Share Food; Share God’s Love

Over a year ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Norman Wirzba for Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today blog written by (but not exclusively for!) women, and of reviewing one of his recent books, Food and Faith, for Books & Culture. We exchanged emails about food and faith, and, at some point, Dr. Wirzba agreed to write the Foreword for my book, for which I’m very grateful.

Here’s some of what he wrote:

“It is hard to imagine an important human event that does not involve eating. Birthdays, weddings, major accomplishments and funerals require eating because the sharing of food is thesharing of life with each other. Today’s industrial culture tempts us to think that food is simply fuel or a commodity we need to keep us going through our schedules.

But our own experience and desire teach us that is not right. Deep down we know that food is fellowship. When we eat together we share so much more than calories or grams of fat. We share in each other’s joy, pain, struggle and hope. Sharing food we share ourselves. We show ourselves willing to be companions in life’s journey, people who by sharing bread (panis) also share love.

It is no accident, then, that Scripture has food and eating constantly in view. God creates life by creating food. Indeed, among God’s most primordial blessings is the grace of food and the promise that agricultural cycles will yield their fruit in due season. God then invites the whole of humanity to participate in the just and generous sharing of food, making hospitality to others a basic witness to faithfulness. God wants us to share food with each other because in doing that we share God’s love.”

Why Play-Fighting Is Actually Good For Kids

I’ll admit it: I’m a pacifist mom who doesn’t freak out (anymore) when her boys play with Nerf (and other) toy weapons.

Here’s why, explained in my most recent Her.meneutics post:

Early this month, a six-year-old in Silver Spring, Maryland, was suspended from school after he pointed his finger like a gun and said, “pow.” In a letter to his parents, school officials described the incident as one in which their son “threatened to shoot a student.”

In one way, this reaction is understandable. After the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, seeing any sort of gunplay at school would be, on a gut level, distressing. This sort of reaction certainly has historical precedent: in 1968, following the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog pulled all toy guns from its pages.

But, beyond visceral reactions—exclamations of distaste at child behavior that uncomfortably resonates with tragedy—does pretend violence perpetuate real violence?

Not necessarily. According to Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and the founder and director of the National Institutes of Play, “Play can act as a powerful deterrent, even an antidote to prevent violence. Play is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization.”

But parents and teachers—like the teachers in Silver Spring, Maryland—are often not inclined to see it that way.”Teachers…often see normal rough and tumble play behavior such as hitting, diving, wrestling, (all done with a smile, between friends who stay friends), not as a state of play, but one of anarchy that must be controlled.”

In a study of adults who had committed violent crimes, including the Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho, Brown discovered that their childhoods had been marked not by violent play but, more strangely, by a lack of play: the very thing that helps people, especially little people, work through conflict and aggression safely and productively.

An adult may see a kid wield a thumb-and-forefinger “gun” and think of Adam Lanza. But unless the child is already troubled, he is thinking of nothing like that. More likely it has nothing to do with a desire to harm another human being.

(Continue reading…)

Live on the Radio in South Africa & An Earnest Defense of Sarcasm

Last Sunday night I had the pleasure of speaking with Kate Turkington of Believe it or Not, a top talk radio show in South Africa. (Go figure, right?) Anyway, it was really fun. I was a bit terrified–this being my first live, as opposed to taped, radio interview–but Kate had (apparently) read quite a bit of this blog and my bio and had some great questions.

Kate!

She even asked about NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sugary drinks that are larger than 16 oz! We talked about cupcakes for birthdays in school, obesity, the Obamas’ dinner habits, halal & kosher, and more. I felt surprisingly comfortable speaking with her.

Maybe you can listen to it here. I can’t seem to figure it out, so let me know if you do!

I DO know that that you can read my latest her.meneutics post–“In Defense of Sarcasm”–here. And here’s a taste:

When I was 10, helping my father—the pastor—to prepare for a baptism, I’d hop into the baptismal pool and give a dramatic, Unshackled-style before-and-after testimony, complete with tears, a Damascus road moment, and a changed life. At 15, I’d intone pious-sounding nonsense in what I called my “Christian talk-radio woman” voice. It was a revelation when I discovered the now-defunct Wittenburg Door, a religious satire magazine, and I watched Saturday Night Live—church lady and all—with guilty, absorbed pleasure, though, in fact, my rather conservative parents were not bothered by my love for satire. If anything, they encouraged it, enjoying the irony the first time I was interviewed on Christian talk-radio: now I really was a Christian woman voice on the radio.

As I said, go figure, right?

Shaming Children for Eating Snacks

Yesterday, the Christianity Today women’s blog ran my fuller response to Dara-Lynn Weiss’ tiger-mom approach to her daughter’s weight loss.

In further exploring the Vogue story, I found the following telling quotations indicating Weiss’ own ‘issues’ with food:

I have not ingested any food, looked at a restaurant menu, or been sick to the point of vomiting without silently launching a complicated mental algorithm about how it will affect my weight.

She also notes that she has been

on and off Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slim-Fast, LA Weight Loss, Jenny Craig, juice diets and raw food diets.

Here’s a taste of what I had to say in response:

…I know that a poor diet carries significant health risks. I know that certain foods predispose the body to certain ailments. I know that in a sense, there’s plenty to fear and to feel guilty about.

But there remains the fact that in Scripture, food is always a gift from God. The Garden of Eden is an edible paradise; the God of Israel rains manna and quail from heaven; creatures from lions to cattles to people seek their food from God, who invites anyone–even people who have no money–to come, buy, and eat. And God makes himself flesh, declares himself to be the “true Manna,” and breaks his body as bread, pours his blood as wine, for the life of the world, promising one day to host a marriage supper to celebrate the consummation of all things.

You can read my whole essay at the CT women’s blog here.