Meals and the Great Paradox — A Starting Thought

Meals are life Feeding on Life

“Meals in the Bible” was what I intended to explore when I began my Masters thesis.  As often happens with beginning researchers, the topic was vast and needed a lot of refining.  Finally I settled on “Meals in Genesis” and discovered an underlying structure to the stories in that book.  I found that the deep structures of the Genesis narrative were chiasms with “meals” at their center.  I wondered why meals are at such pivotal points in the narrative?

At a later time in another degree program, my interests focused on ritual.  Again I wondered why meals are the center point of so much religious ritual?

And then there is my life, where being thoughtful about food and preparing and enjoying meals with family and friends and customers has had such an important role.  Why was I intuitively drawn so strongly to meals as a center point of meaning in my own life?

Meals and the Great Paradox

This thought occurs to me about meals: sustaining life requires taking life, even if it’s “just” a carrot. This is the central moral paradox of our existence. How we respond to that paradox defines us as human beings.

As we journey through our lives, we both eat and nourish, destroy and enrich.  The great gift we have as human beings is that we can make conscious decisions about the balance of eating and nourishing, taking and giving, in our own lives.  The challenge is to remain fully aware, making conscious choices on each step of our journey.

Toward Greater Mindfulness

My own journey has been the work of a lifetime, and it’s a journey that continues today. Thinking about the food I eat and my relationship to other life, other living beings, helps me along my path toward greater mindfulness.

Thinking about food has taught me so much about life, given a practical dimension to an academic pursuit, inspired me to clarify my own values and motivated me to put those values to work in the world. I’d like to share my journey with you as I continue to think about the food I eat and my relationship to nonhuman animals and the earth that provides for us all.

Along the way, I’ll also share recipes and related information and projects I have found meaningful.

4 thoughts on “Meals and the Great Paradox — A Starting Thought

  1. Hi Leslie,

    Your blog is terrific. I spent a bit of time with it this morning and hope to do more later. It is indeed inspiring.


  2. Loved this, too. I cooked my way through school, although not with the thoughtfulness and study that you did. I cooked an Indian meal for my final project in Indian music as an undergrad. Then, in graduate school I used food as an art media. It got wild…from pop art to large scale events. My final show was a fake wedding reception that involved a 6 foot Italian Cream Cheese wedding cake that I made myself, with festoons of glittery icing, and, swans, and angels…I was posed on another cake…made car body filler, and iced with festoons of caulking. The whole thing was “performance art” of how we are more prepared for our weddings than we are for marriage.Another time I made spaghetti for trees and still anothe outgrageous event was for the Bicentennial: “Eat for your Country.” I will spare you the details!

    Love you, Leslie!

    1. Ana, I loved this, and what an amazing idea, “Eat for Your Country.” You are so talented! I’m really glad we connected, even though I don’t think we ever did figure out exactly how that happened.

Ideas? Would like to hear from you!