Category Archive: Feasting

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July 3, 2008

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Beverages?

Category: Feasting :: Link :: Print

Claudia Roden’s Coffee: A Connoisseur’s Companion begins with a history of coffee and that history, to my surprise, turns out to have been full of controversy  In the Middle East, where coffee drinking originated, coffee became very popular — monks and dervishes drank it to stay awake — but eventually it was seen as a threat to Islam:

Coffee houses sprang up everywhere people congregated.  The more they frequented the coffee houses, the less they went to the mosques.  Backgammon, mankala, dancing, music and singing, activities frowned on by the stricter adherents of Islam, also went on in the coffee houses.  Having made a start within religion, coffee became a threat to religious observance (p. 13).

The Ottoman Grand Vizier suppressed coffee houses in 1656. And in Europe, there was no less controversy: “A Women’s Petition Against Coffee was published in London in 1674, complaining that men were never to be found at home during times of domestic crisis since they were always in the coffee houses, and that the drink rendered them impotent” (p. 14).  In France, the wine merchants saw coffee as “an unwelcome competitor” (p. 14).

And the church?

In Italy it was the priests who appealed to Pope Clement VIII to have the use of coffee forbidden among Christians.  Satan, they said, had forbidden his followers, the infidel Moslems, the use of wine because it was used in the Holy Communion, and given them instead his “hellish black brew.”  It seems the Pope liked the drink, for his reply was: “Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.  We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it.”  Thus coffee was declared a truly Christian beverage by a farsighted Pope (p. 14).

So feel free to pour yourself another cup or visit a coffee shop and let someone pour one for you.  Satan doesn’t own anything delicious.  It’s God who made coffee beans grow and gave them caffeine to energize us and made them taste good, especially when brewed right and served with a bit of sugar and some cream … or however you like it.  Myself, I think I’ll have a breve this afternoon, with thanksgiving.

Posted by John Barach @ 11:44 am | Discuss (4)
July 6, 2007

Java Jive

Category: Feasting :: Link :: Print

Grab yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the following:

* “Making the Most of College: Finding Your Coffee Community” by Bethany Warren.

Coffee lends itself to these third-place scenes. It warms and soothes the body, and gives a quick energy boost. People drink it everyday, and many go to the same places everyday to get it—coffee is the second most highly traded commodity in the world! You’re likely to run into people repeatedly that you don’t know outside the shop, and get to know them there. Those people you meet due to regularity will meet and blend with your usual friends. Suddenly the retired grandma you met last month is chatting with your roommate, and they find out they are both originally from the same hometown a few states away. Your close friend discovers that he shares a favorite drink with the businessman sitting near him at lunch, and the association they form over weeks of showing up at the same time and ordering the same thing eventually leads to an internship. A mill worker chimes in during a meeting your project group is having, and gives you an idea for your presentation. All the while, the coffee is flowing.

* “The Scandal of the Evangelical Coffeehouse” by Gideon Strauss.

The kind of intellectual circles we need … do not exist in the ether of the internet. However much I love the world of blogs and magazines, I do not believe that it is possible to foster a truly rich intellectual life other than face-to-face. It is important for small groups of people who think hard about the big questions of life to talk with one another all the time, over food and drinks, playing around with ideas in an atmosphere that allows for the serendipitous interaction of imagination and reason, current information and ancient wisdom, literature and politics. Only in such an atmosphere do ideas become adequately emotionally charged for them to be propelled into the public square with the necessary vigor. And that atmosphere demands coffeehouses in a very-much-not-metaphorical sense. 

I dream of the possibility of living within a streetcar’s reach of a coffeehouse where I can sit down with a good magazine, and within an hour or two be embroiled in a loud argument with four or five friends about the content of an essay. But finding a neighborhood with such a coffeehouse, and with such friends, will probably take more than dreaming. It may even take sacrifice.

* The Social Life of Coffee by Brian Cowan.

* “The Gift of Lisabet” by Kirsten Vander Giessen-Rietsma.

* And, for you who are new to this coffee shop stuff, here’s some Coffee Shop Lingo.

Now let’s hope I can write my sermon quickly and get out of my office and into a coffeeshop sometime this afternoon.  I’ve been trying to do that more often, not only because I enjoy coffee (though, alas, no one in Medford does a cortadito and Bucer’s in Moscow is too far away!) and not only because I enjoy coffeeshop culture, but because that’s been part of my ministry ever since moving to Medford.  I sit in coffeeshops, drink coffee, read, and strike up conversations with people or have people strike up conversations with me, often after they’ve spotted my clerical collar.  There’s nothing like an environment with food and drink for sparking conversation, as several of these articles point out.

Posted by John Barach @ 12:06 pm | Discuss (2)
April 28, 2007

Wisdom Isn’t Technique

Category: Bible - OT - Ecclesiastes,Feasting :: Link :: Print

I’ve recently been reading Jeff MeyersA Table in the Mist: Meditations on Ecclesiastes with my wife.

Unlike many commentators, who see Ecclesiastes as a sort of negative apologetic (“Everything is vanity … apart from Jesus“), Meyers presents Ecclesiastes as biblical wisdom throughout.  The author isn’t a lapsed Solomon or a cyncial Solomon or a Solomon on a bad day or a Solomon trying to convince us that without God everything is useless.  Rather, the author is a wise Solomon, trying to teach us to view life from the right perspective.

I’ve often heard that wisdom is “applied knowledge.”  It’s “know-how.”  As Meyers says,

American Christians often read wisdom literature anticipating concrete, functional advice.  Ask an American what wisdom is and you are likely to get an answer that has to do with practical know-how.  You will be told that a wise man knows more than theory; he knows how to do things.  A wise man, therefore, will be able to figure things out.  More than that, he’ll be able to fix things.  So wisdom is the ability to figure things out and the practical skill to get things done — to control one’s life and circumstances (p. 27).

Not so, says Meyers.  In fact, when we start reading the wisdom literature in the Bible, we find remarkably little “how-to” information and nothing about how we can control our lives.  In fact, it’s just the opposite:

The other mistake we make about wisdom is to think that godly wisdom gives us leverage such that we can learn to control our lives through the acquisition of biblical knowledge and skill. The idea here is that biblical wisdom is “how-to” wisdom: how to have a successful marriage, how to raise children, how to do business.  The outcome can almost be guaranteed if the proper techniques are used.  The mistake is to think that biblical wisdom gives one control.  As Packer writes, “So far from the gift of wisdom consisting in the power to do this, the gift actually presupposes our conscious inability to do it!”

That is the message of Ecclesiastes.  What the author intends to teach us is that real biblical wisdom is founded on the honest acknowledgement that this world’s course is enigmatic, that most, if not all, of what happens is quite inexplicable,  incomprehensible to us, and quite out of our control. We cannot leverage the course of the world this way and that to suit our petty purposes.  The godly wise man and woman will humble concede that God has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about his providential purposes.  Therefore, all of our attempts to influence or comprehend the world and the course of our lives are futile, useless, vain, and empty.  Vanity of vanities.  The wise man learns to walk by faith and not by sight.

Ecclesiastes is the book about faith in the Old Testament.  It tells how the man of faith looks at the world.  We are told that a wise and faithful person will come to embrace the perspective of Solomon that all of life is “vapor”!  The life of faith is not grounded in our ability to discern the meaning of everything in the world.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction concerning things not yet seen (Heb. 11).

Life in itself is unable to supply the key to the questions of identity, meaning, purpose, value, and destiny.  Only God holds the key, and he must be trusted with it.  He does not make copies of the key for us to use.  You do not get to keep God’s key in your back pocket.  Sooner or later, if you are a believer, you are going to have to actually trust God to keep the key to life.

To the extent that we have learned true wisdom, our part as Christians is to fear God and keep his commandments, to receive and use the gifts of God with joy and gratitude, that is, to eat, drink, work, love our husbands and wives, rejoicing in all of these things, all the while knowing that we cannot understand his ways and must not attempt to play god in his world.  We must not try to gain leverage to manipulate the world to our petty purposes.  That is the wisdom of Solomon (pp. 16-17).

Encouraging words for me as a man and as a church planter.  So much of my work doesn’t bear immediate fruit and I may never see the fruit from a lot of what I do.  It’s entirely possible that after all my work to plant the church here, this congregation may eventually have to fold.

I read a lot of books about church planting and evangelism, but as I do I’m also aware, at least in part because of what Meyers is saying here, that there’s a temptation.  The temptation is to seek the right techniques.  If only I could master the right techniques, the church would grow.  People would come.  We’d have the vibrant, culture-enriching, culture-transforming community that this city needs. If only I could do the right things, learn the tricks, gain control.

But with church planting as with all of the rest of life, seeking that kind of control over your life is like trying to shepherd the wind, as Ecclesiastes says.  God works out His plans, and my calling as a man and my calling as a church planter is to obey God, to do what He’s called me to do, to labor faithfully, to put up with the frustrations, to love my wife and family, to love the people of God, to love people in the world around me, to eat and enjoy my food (especially my wife’s cooking!), to drink the good stuff (especially red wine and dark beer and the occasional Scotch), to feast with family and friends, and to be merry, trusting in God because He holds the key to life.

Posted by John Barach @ 1:56 pm | Discuss (8)
April 19, 2007


Category: Feasting,Movies :: Link :: Print

Last night, in lieu of our usual Bible study, we watched Chocolat.  I had loaned our copy to a friend during Lent, which is the perfect time to watch the movie since that’s the setting of the story, and when he returned it I thought it would be good to watch with the congregation.  There are spoilers in what follows, so if you haven’t seen the movie and you might want to, stop reading right now.

Now watching this movie with the church may seem strange given that several reviewers think this movie promotes neopaganism.  Roger Ebert, for instance, writes: “Chocolat is about a war between the forces of paganism and Christianity, and because the pagan heroine has chocolate on her side, she wins.”  Denis Haack seems to agree, calling it “a postmodern fable about neo-paganism, Christianity, and the quest for tolerance in a pluralistic world.”  And Brian Godawa spells it out in detail:

Neopaganism can be seen as the driving force behind the Oscar-nominated Chocolat (2001), written by Robert Nelson Jacobs from Joanne Harris’s novel.  In this clever version of neopagan redemption, an entire French town is oppressed by the moral scruples of a patriarchal Roman Catholic mayor.  The town is then scandalized by the arrival of a mysterious single mother, who rejects the mayor’s “conventional” religion in favor of her Mayan mother’s pagan origins.  She arrives in the middle of Lent, no less, and opens a chocolate shop. Chocolate is a metaphor in the film for forbidden passions, and soon the chocolate seller turns the town upside down with her free-spiritedness. She helps a physically abused wife to leave her husband and empower herself in feminist fashion. The mayor opposes her and attempts to reform the wife beater along traditional religious lines, also known as Christian repentance. His attempts fail, showing the inadequacy of Christianity to solve the problem. But the mayor continues on in his obsessive campaign against her and the “immoral” gypsies she keeps company with, until he can no longer hold back his own passions for the chocolate she wields. He finally gives in and consumes the brown stuff with Dionysian abandon, learning that so-called intolerance and old-time Christian religion are no match for the alleged “freedom” of feminist neopagan liberation (Brian Godawa, Hollywood Worldviews, pp. 125-126, cited without comment by Doug Wilson).

So why watch such a movie with the congregation?  Because there’s more to this movie than neopaganism.

Even if Ebert and Haack and Godawa are correct in their interpretation of the movie, it still gives the church a lot to think about.  As Denis Haack says,

Like Babette’s Feast, it celebrates the goodness of God’s creation and the glory of human creativity. Both films remind us that food is more than just nutrition — good food, well made and served with love, nurtures both community and a proper sense of delight. The scenes in which Vianne stirs her chocolates on the stove are filmed with a delicious sensuality, and the feast given in Armande’s honor near the end of the film is warmly human and deeply inviting.

Watching this movie ought to remind us that we aren’t gnostics and that food and the enjoyment of it isn’t sinful.  The sooner we stop calling things “sinfully delicious” or referring to things that give us physical pleasure as “decadent,” the better off we’ll be.

Furthermore, the movie ought to remind us of our calling.  Ebert ends his review this way:

I enjoyed the movie on its own sweet level, while musing idly on the box-office prospects of a film in which the glowing, life-affirming local Christians prevailed over glowering, prejudiced, puritan and bitter Druid worshippers. That’ll be —  as John Wayne once said– the day.

I don’t care about box-office prospects, but shouldn’t this be the day, the day that Christians start becoming known for being joyful and life-affirming, for embracing all that is truly good and beautiful, for delighting in the pleasures of food?

But I’m not persuaded that Ebert, Haack, and especially Godawa are correct.  Is this really a movie about paganism triumphing over Christianity as Ebert thinks?  Hardly.


As for Godawa’s review, I don’t know if there are two sentences in it that are correct.  Is neopaganism the driving force?  Nope.  Does the movie present “neopagan redemption”?  Nope.  Does chocolate represent forbidden passions?  Nope. Is the movie about feminist empowerment?  Nope. Are the mayor’s efforts to reform the wife-beater “Christian repentance”?  Hardly.  And on and on it goes.


Now it’s true that Vianne is a pagan.  She’s under the influence of the pagan gods, it seems, who drive her from place to place when the north wind blows.  In particular, she seems bound to her mother, whose ashes she carries with her in an urn.  There are Mayan statues in her chocolaterie.  Vianne doesn’t go to church, and a small boy peeking through her window tells another, “I’ve heard that she’s an atheist.  Furthermore, she plans a fertility festival for Easter Sunday.  So certainly there’s more than a little paganism going on here.

As Godawa says, and it’s about the only thing he gets right, Vianne opens a chocolaterie during Lent.  Now I don’t know much about what Lent would be like in a Roman Catholic community in France in 1959, but it seems to me that a lot of people today, including those who give up pleasures for Lent, don’t really understand Lent either.

Lent is about repentance in connection with Jesus’ death, not simply abstinence from things that give us pleasure.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and runs for forty days, but if you count the days, you’ll find that there are more than forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  Why?  Because there are a lot of Sundays in that period and Sunday is never a fast day.  That’s what people seem not to understand.  Sunday isn’t a fast day; it’s a feast day.  And therefore I’d argue that if you’re fasting from something (chocolate, for instance) during Lent, you ought to be eating it on Sunday.  Otherwise, you’re turning the feast day into a fast day.

But in this small town somewhere in France, the whole of Lent is a time of abstinence from physical pleasures and certainly from chocolate.  The abstinence is key to the moral fibre of the town, it appears, and that moral fibre is due largely to the influence, not to say the iron hand, of the mayor who even edits and later writes the new young priest’s sermons.

Fascinatingly, as Doug Jones points out in one of the few good reviews by Christians I’ve seen (the other is by Jeffrey Overstreet), the mayor “puts the chocolatier in the same category as the Huguenots — a curious insertion, given that most moviegoers won’t know who Huguenots are.” The chocolatier, with her attitude toward the traditions of the city and her emphasis on love and joy, is being associated deliberately with the Huguenots, that is, with the Reformers.  That’s worth thinking about.

In the course of the movie, it does appear that Vianne brings new life to the community in various ways all of which can be summed up in terms of love and food.  When a battered woman, Josephine, escapes from her husband, Vianne takes her in and teaches her to work in her kitchen.  Contrary to Godawa, this isn’t “feminist empowerment.”  It’s love.  And that love, combined with and expressed in chocolate, is life-changing.

The mayor, meanwhile, takes on the task of reforming Serge, the wife-beater.  He forces him into the confessional.  He requires him to attend catechism classes with the little boys.  He trains him to eat with good manners.  He makes him wear a suit.  Are these changes “Christian repentance,” as Godawa suggests?  Far from it.  The man’s outward behavior changes, but his heart doesn’t.  The law can’t change the heart, and neither can memorizing doctrine or going through the motions of repentance.

In a striking juxtaposition, the film shows the priest placing a thin wafer of bread in Serge’s mouth and then switches to Vianne’s daughter placing a chocolate cookie in Josephine’s mouth.  Which has the power to change people?  The chocolate, of course, but the change is due to the context of love and the failure of the host in the Mass to change Serge is due, not to “the inadequacy of Christianity,” as Godawa thinks, but to the inadequacy of the law.


Vianne and Josephine serve chocolates.

The law can’t change you, but love can.  And when sin reaches its deepest point, the law, represented by the mayor, runs out of options and can only condemn and banish.

But Josephine isn’t the only one to change.  One way to get to the heart of a movie, I suggest, is to ask: Who changes?  Godawa points to the change in Josephine and to the change in the mayor at the end of the movie.

But Vianne herself changes.  She used to move on when the north wind blows, but this time she chooses to stay and lets the north wind blow away the ashes of her mother.  She isn’t bound by the pagan gods any longer but chooses to settle in this Christian town.  More than that, it appears that she’s going to settle down with a man, providing the security and stability her daughter longed for.  As Doug Jones points out, “Even the chocolatier and her pirate lover abandon their lives of Dionysian chaos to lead stable, middle-class lives in the village.”

The priest also changes. But perhaps that’s not the best way to put it.  All along, the priest has displayed an attitude which is different from that of the mayor. When we first see him, he’s singing “Hound Dog” and dancing, and when the mayor catches him in the act, he confesses that he has “a weakness for American music.” Later, when the mayor talks about how they ought to respond to the gypsies, the priest tries to talk about Jesus’ very different way of treating people.  The priest is young and inexperienced and at first he’s dominated by the mayor, but the priest knows that Jesus’ teaching isn’t the mayor’s.  The priest is not an enemy who will be conquered by neopaganism.

But at the end, the priest succeeds in escaping from from under the thumb of the mayor and preaches his own sermon on Easter Sunday, a sermon in which he stresses the incarnation, the true humanity of Jesus.  He says, too, that our goodness is not defined by what we abstain from and avoid but by what we embrace and who we include.

And as we look around the church, we don’t find that all of Vianne’s friends have left the church to form a new community around her.  We find them all there.  True, Vianne isn’t there.  But her associates are.

This is a new church, appropriately so since it is Easter morning, the time of new birth.  And the new birth is not, as the mayor suggested, the rebirth of our moral awareness.  It’s the coming to life again of Jesus Christ, Jesus the man.  The old gnostic legalism is replaced by love and by a delight in the goodness (and tastiness!) of God’s creation.  And the chaotic paganism which prompted the crisis doesn’t triumph but rather is rejected.  And while the former pagan and the rootless gypsy don’t join the church, they do choose to make this largely Christian community their home.

And shouldn’t this be true of us: That we, as the church, are the ones who delight in chocolate, who love the pleasures of the bodies God gave us, who rejoice in God’s good creation, who welcome the strangers and shelter the hurting, who have the fulfillment of paganism’s longings, and who are known, not only and not primarily for what we reject but for what we love and embrace?

Chocolat helped focus us on that goal, and so did the dark chocolate my wife supplied in abundance as we watched the movie.  Watch it and enjoy it and let it stir your imagination as you think about how to live as the church in the world.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:23 pm | Discuss (4)
March 12, 2007


Category: Feasting :: Link :: Print

It was Jim Jordan who first introduced me to single-malt Scotch back in January 2003 at Steve Wilkins’ house.  I can’t recall what we were drinking, though I suspect it was Glenfiddich.  At any rate, apart from a couple times when I had Glenlivet, virtually all the Scotch I’ve had since then has been Glenfiddich.  I don’t drink it often, but it is something I enjoy sipping once in a while.

On Saturday evening, however, I tried something new.  Moriah and I were out with her family for a meal at Porter’s, a great restaurant located in the old 1910 Medford train station.  It happens also to be the restaurant where I proposed to Moriah.  Someone else was picking up the tab, so I thought I’d try something different.

That something was a 10-year-old Laphroaig (pronounced La-FROYG).  And it was indeed something different.  The smell of it was a bit off-putting at first, a combination of permanent marker and leather.  It tasted smokier than Glenfiddich, and it took a bit of getting used to.  Even so, it didn’t become my favorite.

Since then, I’ve read online somewhere that many people prefer to add a dash of water which (I’m told) brings out the flavors better.  Maybe I’ll try that sometime.  The website makes me want to try it again, but then I’m a sucker for a website with stories about the men of previous generations who made the whiskey and who passed it on to the old guys who are making it today.  It’s probably not made by a bunch of old guys.  I’m sure the website wasn’t.  But still, they know that when it comes to Scotch the sense of history hooks some people, people like me.

So having said all of that, I have to reiterate that I’m no expert when it comes to Scotch.  So if you are, let me know.  If Laphroaig worth trying again?  And what else should I try the next time I’m out and someone’s offering to buy?

Posted by John Barach @ 2:11 pm | Discuss (10)
January 29, 2007

Enjoyment & Shame

Category: Ethics,Feasting :: Link :: Print

Wendell Berry on enjoying good things even though you know others are suffering:

The solemnity and ostentatious grief of some implies that there is a mystical equation by which one man, by suffering enough guilt, by a denial of joy, can atone or compensate for the suffering of many men.  The logical culmination of this feeling is self-incineration, which only removes one from the problem without solving it.  Because so many are hungry, should we weep as we eat?  No child will grow fat on our tears.  But to eat, taking whatever satisfaction it gives us, and then to turn again to the problem of how to make it possible for another to eat, to undertake to cleanse ourselves of the great wastefulness of our society, to seek alternatives in our own lives to our people’s thoughtless squandering of the world’s goods — that promises a solution.  That many are cold and the world is full of hate does not mean that one should stand in the snow for shame or refrain from making love.  To refuse to admit decent and harmless pleasures freely into one’s own life is as wrong as to deny them to someone else.  It impoverishes and darkens the world. — “Some Thoughts on Citizenship and Conscience in Honor of Don Pratt,” The Long Legged House, pp. 82-83.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:10 pm | Discuss (0)
January 10, 2007


Category: Feasting,Theology :: Link :: Print

Part of learning to celebrate includes learning how to splurge and not be so tightly utilitarian.  Our culture is so wicked in its neglect of savings and its slavery to plastic credit that we, with some right, run the other direction.  but if your house is in order, it’s time to learn how to splurge at times.  Beauty isn’t cheap, and neither are artistic meals and good wines.  It may not be every week, but we need to learn to splurge with a pure conscience before God….

Feasting and lovemaking are only two examples of celebration; others abound, but these two are central.  It is our besetting sin to forget God’s work for us.  How often do we see miserable Christians wasting their half-lives in bitterness, their heads buried firmly in melancholic marriages or soulless busyness, almost enjoying their narrow nitpicking, molding insignificant faults into eternal weapons.

“Stand up.  Grow up,” you want to say.  “Life is too short!” and “You have forgotten all the important things in life.”  Celebration, like good stories, puts things back in perspective.  It reminds us of the important things.

So what is it to lead a whole life?  How can younger persons live now so that they can look back when they are seventy or eighty and say in all maturity, whether rich or poor, “I have lived well.”  Most of us, I’m afraid, will look back with decades of regrets, decades of waste, splintered lives.  At that age we may finally “have time” to think about the good life, but it will be far too late.

The wisest man in the world taught us that “there is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour.  This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God” (Eccl. 2:24).  Nothing better.  Nothing better. Eat, drink, and enjoy the fruit of your labor.  “Make your soul enjoy” celebration — feasting on food and love.

But doesn’t this neglect purist doctrine, social injustice, and more time at the office?  Yes, it certainly does. — Douglas Jones, “Worshiping with Body,” Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth, pp. 83-84, 86-87.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:17 pm | Discuss (3)
December 8, 2006

Old Fezziwig

Category: Feasting :: Link :: Print

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been twice as many: ah, four times: old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that’s not high praise, tell me higher, and I’ll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig’s calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn’t have predicted, at any given time, what would become of ’em next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance; advance and retire, hold hands with your partner; bow and curtsey; corkscrew’ thread-the-needle;and back again to your place; Fezziwig “cut” — cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two ‘prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a counter in the back-shop (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, pp. 77-78).

Old Fezziwig Ale label

The other day, I spotted the Samuel Adams Winter Classics 24-pack at Costco. I have little interest in their Boston Lager and no idea why it’s in a pack of “Winter Classics.” But the ales in the pack looked interesting, and so I bought it.

Last night, Moriah and I tried the Old Fezziwig Ale and loved it. It’s a fairly dark ale with a full body and touches of caramel and chocolate. The hints of ginger, cinnamon, and orange are delightful. We have only one complaint: There are only four bottles of it in the 24-pack and it isn’t available on its own.

Old Mr. Fezziwig would be honored.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:27 pm | Discuss (5)
October 14, 2004


Category: Feasting :: Link :: Print

Carrie Nation attacked demon rum. John Harvey Kellogg invented corn flakes as breakfast food without meat — designed to reduce the sexual drive. Reducing bestial animal desire through food was the order of the day, and it was even thought you could pass on less original sin to your kids this way. Sylvester Graham invented Graham flour for this purpose, a shield against vile affections. We see in the development of s’mores a triumph of trinitarian practice over cultic ideology. — Doug Wilson, My Life for Yours, p. 55.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:54 pm | Discuss (0)
September 6, 2004


Category: Feasting :: Link :: Print

The constitution of a biblical home consists of faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love. Love is not to be understood as mere sentiment, but rather self-sacrificing obedience to the Word of God — with a whole heart. This can be quite an elevating and inspiring concept until there are dishes to be done….

What is the kitchen? If you look at it one way, it’s a place of endless preparations, punctuated with periods of dealing with the aftermath, by which I mean the cleaning up. But we have to keep in mind constantly that the Christian faith sees such service as a form of exaltation. Faith that works in love … is not faith that seeks out the limelight. When we serve one another in love, we come to learn that God has designed the world to work in such a way that the majority of the time, we don’t get the credit we think we deserve. Self can work hard, but it chafes under the biblical way of working hard. Love gives it away. And when everyone in the family loves — the kind of love you see in a Christian kitchen — the effect is glorious. — Doug Wilson, My Life for Yours: A Walk Through the Christian Home, pp. 35-36.

Posted by John Barach @ 6:02 pm | Discuss (0)

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