Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet by D. Grumett and R. Muers
Available via Taylor and Francis, 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxford OX14 4RN or www.tandf.co.uk
Some people will lament the weakening of the relationship between dietary discipline and wider public commitments. Others might just be glad to eat their food in peace.
The Jewish faith as practised at the time of Christ was bound by many dietary rules. Both Christ and the Apostles saw these as unnecessary but in the early Church, many ascetics restricted their own diets and early Church leaders did not hesitate to condemn the consumer society of antiquity. Fasting was seen as a source of strength while gluttony was seen as the begetter of other sins.
This academic work traces Christian attitudes to food through various medieval adaptations, some of which reflected local customs to the liberation proclaimed by Zwingli, Luther and Calvin whilst also discussing Wesley's attitude and modern vegetarianism.
Food connects people with the natural world, yet this subject has been neglected by modern theologians. Today' Christians would place much greater emphasis on sharing food than worrying about its origins or the method of production. Yet as food miles become an important factor in the discussion about manmade climate change, Christian practice may assume a greater role again in which case reading this book will have been a worthwhile exercise.