I was reading a couple of Twitter comments today involving food and wine that had been posted by @ReverendChef and they got me thinking, what might a seminary course on “common eating,” look like? I’m using the term “common eating” as a play on the ideas of common prayer and common worship that are so much a part of Anglican practice.
One of the ideas that this appeals to me so much is that as a single person, common eating, is not a major part of my life. Yet, sharing meals together is one of the activities that defines our lives together, from the family dinners to gathering around the Lord’s Table for Eucharistic meals. The focus will be on eating together, so as such, it will not be a course on food justice. As we reflect on eating together, I intend to structure it in such a way that I hope such issues would naturally result from the discussions the class is having.
This course will also be practical. Seminary is supposed to prepare people for ministry, and it does so, much in the way that mini-golf prepares people to take on the greens at Augusta National. The concept is the same, but the reality is greatly different. This class will involve developing a lived theology, ie we’ll be trying to practice as we learn.
So, every class will begin with a meal. I realize that this might be the biggest hurdle to such a class, but holding it in an off campus location might solve this problem in some situations. This meals would be prepared by the students in teams of 2 or more. This will be a limited budget exercise as well, (I will have to work out the details). A trip to a soup kitchen to prepare for and eat a meal with its clients will be part of such a class. A Eucharist will be included every week (a willingness to take part in the Eucharistic practices of other traditions will be a requirement for acceptance into the course). Of course, if such a course was taught in a denominational setting, this likely wouldn’t be an issue.
The Biblical texts will be at the center of the course. The course would possibly include the writings on food and eating by writers such as Robert Farrar Capon and Margaret Visser, along with cookbooks such as the “More With Less,” cookbook put out by the Mennonite Central Committee(I did say this was going to be practical).
Is there enough material in the subject for a thirteen week course? I don’t know, but I suspect there is. Fall suppers, church potlucks, picnics and other meals all fit within the parameters of such a class. Scruples in eating (vegans and vegetarians for example). Example behaviour for a priest/minister when offered tea, etc. on home visitation. Food and drink. Corporate fasting and feasting. These are just a few things, that may benefit from deeper, more focused thought and action.
Over the next three weeks I hope to flesh out these ideas around meals. If it is feasible, I would like to have a PDF outline finished by that time. As I prepare this, please feel free to leave suggestion in the comments, especially if you have reading suggestions.