When we consider food we should not isolate and examine it apart from life. We live in a world that is interconnected, that is not necessarily put in neat isolated boxes. What we do with food is very connected with the rest of life. One example is the connection between history and food.

Our culture, the way we do things, is greatly influenced by who we are around and who (or what) we have relationships with. After spending time in an area where people speak with a particular accent, you will start to notice yourself speaking like them. So with food, if you hang out a lot with your co-workers you will start to eat like them. If you have your firmest relationships with your friends at school, you will start eating like them. If you have strong family relationships, as the Bible promotes, you will eat much like your family. (If your co-workers, your friends at school, and your family are one and the same, that is all the better.) If we honor our parents, we will do it not only in thought, but in deed as well. Ideally, our culture will be strongly influenced by our ethnic background(s), and hopefully our culture will grow like a plant that adapts to its surroundings and matures, while firmly growing out of and formed by its past.

And not only is our food influenced by the past, but our food can be used to teach us about the past. In Deuteronomy 6:7-9 God tells the Israelites to teach their children as they go about life, in their walking, sitting, etc., in other words, to make their teaching a familiar thing of life. The Bible continues this mode of education in commanding certain feasts to celebrate and remember the past. Speaking of Passover, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD.” (Ex. 12:14 ESV; also see Deut. 16:3, Es. 9:20-32)  In Christianity this is applied today in a sacramental and spiritual way in Communion to remember and unify with Christ, but also in a lesser way to unify with God, His people, and our forefathers by remembering their acts in history. We see that by Christians (and non-Christians) in America by the celebration of Thanksgiving, Independence Day, etc… Even outside of Christianity, food and feasting is very tied to remembrance and unity in similar harvest festivals and independence days.

So whether you are a Norwegian and eat lutefisk at Christmas, a Scot and eat haggis on Burns night, a Japanese and eat sushi, or a Bringe and eat the Thanksgiving meal wrapped in lefse, you are expressing honor for parents in tangible culture. This multi-generational culture teaches some humility and stability in our progress and growth, and calls to remembrance the fact that we are part of a community that includes past generations. It helps us remember where we came from and where we are going. It keeps us humble in times of plenty and joyful in times of want.

"Just as a loss of memory in an individual is a psychiatric defect calling for medical treatment, so too any community which has no social memory is suffering from an illness." -John H. Y. Briggs