I have been reading (and loving) Supper of the Lamb by Robert Capon and my son-in-law, Tim, recently recommended that the guys read For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann to discuss at Christmas over cigars and port (Tim didn’t mention the cigars and port part). Both books begin by insisting that eating is one of the most spiritual activities we can engage in. I am captivated.
Schmemann quotes philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach: “Man is what he eats.” Feuerbach hoped to make people think they did not need the spiritual world that what man really needs is food. When he said that, however, he instead opened up the heavens. Man is what he eats and man has been connected to food in a very deep way since the beginning.
God put man into the garden of Eden and said, “Eat.” (Gen. 2:16)
When the Lord appeared to Abraham He was fed cakes of fine flour, beef, butter and milk. (Gen 18)
The last thing the disciples did with Jesus was to eat. (Mark 4:22)
And the sacrament of communion is all about eating and drinking. (Matt. 26:26)
Jesus on his last day before being crucified looked forward to the day when he would eat in the Kingdom of God. (Luke 22:15f)
Jesus asked the disciples after His resurrection, “Children, have you any food.” (Jn.21:5)
After His resurrection from the dead, He ate, “Jesus said to them, ‘come and eat breakfast.'” (Jn. 21:12)
But Satan is smarter than any old materialist philosopher and he knows how to get this man of substance and being under control. He understands that as long as man deals with real substance, man will remain substantial. Instead of taking away the material we have deceitfully been encouraged to mentally alienate ourselves from reality.
Corrupting our relationship to food has become a great way to dehumanize our humanity. Rather than eating for enjoyment and pleasure we have turned eating into a burden. By totally absorbing ourselves in our diets, our food choices, our bodies, we have made ourselves the center of everything and we have lost the delight of eating.
We obsess over how many calories, how much saturated fat, and how to avoid white food (rice, flour, bread…) and have turned our energy to worshiping our whole grain, organic, raw food diet. And taste be damned. Food is for maintenance.
We have been conned into thinking that eating is to be endured; how dare you enjoy that lovely fried egg with toasted white bread and lavishly buttered with real butter when you should be drinking that, that horrid stuff you whirled in the blender for all the health benefits it guarantees, the premordial ooze of life.
Enjoying the delicious taste of a meal well prepared makes us human and earthly in the best sense.
“To break real bread is to break the loveless hold of hell upon the world, and, by just that much, to set the secular free.”
We’ve been had.
“Food does not exist merely for the sake of its nutritional value. To see it so is only to knuckle under still further to the desubstantialization of man, to regard not what things are, but what they mean to us- to become, in short, solemn idolaters spiritualizing what should be loved as matter.”
True, true, man’s body is to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19) But given man’s tendency to idolatry, his penchant for obsessing over himself and thinking that he can control his destiny, his length of days by what he eats, by what we deny ourselves, given this tendency we need to start eating food that tastes good and leave off with the devilish cult of diets.
So how can we feast to the fullest and not become as big as a house?
“To eat nothing at all is more human than to take a little of what cries out for the appetite of a giant.”
Ah! The godly discipline of fasting.
And, “the real secret of fasting is not that it is a simple way to keep one’s weight down, but that it is a mysterious way of lifting creation into the Supper of the Lamb.”