just in some cultural, nominal sense. It runs deep. In fact the older I get the more I understand this faith of mine as part and parcel of who I am. It’s more identity than it is belief. It’s not so much a creed — a set of propositions or sacred rituals, or a sacred book to hit people over the head with — as it is a way of living. Personally, I’ve found in the story of Jesus the inspiration to live differently. It’s about life as a table, a table full of good food and company, a shared table of grace, community, forgiveness and belonging at which all are welcome.

Inspirations in this are many. One of those is Sara Miles, a North American journalist, writer and activist whose understanding of faith is refreshingly grounded in the most tangible, immediate ways. For Miles, if faith is not connected at the most human levels — the levels of food and the daily justice of sharing tables — then it’s really not a faith worth having.

This is my belief: that the heart of Christianity is a power that continues to speak to and transform us. As I found to my surprise and alarm, it could speak even to me: not in the sappy Jesus-and-cookies tone of mild-mannered liberal Christianity, or the blustering, blaming hellfire of the religious right. What I heard, and continue to hear, is a voice that can crack religious and political convictions open, that advocates for the least qualified, least official, least likely; that upsets the established order and makes a joke of certainty. It proclaims against reason that the hungry will be fed, that those cast down will be raised up, and that all things, including my own failures, are being made new. It offers food without exception to the worthy and unworthy, the screwed-up and pious, and then commands everyone to do the same. It doesn’t promise to solve or erase suffering but to transform it, pledging that by loving one another, even through pain, we will find more life. And it insists that by opening ourselves to strangers, the despised or frightening or unintelligible other, we will see more and more and more of the holy, since, without exception, all people are one body: God’s.

UnknownSara Miles, Take this Bread: A Radical Conversion, New York: Ballantine Books, 2007.

Image: A Dutch Interior – Grace Before the Meal (oil on canvas) by Evert Pieters (1856-1932)

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