The Providore of Heaven

A few weeks back I sat in a seminar led by a colleague in ministry, Nicholas Tuohy. Chef turned pastor, Nick has written a thesis on food in the gospels. In the course of conversation, Nick referred to God as ‘host and providore’. Honestly, I didn’t hear much beyond that. The second of these images…

Halligan on Food, Family and Melancholy

It is Christmas in Newcastle and the family home is full of family. We moved the big dining table into the garden, under the shade of the pohutukawas that I had given my parents for Christmas the year I was eighteen; a tree their size is a rare thing in this wind-scoured seaside suburb. I…

Christian weight loss books

I’ve been collating titles of Christian dieting books for a while now. Not just for fun, nor to make fun of them, but as part of a small research project. The earliest I’ve found is Charlie Shed’s 1957 ‘Pray Your Weight Away’. If you know of any I’ve missed, I would love to hear.

On vegetarianism

I’m no vegetarian. I’ve confessed my love of meat before, not as virtue but simply a fact of preference and of my complete inability to conceive of a meatless kitchen. Ten years ago I read a thoughtful but unconvincing book on the theology of vegetarianism. The argument was that a vegetarian diet is God’s plan for humankind and that…

Credo bowls

New bowls for Credo, the space that’s been providing food, rest and friendship to our neighbours here in the heart of Melbourne for more than fifteen years.     A Credo Lord’s Prayer God our creator, provider and carer, you are our best and fairest. We are committed to searching out and living the way you want…

Zadok Perspectives on faithful eating

Zadok Perspectives is the quarterly journal of Ethos: Centre for Christianity and Society. It’s an award winning publication well worth a subscription. When it comes to issues of food, the latest instalment ‘Faithful Eating in an Unjust World’ is certainly worth a look. It includes some terrific articles on the big issues of agriculture and globalised food production from…

Supermarket Pilgrims

Back in February, as part of the unit my friend Marcus and I teach on spirituality and food, I sent students off to tackle the mystifying task of ‘reading’ the local supermarket. Before they departed, reluctantly I think, we read a reflection from Terry Monagle’s book Fragments. Sadly, Monagle has gone now. I never met him…

The silent meal

From time to time I’ve participated in a silent retreat, an ancient religious practice of prolonged silence — five days is my personal record. Most often such retreats are in the company of others. You gather at some agreed place conducive to the practices of quiet and, according to an ancient routine of prayer, solitude and…

There are ghosts in our kitchens

In February this year I taught a unit called Table Spirituality. I’ve taught the subject before, many times, and each time I begin the first session with an extract from one of Jill Dupliex’s books, the unfortunately titled Old Food. Though Dupliex writes beautifully, I keep returning to this piece for more than good writing. For…

McDonald’s and religious ritual?

I’m no fan of Macca’s. Frankly, I would rather go without than line up for a Big Mac. But with close to a thousand outlets around Australia, I’m sure management is not overly concerned with my indifference. What’s more, my son has worked at a local franchise for the past couple of years. Likely he’s…

God and the cornflakes

‘The idea that ordinariness should be so fraught with heaven, and that a thing like mere eating should open out onto vistas that we thought were the province of religious mystery — it is all too heady. Not that we are transported every time we sit down to our cornflakes, any more than we are…

Cooking and stillness

I’m often asked what I love about cooking. It’s a fair question. I not only cook a lot; I read and write about it; I teach about it; and I find endless connections between food, tables and other things. The trouble is, when asked about my love for cooking, I often feel as though my…

Jung’s ‘Food for Life’

I prattle on a lot about eating as a spiritual act, and I believe it. But to say it’s a spiritual act does not claim eating as eternally positive. Halos and cornflakes don’t always go together. To claim eating as spiritual is to affirm it as an act of meaning. As the oft-quoted culinary philosophy…

Stephanie Alexander and obsession

‘He’s obsessed!’ I heard a friend of mine described that way recently, behind his back. It’s a powerful tag. Most commonly it infers a dysfunction, a failing to overcome in favour of personal wholeness. Proponents of that holy grail — work-life balance — paint obsession a wrong to be righted. But I often wonder, does obsession deserve a little more…

The Spirit of Food

I hate tapas! There, I’ve said it. I can’t stand the current Melbourne obsession with multiple share-plates of miniscule ‘tastings’ that leave me nothing but frustrated and hungry. If I’m gong out to eat I want a meal I can sink my teeth into, as well as my mind. I want substance and depth, not…