Read The Spirit of Food: Thirty-Four Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God by Leslie Leyland Fields Nancy J. Nordenson Online


Description: You are invited to a feast for the senses and the spirit! Thirty-four adventurous writers open their kitchens, their recipe files, and their hearts to illustrate the many unexpected ways that food draws us closer to God, to community, and to creation. All bring a keen eye and palette to the larger questions of the role of food--both its presence and its absencDescription: You are invited to a feast for the senses and the spirit! Thirty-four adventurous writers open their kitchens, their recipe files, and their hearts to illustrate the many unexpected ways that food draws us closer to God, to community, and to creation. All bring a keen eye and palette to the larger questions of the role of food--both its presence and its absence--in the life of our bodies and spirits. Their essays take us to a Canadian wheat farm, a backyard tomato garden in Cincinnati, an organic farm in Maine; into a kosher kitchen, a line of Hurricane Katrina survivors as they wait to be fed, a church basement for a thirty-hour fast; inside the translucent layers of an onion that transport us to a meditation on heaven, to a church potluck, and to many other places and ways we can experience sacramental eating. In a time of great interest and equal confusion over the place of food in our lives, this rich collection, which includes personal recipes, will delight the senses, feed the spirit, enlarge our understanding, and deepen our ability to "eat and drink to the glory of God." Featuring the writings of Robert Farrar Capon, Wendell Berry, Lauren Winner, Luci Shaw, Andre Dubus, Jeanne Murray Walker, Brian Volck, and many others, INCLUDING ORIGINAL RECIPIES! Endorsements: "I'm trying to resist the temptation to pun--describing this as a rich feast of essays, or essays one will relish with delight, or essays that one should savor, and so forth--but I can't. This collection is a meal for the mind." --Mark Galli Senior Managing Editor Christianity Today "This is a gift to the Body of Christ--delicious prose and glistening dishes to assist the necessary recovery of our whole persons. As Saint John Chrysostom proclaims: 'The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry! Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.' Taste and see, indeed." --Scott Cairns author of The Compass of Affection "From the sheen on the belly of a fresh-caught salmon to the reassuring heft of homemade bread straight from the oven, this new collection by thirty-four outstanding writers opens by celebrating the sheer joy of eating, then ushers us into the realm of holy sacrament. The Spirit of Food, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields, is not only rich in wisdom gained the hard way--through the gathering, growing, and preparing of what winds up on our multifarious tables--but shines with luminous gratitude at the abundant graciousness of God." --Paula Huston author of Forgiveness: Following Jesus into Radical Loving "Leslie Leyland Fields has done those of us interested in The Spirit of Food a great service by collecting thirty-four wonderful essays and recipes. Her careful choices remind us of the many ways God can be present in the human experience of eating. The essays on fasting, feasting, and the Lord's Supper join others which recall the experiences of grace or the call for justice which occur in everyday meals." --Shannon Jung author of Food for Life: The Spirituality and Ethics of Eating "I loved reading all these wise, honest, and funny people writing about eating--the conundrums and efforts and delights involved in our relationship to food, and God, and God-as-food. It's a beautiful and inspiring collection of essays. I've been praying and eating better since reading it." --Debbie Blue author of Sensual Orthodoxy About the Contributor(s): Leslie Leyland Fields is the author of seven books, including Surviving the Island of Grace: A Life on the Wild Edge of America and "Parenting is Your Highest Calling" . . . and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt. She teaches in Seattle Pacific University's Master of Fine Arts Program and lives in Kodiak, Alaska....

Title : The Spirit of Food: Thirty-Four Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God
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ISBN : 9781608995929
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 257 Pages
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The Spirit of Food: Thirty-Four Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God Reviews

  • Donovan Richards
    2019-04-14 14:18

    Our “Thing”When I was dating my wife, I would often hear the question, “What do you two have in common?” While we enjoy similar bands, movies, and comedians, we do not have a “thing” that defines us. Some couples’ “thing” is theater, for others, it is season tickets for a pro sports team. We, on the other hand, just enjoyed spending time together. Is spending time together a “thing?” Perhaps. But if so, it is a rather boring “thing.”However, I loved cooking with Tara. We would find a recipe and spend our evening combining ingredients and hopefully presenting something edible at the conclusion of our efforts. In my mind, cooking was our “thing.”The Depth of FoodAlthough I spent little time considering the deeper meaning behind our prepared meals, introspection tells me that our time in the kitchen provided valuable formation in our relationship. Simply put, there is more to cooking than assembling ingredients and eating them. The Spirit of Food offers answers to the deeper questions behind our food.Throughout the book, authors inquire about the theological significance of food. Of course, at its basic level, humanity needs food for survival. But, could food function at a deeper level? Does it connect humans together in community and in communion with God? With chapters from novelists, theologians, poets, priests, chefs, and essayists, The Spirit of Food approaches this subject from diverse views and disciplines.Beginning with gathering food, this book explores the significance behind preparing food, eating food, fasting, communion, and feasting. We read of the joy food brings, the depression of food disorders, and the unity around a communal dinner.Food as MiracleFrom the first chapter, The Spirit of Food suggests that a divine miracle occurs when a person prepares a meal. Essayist Patty Kirk writes, “Just as God combined parts of his creation – lights and dark sky, dirt and breath – to make other things, we also combine things – berries and sugar and lemons and heat – to make other things and pronounce them good” (5).As Kirk states, the central thesis of this tome orbits around the notion of food transporting humans into a closer relationship with God.Food as MetaphorDiscussing hollandaise sauce, Chef Fred Raynaud suggests, “In the first step toward making hollandaise, which is also the first step toward redemption, the shell is cracked and broken open, and the yolk is separated from its rightful place. The yolk is tossed into a cold stainless steel bowl. Lonely and isolated, with one mission in mind: the yolk must unite two substances that chemically cannot be united, our sinful nature with a Holy God. In order to do this, the yolk must endure terrible suffering” (86).While in the kitchen, the actions we take in preparing a meal carry profound symbolism. As a necessary part of daily life, the “breaking of bread” provides opportunity to understand the depths of spiritual analogy in our food.Food Leads Us to JesusThe Spirit of Food, also, contains the famous passage from For the Life of the World by theologian Alexander Schmemann. In it, he writes, “We offered the bread in remembrance of Christ because we know that Christ is Life, and all food, therefore, must lead us to him” (207).Food Can Be InconsistentSadly, the format of this book leads to an inconsistent read. With each chapter penned by a new author, the quality of the content varies significantly. Also, I found a few glaring typos that missed the editor’s eye.Nevertheless, The Spirit of Food suggests that our daily meal is a time to remember the life and death of Christ. Just like my wife and I found joy in cooking during our dating years, many people throughout the world understand a special connection between preparing food and the deeper meaning of life. Despite the inconsistency from chapter to chapter, if you are interested in diving into the spiritual aspect of food, I recommend this book.Originally published at

  • Laura
    2019-04-11 08:15

    I thought I was hungry for more theology of food this summer. I checked out a whole bunch of thick, systematic books that expounded on food in the scriptures, Christian attitudes toward food production, and more. One by one, I abandoned these books. They lacked the celebratory attitude that I was seeking. And then only one book remained. This book not only remained in the pile, I enjoyed it so much, I decided I wanted to own it. So I bought it and read it and since then have been savoring my favorite essays.Were there essays that missed the mark for me? Yes. A few. But overall, this book was a real treat. There were the essays I expected (Robert Farrar Capon's ode to the onion; Wendell Berry on the atrocities of modern agriculture) but many, many essays that surprised me, delighted me, and fed me. Once again, though, I end a book a little disappointed. Not with the book itself, but with the fact that I am so late to the party. I have been thinking recently of how beautiful it is that cooking as a work in collaboration with creation, of the generosity of a God who provides our daily bread through the ordinary miracle of farming, and of the meaning of our earthly and spiritual hungers--and I thought perhaps I had something new to say, some reason to write and explore these ideas that were so new to me. But this collection of essays leaves me thoroughly humbled. I can write for the sheer joy of it if I want, but there is little that hasn't already been meditated upon and said in the wide-ranging variety of essays in this book. I think it is a real treasure of a book and am glad to have read it.Favorite Essays (that were totally new to me): Table Blessings by Kelton Cobb ("Whoever enjoys any worldly pleasure without benediction commits a theft against God") and This is my Body by Suzanne Wolfe ("Reaffirming the gift of the world and offering it back.")

  • Kirstin
    2019-03-26 16:08

    Okay, so maybe a 5-start rating is premature since I haven't read it yet, but since it does contain one of my essays and those of several other catapult-magazine-connected folks, I can tell you with confidence: it's going to be good. :)

  • Tim
    2019-04-07 10:21

    The Spirit of Food provides 34 short essays on food, fasting, feasting, and faith. There a few "classic" essays, excerpts from Capon's Supper of the Lamb, Wendell Berry, Alexander Schmemman on the Eucharist, but most are new and grounded in memory of family and of church, that keep well from sentimentality. A large majority of the writers are women and the collection also contains a high percentage of more liturgical (Episcopalian, Lutheran, Orthodox, and Catholic) writers evoking more sacramental visions of our approach to food. Taking seriously our materiality and the connection food provides to God, they are consistently good and often miraculous. And most also end with recipes - the two that I have tried so far (not including the old Capon soup standards that have been staples for years) have been simple and excellent and will ensure my copy of the book will be getting a bit dirty.

  • Debbi
    2019-04-03 15:22

    This is a wonderful collections of essays. I discovered several new authors to add to my to reading list. I particularly enjoyed the lack of pretension that makes its way into a lot of food writing today. The essays are short, interesting and heartfelt. Although primary Christian,the focus is on the sacred nature of food and how we share the experience. There is no heavy handedness only good writing and a love and respect for food and the earth.

  • Caroline
    2019-03-23 15:01

    This is a thoughtful and sustaining collection of essays and recipes, a diverse portrait of the ways we nourish our families and ourselves. Read my complete review here.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-15 14:01

    A lovely collection of beautiful essays.

  • Craig Goodwin
    2019-04-19 09:57

    The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God (Cascade Books, 2010) is a wonderful collection of essays by an all-star cast of gifted writers on the connections between food and Christian faith. The book reminds me of one of those summer food festivals that feature samplings from all the best restaurants in town. I remember growing up with the annual Bite of Seattle. We would pay an entrance fee to get in and then tent by tent we would make our way around the festival stalls, gobbling up appetizer-sized portions of gourmet mu-shoo pork tacos and blackened salmon. In the same way The Spirit of Food invites the reader in to sample the gourmet writing of Lauren Winner, Wendell Berry, Ann Voskamp, Amy Frykholm, Alexander Schmemann, Robert Farrar Capon, and Leslie Leyland Fields who edited and coordinated this event/book. Interspersed among the more well-known authors are unique perspectives from dozens of others, all organized around the themes: On the Way to the Table, In the Kitchen, The Ways We Eat, Fasting, At the Table of the Lord, and Feasting. Given the nature of the book I'm going to approach this review like it's a conversation in the car with a friend driving home from one of those food festivals. Let's call it "Bite of the Kingdom." Friend: So how did you like The Spirit of Food/Bite of the Kingdom?Me: I don't think I've ever read so many tasty morsels of food writing. (yes, the puns are irresistable) Just when I was savoring the offerings in one chapter I was drawn to the next. They did a really good job representing different perspectives on how food intersects with faith. I like that each author was given the freedom to engage the topic from their experience. I could tell that the authors really enjoyed writing on the subject and that came through in the reading of the book.Friend: What was your favorite chapter?Me: I'm a sucker for Berry, Schmemann, and Capon but I'm familiar with their work so their chapters were like comfort food that is flawlessly prepared, and tasty as usual, but it's familiarity makes me look elsewhere for a favorite. I really enjoyed Amy Frykholm's treatment of Orthodox fasting rituals in which she writes about her experience as an exchange student in Russia where she "witnessed a fuller understanding of the body and soul in communion." I resonate with her desire for this kind communion. Suzanne Wolfe's description of her struggle with an eating disorder was wonderfully honest and served up just the right combination of the sweet hope of hunger satisfied and the sour despair of irreconcilable hungers. Friend: But which was your favorite.Me: Okay, if you're going to make me choose I'd have to say Lauren Winner's reflection on her experience with Kosher food laws as a Jew and the ways her experience with kashrut, as she calls it, might inform her foodways as a Christian. I was intrigued by her statement, "While Christians are not bound by the particularities of Deuteronominic dietary laws, we still may want to pay attention to the basic principle that underlies kashrut: God cares about our dietary choices." In summing up the provocative potential of Kosher food laws for Christians she says, "At its most basic level, keeping kosher requires you to be present to your food." She cites the "logic of kashrut" as she sketches the contours of a food ethic that includes paying attention and seasonal eating. She writes, "Food is part of God's creation. A right relationship with food points us toward him."Her chapter really got me thinking about what other practices in the Bible and the history of the church might inform Christian approaches to food. It seems like an under-explored area in many church circles.Friend: Yeah I enjoyed her chapter too. It sure is hard to choose a favorite.Me: The only downside to The Spirit of Food is that you only get an small portion at each stop on the journey. Many of the chapters left me wanting a leisurely 10-course meal of reading to follow-up on the tantalizing appetizer. Friend: But it's nice that the authors provide a recipe to accompany each chapter. I bet you could make a nice 10-course meal from the recipes in the book. My only complaint is that their wasn't a beer garden.I think food may be the next big topic among American Christians and The Spirit of Food is the most accessible guide yet to the potential of food to shape Christian faith, and a convincing argument that it should. It would make a great Christmas present for your foodie friends.

  • Julie Davis
    2019-04-14 10:04

    Even as I ask these questions, I know something is missing. Something our grandmothers and mothers knew at their church potlucks, as they carried to the communal tables Velveeta broccoli casseroles and Jell-O salads greener than any fruit dared to grow. In our zeal for purity and right living, we may have forgotten something other generations and cultures knew. That food is more than politics; food is more than economics; food is more than culture, entertainment, nutrition, even justice. As important as each of these is, none of them singly identifies or describes all that food is and does and is meant to be.Food is nothing less than sacrament. All food is given by God and is given as a means to sustain not just our bodies, but also our minds and our spirits. In all of its aspects--growth, harvest, preparation, and presentation--food is given as a primary means of drawing us into right relationship toward God, toward his creation and his people. Even its intentional absence, through fasting, pulls us toward a deeper dependence on God and one another.As I turn to the Scriptures now, I am amazed at the centrality of food in its pages ...From the introductionAs can often be the case with anthologies, even those for whom the essays are specifically written, one gets a mixed bag. Some of these 34 essays relating food to spiritual search were very moving and hit the mark for me. In particular, the introduction by the editor, the pig farmer's meditations, and the bread baker all had points that moved me and have come back to me frequently in daily life.Several of the pieces take Father Capon's seminal The Supper of the Lamb as a jumping off point. There is a key chapter of Capon's book included and you can see why it is probably his most reprinted excerpt. Indeed, if you haven't read his book, then save this one for later and read that first. Capon pulls off conveying how the world around us, beginning in our own kitchens, reflects God ... all the while also giving us a functional cookbook. In fact, it is on my Desert Island book list and I probably should read it once a year.If I could give half stars, this would probably be a 3-1/2 but I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Some of the essays struck me as covering very familiar food-writing ground in using their pieces as platforms for complaining, condescending, or posturing. However, these may very well strike others in a different way, especially since few of us are ever in the exact same place in our spiritual journeys, not to mention our levels of exposure to food writing.Each of the essays has a recipe at the end but, of course, finding new recipes is actually not the point, even if I did find a few I'm going to try out. It is to feed both body and soul that this collection exists and it does a good job.

  • Barb Terpstra
    2019-03-22 14:20

    I just really loved this book. As noted in the title, 34 writers submitted an essay about food, and at the end of most chapters a recipe is included. I seriously just want to start inviting people over to dinner. It seems to me that eating has just become a task that we do. We feed our bodies in order to live, we feed our families because that's what we are supposed to do. But sharing a meal together is really a time of consecration. This book will make you slow down, and really consider what sharing a meal is about. It's about God, who provided this earth and all that grows in it to sustain our bodies. Because He's God, He doesn't just provide us with boring sustenance, of course not! Our God is a lavishly loving God, and He gives us choices that satisfy our hearts and our bodies. We can create lovely pasta dinners, enjoy that tomato right out of the garden, make delicious breads and choose from a variety of meat choices (if we are so inclined). I really appreciated that many of the authors pointed out, we need to start saying grace to God as soon as we start preparing our meals. We also need to thank and appreciate Him for the people who work so hard to provide those meals for us. We need to consider the choices we make when we buy our food. Are we buying food from people who are making responsible choices about the land and the animals that become the food on our table? Are we remembering that there are many people who do not have enough food to eat? Are we thankful when we eat, or are we just shoveling food into our mouths?I don't think there was an essay I didn't like, but one of my favorite essays was "A Way of Loving" by Stephan and Karen Baldwin. They share the story of how they created an Italian meal from scratch, and how their daughter's friends were disoriented to see a meal created that was not out of a box. Not only that, but these teens didn't even know how to set a table. This meal became a gift of love and a lesson in dining for these kids. Karen created a feast that included the little touches that dress up a table, like putting bread in a basket lined with a napkin. She endeavored to create a tone that said "this is a place to linger". I like that.I also enjoyed "The Communion of Saints" by Jeanne Murray Walker. She writes about her visits to her local farmer's market and how it became a place of healing, or sanctuary for her.This book is really about so much more than food. It's about creating communities of grace around our tables. In our fast paced society, this book will make you rethink food, and the companions that you share that food with.

  • Cliff Dolph
    2019-04-11 08:07

    Last fall, I spent a quarter with a junior English class looking at (and sometimes eating) food. We talked about its various dimensions: aesthetic, nutritional, economic, ethical, spiritual. Toward the end of that quarter (too late, really, to benefit the class) I came upon this book while looking for readings on the spiritual dimensions of food. It provides a feast of enjoyable and meaningful reflections.Fields, who directs the writing program at Seattle Pacific University, draws many essays from writers connected to that program. Maybe that's why there's some unevenness in this collection. A few essays are in fact quite mundane, but there are also some fine pieces from the editor's local people. And while the current leading food gurus (Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver) are missing, there are some major writers present, including Wendell Berry and Andre Dubus.The strengths of the collection are an abundance of rich, loving descriptions of food and food preparation, a candid inclusion of personal struggles and family sagas, and an avoidance of the obvious (in most essays) when it comes to the spirituality of food. The essays represent a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds and attitudes, and they avoid preaching.Worth the price of the book: "The Heavenly Onion," by Robert Farrar Capon, "The Communion of Saints," by Jeanne Murray Walker, "The Land that is Us," by Ann Voskamp, "Go Feed People," by Gary LeBlanc, "Things that Fall and Things that Stand," by Nancy Nordenson, and "Famine," by Thomas Maltman. Those are the ones that stood out the most for me over the months through which I spread out this reading, but they are not the only good essays in the book.Overall, this is a strong collection, and I recommend it to lovers of cooking and anyone in search of well-written essays.

  • Matthew Redmond
    2019-03-22 10:14

    Increasingly, food is becoming a matter of law. And not simply by the governing authorities in what they tell us we should eat and not eat. But also within the church. The human heart within a person is not satisfied to simply make decisions about non-essentials (like food) for itself. It needs to call others to the same. Whther explicitly or simply by comparison."I will not feed those foods - with all those chemicals - to my children."How many believers have watched a documentary like Food, Inc. and then become so well-informed on the state of things to the point of then expecting others to react and believe the same way? We add a holy indignation to it. But the Bible makes it clear we are to reject nothing if we receive it with thanks.The NT gives a vision for seeing food with eyes of grace. But our hearts, which are not only always churning out idols are also making up laws...laws that are not there. And we are finding it acceptable to turn up our nose at food but at others because of the food they are eating.A book on faith and food that does not go after this line of thinking will naturally lean toward looking at food in terms of law. This work, while full of excellent writing does that. I loved some of the chapters and might even use some of the recipes but on the whole I was disappointed.Please, do not hear me wrong. I am happy for others to enjoy natural, farm fresh, free-range, local and organic food. I often enjoy it myself. But the Christian must be careful of legalism in regards to food - legalism which always stands waiting to be courted.

  • Patty
    2019-04-19 09:14

    I found these essays when I was looking for books on spiritual disciplines. I thought I needed something new for a class and it turned out that I found something new for me. It took awhile until it was the right time to read these and then I devoured them. (pun intended) I found the authors, their reasons for writing and their recipes fascinating. From the beginning where the writer is preserving wild fruits through the essay on hollandaise and another on hog mog to the last essay on baking bread, these were people I wanted to meet and topics I wanted to learn more about.I love to cook. I especially like to cook for others - hospitality is an integral part of who I am. So these essays could have been written just for me. For me, food is important to the way I express my faith. God gave us these good gifts and using them well is one way to serve God.I recommend this book to those who like food and would like to meet others who think seriously about eating and cooking.

  • Ashley
    2019-03-29 09:20

    AMAZING BOOK! Before the end of the first "chapter" I was in love. I say "chapter" because it is a collection of stand alone essays or short stories. Often as a homemaker I feel discouraged; like I play a meanial or unimportant role. This book elevates eating, food preparation, gardening, baking, cooking, entertaining, hospitality, etc. to a whole new level. Great stories, so much Christian and Biblical perspective.Some other awesome part of this book is that it is such a fantastic resource! Each "chapter" ends with a recipe. And each "chapter" author gets a little intro bio that talks about their other publications and some of their favorite authors so I've got quite a few new "to-read" books to add to my never ending list. LOVED LOVED LOVED!

  • Amy Kannel
    2019-04-16 13:18

    Like any compilation, this one had delightful essays and others that left me nonplussed. It also had the unique feature of recipes at the end of every essay—-some I'm dying to try and others at which I didn't look twice. This anthology's thoughtful lines and lovely stories provided a helpful balance to the “sinful eating issues” books I've read, helping present a positive picture of how eating and drinking can point to and glorify God.

  • Ann Dowd
    2019-03-25 07:59

    Loved the format - an essay and a recipe from each author - somehow tied to God as Provider, or Jesus as the Bread of Life. Parts are over the top green and would ban us all from ever stepping into a grocery store. but I can appreciate people who enjoy growing things and feeding their families well.

  • Jill Kandel
    2019-04-06 10:58

    This anthology is quite thought provoking. Each essay very different and searching. I liked some of the essays better than others, but that is the joy of an anthology! Just skip one if you aren't taken by it and get on to a different one.

  • Chrissy
    2019-03-28 09:02

    Really interesting book on the relationship between food and a spiritual relationship with God. Loved the essay about how to cut an onion -- now I think of it every single time I chop one. I'd say that's a sign of good writing!

  • Diane McElwain
    2019-03-25 10:18

    Preparing home grown food is almost a holy thing. Gathering together, the uncrushed pace, enjoying each other's company. It all goes together for the end...peace.I came away with new thoughts on making food, eating and hospitality. Refreshing book!

  • Michelle
    2019-03-23 08:04

    I loved some of the insights in this book and argued in my head with others, but a whole book about food and the spiritual life was an overall treat for me! I'm glad I own it to reread parts from time to time, and there are some yummy looking recipes to try as a side benefit.

  • Penny
    2019-04-03 10:07

    inspirational and fascinating

  • Holley
    2019-03-31 16:01

    Must read for any foodie who follows a passionate Rabbi.

  • Dorothy Greco
    2019-04-08 13:10

    Hands down, one of 3 favorite books from 2013. An amazing compilation of essays which help us to understand there's more to food than calories.

  • Bobbi Martens
    2019-04-17 12:08

    Some really good essays. Astounding, challenging, painful, delicious, upbuilding.

  • Kay
    2019-03-30 16:08

    So far really good!

  • Rika Diephouse
    2019-03-20 16:09

    I loved this book. Food has a lot to do with the spiritual life, and the authors bring this out in their essays. A book to make you think....and recipes to make you eat!

  • Sara
    2019-04-06 14:18

    Interesting concept, good book. I'd give it a 3.5 and recommend it to anyone interested in spirituality and food. A few of the essays were incredible, a few were terrible, most were pretty good.