I’m retiring from blogging, but I’m still around on the Internet

This post is long overdue, though I don’t kid myself that it’s long awaited by anyone, or anything like that.

Blogging, at one time, was a wonderful thing for me. And it remains a wonderful thing for lots of people.

But blogging was always supposed to be a part of a larger writing life for me. And indeed, blogging led me to a larger writing life. In some ways, it was a means to an end, which is not to diminish the blogging itself. The means were pretty valuable.

Still, in order to do the kind of writing that feeds my soul, and, I believe, to do the kind of writing I’m called to do — the kind of writing I want to do — it became important that I stop blogging.

One thing I’m doing while I’m not blogging, is, for example, editing an updated version of the classic Mennonite More With Less cookbook. You can keep in touch with how that’s going by clicking here.

I’m not dropping off the face of the Internet. I’m just going to be using it in different ways. The usual suspects, of course:

and other places around the web, including at the Washington Post, Christianity Today, The Christian Century, The Englewood Review of Books, Books and Culture, InTouch and more.

And I’ll be speaking here and there. Follow me on these-here social media thingies to find out where.

In case you weren’t paying attention:

I post a lot of cat pictures. And pictures of books.

Time may come when I’ll use this ol’ blog again regularly as a commonplace book: a place to collect favorite quotations and sources, to jot down thoughts.

For now, though — as for a while now — this particular plot is going to lie fallow.

Fallow sometimes means fruitful. It just doesn’t always look that way.

Peace,

Rachel

Stone-Speaking

How the Beauty Culture Blasphemes Our Bodies

this is the kind of beach image i'm okay with
this is the kind of beach image i’m okay with

In her memoir Bossypants, Tina Fey claims that everyone knows Photoshopped images aren’t real, but she also acknowledges that the culture of beauty has changed significantly since she was a girl. Back then, “you were either blessed with a beautiful body or not. And if you were not, you could just chill out and learn a trade.”

Today, however, “if you’re not ‘hot’ you are expected to work on it until you are… If you don’t have a good body, you’d better starve the body you have down to a neutral shape, then bolt on some breast implants, replace your teeth, dye your skin orange, inject your lips, sew on some hair, and call yourself Playmate of the year.”

I understand this implicit cultural expectation so well; for years, I struggled to remake what I was in the image of all I thought I should be. As I’ve written in my new book, Eat With Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food, for years,

I absorbed magazines, TV, and movies uncritically and prescriptively […] everything about my appearance seemed wrong. But in America, the possibilities of individual determination are endless—you can become as rich and as thin as you determine to be!—and so I sought to change my body through all the ways that advertisements teach us is possible: the chromium picolinate supplements, the protein shakes, the NordicTrack, the chirpy aerobics videos, the Velcro-fastened ankle weights.

All that effort toward getting a certain look adds up to big business—more than $20 billion annually in the U.S. on cosmetics alone. It comes at a high price in terms of mental health, as numerous psychological studies have suggested what discerning parents have known for a long time: the more media images of stylized, retouched models a woman views, the more likely she is to become depressed and disordered in her eating.

That was me.

{Read this piece in its entirety at Christianity Today, where it originally appeared on Feb. 19}

Nice People Saying Nice Things About Eat With Joy

I’m so grateful for the good words from diverse people about my new book. Here are just a few of them:

Brian D. McLaren (author, speaker and blogger at brianmclaren.net) said:

 “I’m not proud of this, but I didn’t start taking my eating habits seriously–or seeing them as part of my spiritual life–until I reached mid-life. I wish I’d started when I was in my twenties (or before), and I wish I’d had Eat with Joy as my guide. The beautiful mealtime prayers alone are worth the price of the book. A treasure for soul and body.”

 Tracey Bianchi, pastoral staff at Christ Church of Oak Brook and author of Mom Connection and Green Mama, said:

“This book made me hungry! Hungry for all that is good and beautiful about the art of gathering with others around a table. As a drive-thru mom I have struggled daily with my own connection to food for decades. Rachel helped me understand the true joy and gift of community, culture and a healthy connection to my food. It gave me nourishment, comfort and a deep understanding of the power of my kitchen table to heal and restore. A truly great read!”

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, said:

 “This book is a remarkable spiritual and practical guide to God’s most basic gift. Rachel Marie Stone takes eating to a devotional level, where food becomes a part of our healing, our relationship building and our gratitude toward God. My joy in eating is now increased as I can better realize the meaning and purpose of food, and the relationships built around it.”

 Lisa Graham McMinn, author of Walking Gently on the Earth and Dirt and the Good Life, said:

“When Irma Rombauer published The Joy of Cooking she couldn’t have imagined we’d need to learn to eat with joy eighty years later. But we do. Stone offers the backstory of our current food woes and dilemmas along with hopeful and redemptive responses. And all the while she invites us toward a practical, joyful celebration of just, good food.”

{Now available for pre-order at Amazon.com. Officially releases on March 1.}

Some Early and Good Words About My Book

You can now pre-order my book on the InterVarsity Press website, and there’s even some kind words about it there from Norman Wirzba, author of Food and Faith and professor at Duke Divinity School. I’ve featured his work before on the blog, and he has also written the Foreword to my book!

“Christian faith and life have always been deeply and inextricably bound up with eating. But Christians have not always appreciated this. What a joy then to have the gift of this book by Rachel Marie Stone. In prose that is inviting, nonjudgmental and inspiring, Stone shows us that we can eat with joy, and in such eating extend God’s love in the world. By combining stories, recipes, biblically based reflection and numerous practical tips, Stone helps us move more deeply into the mystery and the grace that eating is. Prepare to receive a blessing.”

{Thanks, Norman!}