Common Eating (Meals)


Common Eating is an idea for a university of seminary type course that has been sitting in the back of my mind for several years now. Over the next several weeks I hope to go through each of those posts and update and rethink my way through them. I’ll be leaving each new post at the top of my blog for a few days. Any new material will be printed in bold.

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.” 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.

Common Eating Supper

Church supper food is one of the areas I want to think about when it comes to Common Eating.

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, eating together is one of the activities that defines our lives together, from the family dinner to gathering around the Lord’s Table for the Eucharistic meal.  The focus will be on eating together, so as such, it will not be a course on food justice, but 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 meal 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 might be part of such a class. Inviting a group of strangers in for a meal might also 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.

In addition to dealing with material from the Biblical text, the course would possibly include the writings on food and eating by 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).

My bibliography for Eucharistic Eating is ever growing, and would definitely provide a wide range of background reading material for any such course.

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 and picnics all fit within the parameters of such a class.  Scruples in eating (veganism and vegetarianism 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.

One of things that I have been thinking about since first righting this post is the inclusive/exclusive nature of dining, particularly as it relates to a church community. How might a parish better use eating together to broaden it’s welcome to the community around it, or conversely how might a use eating together to keep people out of the life of the community.

Over the next three weeks I hope to flesh out these ideas, and 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.

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17 thoughts on “Common Eating (Meals)

  1. Pingback: Common Eating 3 – Course Outline | bubsblurbs

  2. Pingback: Common Eating – Introduction and Overview. | bubsblurbs

  3. What a good idea! ‘Commons’ is often used to mean food or dining hall so Common Eating sounds like a lesson in common sense!
    I once spent a weekend at a Buddhist monastery where the monks hosted an open supper for the community every Friday. From memory it was free or very cheap but the idea wasn’t primarily to feed to hungry or the homeless, the rationale was to provide the wherewithal for the sacrament of eating together together with an opportunity for meeting other people and quizzing the monks about their life and faith. It was a riot and the food was excellent. I can see a seminary offering some spin on this to good effect.
    As regards your reading list let me offer the following : How to Cook Your Life : from Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment by Dogen and Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. The Way of the Hen : Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens by Clea Danaan. Savor boy Tich Nhat Hahn and Dr Lilian Chung. Looks like the Buddhists have given this area some serious thought so no harm in tapping in to their wisdom?
    But also and by no means least tune into BBC Radio Four’s The Food Programme (you can get all episodes going back years) which frequently explores the morality of food production, the difficulty of eating healthily and with awareness in Western culture etc etc.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Common Eating 3 – Course Outline | Dining with Donald

  5. Thank you so much for following my blog. I was just having a conversation with someone the other day about this very thing. How food and taking a meal together is such an important aspect of our culture. It is the common thread in every social thing we do-holidays, celebrations, parties, Friday nights with friends-even catching up with someone over a cup of coffee. Food comforts and bonds us together, I suppose. I think Jesus understood that very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very intriguing. Would you consider writing about Anglicans in recovery who take communion in one kind since wine can pose a risk? I am hopeful that the discussions between the Episcopal and Methodist churches will lead to a grape juice option for Episcopalians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Averyl. Communion in one kind and the question of wine for people in recovery is one thing I hope to cover. The Episcopalian-Lutheran connection may also lead to an increased likelihood of a grape juice option being introduced.

      A few years ago I did supply in an Anglican Parish in Winnipeg where they put out grape juice along with the wine. Firstly, for the children, but also because one Sunday a Mennonite pastor had visited, and the priest wanted to make sure he would feel comfortable receiving communion as well.

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  7. Pingback: Common Eating – 2 – Marking | Dining with Donald

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