Norman Wirzba, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating (Cambridge, 2011), 244pp
This is a delightful book, wonderfully written, with much to ponder. How often do we stop and think about food? Its such a part of everyday life that perhaps we've never wonder what faith, theology and God have to do with food. Norman Wirzba helpfully leads us in seven chapters to explore food and eating from a Christian perspective. He is not the first, there have been a number of recent books, which have begun to explore food biblically and historically (in terms of the Christian tradition). Wirzba is a professor at Duke University and has written on ecology and keeping sabbath.
The book engages with contemporary food politics - issues of food production, food security and food scarcity - in the context of exile, sacrifice, eucharist and saying grace. The subtitle is a 'theology of eating' and this is a work of serious theology, engaging with the tradition. The index reveals an engagement with a theology of creation, death, the Trinity, eucharist, sacrifice and resrurrection. Wirzba explores the language of 'communion - literally 'one who shares bread' in the context of eating together, but helping us see that eating together brings us in relationship with the earth and ultimately with God - 'eating is a spiritual exercise'.
Chapters on gardens and gardening and saying grace are full of food for thought, theological depth and practical wisdom. In other chapters are conversations around eating disorders, vegetarianism, and feasting and fasting, amongst others.
This book will leave you looking at food and eating in new ways and hopefully encourage us to new habits and practices that recognise in renewed ways that food is gift from God and eating, when our table manners are learned from participating in the eucharist, is a taste of heaven.