Thoughts on a Trinitarian Theology of Eating

My closing remarks for a lesson plan I’m presenting next week about a Trinitarian theology of eating. My goal is to bring forward the who of eating alongside the what. Our eating usually focuses on the content of what we eat: the nutrients, the fat, the calories, the taste, the texture, etc… But what about the who? Not so much the people you share a meal with – although that is very important – but more about how the act of eating involves us in a vast personal web of relations with other people, places, and things. I’ve been heavily influenced by Norman Wirzba’s Food and Faith (and some Wendell Berry) when it comes to a theological perspective on food and eating. Catherine Mowry LaCugna and John Zizioulas have been influential for my understanding of Trinity.

Trinity is about relationships; eating is about relationships. Our food makes us a part of relational webs connecting us and those we eat with – family, friends, and strangers, with those who grow, pick, transport, package, distribute, cook, and sell our foods, with the land that grows the food, with our Trinitarian Creator. We can’t live if we don’t eat so we can’t exist apart from our dependence on other people, on good soil, on healthy animals, on vibrant ecosystems, and on God. Sometimes we choose to eat in ways that ignore, neglect, or disown our membership in this web of relationships. The global food system we rely on everyday is complex, it is full of injustices, it degrades our land, and it treats God’s gifts as nothing more than goods to be bought and sold for a profit. We need the Spirit to empower our imaginations towards new ways of eating that actually reflect and even participate with Trinity. We need to learn how to eat with God at the table; with farmers, undocumented agricultural workers, food packers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, and fast food cashiers at the table; with cows, pigs, chickens, fish, and birds at the table; with soil, fields, streams, ponds, rivers, and oceans at the table. When we see and recognize our place in these relationships, our eating can be transformed into a joyous act of honoring and celebrating the goodness of creation and the goodness of our Creator.

3 comments on “Thoughts on a Trinitarian Theology of Eating

  1. handpeaced says:

    thanks, Joe. Love this post!

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