Thursday, October 31, 2013

Keeping the Feast

About a year ago, I received Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal by Milton Brasher-Cunningham in return for a promise to read and review it within 30 days.  Well, it got into the pile and I never got to it.  The other day I got an e-mail reminder (thanks Mike) and found the book and read it.  Here's my review.

This book is about meals... primarily communion but it also reminds us of the sacredness of being at table with one another and the place that meals hold in building community and reinforcing "who we are and to whom we belong." It shares a few recipes (we're going to try them), some poems, and lots of metaphors illustrating the role of communion in our lives.

I like this book.  A lot.  I wanted to like it even more, but I read it too fast for that.  It is a short book and easily read in two or three sittings, which is what I did.  That was a mistake.  It reads more like a series of free flowing discussions over the kitchen table rather than a linear argument or treatise on the theology of the Eucharist and each little bit requires some time to properly digest.  The book made me think of the Slow Food movement, a reaction to fast food eating that envisions food as something we ingest quickly and without thought, as a means of getting a little quick physical nutrition as if eating is the same as refueling a car at the gas station.  Slow Food says that eating together can be a time of meaning, of community, of re-membering and it can be sacred time that makes us whole rather than just full.  I read Keeping the Feast like fast food and that was a mistake.  I'll read it again... slowly, digesting each metaphor and wrestling with the challenges.  (I love the idea of the Thursday Night Dinner).

The secondary theme of the sacredness of eating together will be most meaningful in my life.  My wife and I do eat dinner together every evening but too often it is perfunctory as we grab something and park in front of the television.  Recently my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson moved in with us which has changed our eating pattern and pushed us back to the table together.  It takes more time and a lot more energy, but it might just be a wonderful opportunity for re-membering.  I'm hopeful.  I dare not implement a Thursday Night Dinner without permission but the idea holds a lot of attraction for me.  At the very least, it will push me to open our door more than we do in our isolated American life.

So... I recommend this book.  Read it slowly and take time to digest the ideas.

In the meantime, check out Milton Brasher-Cunningham's blogs - for recipes and  for reflections.

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