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Food and Faith in Christian Culture

Food and Faith in Christian Culture
by Ken Albala and Trudy Eden
Columbia University Press, 2011

The way to man's heart is through his stomach, and to his soul as well. The remarkable success of the Christian faith can be largely attributed to an evangelism of food and meals.
Food and Faith in Christian Culture

This collection of essays on Christian eating and fasting demonstrates how food has shaped, affirmed and spread the faith throughout the world. Exploring topics ranging from the culinary life of 14th Italian monks to 19th Presbyterian missionaries in New Zealand proselytizing with food among native peoples to contemporary Christian weight loss programs, the chapters proceed chronologically and conclude with quiet meals at a 21st century Benedictine monastery in England.





Food Police

While governments 
have long used sumptuary laws to regulate dress, diet and behavior of their citizens, the Christian Reformation in Europe brought an upsurge in such edicts related to food.

"Legislators in Catholic areas tended to focus on the type and amount of food eaten," writes Syracuse University historian Johanna B. Moyer. "These provisions frequently restricted meats, expecially red meats and wild game."

Protestants, on the other hand, were more concerned about how much a person ate than what they ate. Henry VIII, for instance, "allowed his subjects all of the varieties of meats and game birds that were forbidden to the French and Italians, however he limited them to 'but one dish.'"

Divine Dieting

One dimension of trying to live in obedience to God is trying to discern what God wants for and from human beings. A few of the Christian diet authors suggest that God does indeed have a "natural state" intended for humans in which they eat the appropriate kinds and amounts of food.

This line of thought was identified earlier as the Garden of Eden model of Christian dieting, which rests on the assumption that human beings do in fact have a primordial state where they may live according to God's plan by consuming natural whole foods.

Eden enthusiasts argue that contemporary modes of food production, such as the development of manufactured preservatives and artificial ingredients, produce foods that are toxic to the body and run counter to the natural state in which God wants his creation to exist.
~ Samantha Kwan and Christine Sheikh




The Eden Diet




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