Common Eating – Introduction and Overview.

Course Introduction

So, as I’ve been working my way through these posts again. and come to this introduction and overview. I noticed that when I did the course outline the initial class is entitled “You Are What and How You Eat. For this course the latter part of that statement is the more important. I named the course “Common Eating.” I think that the most important function of food is to bring us together around the table.

Caprese Salad. Something to enjoy with an Introduction and Overview session.
A Caprese salad makes a great sharing bite for an Introduction and Overview session

The famous quote from Brillat-Savarin is: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” I think the quote could just as easily be reworked to read: “Tell me who you eat with, and I will tell you who you are.” In North American society the answer to that second question is increasingly. I eat by myself.

Dinner together

While we often read about how smart phones are making us more and more narcissistic, or not, perhaps the problem is found further back. Perhaps we are becoming more focused on ourselves because we are simply losing our ability to be together. Something that in past generations was learned primarily around the dinner table. 

This is not to glamourize the family dinner. Dysfunction is often an uninvited guest at many a family dinner. However, sharing a meal together may be the best place to learn about sharing, both physical and emotional. Plus, eating together is one of the most intimate acts that we do. At the same time it holds the possibility for the greatest inclusitvity. 

The basic question at the heart of this course, is: “Is Food first and foremost for fuel, or fellowship?” It will come as no surprise that I come down firmly on the fellowship side in answering that question. I think the point of food, and eating together, is to slow us down. To allow us time to reflect on our relationships with each other and to strengthen those relationships.

So, in the first class, one of the things we will look at is the ways in which we gather around food. Family meals, dinner parties, potlucks, and feasts. All of these forms of gathering at the table have their pluses and minuses.

We will take some time to discover what the forms of these meals say about our relationships with each other. We’ll also ask how can we make sure that we can re-imagine these meals in such a fashion that they reflect positively on our theological beliefs and practices. 

Introduction and Overview

So there you have them, the 13 topics that I hope this course will cover.  They, like the rest of these ideas are provisional, but I think I can make a cogent case for being able to spend a 3 hour class session on each of these topics.

Again, depending on class size, the material needing to be covered, we will have to work out how this all fits in a three hour time frame. Again, I welcome any and most comments.  You can comment in the comment section below or send me a tweet @anglibubs.
As I continue I’ve decided to go away from numbering the title and will be using the designation for each weeks class instead.  Before I get into today’s post, there are a couple of housekeeping matters.The first is that I have decided to limit class size to 22 rather than 24.

The last class will be a formal potluck.  By that I mean people will be assigned what dishes to bring and the meal will proceed along the lines of a formal dinner, with instruction on what utensil to use when.  As a minister you should be prepared to dine in whatever circumstances you find yourself in and that includes formal settings.  Second, there is no textbook for the class, but there will be a fee charged to cover the cost of the meals that the class shares together.

I’m not entirely sure that I would still go with the idea of no textbook. The more I read the more I run across books that I think would make good reading for everyone. The most likely textbook would be Robert Farrar Capon’s “The Supper of the Lamb.”

why and what of fees

Since everyone is paying the same fee, everyone will have the same budget to prepare their meal with.  The meals that are shared will have a budget, and everyone must stay within the budget.  I’m also thinking about the possibility of limiting the number of ingredients that each pair of students may use. Coffee, tea and water will be provided, the students will not have to take this into consideration in their budgeting.

For the first class, the professor, and you might by now have guessed that this is a course I’m developing with the idea of myself as professor, will prepare the meal.  First, that gives an example for the students to follow.  Second, the students need a chance to pair off.  Students will be given a few examples of potential meals they can prepare within their budgets as well as suggestions of where on the internet they may wish to look.

The class will get a chance to introduce themselves to each other during the meal, along with a brief response as to why they are taking this course.  After the meal, and this first week, one hour will be set aside with 30 minutes being the standard, the discussion will begin.

I would start this time by attempting to address any questions that had been raised during the mealtime introductions.  After which I would lay out some of my vision and hopes for the course.

Can it work as an ongoing course

Next, I would work my way through the course outline and class assignments.  I would suspect, at least for the first couple of times the course is taught (if it proves repeatable), there would be a lot of questions asked about the nature of the assignments.  Along with that, I would take time to go through the recommended reading list.

The class would end with the first Eucharist, which I would lead.  Before getting to that, the students would have to have joined together in their pairings.  This pairing would be responsible for one meal and one Eucharist.  These would be on the same week.  I am open to the idea of the Eucharist being the extension of the opening meal.  This would lengthen the opening meal, but not the whole class.

It’s possible that material would have to be added into this class to fill the allotted three hours.  However, for the first couple of times through I’d like to leave things on the lean side, to allow for any unexpected situations that may arise.

This might work

I was worried when I first wrote this that there would not be enough material to cover in the classes. However the more I read and study, the more I’m certain that there would be more than enough material. 

Again, I welcome any and most comments(I don’t like the ones that might be featured in a Monty Python song).  You can comment in the comment section below or send me a tweet @diningwitdonald


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