Monthly Archives: June 2012

theology of food?

Theology of Food?

So the main question encircling this entire digital publication is what is the meaning of food. I personally have a very distinct opinion about said meaning, and if you peruse the various pages of this site you will see this article in three separate locations. I am presently a theological studies major, and my professor once said that everyone is a theologian; not everyone knows this, and it all depends on how good of a theologian each individual is. I believe this is also true for food. Everyone has an opinion about the meaning and purpose of food, but not everyone knows it or gives much thought to it. But I gaurantee, if you sit down and ask your friend, your grannie, your rich great uncle whom left you copious amounts of cash in his last will and testament, what they think about food, they’ll tell you – simply enough, everyone has an opinion. About everything. If they don’t, they’re lying.

So even though I have set out on an ongoing quest to discover the elusive meaning of food, I have my own opinions about it. As a Christian and an individual who studies theology, I have come to the initial conclusion that food is a hub for community. The meal is present throughout the four gospels, not to mention the rest of the Bible and Jewish mythology, and is associated with Jesus’ incredible involvement with the rejects of the day, such as prostitutes, tax collecters, etc. Take a look at Matthew 9:10: “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” And in Matthew 14 you can read the incredible story about Jesus feeding five thousand men – that number does not include the women and children present. Additionally, the Jewish Passover meal in Exodus carries loads of meaning and representation, which connects to  just another minor example, a very inconsequential meal (hope you’re picking up on the sarcasm here), the Last Supper. Jesus, on the night he was betrayed… you know the story. He gathered with his disciples and had an insanely important meal. But it wasn’t an atonement theory that Jesus gave them – no Christus Victor, no Penal Substitution, not Calvinist or Orthodox or any other doctrine – it was a meal, a time of community.

I believe that Biblically and theologically, the meal has so much significance, carries so much meaning. And this meaning and significance has driven me to believe that a theology of food can be developed, and that this theology can have so much more impact on people in today’s contemporary and increasingly postmodern ideology. Modelling the actions of Christ with emphasis on community and the meal, I think that community can be developed through and around the meal, and this theology and community is so much more applicable to life and ministry than some notion of Greek philosophical metaphysics and inane debates over doctrine. Indeed, it is necessary to discover more about God and actually learn about what you believe – I believe to not do this is the epitome of ignorance. But let’s not overintellectualise it, because if theology doesn’t change relevantly anything or make a difference, it is useless theology.

That’s about it.

Food, in the sense…

In the sense… of what? In theological literature and discourse, the words ‘in the sense that’ dominate any or every intellectually penned page, each eloquently written book – the meaning and essence of this phrase encompasses the specific language of theology itself. And what is this essence? What is the importance of these four simple words – a preposition, an adjective, a noun, and a pronoun – and if this phrase is intrinsic in theology then what is its purpose in relation to food? Why must I read rhetorical questions posed on each and every pseudo-intellectual culture blog permeated by satrical irony (good thought)? It is not simple, but simplicity will regrettably remain the continuous guise encompassing the answer to all of these questions (other than the one about culture blogs which has no answer, hence rhetorical): meaning and context. The phrase ‘in the sense that’ connects the preceding noun, in this case food, with its meaning within the specified context: it all boils down to meaning, whatever ‘it’ is. Many people excessively question – no wrestle with, deliberate over, tear their robes, put on sackcloth, and heap ashes apon their heads whilst pursuing – the meaning of life. Having found the answer to this question, I find it slightly inane; I have therefore migrated to a bit more compelling and palatable question (no pun intended – actually, it was most definitely intended – forgive me): what is the meaning of food? Stop and think about that for a moment. If you have begun to read this sentence without pausing to stop and think, please go back to the beginning. Of everything. Thank you. Now, have you an answer? Have you drawn a concrete conclusion on the nature and meaning of food? Is it merely for nourishment? Merely for entertainment? Both of these things? Neither? Food permeates human existence. It can be the centre of human suffering. It can be the centre of one of the seven deadly sins. Some people live for it. Others die for it. Some even make their livelihood through and because of it. It is both – to an extent – necessary and unnecessary for life. Some individuals even spend countless hours writing ridiculous blogs about it and countless more hours thinking about it. I intend to delve into this question through the exploration of food, in relation to whatever its context may be on any given day, and I truly hope that there is either one very broad or thousands of specifc answers to this incredibly decontextualised question. Happy eating, and think before you chew.