The two paradigmatic acts of God’s redemption in the Bible are enacted through a meal. The Children of Israel were given precise instructions on celebThe two paradigmatic acts of God’s redemption in the Bible are enacted through a meal. The Children of Israel were given precise instructions on celebrating the Passover (Exodus 12), a meal commemorating their liberation from Egyptian slavery. In the New Testament, Jesus points to his crucifixion when he takes bread and wine from the Passover table and declares ‘Eat this. . .Drink this. . .in remembrance of Me.” I remember a college anthropology class where we explored the strong link between the sense of taste and memory. I have always have been fascinated by how God has used taste as a means to communicate and call to mind His salvation. Occasionally I’ve wondered why we don’t make more use of tastes and smells in passing on gospel truth to our children.
This is what Bake Through the Bible does. It takes 20 Bible stories, pairs them with a baking activity to do with children. When you pair the power of taste with an action that reinforces learning (i.e. preparing food), you have made learning the Bible a multi-sensory experience. Authors Susie Bentley-Taylor & Bekah Moore open up the Biblical story by recipes for creation cookies, sad pizza faces (because of the Fall), sparkly promise cookies, lamb burgers (passover, kind of), happy crêpe faces, and more. Sometimes the link between the food activity and the biblical episode are fairly direct (i.e. the crucifixion story is followed by a recipe for hot-cross buns and the resurrection by an empty bread tomb with Easter dip). Other times the significance of the baking is more abstract. For example the chapter called ‘God looks after his people,’ describes Psalm 23, the shepherds psalm, and is illustrated by a recipe of ’Thirst-quenching smoothies.’ This is less direct.
The other morning my four-year-old was crying about not having enough crowns (being a royal pain). Evidently her six-year-old sister has many crowns and she only has one. So after we shunted the six-year-old off to catch her bus. I decided to distract her and redirect her royal energies. My four-year-old and I read about God’s promise to David to provide a Forever-King from his line (26-27). She sat and listened to the explanation of how David wanted to build God a palace. God didn’t need a palace but he promised that David’s name would be remembered forever and that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever. I explained that that Forever-King is Jesus, God’s own Son.
Afterwards we set to making sugar cookies. We mixed up the dough and put in the refrigerator. My 2.5 year old emerged from wherever just in time to lick butter and sugar off the beaters. After the dough had cooled, we rolled it out and cut crowns out. As we baked the crowns, I talked more about the passage (2 Samuel 7) and the significance of Jesus’ Kingship. I had to head off to work so wasn’t a part of decorating the crowns (though I did eat one later).
Does my four-year-old understand the significance of Jesus’ Kingship or how he fulfills the hopes of Israel? I have no illusions about this. What I do know is that the taste of butter and sugar, and baking with her dad has imprinted a memory and that experiences like this build faith. Bentley-Taylor and Moore have managed to gather together kid friendly, fun activities which illustrate aspects of the Bible. There are photos and illustrations of each step of the process (if you’ve ever baked with kids, you know how important that is). I have previewed the whole book and while I haven’t had opportunity to try every recipe in the book, I am looking forward to exploring it more with my kids. Some of the holiday options sound fun. I give it five stars.
Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and the Good Book Company for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review...more
Keeping the Feast: Metaphors For the Meal by Milton Brasher-Cunningham As I sit and write this review the scent of two freshly baked pies fills the hou Keeping the Feast: Metaphors For the Meal by Milton Brasher-Cunningham As I sit and write this review the scent of two freshly baked pies fills the house and my hands smell of orange,curry, mace and ginger (remnants from my cranberry sauce). Tomorrow is thanksgiving and we are looking forward to our Turkey dinner, complete with all the fixings--stuffing, mashed patatoes, yams, brussel sprouts, green beans, and gratitude.
In Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal Milton Brasher-Cunningham draws on his gifts as a writer, chef, minister and teacher to explore the meaning of 'the meal,' relating his reflections on food (and cooking) with the central meal of the Christian faith, Holy Communion. Brasher-Cunningham presses into what the meaning of community is and how community is built around a table. He also opens up the meaning of ritual (not a lifeless act, but as a meaningful routine which shapes us through our practice). Preparing food and eating a good meal around the table show us what the Eucharist is; the Eucharist makes our daily meals sacred. Each chapter opens with a poem and closes with a recipe and Brasher-Cunningham shares lots of stories of his experience as a musician and lyricist, an apprenticed chef and as a UCC minister.
The focus of these essays is the Body of Christ gathered around the table. Often reflections on communion either talk about communion as a sacrament (a means of grace) or as a memorial (do this in remembrance of me). What Brasher-Cunningham writes seems to accommodate both views but he doesn't delve too deeply into theology (his own movement from the Baptist tradition to a mainline denomination signals a shift away from a mere memorial view). Instead he focuses on the experience of gathering as a community and the effect communion has on us.
I enjoyed these essays a lot and found that they appealed to my inner-foodie. My inner-theologian wanted more robust reflection but these are well written and thoughtful (not fluff). I love the way poetry and recipes punctuate this book and give it shape. It is beautifully written and well crafted. Through reviewing this book I discovered Milton's blog at www.donteatalone.com and his recipe blog. I recommend this book to fellow foodies and for those of us who find communion meaningful and those of us who wonder what all the fuss is about. There are a couple of recipes in here I will try (cooking the brussel sprouts recipe tomorrow).
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Keep the Feast (Eucharist means thanksgiving so if you do your Thanksgiving right, you also will re-member Christ).
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255....more
Third generation Japanese American farmer David Mas Masumoto writes this beautiful memoir of life on an organic peach and raisin farm with his family,Third generation Japanese American farmer David Mas Masumoto writes this beautiful memoir of life on an organic peach and raisin farm with his family, in the wake of his father's stroke. Masumoto's father farmed before him and for years, farmed with him as he took the reigns on the farm. But after his stroke, David had to mentor his father on the farm, set limits and reteach him how to farm. Along the way there are stirring reflections on farming, mortality and life's fragility (in both its human and botanical forms). Great read!...more
Pollan explores the co-evolution of plants by examining how people have bred qualities in plants they find desirable, causing some plants to thrive. HPollan explores the co-evolution of plants by examining how people have bred qualities in plants they find desirable, causing some plants to thrive. He gives as his example, Apples (bred for sweetness), Tulips (bred for beauty), Marijuana (bred for intoxication), and Potatoes (bred for control).
For each plant examined, Pollan spins a masterful tale of how these plants have changed overtime in order to thrive. People have seen desirable qualities in each of these plants and cultivated them; the plants in turn have used their desirable qualities in order to thrive in relationship with humanity.
I found apples particularly interesting. Prized for sweetness and bred for cider, undergoing a change of use in the late nineteenth century temperance movement. Since then they became more sweet, and varieties have become more standardized (apples from seeds apparently aren't as sweet, so therefore varieties are maintained through grafts).
But of each of these plants I learned a lot. Pollan tries to peel back the pages of history to give us a look at the real John Chapman AKA Johnny Appleseed. He recounts the history of the Dutch's fascination with Tulips and how these plants thrived among austere cranky protestants who longed for beauty. Pollan talks about the increase in Marijuana's THC levels under prohibition when breeds were crossed to maximize their effects. He uses potatotes, specifically the New Leaf Potato to talk about genetically modified foods and humanity's actions to take over the evolution of the plant and its possible implications.
This book would be interesting if it just told you a little bit of trivia about plants and their development. Of course Pollan is much more interesting in that, because his aim is to cause us to think about our relationship to plant life, their reliance on us, and our reliance on them. He makes the case that plants are not simply for our use, but exist with us in a relationship of reciprocity and mutual connection. Very thought provoking and worth reading. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It looks at three different types of modern meals: the industrial meal (mostly made from corn), the organic meal (and PollI really enjoyed this book. It looks at three different types of modern meals: the industrial meal (mostly made from corn), the organic meal (and Pollan differentiates from industrial organic and the pasturized meal)and the hunter-gathered-grown meal. The critique of the modern diet, food fadism, industrial agriculture is all here, which I expected. But Pollan was fairly balanced in his presentation, I thought. And it isn't all shock and awe look how bad the meat industry is kinda-writing. There are beautiful and mouth watering passages. Pollan's final meal (the one he hunted, grew and gathered) is the most enjoyable because it is the meal that he is most involved with and most aware of the actual cost. Really great stuff here. Read it....more