YOU can learn a lot about a person’s character from the way they eat, not just whether they eat what
YOU can learn a lot about a person’s character from the way they eat, not just whether they eat what we might call tidily but how they conduct their meal.
So often nowadays a meal is a hurried affair between two other jobs in our rather rushed lives. A generation ago, a family all sat down together at the same time to eat the same meal.
Although this does, of course, still happen today, the drift in many families has been for different members to have their meal at a time that suits them — “grazing” is the modern word for it.
Many of the most prominent events in our lives are marked by a meal. A christening is often followed by a reception and a meal. A wedding is followed by a reception and a funeral often by food and drink.
If you have a friend you haven’t seen for a while coming to pay you a visit, it’s natural to have a cup of tea or something stronger, or indeed to share a meal, perhaps at home or at a restaurant; sharing a meal adds something to an important occasion.
Eating is not only a pleasant experience, it is also necessary to keep us alive. So what should our attitude be to it? Is there a distinctive Christian attitude to it?
Christianity is, in fact, deeply concerned with the down-to-earth matter of food. We can see that from the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. At once it confirms the necessary part that food plays in keeping us alive. It also recognises the part God plays in controlling those forces which ultimately make food production possible by recognising that in fact God is ultimately the giver of food to us.
People who live always worrying about where the next meal is coming from would not be exercising their whole human capabilities.
Sadly, as we know only too well, this does happen in some countries where neither food, nor money to buy food, is plentiful. In the animal kingdom, life is often one long search for food, particularly when there are young to feed.
This contribution will be published during Christian Aid Week, a time of year when we are reminded that so many people exist on so little, while others of us live in a world of plenty.
The American president John F Kennedy said that we have the means and the capacity to eliminate hunger from the face of the earth in our lifetime and that what we need is only the will. Fifty years on, one in eight people still goes to bed hungry despite there being enough food on our planet for everyone.
Christian Aid has united with other charities and faith groups to speak with one voice as the Enough Food For Everyone If campaign to publicise this and to turn Kennedy’s vision into reality because his statement is as true today as it was in the Sixties.