Monday, August 8, 2011

Connecting Faith and Food: Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church

Faith and food are at the center of Christian belief. The Eucharist takes the practice of sharing a meal to its most mystical extreme, uniting us with Christ and to all believers, past and present, who have gathered at our common table. Biblical stories of feeding—from God’s gift of manna to the wandering Israelites to Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand—animate the Christian values of hospitality, generosity, and compassion.

Of course, the centrality of food in faith is not about dramatic gestures but about the everyday practice of creating, sharing, and nourishing one another from the gifts we receive. Hence the lowly church coffee hour, soup supper and potluck, which extend Eucharistic spirituality further into community. Given how rooted our lives and our faith are in sharing food, its no wonder that food-related spirituality is part of the Digital Reformation.

A Facebook group called Episcopal Foodies Network (EFN) popped up a year ago, “To eat and drink and share the finest of things with the finest of people.” Members share recipes, restaurant reviews, links to other food-related sites, stories of food ministries, and photo after photo of delicious-looking dishes. Members have hosted one another as they’ve traveled to other cities and set up dining excursions to local restaurants, all by way of bringing together the basic human needs of food, friendship, and faith.

Likewise, the blog Catholic Cuisine (, links recipes to the liturgical calendar. And, a growing number of the faithful, like a seminarian who blogs as The Reverend Chef (@reverendchef), link food to faith. All of this points to a fundamental irony about life in the Digital Reformation: rather than separating and dehumanizing us, our digital participation can be profoundly connective and deeply humanizing, illustrating the reach of faith in daily life and inviting us into new relationships that extend easily from digital to local space.

This month’s guest contributor is Elizabeth Drescher, former director of the Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and is currently at Santa Clara University.  She blogs at and her current book is Tweet if You Love Jesus.

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