Food- certainly not poison

February 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm 3 comments

This started off as a comment on Michelle’s post, Food isn’t poison. But then I thought, “Dude (because I call myself that, because my kid has been watching a lot of Finding Nemo) you can’t go spouting off Eucharistic Theology on other people’s blogs, that’s just rude. Spout that shit on your own blog.”

So.

Michelle wrote:

So, if food isn’t poison, and if it isn’t medicine, what is it? It’s food. It’s sunlight and air and soil and water and love, in edible form. It’s every creature that’s gone before you, and the thing you’ll be to those who come after.

And that right there is pretty consistant with my Eucharistic Theology- the way I understand this strange symbolic feast of styrofoam and sips that lies so close to the heart of my faith. In this meal that remembers-and-makes-present the person of Jesus Christ we become connected to every person who has shared it and every person who will share it. And I believe that this is part of what Jesus was saying when he told his friends, “When you eat food and drink wine, think of me and the things we talked about”.

I think its incredibly important that the physical stuff (I think ‘creature’ is actually the academic term here) that Christians use in this ritual is bread and wine. We take the stuff that is all God’s doing- the seed and the sun and the rain. And we mix it with some stuff that is all human endeavour- the milling and the baking and the fermenting. And we end up with these creatures of bread and wine that in turn become a symbol and sign of the intermixedness (now I’m just making words up) of Divine and human endeavours. Cool.

On top of that, Michelle points out that that grain and those grapes are in their turn made of the stuff of previous life- they have incorporated the physical stuff of other created things in a grand and wonderful carbon recycling scheme that is at once both mystical and utterly mundane.

I’ve preached the same thing about the water of baptism- how it has been everywhere. But yes. YES! It is also true of the creatures of bread and wine that we (I) bless in the eucharist.

Connections. With God. With each other. Across time and space. That is what I believe about those wee strange little discs made of flour and water in a way that causes them to in no way resemble actual bread.

But as Fillyjonk said about conceptual metaphors, metaphor is a minefield. And the food-as-interconnectedness-and-relationship-and-a-sign-of-all-that-is-right-with-the-world has become a pretty shaky place to hang a concept of God as interconnectedness and relationship and a sign of all that is right with the world.

I fear for what we (I) can proclaim through this sacramental meal in a culture where food is understood as medicine and/or poison. Because the presence of God is, I believe, also neither of these things.

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Entry filed under: Incarnational, Sacerdotal.

In which I do NOT give medical advice on the internet When the Sartorial meets the Sacerdotal

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. the fat nutritionist  |  February 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Very interesting. And I’m glad you took this up, because that was definitely one of the underlying themes in my head as I wrote that stuff about food.

    I’m not particularly religious. I don’t know enough about anything to be able to claim to know anything about a god. But the closest I’ve come to any sort of faith is by studying science and learning about natural laws.

    The first time I learned about the law of conservation of energy/matter was in eighth grade, and I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard. Still do. And it seems to be so closely related to so many spiritual concepts.

  • 2. Cleric at Large  |  February 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks, Michelle- I think the gap between ‘faith’ and ‘science’ is not so wide as some would have it.

    I had an interesting conversation with my Godfather about how we are only able to perceive the world through our 5 very embodied senses. We are more-than-bodies, but bodies are the lens through which our every experience is, of necessity, filtered. And then he compared that to the Divine Being, whose body is creation- that Divinity is more-than-creation but that the created order and natural law is, of necessity, the filter through which we experience Divinity.

    I’m not sure I really get what he was on about- he has a lot more time for reading emerging theology than I do. But he sure has me convinced that religion v. science is a patently ridiculous dichotomy.

    Thanks for wandering in from your garden party- I didn’t want to be that crazy neighbour wandering around handing out tracts.

  • 3. the fat nutritionist  |  February 1, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I don’t think it’s crazy at all! I love thinking about religion and science together.

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