“I arise each day with two competing desires: to reform the world, and to enjoy it. It makes us hard to plan the day." -E.B. White
No matter how much we tryto remain mindful of what we eat, more often than not we tend to take food for granted. This is especially true for those of us who have access to nourishment on a daily basis. Of course, many of us do take a moment before a meal to offer a word of thanks to the Creator.
During Lent we give food a little more thought by depriving ourselves of a food item--whether it's coffee, or chocolate, or refined sugar, or red meat. We often view fasting as a matter of personal strength instead of an opportunity to open ourselves to weakness (and thus remove an obstacle to offer a deeper thanks to our Creator for those times when WE DO have food). But that's a discussion for another time.
Which brings us to the related question, is food a sacrament or a commodity. Is it both? Or is it neither? That question is the basis for a great course offered at Ghost Ranch, the Presbyterian education andi retreat center near Abiquiu, New Mexico, on June 18-24, 2012.
The course, entitled Food, Glorious Food: The Eucharist & Your Foodshed, examines our relationship to the food web and the foodshed. Here's a short description:
If being at table is a core sacrament for most religions, as it is for the Christian Eucharist, what is its relationship to the foodshed? Is there a Eucharistic vision of the natural world that intersects agribusiness? What does Eucharist mean if God is a gardener, we are tillers and keepers and the world is hungry? The anchor book for the week is Norman Wirzba's newest book, Food and Faith.
In case you're wondering, Norman Wirzba--who teaches theology, ecology and rural studies at The Duke Divinity School--is one of five presenters. (Below is a video about the book Food and Faith).
Four other great instructors will take part in the course:
-Melanie Harris: teaches Christian Social Ethics, Womanist Ethics, African American Spirituality and Ecospirituality at Texas Christian University.
-Larry Rasmussen: Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary. He is the organizer of Ghost Ranch's decade project on Earth-honoring Faith and author of the award-winning volume "Earth Community, Earth Ethics."
-Janet Walton: professor of Worship and the Arts, Union Theological Seminary, New York.
-Jay Harris: a culinary expert at the Art Institute of Colorado
"From day one, we’ll be working together to answer the question, How do we take this home? And do so in ways that both 'reform' and 'enjoy' the world," said Larry Rasmussen. "This is education not only as information (about food, foodsheds, food as sacrament and commodity) but education as drawing us out (e-duce) in a creative space together. We hope to facilitate that by being 'At Table' all week—sitting around tables set in sacred space (the Agape Worship Center)."