I originally posted this on Bubsblurbs.com in late 2012, but wanted to include it here as well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.
I’ve been writing reviews of books through Speakeasy for three or four months now, and while I have found several of the books to be interesting, I became excited about reviewing a book for the first time when I hear about Milton Brasher-Cunningham’s Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal. Cooking and eating together are great interests of mine and having it endorsed by Sara Miles, author of Take this Bread, which I found to be really inspiring, made me even more interested.
Living in Canada, it takes a while for the books to get here, so I was wondering if the anticipation would be followed by a let down. The answer to that question is a resounding no. This book is a page turner of the type John Grisham or Dan Brown might write if they were interested in writing something other than mass consumption tripe.
This is a slim volume, but don’t let it’s slight frame put you off. Having read this book once, it is a book that I will keep coming back to. It is truly a written feast. Brasher-Cunningham’s writing style makes the reader think. It also encourages the reader to take those thoughts and re-think them into their own situations. The author learned to cook on the job. The book reflects that style of learning. Does trying a new dish make you want to go home and cook it? Reading this book will make you want to practice what you read.
One of the points that Brasher-Cunningham makes throughout is that it the same meal that we all eat when we gather for Communion. His own experiences in working and serving in different settings has driven this conviction home to him and he passes this on to his readers.
Another thing that Brasher-Cunningham brings up is the role of waiting. Waiting is an essential part of good cooking, good eating and a good Communion. Feasts tend to invlove waiting. On page 67 he makes an interesting comparison between those that come to the Church’s soup kitchen and those who are standing in line for Communion. “When we line up for our meal together, we look like a Depression-era photograph of people waiting in a soup line–and not so different from our Fifth Tuesday friends. In our sacred soup line, some stand racked with grief so fresh they have a hard time sitting in worship, some struggle with chronic pain…” and the list goes on, with the ending being that we stand in line because “we are not alone and there is enough to sustain us beyond our fears, failures, words and hunger.”
Extending the Feast
This sums up rather nicely what the Communion feast should be. Beyond that Brasher-Cunningham suggests that such communion should extend outside the Sacred Meal to all meals within our lives. Yet at that same time he never suggest that we should do that as a substitution for the meal, but rather as a continuation.
These are just a couple of the points the book makes regarding Communion, but instead of going all of them, I recommend that you get the book and dive in, much like you would with a rich stew, taking delight in the surprises and flavours that come along in the eating. For it is only in the eating that we can truly experience the Communion feast.
Brasher-Cunningham, Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal, 2012, Morehouse Publishing, 4775 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA