God Has Given You Good Gifts. Learn to Love Them Well.

While I do realize that it might be taken as a teensy bit self-serving to share emails from readers, this one was so good that I begged the good person who sent it to me to allow me to share it, which she graciously allowed me to do.

(Identifying details have been removed.)

I’m a pastor in a poor, rural church, and I am going to be preaching on the topic of food. During seminary, through the influence of Robert Capon, Wendell Berry, Albert Borgman, as well as some good friends, and classes examining capitalism and technology I came to see my eating choices as directly flowing from my love of God and love of neighbor.

Because I’m interested in the topic and have been actively reforming my own habits, I was excited to be given this opportunity to speak to my congregants, but I was struggling with how to approach the subject without increasing shame for many of the overweight members of our church, and the poor members who struggle to afford to eat well, even in an agricultural community. 

I was so grateful to find your book that reframed the conversation for me. I had seen food as a mix of invitation to grace, through delight, and a call to obedience and love, but your book, with your emphasis on joy, helped me to see that all of the ethical points that I would like to make can all come out of the invitation to grace.  They flow out of love for God as we receive his gifts, and learn to love in the way that he loves. It is grace all the way down.

…It was such a relief to me to come to see that, instead of saying, “you all need to make better choices for the sake of God and neighbor,” I could say, “God loves you and has given you good gifts. Learn to love them well, to receive them from God’s hand, and everything else will fall into place, from health to justice.”

Much like, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will be given to you as well.”

The sermon went well, thanks in large part to your writing. When I sat down a woman from the congregation, who has struggled with her weight, and who I often hear disparage herself about what she eats, whispered to me, “That was so great because you invited us into a better place without all the negative.”

Can I tell you truthfully that this means more to me than sales figures, endorsements from famous writers, and suchlike? My book is not perfect by any means, but I wrote it in hope and faith that it would sprout little wings and scatter seeds of hope and joy in the world. When I get to hear of one of those seeds sprouting into something lovely and beautiful, I am so, so, so grateful.

{To read more about why you might want to read my book, click here. And then here.}

{Regarding books and what they can do for us, THIS SHORT FILM! Watch it!}

What’s On God’s Shopping List? (An Interview With Jonathan Merritt)

Jonathan Merritt, to whom I had the pleasure of serving some snax as he and a whole group of notable evangelicals drove through Malawi, has an interview with me on his Religion News Service blog.

Here are some of the questions Jonathan asked me:

When many of us shop for food or dine out, we’re navigating a complicated balance of finding food that’s affordable, nutritious, flavorful, and more recently, food that’s been produced justly. With all that trouble, why bother?

Your book has been called “a practical theology of eating.” What’s theological about eating, and how does eating engage us with God?

If God were pushing a shopping cart through a 21st century grocery store what do you think would be in God’s cart?

{You can read the entire interview here.}

Four Reviews of “Eat With Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food”

I don’t mean to be so book-promo-oriented, but it really makes my dad happy to read positive reviews of my new book and I like to make my dad happy. Because why wouldn’t I want to make him happy? Just look at the stuff he creates and sends to my kids? (This is only the cover!)


First, here’s a post from my friend Michelle Van Loon. I like how she started out by explaining how mealtime wasn’t much of a joy in her growing-up years:

My mom was a diet afficionado. It seemed that she tried on for size every fad diet that came during my childhood. The Cottage Cheese Diet. The Grapefruit Diet. A few rounds of Weight Watchers. A leaning tower of Lean Cuisines stashed in the freezer. An always-uneasy relationship with “starch”, or as we like to call it/them today, carbs.

She also disliked cooking. The standard fare at our dinner table was broiled steak, defrosted Green Giant frozen vegetables and an iceberg lettuce salad. Or else takeout Chinese, pizza, or KFC. The combination of her yo-yo dieting and her allergy to the kitchen meant that mealtime was rarely much of a delight. (Continued)

Next, the Stadtmensch blog had some good things to say in a post titled “Joy. It’s What’s for Dinner.”:

Rachel Marie Stone’s book, Eat With Joy by InterVarsity Press, is a feast for those who care about issues pertaining to how society views food and the complicated area of food ethics.  For those of you who know me as a guy who tends to eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants and somehow never manages to gain weight (or mass as the science textbook will state), you might be wondering why I decided to write a review of this book, much less bother to even read it.  After all, my story is very different from Stone’s who, in the introduction, describes her own conflicted feelings with food as she was growing up.  Generally speaking, I have not felt any such anxiety about eating food throughout my life and do not suffer from either anorexia or obesity.  Indeed, I can pack away the food so well that it even led one coworker of mine to remark in a teasing way, “He’s very serious about his food.”  That comment is more accurate than that coworker realized for I believe that eating well ought to play an important part in the life of a Christ follower.  Therefore, Eat With Joy is a book that is very relevant to the conerns of this blog: those of calling, community, and culture. (Continued)

Then, Donald McKenzie of Dining With Donald had these very kind words:

If you have never give much thought to what you eat, how it’s produced, and what it means to eat together, this book is a very accessible primer on those subjects.  This is not a scolding book, you will not be made to feel guilty about your actions or inaction in how you relate to any of the topics, particularly those relating to issues of food justice.

At its heart, what makes this book such a great new contribution is how it views eating as an extension of the grace that is offered to us in the Eucharistic meal where we feed on and are sustained by Christ. (Continued)

Finally, Alissa Wilkinson reviewed the book at Books and Culture:

Eat with Joy is a primer on eating for those exhausted by trying to do it perfectly. In each chapter, Stone tells stories from her own experience and presents a well-researched examination of an issue that faces us today—obesity, eating disorders, family meals, food justice. Then she holds it up against the Bible to help the reader understand how God’s gift of food is just that: a gift. We must cultivate and tend it—and, above all, we should be grateful for it. 
There you go, Dad! (And thanks to those who took the time to read the book and write about it.)