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What, Me Worry? - A Sermon For Thanksgiving

What, Me Worry? – A Sermon For Thanksgiving

Very grateful to share this sermon from Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Church in Charlottesville:  If there is one thing most human beings are good at, it’s worrying. Even a day set aside to give thanks can become a day set aside for extra worry. Every year, our family has a Wednesday Thanksgiving dinner with another […]

You Don't Have To Be Grateful

You Don’t Have To Be Grateful

We have reached halftime in the holiday season sprint from Halloween to Christmas: Thanksgiving. The least commercialized of all American holidays, Thanksgiving stands apart as a holiday focused not on gift-giving or material consumption, but on gratitude. Problematic history aside, Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to gather with family and friends and reflect on all the […]

Microplastics and Macrograce

Microplastics and Macrograce

This one comes to us from Amanda McMillen.  I come from a family of Greek women that collect seashells. On every beach trip, we’d pack empty buckets and leave room in the car to lug our treasures home. I’ve since learned that stealing pounds of shells from beaches is not good practice for clams and […]

Depth of Fields: Stewarding the Stewards of a Movement

Depth of Fields: Stewarding the Stewards of a Movement

Mike Spackman’s voice broke a little as he described the experience of being awarded 2017’s Cook of the Year at the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards. He said when The Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver, announced his name, it was like that scene from Babe, where Farmer Hoggett says, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.” His Britishness made […]

The Golden (Arches) Rule

The Golden (Arches) Rule

This tasteful reflection was written by Andrew Taylor-Troutman. On the first Sunday of the month, I gathered with the other middle schoolers early in the morning before church and piled into the motley assortment of cars driven by our church’s college leaders. I worshipped those undergraduates and would have gladly tagged along wherever they drove. […]

Wendell Berry's Plea for Grace

Wendell Berry’s Plea for Grace

Have you ever seen your dog or cat suddenly turn its head, tense up, and stare intently into an unoccupied space? It’s quite unnerving. They obviously see something we can’t, and if the more instinctual part of our brain trusts their superior senses enough, we tense up as well. It’s an interesting cross-species bit of […]

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer

This poem was originally published in the Food & Drink issue of The Mockingbird. In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split, we stopped phoning Donna for her recipe for sugared baked beans; forgot Lorraine crocheted the soft blue […]

Why We Eat (and Think About Eating) Too Much

Another excerpt from Mark Greif’s intimidatingly excellent essay collection Against Everything, this time as an excuse for posting the accompanying de Botton video almost as much as the quote itself:

It will be objected that the care for food is a fascination only of the rich; this is false. Stretching from high to low, the commands to lose weight, to undertake every sort of diet for the purposes of health, to enjoy food as entertainment, to privatize food care as a category of inner, personal life (beyond the shared decisions of cooking and the family dinner), have communicated new thought and work concerning food to the vast middle and working classes of the rich Western countries, too.

I think there is something wrong with all this. Underlying my opposition is a presumption that our destiny could be something other than grooming–something other than monitoring and stroking our biological lives. Many readers will disagree. I respect their disagreement if they are prepared to stand up for the fundamental principle that seems to underlie their behavior: that what our freedom and leisure were made for, in our highest state, really is bodily perfection and the extension of life.

One of the main features of our moment in history, in anything that affects the state of the body (though, importantly, not the life of the mind), is that we prefer optimization to simplicity. We are afraid of dying, and reluctant to miss any physical improvement. I don’t want to die, either. But I am caught between that negative desire and the wish for freedom from control. I think we barely notice how much these tricks of care take up our thinking, and what domination they exert. (pgs 38-39)

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part Three

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part Three

One of the comments from this recent article in the New York Times Magazine on diet culture in America says: As humans I think we are all seeking something more. We all want to be better, and to be different. Some days we love ourselves. Some days we don’t. This Feature went way beyond weight […]

Confessions of a Foodaholic

Confessions of a Foodaholic

During the summer following my junior year of college, I attended a handful of Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I was plagued with compulsive overeating, binge eating, whatever you want to call it, starting in high school, having been off and on diets since age 14, and it reached its height in college; hence the infamous rock […]

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part One

Seeking Freedom from Dieting and Body Shame: Part One

During the first call with my new health coach, she told me to stop weighing myself. I agreed to cease this action and hid our scale next to my hair dryer and a pack of cotton balls in a bathroom cabinet. That lasted three days. The scale is now back on the black-and-white ceramic tile […]

In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of <i>Babette's Feast</i>

In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette’s Feast

Another sneak peek into the Food & Drink Issue, which will be on sale at the conference this weekend! Ethan’s essay is all about grace in the 1987 Danish film (and Oscar winner) Babette’s Feast. Last winter, my wife Hannah found out she has celiac disease, the rare autoimmune disorder that means you can’t eat gluten. […]