Monday, December 31, 2012

John Calvin on How to Use the Comforts of the Present Life

In his book, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin lays down some excellent, biblical principles for the godly enjoyment of earthly things like food, art, fabrics, etc... I'm a little late for most of the traditional Christmas feasting, but these are good things to keep in mind especially during these kinds of events.

Book 3, Chapter 10, Sections 1-3:
"...I indeed confess that here consciences neither can nor ought to be bound by fixed and definite laws; but that Scripture having laid down general rules for the legitimate uses we should keep within the limits which they prescribe. 
"2. Let this be our principle, that we err not in the use of the gifts of Providence when we refer them to the end for which their author made and destined them, since he created them for our good, and not for our destruction. No man will keep the true path better than he who shall have this end carefully in view. Now then, if we consider for what end he created food, we shall find that he consulted not only for our necessity, but also for our enjoyment and delight. Thus, in clothing, the end was, in addition to necessity, comeliness and honour; and in herbs, fruits, and trees, besides their various uses, gracefulness of appearance and sweetness of smell. Were it not so, the Prophet would not enumerate among the mercies of God “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine,” (Ps. 104:15). The Scriptures would not everywhere mention, in commendation of his benignity, that he had given such things to men. The natural qualities of things themselves demonstrate to what end, and how far, they may be lawfully enjoyed. Has the Lord adorned flowers with all the beauty which spontaneously presents itself to the eye, and the sweet odour which delights the sense of smell, and shall it be unlawful for us to enjoy that beauty and this odour? What? Has he not so distinguished colours as to make some more agreeable than others? Has he not given qualities to gold and silver, ivory and marble, thereby rendering them precious above other metals or stones? In short, has he not given many things a value without having any necessary use? 
"3. Have done, then, with that inhuman philosophy which, in allowing no use of the creatures but for necessity, not only maliciously deprives us of the lawful fruit of the divine beneficence, but cannot be realised without depriving man of all his senses, and reducing him to a block. But, on the other hand, let us with no less care guard against the lusts of the flesh, which, if not kept in order, break through all bounds, and are, as I have said, advocated by those who, under pretence of liberty, allow themselves every sort of license. First one restraint is imposed when we hold that the object of creating all things was to teach us to know their author, and feel grateful for his indulgence. Where is the gratitude if you so gorge or stupify yourself with feasting and wine as to be unfit for offices of piety, or the duties of your calling? Where the recognition of God, if the flesh, boiling forth in lust through excessive indulgences infects the mind with its impurity, so as to lose the discernment of honour and rectitude? Where thankfulness to God for clothing, if on account of sumptuous raiment we both admire ourselves and disdain others? if, from a love of show and splendour, we pave the way for immodesty? Where our recognition of God, if the glare of these things captivates our minds? For many are so devoted to luxury in all their senses that their mind lies buried: many are so delighted with marble, gold, and pictures, that they become marble-hearted—are changed as it were into metal, and made like painted figures. The kitchen, with its savoury smells, so engrosses them that they have no spiritual savour. The same thing may be seen in other matters. Wherefore, it is plain that there is here great necessity for curbing licentious abuse, and conforming to the rule of Paul, “make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof,” (Rom. 13:14). Where too much liberty is given to them, they break forth without measure or restraint."
Basically (and less eloquently) put, we ought to enjoy the gifts God has given to us, while not being so engrossed in them so as to forget the God that gave them. Don't be an ungrateful ascetic block, and don't be a selfish marble-hearted painted figure.

-Peter Bringe
 D.V.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Irish Story of Cultural Transformation

Here is a great article written by Geoffrey Botkin concerning a story of cultural transformation and family vision in the realm of food and drink:

Alcohol, Movies, and Other "Toxins"
"I am frequently asked questions about the wisdom of training Christians to produce movies. Is it right? Is it merely trying to “Christianize” the things of the world? 
One sincere critic recently wrote in (via the technology of the Internet) with a comment. He compared Christian involvement in filmmaking to this: walking into a room of alcoholics and giving them a list of rules on how they should drink. Then he posed this perfectly legitimate question: 
“Why bother fooling around with alcohol or movies at all? We do not need them. Rather than trying to copy the culture around us, would it not be a better witness to follow the directions in 1 Timothy 2:1-4?” 
In attempting to formulate an answer, I was reminded of a story of a great entrepreneur who once “fooled around” with alcohol in the same way I am working with media. This young entrepreneur believed it was possible to turn the poisonous custom of binge drinking against itself, creating a replacement culture from a lawful institution..."

-PB

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rushdoony on the Dietary Laws

R.J. Rushdoony had some insightful things to say concerning the Old Testament dietary laws in his Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume One:

"The [biblical] laws of diet, or kosher laws, are generally well known, but, unfortunately, here as elsewhere man in his perversity sees law, which was ordained as a principle of life, instead as a restraint on life. Moreover, the Biblical principle of eating and drinking is not ascetic: the purpose of food and drink is not merely to maintain life, important as that is, but is a part of the enjoyment of life." [p. 297]

"Ninth, although very obvious rules of health appear in the legal prohibitions, the primary principle of division is religious, of which the medical and hygienic is a subordinate aspect. The terms used are clean and unclean, and the forbidden foods are an abomination; religious and moral purity is clearly in mind, of which hygienic purity is a part." [p. 300]

"...in Colossians 2:16, 17, there is a clear reference to the dietary laws: 'Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; Which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ'...The dietary laws are not legally binding on us, but they do provide us with a principle of operation. The apostles, as they moved into a Gentile world, did not allow diet to be a barrier between them and the Gentiles. If they were served pork or shrimp, they ate it....We do not regard the [biblical] kosher legislation as law today, but we do observe it as a sound rule for health....Our observance of these dietary rules should never be to place a barrier between ourselves and other men but for our health and prosperity in Christ." [p. 301, 302]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Paul's Health Advice

I find this interesting...

While there are various principles in the Bible that refer to health and nutrition, one of the the very few direct instructions concerning health specifically is one that certain Christians in the last two hundred years have directly contradicted:

(Paul writing to Timothy) "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (1 Timothy 5:23).

-Peter B.
 D.V.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims were a hard-working people, but that did not mean that they didn’t rejoice. The Pilgrims were hard workers, but they were not workaholics. Because of their hard work, their rejoicing meant all the more. The less effort we put into our work, the less enjoyment we will get from our celebrating, and the less special it will be. Because the Pilgrims worked hard, they played hard. They feasted for a week, entertaining their 90 Indian guests for three of those days! They feasted like Christians. The Bible gives guidelines for this kind of rejoicing in several places. In Deuteronomy 14:22-29 it gives directions to the Israelites to give a entire tithe of their produce to a feast of celebration, and to buy with it “whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household”. In Deuteronomy 16:13-15 it commands the Israelites to “keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” The Pilgrims reflected this much in their celebration, in the feasting for seven days, in inviting the sojourner (i.e. the Indians), in doing it in praise to God’s goodness, and in being altogether joyful.

We are told that the Pilgrims participated in a couple activities to celebrate, and I can say those that are mentioned are all things that I would enjoy. The first thing was going hunting. The main thing that is mentioned is hunting for waterfowl like ducks and geese, although Bradford adds that they hunted other things as well, like turkeys and deer. The Indians also brought five deer to the celebration that they had hunted. Another activity mentioned is the shooting of guns, most likely in competitions of marksmanship. And besides hunting and shooting, Winslow says that there were other recreations as well, which we can but speculate on. They might have had races, games, singing, and dancing. And then of course there was the feasting. In the several days that they feasted they ate the wild game they had shot, like the ducks, geese, deer, and turkeys; the fish, clams and eels they got from the sea; many vegetables such as squash, beans, onions, Indian corn; and native fruits such as cranberries and grapes. As Winslow wrote to those back in England, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

May we recover some of this intense gratefulness and joy this Thanksgiving, never forgetting Who we are thanking. 

-Peter Bringe
 DV

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Pilgrims in 1621: Agriculture

As the American holiday of Thanksgiving is celebrated we often will hear some bit of the story of the Pilgrims and their "First Thanksgiving." Regrettably, their story is often boiled down to the basics and we lose some of its fullness. Here I want to flesh out a small part of the story concerning the Pilgrims' work in agriculture. 

In the spring of 1621 the Pilgrims and the Indian tribes planted and worked in the fields of agriculture. We can see that both the English and the native tribes had skills and abilities the other lacked. We read in William Bradford’s book Of Plymouth Plantation, “Afterwards they...began to plant their corn, in which service Squanto stood them in great stead, showing them both the manner how to set it, and after how to dress and tend it.” Squanto and the Indian tribes had great experience with the land that the English lacked. They had a history of learning from mistakes and finding what worked. They knew the right seeds to plant. Squanto taught the English to fertilize their corn with the fish that would spawn in the river nearby at just the right time. If they didn’t, the nutrients in the land would get used up. Here we can recognize that God provided the Indians with fish that would spawn at just the right time to fertilize the land so they could eat and live. As Matthew 5:45 says, God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Here the Pilgrims reaped the benefits of working with the pagan tribes by learning the good things God had given them. This was a very providential blessing as their own seed did not do well, but thanks to this help they had enough food.

But despite God’s blessing on the native tribes, they were not exactly prosperous and thriving. The help was not all one sided, as we can see from an event that happened two months later. It had been a little time since the English had seen Massasoit and so they sent two men along with Squanto to meet with him. This expedition had several objectives. First, to reaffirm peace with Massasoit and to keep a good relationship with him. Second, to exchange for seed for experimentation. The Pilgrims wanted to make sure that had a variety of things planted in case some failed. Third, to find out which tribe it was that they had taken corn from in the winter, so they could pay them back for it. Fourth, to explore the area around them. And fifth, to limit hungry visitors. It is this last objective that shows something about the Indians’ work ethic and food production. What was happening was there were many Indians that were taking advantage of the Pilgrim’s hospitality and staying there eating up their food. The Pilgrims wanted to be hospitable, but did not want to run out of food and so asked Massasoit to limit visitors to the amount they could handle. They were generous with gifts and hospitality, but did not want to become welfare providers, especially when they couldn’t afford it.

As the small expedition went out they could start to see why many Indians preferred to get the food from the English. The Indians, despite having a great abundance of natural resources, still struggled in having a stable food supply and clean habitations. As Edward Winslow (one of the two men on the expedition) says in his book Mourt’s Relation, describing a meager meal they had with Massasoit, “this meal only we had in two nights and a day, and had not one of us bought a partridge we had taken our journey fasting...he was to have us stay with them longer: but we desired to keep the Sabbath at home: and feared we should either be light-headed for want of sleep, for with bad lodging, the savages' barbarous singing (for they use to sing themselves asleep), lice and fleas within doors, and mosquitoes without, we could hardly sleep all the time of our being there; we much fearing that if we should stay any longer, we should not be able to recover home for want of strength.” Also Bradford remarks concerning this lack of prosperity among the Indians, “For the Indians used then to have nothing so much corn as they have since the English have stored them with their hows, and seen [the Englishmen’s] industry in breaking up new grounds therewith.” Also, on their trip some Indians desired that the Englishmen kill some crows, because they had been ruining the corn. There the two Englishmen with their superior weapons killed 80 crows in an afternoon.

We can see that the Indians benefited both from observing the English work ethic, and the technology it produced (such as guns and hows). This work ethic had come from the long history of Christendom where it had been taught that work is worship to God, that work is a blessing, that we are created to work and produce to the glory of God, that our first command from God is to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion” (Gen. 1:28). Even the monks in the Middle Ages were taught this and spent much of their time in working and agriculture. The Protestant Reformation continued this and expanded it with its teaching of vocation, that the farmer and the pastor are both doing God’s work. The Pilgrims understood the importance of work and produced great things. When my family and I were in Plymouth in 2009 we saw a mill built only fifteen years after the Pilgrims first landed. It was amazingly intricately designed with all sorts of wheels, gears, stones, and levers–and it's still working! We can see that the Christianity of the Pilgrims made them hard-working, productive, and a relatively prosperous society. It was this culture that built America.

-Peter Bringe
 DV

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Complex Design of Food


"As was said earlier, there is order and diversity, and thus beauty, in food that reflects God’s character. One cannot escape this obvious fact when reviewing a farmers’ market display of foods or by studying the details of each food. This detail of order and diversity never ends as we look at the visible, microscopic, molecular, and atomic structure of food. The design of food is undeniably incredible. Beware of people who do not humbly work with food and instead oversimplify it. It is easy to isolate a component of a food and declare that that is all you need, so you should consume it as a supplement and forget the rest of the food. Likewise it is also easy to isolate a component of a food and declare that the component is bad for you, so therefore you should avoid the food source. The different molecules and compounds of food work together in a way that is difficult to measure. The parts that are good by themselves are usually even better combined with other parts, and those that might usually be bad by themselves can interact at low levels with other parts to produce a good effect. Over time many compounds or attributes of foods that were originally considered as detrimental have not been confirmed as such; some were even found to be healthful (e.g. protease inhibitors). We see things dimly and imperfectly, especially when we study God’s creation without acknowledging that He exists and has infinite wisdom and power"
(The Christian Philosophy of Food, p. 69-70).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Interconnectedness of Sin

The Importance of Disciplined Eating

It is good to note that sins do not come as isolated incidents in people's lives. All sin is unified in its rebellion against God and His law. When a person is rebellious in one area it often overflows into other areas as well. Thus the lists of sins that are often given in the epistles of the Bible, for example, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy" (Rom. 13:13, also Gal. 5:19-21, etc...).

One of these connections is that of gluttony and drunkenness (lack of self-control and thankfulness in food) and that of sexual immortality (lack of self-control and thankfulness in sexual relations). It is easy to think being undisciplined in eating habits isn't a big deal, and the only result is that you might gain a few pounds. But being undisciplined in eating often comes from the same foundational problem that may manifest itself in sins (like sexual immortality) with more immediately drastic consequences (like death, Prov. 2:18-19; 7:21-27). We see this connection of sins in 1 Corinthians 10:7-8, "Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.' We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day."

As Christians our response ought to be one like Paul when he said, "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27). Because of the Spirit's work in our lives, instead of manifesting the fruits of our fallen nature such as "sexual immorality...sensuality...drunkenness, orgies, and things like these" (Gal. 5:19-21), we ought to manifest the fruits of the Spirit such as "joy" and "self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23). May we realize the importance of the habits we form on a day-to-day basis with our diets. May we be intentional with what we do and thankful for what God has given us. May our eating and drinking be done in the fear and joy of God.

-Peter Bringe
 D.V.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Beauty

On that day the LORD their God will save them,
as the flock of his people;
for like the jewels of a crown
they shall shine on his land.
For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
Grain shall make the young men flourish,
and new wine the young women.
(Zechariah 9:16-17)

When discussing almost anything, especially when discussing the arts, the subject of aesthetics and beauty can arise. The culinary arts are no exception. The problem with aesthetics is that we often rely on our instincts to determine beauty. This actually has worked somewhat, in a large part because the Western world has been very influenced by Christian presuppositions and values. But as Christendom and even as the Modern world fades away into post-modernistic relativism, objective beauty can no longer be decided on the assumptions of the general culture. In short, we need to recover and build a Christian philosophy of beauty.

The first starting point we have is that God is the determiner of beauty. God created us and the world we live in. To seek beauty without God, to seek autonomous beauty, to seek self-centered beauty, is to rebel against God, to stir up His wrath, and is actually to destroy beauty. Take the example of Tyre in the book of Ezekiel. The LORD GOD address Tyre and the king of Tyre by saying, 
“O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty’...Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god...yet you are but a man, and no god...Because you make your heart like the heart of a god, therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor." (Ezekiel 27:3; 28:2; 28:6-7)
Conversely, when God favors and saves His people, He gives them beauty. In Psalm 50:2 God shines forth from "Zion, the perfection of beauty." When God address His people with the promise of their salvation in Isaiah 62:3, He says, "You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God." In Isaiah 28:5, right after Isaiah proclaims the fading flower of apostate Ephraim's glorious beauty, He declares that "In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people." One of the ways God blessed Job after Job's sufferings was that "in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job's daughters" (Job 42:15). In short, beauty is something we receive from God, and humility is needed in our pursuit of it. We seek beauty from God and we do it in relation to Him.

As we see in the verse at the top (Zech. 9:16-17), when God saves us, He gives us not merely beauty, but His beauty. We are made beautiful because He is beautiful. We imitate His beauty as we become godly. We are His image. We were created like Him and beauty is found in His works of creation, but sin has corrupted us. God, in His "common grace" has allowed ungodly civilizations to imitate His creational beauty to an extent, at least until they, like Tyre, become more consistently rebellious against God and His attributes and become ugly. It is in redemption that we recover God's beauty.

So how do we define beauty? I would suggest we define it as that which is the earthly reflection of God's nature. As R.C. Sproul Sr. has said, "God is the ultimate standard of beauty, just as He is the ultimate standard of truth. Works of art that somehow reflect His nature are more beautiful than works that do not."1 In my book I give the example of how the mix of unity and diversity in art reflects God's triune nature. And we can also see how order (which is also an attribute of God, 1 Cor. 14:33) brings unity, and how zeal (which also is an attribute of God, Is. 42:13) brings diversity, and how they are not conflicting considerations, but build on each other. "If we only have zeal, that zeal will become chaotic and will lose meaning. Let our food not be like a bunch of people shouting 'I love you!' at the top of their lungs, but let it be like a beautifully crafted song of love with melody and harmony."2 There are many considerations that can be used to connect art with God. R.C. Sproul Sr. comments, "Historically, Christian thinkers have evaluated art according to four criteria: proportion, harmony, simplicity, and complexity. Such criteria reflect the criteria of God and the world as He made it, a complex creation reflecting proportion and harmony."3 It would be good to mention that good art will reflect God's moral nature as well, and so even though some perverse Greek sculpture might have been done with excellent proportion, etc... and be beautiful in some respects, it still is ugly in the sense of the immorality it portrays.

With all that said, I am not saying that everything we make or do must be perfectly beautiful in all respects. Our greatest creations will still be defective and imperfect. And please, do not tear apart your brother's creations because of their imperfections. Humility and love ought to be used. But beauty ought to be pursued and valued by us, and having a basic criteria for what beauty is helps us greatly in doing that.

If there is any aspect of art that has been cheapened, it is food. Especially in the realm of fast food, but really in most food that people eat today, beauty has often been surrendered to the demands of expediency and "pleasure." Not that pleasure is a bad thing, but self-pleasure as the criteria for good food is, well, selfish. It is arbitrary and often is merely a contest of what can stimulate you more than last time. Godly pleasure involves enjoying God and all that He is. Godly pleasure is taken in beauty (which includes tasty food); self-centered pleasure is taken in drunkenness and gluttony.

Thank God for beauty!

-Peter B.
  D.V.

1. Sproul Sr., R.C. Tabletalk September 2012 p. 60
2. Bringe, Peter The Christian Philosophy of Food p. 61
3. Sproul Sr., R.C. Tabletalk September 2012 p. 60

Monday, September 24, 2012

True Rest

To observe the Lord's Day, to fast, to go on vacation, or to try to rest in any other way without faith in God is rest in vain. The only ultimately fulfilling rest that we can attain is the rest in peace with God by faith. While we may try to make ourselves more healthy by various techniques, we miss the point if that is all we accomplish. Life without peace or rest, life filled with "anxious toil," is not what we should be striving to preserve by nutrition. And in fact, life filled with "anxious toil" will usually not be a healthy life. Trusting in the LORD and fearing Him will be healing to the flesh.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
(Proverbs 3:5-8) 
Unless the LORD builds the house,
       those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
       the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
(Psalm 127:1-2) 
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7)
When we apply ourselves to healthy practices and times of rest, may we do them in faith in God and fully glorify and enjoy God in those times.

-Peter B.
 D.V.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Famine, Food, and Freedom

"People have, age after age, starved to death in lands with small populations and rich soil, and also lived richly in heavily populated areas...Much of the world has rich soil, but little of the world has the free men to make use of that soil."

~R.J. Rushdoony (Law and Liberty, p. 184-185)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Christian View of Restaurants

As Christians we believe that the family is very important to the Christian life (Exod. 20:12, Ps 127, 128, etc...). Thus in my book I mention how a move towards a more family based culture of food is needed. But I thought I would also add that not only are there times to eat at other family's houses, but also at restaurants. I believe there is a place for restaurants in a Christian culture, although our current view of restaurants needs some reforming. Basically when eating at home you are having fellowship with family. When eating a potluck after church you are having fellowship with your church. When you are eating at a restaurant in a community, what makes this different than normal is that you are having fellowship with your local community. Many of us, though, do not take advantage of this opportunity to be a community at restaurants but hide in our own corner.

My family moved a year and a half ago from Missouri to Colorado, and after moving we haven't gone out to eat as much as we used to; part of the reason being that we live farther out in the country near a small town. Instead we have really enjoyed Saturdays when we will often to the local coffee house where my mom and I will played music and the family will get to know many of the locals and regulars from the area. After doing this for a while we are making friends in the community and do the culture of music and food in relationship with real people. This is great! And then we will sometimes go to our favorite Mexican restaurant across the parking lot from the coffee house for lunch or dinner and see our friends over there, sometimes running into friends from church, or people we just saw at the coffee house.

Most Americans do need to eat more at home. It's more affordable, it builds very valuable relationships, it's almost always healthier, etc... But when we do eat out in the community I think we need to examine how and why we are doing so. When used in moderate amounts, eating out can be used to the glory of God and for outreach of Christian culture and life into your mini-nation. I need to think about it some more, but here's a start. Your thoughts?




-Peter Bringe
 D.V.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Idolatrous Views of Food and the Curse

Here is a quote from one of the talks that Chef Francis Foucachon gave at the Reformation of Food and the Family Conference in July. I have it in a book that Chef Foucachon made just for this event, Food for Thought and Thoughtful Food. He should be coming out with a more refined version of the book next year.
"Today, fallen man frequently responds to the consequences of the curse with two different, yet equally idolatrous reactions...The first reaction seeks to, in effect, reverse the Fall through an unconditional faith in the infinite progress of science. The pride evident in this kind of Scientism elevates its own creations above God's Creation. The idolatry of Scientism is hard to miss. The reaction at the other end of the spectrum, however, may be far more of a pitfall for some Christians today...[T]hose adhering to the pantheistic religion behind radical ecology, mystical natural healing, and some of the organic movement live in denial of the Fall of Creation as seen in Romans 8. They try to recover Paradise by taking man's "evil" influence out of the equation, and fail to see that man is part of the solution as God works by His grace through those whom He has redeemed. The gurus of this false religion promise us all manner of health and well-being--if only, through the "purity" of untainted nature--we could eradicate the "cancer" of modern man's impact. This kind of idolatry may occasionally couch itself in biblical language, but in the end it's just one more example of worshipping the created rather than the Creator."
May we continue to work and shape God's creation, including our food, in the fear of God as His redeemed people as we "have dominion over...all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).

-Peter B.
 D.V.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Boy and the Bike

There once was a boy who got a bike from his dad for his birthday. He looked at the bike and thought, "Wow, what a temptation for me. I better not get too excited about this bike. I might end up greedy and selfish." He let the bike sit on the garage wall and would look at it every once and a while. Occasionally he would take a ride on it, but then he would feel guilty and ashamed and call it a sinful delight.

There was a friend of his who also received a bike from his dad for his birthday. This boy took a look at the bike and thought, "Wow, this bike is so much better than everyone else's bike." He went to his friends, including the boy who didn't ride his bike, and got into a big argument with them about which bike was better, safer, etc... When he got home to his family he was grumpy that not everyone wanted a bike just like his.

There was another boy who also got a bike from his dad for his birthday. He looked at the bike and without another thought he grabbed it and took off. He forgot about dinner with his family because he loved the bike. The only problem was that when trying to show off for his friends he fell and broke a leg.

And finally, there was the boy who received the bike from his dad, took a look at it and joyfully exclaimed, "Thank you, dad! This is great!" He got on the bike and zoomed down the road, waving to his dad, smiling. As he passed the group of arguing boys he called for them to join him, wondering why they didn't enjoy their bikes. When he got home for dinner he talked excitedly with his dad about the fun he had on the bike. Afterwards, he carefully fine-tuned the bike and put on the wall, making sure to take care of what his dad gave him.

Which dad do you think was the most pleased with his son?

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In case you didn't get what I was getting at in this little parable, let me put it another way. Our Heavenly Father, through his creation and providence, has provided great blessings of food for us. We can look at these blessings and react in different ways. We could ignore them. We could spend all our time arguing about them. We could focus on the blessings themselves without remembering the Father who gave them, making idols of food. Or we could take this food and delight in God's goodness, giving thanks to Him for providing such wonderful things for us. It is with this last option that we will act like true sons of our Father, fulfilling the purpose of His blessings to us. In fact, this thankfulness will be a blessing in itself.

You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you...then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household...
At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
(Deuteronomy 14:22-26, 28-29)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
(Psalm 107:8)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 14:17)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:1-5)

-Peter B.
 D.V.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reformation of Food: Blessings and Dangers

"We are at a time like the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s when the centralized Roman Catholic Church was called into question, motivating the common man to study the Scripture for himself. This was a great opportunity for Christians to go back to Scripture and build from a solid foundation. On the other hand it also allowed the Anabaptists and other unorthodox and autonomous sects to form and overreact. Nowadays, the centralized food industry is called into question, so the common man is now researching food for himself. This is great because it allows us to get back to what Scripture says on the subject and build on it, but it also allows for many independent overreactions that become the Anabaptists of the food industry." (The Christian Philosophy of Food, p. 7)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Abortion, Christ, and Eating Blood

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 
‘Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.’” 
−Genesis 9:3–6 

“It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” 
−Acts 15:28–29

While we have been given meat to eat, we are still to avoid eating blood because the blood has such a strong connection to life; it can be said that the blood is the life. As Christians we value life, even animal life to an extent (see also Prov. 12:10). God values life/blood so much that capital punishment is required for murderers of humans (made in the image of God) and abstinence from eating blood is required concerning animals. While some connotations are made by the cultural situation (food sacrificed to idols: 1 Cor. 8), the connotation of blood and life transcends the specific situation and is part of the created order.

It is easy to think that the ban on blood eating is a pretty small point and is just another thing to put on the “do not eat” list, but the implications of this go beyond our diets. It goes to one of our most hotly debated issues today, the issue of abortion.

To show this implication, let us go back to Tertullian. Tertullian was a very influential Church Father who lived around 200 A.D. He wrote a book, The Apology, where he defended Christians against the criticisms of his day. Some of the criticisms were horrendous, and one of those was that Christians were said to eat little children. As Tertullian says, “Monsters of wickedness, we are accused of observing a holy rite in which we kill a little child and then eat it.” First Tertullian attacks the claim as a rumor without any confirmation (Chapter 7), and then appeals to natural feelings and will which would not allow it (Chapter 8). Then in chapter 9 he points to the pagans themselves and shows where they practice the same or similar thing in different ways (and describes a bunch of horrible pagan practices). Finally, he points to the actual practices of the Christians, which, of course, are as far from the accusation as possible. Says he,
“Blush for your vile ways before the Christians, who have not even the blood of animals at their meals of simple and natural food; who abstain from things strangled and that die a natural death, for no other reason than that they may not contract pollution...To clench the matter with a single example, you tempt Christians with sausages of blood, just because you are perfectly aware that the thing by which you thus try to get them to transgress they hold unlawful. And how unreasonable it is to believe that those, of whom you are convinced that they regard with horror the idea of tasting the blood of oxen, are eager after blood of men; unless, mayhap, you have tried it, and found it sweeter to the taste!”
 As Christians we are so pro-life that we don’t even eat animal blood! He also states,
“In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fÅ“tus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed.”
To counter the accusations of the pagans he points to the (then) obvious fact that Christians are pro-life and even oppose abortion as murder, so far are they from eating children.

Christians value life, and because we value life so much, the death of Jesus is all the more powerful. Because of sin we are doomed to die, but because He shed His blood and life for our sin, we may have new and eternal life. Thus, there is the one way in which we do something similar to drinking blood, and that is in Communion.
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29)
While blood may be a gruesome and serious topic, it is one that is very powerful and full of significance. We don’t eat it because we value animal life. We protect human blood and life as Christian governments should shed the blood of the murder who sheds the blood of man, the image of God, even the small image. And we "drink" and live by the power of Jesus’ blood that was shed for us sinners who deserved to die that we might have life with Him who is “the life.”

-Peter Bringe
 D.V.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Reformation of Food and the Family

I went to The Reformation of Food and Family Conference hosted by Vision Forum Ministries two weeks ago. I would have written a summery of the conference much quicker, but I went to a few more places afterwards and I have just now returned from traveling. It was a good conference on the subject and I enjoyed meeting with the people there, including many friends. For the conference I shared a table in the vendor hall with Noah Sanders, author of Born-Again Dirt (a book on Christian agriculture). Noah spoke at the conference and I was glad to get to know him and his family more. We were next to the True Food Solutions table that also carried our books. I was able to listen to many of the talks, although there were others that I didn’t get a chance to listen to. To get a more full overview of the conference see Doug’s Blog where there was live blogging from the event.

The conference had a good sense of unity, at least compared to what it could have been. There were a couple times when disagreements between the speakers were evident, but over all it was handled nicely. I thought they did a good job a balancing different aspects of food, having theologians, nutritionists, farmers, chef, etc... I especially liked Chef Francis Foucachon’s talks, covering the culture of relational and enjoyable eating, using the French as an example often. He showed the great benefits when food is eaten in relationship with God and man with joy, and not merely eaten as fuel or eaten with individualistic focus. Doug Phillips’ talks were good and vision setting, showing, I thought, many similarities with my book, and striving to keep unity among the body of Christ while we move forward. Joel Salatin was there and gave several talks. It seemed like he didn’t start out very smooth in his talks, but got better as he got used to the crowd. I liked his messages and it was good to see someone that has been working at reformation in this area for a while, although there was an occasional thing here and there, I think mostly in his last talk, that I might disagree with. Gary Powers was also a notable speaker, addressing the basics of health and stressing the importance of keeping health in mind while making decisions, decisions which are often simple, but hard.

The conference had its fun parts as well. Colin Gunn completed his search for the greatest food in the world and ended up with haggis (video). I think it was the first time that Joel Salatin started a talk at 9:45pm next to a plate of haggis. At the end of the conference I was able to play some music (penny whistle) with Joshua Phillips and the Winton brothers who had been playing music throughout the conference. We played “The Roast Beef of Old England” and “Parting Glass.” Some of the other songs they had played were “Five Pounds of Possum” and “Gluten, You’re the Devil” (a parody on “Whiskey, You’re the Devil”). After playing “Roast Beef” Doug Phillips asked me to the podium to briefly to talk about my book.

You can find the recordings of the conference (which will only be for sale until August 7th) here (CD) and here (mp3).

And of course you can buy my book on this site here (paperback or PDF).

-Peter B.

Monday, July 9, 2012

eBook Now Available

You can now get the ebook version of The Christian Philosophy of Food for $7.95. Just click The Book at the top of the page and you can buy it there. This version is in PDF format. I do hope to get a version for Kindle and an ePub version in the somewhat near future. In the eBook I have corrected a typo or two, added a little bit here or there for clarification, and the like. I hope you all enjoy it!

-Peter B.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Upcoming Conference

Vision Forum is preparing for their conference, The Reformation of Food & The Family, which is coming soon, July 12-14. It will be a great conference, as far as I can tell so far, for those interested in the topic and will involve and promote many discussions I'm sure. Doug Philips has written a good article introducing the conference:
You do it three times a day, seven days a week and fifty-two weeks a year. If you live to be 85 years of age, you will experience it more than 90,000 times. It is called food, and it was designed by God as the fuel of life. But to describe food merely as fuel falls short of the depth and breadth of the biblical message. Frankly, there are few subjects which are addressed as often in the Bible as food. Hundreds, if not thousands of Scripture verses, incorporate various types of food, directions about food and spiritual lessons in which food is an element.
In food we see the love of Jesus Christ for His Church, the wisdom of God as Creator, the mercy of the Lord on the sons of men, and a vehicle for structuring and organizing the life and dominion labors of mankind. In the Bible we see food for fellowship; food as a spiritual picture; food as blessing; food for feasting, health, and even discipleship. And that is just the start. It is even possible to look at biblical history through the grid of man’s relationship to food—food and famine, food and judgment, food and blessing, food and prosperity, and the list goes on. Certainly many of the greatest victories, crimes, celebrations, ceremonies, revelations, and judgments took place around events that involved food.
To read more, go to: About the Event

I hope we will preserve unity while the discussions are going and that people come out of this conference, and the topic in general, with more thankfulness towards God and man with a drive to do better.

-Peter B.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

eBook Version is Coming!

I shall have an ebook version of The Christian Philosophy of Food available soon. Stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Reformation of Food & the Family Conference

This July 12-14, The Reformation of Food & the Family Conference hosted by Vision Forum Ministries will be held in San Antonio, Texas. I am looking forward to it and to seeing how it will all turn out. Here is one of their videos that they have made in preparation for the conference, Food and the Bible. 


-Peter B.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Enjoy Food

Sensual things (taking the word "sensual" meaning "having to do with the senses") can be used for the glory of God and enjoyed in thanksgiving to Him. Take Deuteronomy 14:22-27 for example,

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you." (Deuteronomy 14:22-27, emphasis added)
There is a certain sensuality that is condemned in Scripture, but it has to do more with wantonness, lewdness, gluttony, and the like. Basically we can use our senses for selfish reasons, forgetting to praise God for them, and then use them in a wrong idolatrous way, without self-control, etc... Basically it looks like Galatians 5:16-24 (keep in mind that the flesh and Spirit being compared here is not physicality against spirituality, but what is born of the flesh, fallen human nature, and born of the Holy Spirit, renewed human nature):

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:19-24)
The way we guard against selfish sensuality is by thanking and praising God for His gifts to us. Instead of solving the problem by rejecting physical pleasures, we embrace the pleasures from God in gratefulness to Him. It is then that physical pleasures will find their place, not as idols that control us, but as gifts that we enjoy with self-control and joy. And it is only this way that the enjoyment has real meaning. Else the brief enjoyment is lost and passes away and is vain. Only when we recognize temporal enjoyments as the loving gift of the eternal God are they meaningful and worthwhile in the ultimate sense and not vain.
"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind." (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, see also verses 1-11) 
There is more to say on what exactly is good, but we should at least agree that to deny that God has given us the physical pleasures of food and to ascribe it to the Devil is insulting to God. God is good! Let us praise God for His great gifts to us and let us never pervert them for selfish reasons.

-Peter Bringe
 Deo Vindice

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Trust and Science

About a week ago one of my younger brothers leaned against one of our book shelves and it fell, all the books on it falling as well. But in this accident one of our old copies of Handel's Messiah opened and something fell out of it. It was a program for a performance of Messiah in New York city on July 21, 1917. It is neat to look through, but something particular that caught my eye was the ad for Nestle's Food. Here is most of the ad:
"Your baby can't grow rosy and strong if he doesn't have the right food. Nurse your baby, if you can. If you can't, wean him on 

Nestle's Food
(A complete food--not a milk modifier)

Don't give him raw cow's milk. Cow's milk needs a calf's four stomachs to digest it. "Cow's milk, as ordinarily marketed, is unfit for human consumption," says the U.S. Government.

But there is still something in cow's milk that is good for your baby, if that something is modified and purified so that it is as light, as satisfying and as pure as mother's milk itself. That is what is done for you in Nestle's Food. It comes to you reduced to a powder--in an air-tight can. You only add water--boil one minute--and it's ready with just the right amount of fats, protieds, and carbohydrates that will make a heathy baby."

I post this not really to make a statement on milk. I want to show that the people trusted the government and science very much at this time. Another ad also promotes itself by saying "Best by U.S. Gov't Test." This was near the end of the progressive era which had great optimism in man's knowledge, institutions, and government. Even though World War I damaged this optimism it continued fairly strong in the popular sphere up to the 60s and the Hippies. Then the optimism was focused elsewhere (still not in a good direction), and the centralized systems took a hit. Today, some people still have a tendency to trust the government, but a growing movement is reacting against this into an almost total distrust of government and science. 

As this ad shows, the "U.S. Government" is not infallible, and the science that made powdered milk in a air-tight can is not either, but where many people are turning isn't much better. We should look to God and His Word as our infallible authority. Not that He has given us a specific diet plan, but He has given us general priorities, and He has given us methods to find out what is good. Science does have a place in a biblical view of food, but it is under God (civil government, on the other hand, has a very small role when it comes to food choices, almost none). As Christians we should seek to learn science to understand its benefits and limitations.

People have trusted the civil government on science largely because they have employed hard working, careful scientists; their main fault being a failure to recognize their limit. For Christians to replace the civil government as those with a reputation for true science we must work hard and carefully (not believing every wind of teaching that shows up on Facebook). We must guard this reputation by recognizing our limits and always working under the sovereignty of God.

-Peter Bringe

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Age, Yoga, Alchemy, and Water Witching

Here is a helpful radio program by Generations Radio concerning the New Age movement and related practices, especially as related to health and medicine. This is an important topic as people are often confused what to trust when it comes to medical (and dietary) decisions.

New Age, Yoga, Alchemy, and Water Witching

-Peter Bringe
 D.V.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Interview, Part 1

I have recently been doing a series of interviews with Abby Kautt on her blog concerning the Christian philosophy of food. You can read the first one here: http://imprimis.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/an-interview-with-peter-bringe-author/. The second one should be following soon.

-Peter Bringe
  D.V.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Calvinist Beer

The following quote is from the book, Monro, His Expedition with the Worthy Scots Regiment Called Mac-Keys, written by Robert Monro in 1637 telling of his and his regiment's exploits in the 30 Years War (in Germany). Monro was a devout Presbyterian Christian as you can tell reading his many observations. I read the book last year and enjoyed it.

When I came across this following passage I had to smile:
"This Regiment in nine years time, under his Majesty of Denmarke, and in Dutch-land, had ever good luck to get good quarters, where they did get much good wine, and great quantity of good beer, beginning first with Hamburg beer in Holsten, and after that in Denmarke they had plenty of Rustocke beer, and now at Barnoe, and thereafter they tasted the good Calvinists beer at Serbest...But my choice of all beers is Serbester beer, being the wholesomest for the body, and clearest from all filth or barme, as their Religion is best for the soul, and clearest from the dregs of superstition."
Here's to wholesome and clear food, drink, and religion!

-Peter Bringe

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Future of Food

What is the future of food?

Will food become more convenient and indulgent, and consumers become more dependent on expensive supplements to maintain their health? Will fruit, berry, and vegetable production be increasingly used for the sale of plant extracts to supplement foods, rather than being sold as less profitable and more perishable whole food? Will the cost of fuel make it difficult to afford foods that we have today from around the states and the world? Will people get more of their food from local farming families? Will people convert more of the property in their communities into vegetable, fruit and berry gardens? Will people know more about the beauty of minimally processed food and praise God?

Without a change from the current path of the nations, maybe the obesity crisis and cost of associated diseases will bring blame to producers, processors, marketers, and food services. The result could be mandates based on government guidelines, scientific experts and lobby groups. Pressures may increase on the largest retail stores and food companies to require suppliers to comply with standards around fat, sugar, and calories, and watch-dog organizations may put public pressure on companies that do not comply. Maybe these pressures will result in a better version of Pringles and fried chicken containing lower levels of hydrogenated frying oil, but will have no effect on people’s appreciation and consumption of red potato salad or chicken stew.

There is a niche demand for whole, mostly plant-based foods by those who make health and wellness a high priority. This market is served by natural food chains like Whole Foods which experience growth as the economy improves. It may be difficult for families to afford premium and conveniently prepared supplies and foods, especially as the prices increase and food becomes scarcer with increased demand for fuel and food from China. Perhaps some of the pressures on food prices will be curtailed by putting more of our own labor into producing food and trading/selling products with people that we know.

It could happen that individual families affect change in the nation by discipling their children in the knowledge of God. It could be that the character of children, families, churches, and communities are changed by God through faith in Christ and thus increasingly want and learn what is right and good by the power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it will not be necessary to tax people to influence their consumption of junk food. Perhaps as people depend on God for their needs they will break addictions to the shallow sensuality of ‘pop food’. Perhaps they may steward the value of each food God has created and appreciate their combined roles, inspiring elegant presentation and health, and limiting the need for supplements and drugs. Families may act based on their faith in God and have courage to govern themselves according to God’s word. They may have hope because it is a blessing from God and because they can see how God has worked through history to provide. Maybe the Christian’s worldview will be attractive to others and even the ungodly see the benefits of a God-centered society. Maybe the whole nation will become prosperous, healthy, and free at the same time. Maybe the nation is blessed whose God is the Lord.

-Neal

Friday, March 30, 2012

Food, Culture, and the Direction of Civilization

Food is usually not the most grand thing to our view. Except for the wreckage of Pop culture, food is domestic and personal. Even in Pop culture it is a firm part of life, outflowing from who people are. A great deal made be said of us by the food we decide to eat. A keen observation was made by theologian Robert L. Dabney in his essay, The Uses and Results of Church History (1854), concerning this very thing. Writing of history in general, he makes the following comment:
"Those things which are the most operative elements of social, national and religious welfare are just the things which historians have been least careful to record. The knowledge of them has, in many cases, perished away for ever from our search. In secular history, battles, sieges, coronations, conquests, treaties; and in ecclesiastical history, councils and their canons, controversies and anathemas, have been the favorite themes of the story. But the food which nations ate, the clothing they wore, their domestic life, the state of domestic discipline, their arts, agriculture and amusements, the method of their devotions, their superstitions, the hymns they sang, the preaching to which they listened, the books they most read, the color of the national and social passions, the pecularities of the national spirit; all these every-day and homely influences are the causes which potentially form the character and compose that mighty current of the age on which kings, battles, conquests and conquerors are but the floating bubbles which indicate its motion. But all this historians have usually left to die with the passing time, as if it was unworthy of the dignity of their drama."

While we ought not to make food our obsession--we must be changed by God's grace before our food can change meaningfully--we ought to realize that the day-to-day influence of our familial culture is a powerful tool directing our civilization.

With God as our defender,

-Peter Bringe

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Cultural Puzzle

When dealing with food it it important to deal with it in its context of life. Here is a quote that describes this very well by Ken Myers in his book, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes (p. 34):

"We can't simplify things too quickly by isolating one of these cultural expressions and asking how Scripture applies to it in isolation from everything else, for then it's not part of that social experience that's called culture. We cannot, for example, evaluate the virtues and vices of fast food in our culture merely by looking at Biblical teaching about meals. We have to take into consideration the place of the automobile and highways in our culture, our view of time and convenience, the pressures on modern families (both theses relieved and those exacerbated by fast food), the opportunity for employment created by this new service industry, and the many other pieces of the cultural puzzle. We then have to ask, given all the of the other forces that shape modern culture, whether eliminating McDonald's from the equation would mean that the people would automatically eat more nutritious home-cooked meals with the family gathered around the table, or whether they would eat more frozen TV dinners on their own unsynchronized schedules."

While I don't agree with everything in Myers' book, he really hit it on the head at this point. The title of my book, The Christian Philosophy of Food, may seem an ambitious title, but we really need a more comprehensive view of the many cultural aspects of food before we can deal with the details of each aspect. May we use the wisdom of God in trying to adjust our whole life in accordance with His Word, recognizing the difficulties of the web of "the culture puzzle".

With God as our defender,

-Peter Bringe

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Family Economics Conference 2012

Last weekend I was at the Family Economics Conference, hosted by Generations with Vision. I have been an intern with Generations with Vision for over a year, and I was there primarily to put on the conference. But the work I did allowed me to still listen to many of the talks and panel discussions, and I thought I would share a few things that I took away from the conference.

(And before you wonder what this conference has to do with the Christian philosophy of food, we should remember that our food is a product of work, and how we work with our food will influence what we eat. In addition, what and how we eat influences our daily life and work (and vice versa). So when thinking about food it is very important to step back and examine our work and life from a biblical perspective.)

1. The trains are coming Kevin Swanson opened up the conference with a picture of our current society, and it didn't look pretty. There are several 'trains' coming to collide, such as the declining American GDP, the retiring baby boomers with their increasingly immature children taking the reins of society, the increasing disfunctionality of the family and the growth of the state, the de-relativizing of the Bible and Christian Ethics and the growth and acceptance of immorality, the pride in humanistic science building bigger and more centralized systems prone to fail and fail big time, and the list goes on. Basically, our current system does not look like it can survive the way it is for another 20, 50, or 100 years. People are loosing hope and faith and are largely unmotivated to work with purpose.

2. We must trust God's Word for society While the world around us may be failing and falling, we have reason to build and thrive in the ashes. Christ is "head over all things to the church" (Eph. 1:22), and "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good" (Rom 8:28). For those who love God our current situation is for our good. And those who love God do so by keeping His commandments in faith (1 John 5:1-5). The solution to our current problems, whether they involve economics, politics, culture (e.g. food), etc… is to return to "the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Is. 8:20 KJV).

3. Biblically, the family is basic to work and dominion This may be considered the main point of the conference. This was brought out in many ways. For example, in the Ten Commandments we can see that the 2nd (against graven idols) is muti-generational in scope, the 4th (concerning the Sabbath) implies that your son and daughter are working with you and should stop on the Sabbath, the 5th obviously establishes that foundational to blessing is the honor of father and mother in the family, and it is this that is extended in principle to honoring other authorities. In the 7th (against adultery) it protects the stability and unity of the family, and the 8th and 10th (against stealing and coveting) protects the strength of your neighbor's family economy. Other examples of this biblical connection between the family and work were the households of the patriarchs, Aquila and Pricilla, Adam and Eve, etc… When a family is unified in its work, then it can function much better as the covenantal and relational unit that God made it as. (And included in this point is that, in fact, the family is also basic to education, to culture, to church, to commonwealth, and to society in general.)

4. A host of practical suggestions This probably took up most of the conference, and is the hardest to summarize. The best way is to get the recording of the conference. Teaching family members to work with their different skills in unity is very important, but also takes much wisdom. Some things covered were marketing strategies (e.g. importance of personal communication skills), choosing the right business, how to handle money (and what money is), how to integrate the family into the household economy (whatever business it is, and whoever the children are; be creative), how to get started, etc… One thing I thought was a great point was to teach children to be producers, even before they are really are being profitable.

5. Sweet fellowship One of the best parts of the conference was the fellowship of other people and families on the same journey with a similar vision for rebuilding our society on a Christian foundation. I saw many dear friends that I had known for a while, some that I hadn't seen for two years, and I met new friends as well. It was one things to hear the vision for a biblical family economy, but to see real families that were doing it, and others that are going to attempt it in one way or another was very inspiring. The food at the conference (held at the Wheaton College facilities) was very good and added to the beautiful atmosphere of brothers dwelling in unity (Ps. 133).

To sum it up, here are the words of Doug Phillips on what we were there for:

"What we mean by family economy: 'The God-designed, culturally transcendent, generationally oriented, household-based social structure designed to honor the Genesis 1:28 command of fruitfulness and dominion, by which families maximize their cultural and economic influence and seek to prosper with the blessing of God and under his law.'"

With God as our help and defender,

-Peter Bringe

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Roast Beef of Old England

Food is part of culture and will be connected to its surroundings. While some things have a constant meaning in all cultures (drinking blood and disregard of life, Gen. 9:3-6), other things receive meaning by local culture and common usage. A good representative of this would be the food offered to idols in 1 Corinthians 8. The food there wasn't inherently sinful, even the idols were nothing, but because some "eat food as really offered to an idol" (1 Cor. 8:7) it has a meaning that Christians ought to beware of.

I think of this symbolic nature of food when I come across songs like the following, this time in a good way. This song, The Roast Beef of Old England, uses food, namely roast beef, ragout, coffee, and tea, to symbolize the changes in England in the early 1700s. The song became popular and was used in the British army, and later the American army, to call the men for the midday meal (dinner) by being played on fife and drum. It is also said that it was also used by bugler P.W. Fletcher, to call first class passengers to meals on the RMS Titanic. Here are the lyrics:

The Roast Beef of Old England
By Richard Leveridge

When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman's food,
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good
   Oh! the Roast Beef of old England,
   And old English Roast Beef!

But since we have learned from all-vapouring France
To eat their ragouts as well as to dance,
We're fed up with nothing but vain complaisance
   Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England,
   And old English Roast Beef!

Our fathers of old were robust, stout, and strong,
And kept open house, with good cheer all day long,
Which made their plump tenants rejoice in this song
   Oh! The Roast Beef of old England,
   And old English Roast Beef!

But now we are dwindled to, what shall I name?
A sneaking poor race, half-begotten and tame,
Who sully the honours that once shone in fame.
   Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England,
   And old English Roast Beef!

When good Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne,
Ere coffee, or tea, or such slip-slops were known,
The world was in terror if e'er she did frown.
   Oh! The Roast Beef of old England,
   And old English Roast Beef!

In those days, if Fleets did presume on the Main,
They seldom, or never, return'd back again,
As witness, the Vaunting Armada of Spain.
   Oh! The Roast Beef of Old England,
   And old English Roast Beef!

With God as our Defender,

-Peter Bringe

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cultivating a Biblical Vision for Agriculture

Here is a recent interview on Generations radio with Noah Sanders: http://generationswithvision.com/broadcast/farmer-boy-2012/. Noah has recently written a book, Born Again Dirt: Faming to the Glory of God. I haven't read the book yet (I hope to soon), but I enjoyed the interview. It is similar to my book, in that it applies biblical principles to culture, myself focusing on food, Noah focusing on agriculture (subjects which overlap, I do address agriculture in my book as well).

-Peter Bringe
 D. V.

P.S. You can also read his blog at: http://www.redeemingthedirt.com/

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thankfulness and the Teachings of Demons

When we talk about food there is a certain trap that is easy to fall into that will destroy whatever good we may produce. While it is good to strive for goodness and beauty, if we are unthankful in the process, we will defeat our efforts. Unthankfulness is a refusal to glorify God and enjoy Him. To do so is defiance in the face of God’s blessings, and is condemned in Scripture (Num. 21:5-6, 2 Tim. 3:2, etc.). Instead we should always be thankful to God (1 Thess. 5:18), as every good gift is from Him (James 1:17).

A good example of this is in church music. I and the others in my church do want to make sure that we are giving God our best when we sing praises to Him, and thus will get used to carefully examining the music styles we use. But say I’m singing at church and I start examining the hymn and spend my time critiquing the chord structure instead of worshiping God. My effort to praise God with my best has now backfired and I’m not worshiping God at all. While we ought to strive for the ideal, as we are dealing with God, at some point we have to work with what we have and be thankful for it.

There are many ways for us to be ungrateful for the food God has given us. We could over-indulge in self-serving pleasures, eating only the sugary and fatty parts of food as refined and processed pleasure foods, and then take pills and powders to “balance” our diet. We would then be ungrateful for the balance in the food God has made. Or we might think that food is only a means to survive, and the enjoyment of food because it gives physical pleasure is unbecoming to a Christian. Instead, we should praise God for giving us tasty food that is pleasing and beautiful to our God-given senses. Or we might over-emphasize nutrition and get caught up in strictly banning any food that might have anything detrimental to health. Unintentionally, we could become ungrateful for everything that is not perfectly healthy. Instead, even though we strive for health and nutrition, we should be grateful and content with what we receive. These several ways of being ungrateful are predicted and remedied in the Bible:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
−1 Timothy 4:1–5

The food we eat is made holy. It is set apart for righteousness by the Word of God and prayer. This is because if we are consistent as Christians, we will eat for God’s glory with thanksgiving to Him. When that is done, we will not be either health-obsessed or sensuously self-centered. We will thank God for making His food healthy and tasty in perfect balance and moderation. We will not pervert His blessings for our glory, but will stand in awe of His wisdom in His creation, and work with it humbly and joyfully.

Soli Deo gloria,

-Peter Bringe
You can see a book review of The Christian Philosophy of Food that was done recently over at Covered By His Hand.

-P. B.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Delighted to Prepare a Meal

I was inspired by reading Peter’s book to make a beautiful and nourishing meal for Sunday morning.

Saturday morning I washed some soybeans and put them in water to soak. That evening I made soymilk using a soymilk machine[1], which produces both soymilk and okara (fiber fraction) that is captured in a sieve. I put the soymilk in two glass canning jars, covered and cooled along with the okara on a covered plate. The rest of the soaked soybeans were combined with steel cut oats and buckwheat groats in a pan, washed, combined with pumpkin spice blend, extra cinnamon, licorice extract, and enough water to be about an inch higher than the grain in the pan. The burner was put on high until the mixture was boiling, then the heat was reduced to a medium level until the grain started to absorb a significant part of the water. The mixture was stirred and the heat was put on the lowest setting and the pan was covered. When all of the water was taken up by the grain, the oatmeal was cooled (outside) and placed in the refrigerator.

Sunday morning I rose early and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, bringing to mind Psalm 65:5, 8b,
"By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation … You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy."

I started to pull together items for the breakfast. I got out a mixing bowl and put in two eggs that we gathered from our chickens – one brown from a Buff Orpington chicken and another with a bluish green shell from an Araucana chicken. The yolks were a rich yellowish-orange color which I combined with a little virgin olive oil. Then I added some of the oatmeal and okara from the refrigerator, some whole grain buttermilk pancake mix and buckwheat pancake mix. Water was added while stirring with a whisk until the consistency was right. I let the mix sit for about an hour. I asked my daughter, Gloria, to help me set the table and put a Baroque music CD in the stereo. A rose that I gave on Valentine’s Day to my wife, Lida, was drooping a bit, so I took some of the pedals and spread them on the table, recut the stem and wired below the bud so it would stand up straight. We lit some candles and placed vanilla soy yogurt, maple syrup, and a bowl of frozen wild blueberries on the table that could be put on the pancakes later. Bananas were sliced, and a block of dark chocolate was cut into pieces. Whole frozen cranberries were washed and allowed to thaw (we purchased many bags on sale after thanksgiving and stored in freezer). Bowls of walnuts, sunflower seeds and almonds and small date pieces were put near the stove. As family members were gathering, I started to cook. Some batter was added to a hot frying pan and various items were added depending on the member who was to receive it. Some like their pancake with the works, others with only the chocolate and walnuts, topped with banana slices. The chocolate chunks, cranberries, and dates were placed on the pancake and poked into it and covered with batter. Nuts and seeds were placed on top. Then the pancake was flipped and banana slices were arranged in a pattern on the surface. Soy yogurt, blueberries, and syrup were added at the table. I love the pancake with the works and put extra cranberries on top of mine because they are so beautiful. Furthermore, the cranberries came from a farm in Tomah, WI, the town where my mother grew up[2]. All were pleased with the meal and we were thankful to God for his rich blessings of food, music, flowers, sunrises, and family.

-Neal

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview on Generations Radio

My dad and I (Peter) were able to join Kevin Swanson on Generations Radio, discussing The Christian Philosophy of Food. Listen to it here:

http://generationswithvision.com/broadcast/christians-fatter-than-the-rest-of-the-population/

With God as our Defender,

-Peter Bringe

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blessing Of Spices

(This post is written by Neal Bringe, who is not only my father, but a Christian who loves God's Word, and a Ph.D. Food Scientist. He'll be writing some posts on this blog along with myself.) 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of foods of India is spices. When I look at a cookbook of Indian food recipes, simply cooking okra involves additions of turmeric, coriander, Chile powder, curry leaves, ginger, onions, garlic, coconut powder, sesame seeds, salt, oil, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds, and mustard seeds (1). Perhaps people of that culture took the time to combine okra and spices because both grow well in India. About 2,300,000 tons of spices are grown in India, compared to about 200,000 tons in the U.S. Spice consuming populations like India seem to be blessed by lower rates of cancer. In 2000 India had about 7 times less cancer cases per capita than the US (2). Spices have been used for a long time to preserve foods (antibacterial activity) and provide a variety of tasty and attractive meals. They are also used in India as medicine. In recent times scientists are learning that spices have properties that protect our bodies from compounds that cause cell damage, inflammation and disease. God designed every spice with beautifully designed and unique chemicals in addition to some that are in common. The chemicals of different spices and foods work together at low levels to provide healthful outcomes just as every person in the church is unique, and as one body can give much glory to God.

A chemical in an Indian spice called turmeric that has received attention is called curcumin (which gives curries their distinctive yellow color). Not only are anti-cancer properties of curcumin an active area of research (3, 4), but also multiple other medical uses (5, 6) such as its potential to inhibit plaque formation and oxidative damage in the brain that is responsible for the decline of mental function in Alzheimer’s disease (7). An important discovery recently was that curcumin can be absorbed into the blood stream about 60 times better if it is combined with oil (especially phospholipid fraction) (8). This is how turmeric (containing curcumin) is traditionally used in Indian cooking. I would not be surprised that that the other components of the recipe above, in addition to oil, also contribute in a synergistic way with turmeric to provide taste and health benefits. It is interesting to learn that the long living and healthy people of the island of Okinawa, Japan commonly used turmeric for curries, soup, fish and medicine (9). It is reasoned that turmeric was brought from India to the island through the spice trade.

Praise God for providing spices to help make our food safe, attractive, tasty and healthful.

-Neal

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1. Husain, S. 1995. Vegetarian Indian, JR Press, North Dighton, MA 02764)