- Our bodies are temples (I Corinthians 6:19 -20).
- "Worries go down better with soup." (Jewish proverb)
- Creation is ours for the subduing (Genesis 1:28).
- "God does not forbid you to drink, as do the Turks; he permits you to drink wine and beer: he does not make a law of it. But do not make a pig of yourself; remain a human being." (Martin Luther)
Food and I have always had a love-hate relationship. I grew up in a home where Eastern European heartiness met with Dutch sensibilities and I believe my gut has never quite recovered. I long for fresh food - baked fresh daily, picked fresh daily, prepared fresh daily. The Dutch girl in me, however, cannot fight the urge to keep leftovers. And the idea of not consuming the leftovers is akin to heresy. I really should keep a straight jacket hanging next to my apron in the kitchen.
I find this even more prevalent in the area I call home, where the frugal still strive to pinch a penny until it bleeds and generally find mock-worthy the idea of wrapping raw fish, surrounded by rice, in a lovely piece of seaweed (that's sushi my friends). We still fill food pantries with processed foods and corn syrup while most men quietly (or even not so quietly) berate their wives for gaining weight and not looking like they did in high school. It is an odd little corner of the world in which I find myself - a transplant of a certain kind - one who knows a good perogie is not frozen and is not restricted to cheese or potato. One from a culture where birthing a healthy baby resulted in some lasting girth on baby's mom and we all rejoiced in good health as we passed the meat and potatoes.
Food and faith are forever intertwined. We celebrate the very death of our risen Savior with - of all things - a meal. Oh, our version is small to be sure, but it is still a "supper". We espouse the teachings of theologians and philosophers whose very size (think Martin Luther) bespoke an affection for good beer and good bread, among other things. And what better way to fellowship with one another, than around one's dinner table whether it be ornate or antique - a card table or TV trays - a meal shared conveys so very much about its partakers and, if lingered over and savored properly, cannot help but result in conversation that feeds the soul as much as the food feeds the body. And yet those of faith often have a more restrictive relationship with food than they have with their barber. It's an odd, odd mix - that of faith and food.
My heritage is one of tolerating conditions beyond one's control. Of a great grandmother who was a hod brick carrier in Austria-Hungary, of a grandmother who worked long hours in Chicago factories but sent out her daughter (my mother) for fresh lunchmeat and bread when company stopped in. Of meals spent with balance and butter....of sausage and poppy seed cake. This is a culture which espoused the fresh - the available - the unprocessed....and they didn't even know it at the time. This is the culture we would do well to emmulate in food-related matters. Of eating what is available when it should be available for, though I wish it weren't so, watermelon doesn't grow well in Michigan in December and cabbage is best grown when temperatures are cold. Animals were created to live and graze in fields and fish were meant to swim wild (imagine for a moment explaining a "farm raised" fish to great-grandparents).
Faith has always meant a trust that food will be available. That if one can eat a good meal, other things will fall into place. (And perhaps this is why Christians often feel the drive - truly a 'need' - to feed those who won't otherwise be able to find a meal.) That all things edible were given to God's people as a source of protein, fat, vitamins....and when done in moderation will feed the body as well as the soul. Our temples were constructed to run on fuel - our fuel is supplied by the very Builder of our temple. When filled with fuel prepared as close to its original source as possible, these temples will endure - no thrive. The temples in this case are created for work....not for beauty (lest we become vain) and not first for the pleasure of our significant other (unless that's Significant Other in caps and referring to our Creator)...our Creator doesn't require high school bodies on mothers, or gut-free bellies on men fulfilling their purpose. Our Creator supplies food and common sense. He never supplies vanity.
Faith & food....Food & faith....often difficult company. It has been said that if your great-grandparent wouldn't recognize a particular food item, don't eat it. This, I believe, is advice that a healthy life can be built upon.
“One of the troubles about vanity is that it grows with what it feeds on. The more you are talked about, the more you will wish to be talked about.”