The technological improvements of our age, such as computers and phones, have made it easy to do some good things (like write this article), but also have made it easy to be superficial. This superficiality has damaged our society in many ways. What a ‘friend’ is has been cheapened to a click of a button, and can be de-friended at the click of a button as well. Arguments and debates often become fierce name-calling collections of facts without relationships, which anyone can participate in. Our friendly conversations are often something like “I am eating cheese” or “a funny thing happened to me”. Our culture is deteriorating because culture is built on relationships. Since our relationships are depersonalized, our music is from Nashville, our movies from Hollywood, and our food from McDonalds. While there may be exceptions, our ‘communities’ have largely become depersonalized and non-relational.
The problem is that people are still personal. We haven’t become impersonal, but how we think of people and their ideas has been corrupted. Man was not created to be alone, but was created to be a relational being, with God and with other people. When man separates himself from God and man and hides in the cyber world, he separates himself from the context in which he is to understand himself. He becomes part of the ‘lonely crowd’. He becomes part of what Tristen Gylberd has rightly termed “this misbegotten wreckage we call modern pop culture”.
So what is the solution? And what does this have to do with food? Food has much to do with this because it is an integral part of hospitality. And hospitality is a large part of the solution to our mess.
For the most part, our cultural experiences are meant to be done with people because of the way we are made. This applies to food perhaps even more than other things. There is a long history of having fellowship around the table, of taking a break from work and enjoying each other’s company with food. Even in the Christian sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, unity and communion with Christ and His followers is participated in through the bread and wine. Eating together also requires some face to face interaction. It is this simple thing of eating together that can help us rebuild real community. We can resolve our theological, philosophical, and cultural differences much easier around food, than we can by writing long papers to someone you had never seen. Papers are good and sometimes necessary, but writings alone will generally not help as much as a dinner, a dance, and a song. Restoring personal relationships back into our culture and life is a rebuke to the self-centered society around us, and brings a thankfulness and love that is so rare today. Of course relationships are hard and will take some time to master, but it is something we will have to learn if our food is to be used to build civilization.
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
(1 Peter 4:9)
“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 1:12)
P. S. That said, take everything you read here with a grain of salt, and if you really want to get to know me, invite my family and me over for dinner. 🙂
Peter is the author of a new book which is available in the True Food Solution store, called The Christian Philosophy of Food.