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Michelle Warner

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“A Feast Fit For the King”

Posted on October 5th, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom Well

This well serves a unique drink:
Words that refresh and cause you to think.

I have read this article twice over the last year and have been convicted and encouraged both times. I wanted to include some excerpts here but I highly recommend reading the entire article.

“A Feast Fit for the King” in Christianity Today by Leslie Leyland Fields, pgs 22-28:

“I think a lot about food these days, and not always charitably. I’ve been ruminating on the headlines and the recent crop of food books concerning what many are calling ‘the global food crisis,’ one that has given rise to a new food movement in the United States and abroad. The movement has taken on the momentum of a religious revival, changing the way Americans eat and how they think about food and the use of the earth…

While elements of the new food movement are rarely Christ-centered, I believe the movement has much to teach Christians about stewarding creation, loving our neighbors, and eating and drinking to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)…

As Christians, under obligation to the God who created our bodies, and as Americans, who continue to lead the industrialized world in obseity rates, we should foster a healthier diet. As believers urged by the apostle Paul to ‘take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ,’ we should be more thoughtful about food production and our treatment of God’s creature and His earth. Yet after reading the literature and listening to many conversations around me, I have significant concerns and cautions about the new food movement…

Perhaps in no other time has our culture so widely absorbed the largely Eastern concept that physical, mental, and spiritual purity can be derived from food–and that we earn our virtue through vigilance over fork and plate.

Strangely, while these writers offer a global, moral, even theological perspective on food, in practice their approach can lead to myopic self-absorption and legalism. In online social networks, people dish the details of their every meal and bite as if the world hung upon their words and their food choices. Some show signs of orthorexia, an eating disorder defined as ‘an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.’ Colorado nutritionist Steven Bratman coined the term after his own journey into obsessively healthy eating while living on a commune and managing an organic farm…He writes, ‘A day filled with sprouts, umeboshi plums, and amaranth biscuits comes to feel as holy as one spent serving the poor and homeless.’

Bratman’s goal of achieving ‘wellness through healthy eating’ though, began to take over his life. ‘I had been seduced by righteous eating. The problem of my life’s meaning had transferred inexorably to food, and I could not reclaim it.’…

Even a cursury reading reveals that food is a major concern in the Scriptures, the locus of both physical and spiritual realities that gesture not solely one or to the other, but to the essential integration of both. But in the biblical economy, food alone–even the food of the Communion table–can never bestow purity, health, or righteousness. When Christ fed the hungry thousands on the hillside, he fed them not only actual bread but also words of truth and salvation, that he comes as the Bread of Life and the Living Water to help us recognize the deeper needs that He alone can fulfill.

‘Every bite of food, given by God Himself, is to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God,’ Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann writes in For the Life of the World. But without recognition of the God who has made the earth, our dependence on water and food may move us elsewhere–toward communion with the earth, even communion with food itself. Thse elements, then become ends in themselves, and the full integration that the food movement seeks and that God desires for us is lost…

Finally, without a theology rooted in the God of creation and the God of the Scriptures–who alone completes the meaning of creation and its sustenance, and who will someday fully restore it–I worry that the food movement and its calls to action will divert us from our real need: a transformed heart. I worry as well that it may devolve into the very fragmentation it aspires to repair. Without a redeemer, the source of grace, the integration and the holism that the movement seeks to easily dscent into orthorexia, a purer-than-thou-ism, and factionalism…

But we in the church have much to answer for ourselves. Here’s a question, which I ask myself as well: Why have we ignored food for so long? Why are we not attending more seriously to Paul’s injunction to literally ‘eat or drink…for the glory of God”? Beyond a quick word of thanks before meals, have we seriously considered how our eating and drinking either reveals or suppresses the glory of God?…

So much is possible as we return the growing fields and the kitchen table to God, to whom it all belongs. As we do, we will discover another essential means of divining God’s glory in our midst and living out our stewardship of God’s earth, ourselves, and our neighbors. May we all take, eat, and be blessed by God’s holy, sumptuous foods.”

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If you are interested in reading more on this topic, the author of this article, Fields, recently edited a book entitled The Spirit of Food. To find more information, click here.

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