I got sick of all the incorrect and terrible articles buzzing around the interwebs on how to grill steak, so I’ve set the matter to rights. Check it out.
Category Archives: Food
In John 2, the story of turning of the water into wine, there’s an interesting detail that I’ve never seen commented on at length before. John 2:6 describes the vats of water that Jesus turned into wine: “Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.”
These aren’t just random water-jars, they are holy water. Water for the rites of purification given in the Torah. Jesus however turns out to be the enemy of purity. Instead of water for ceremonial purification, he leaves us with wine—120-180 gallons of it!
There’s a deeply transgressive quality to Jesus’s actions. In the place of a system of boundaries and morals, clean and unclean, Jesus gives people enough wine to get all of Dublin hammered. Jesus’s actions are, in a sense, shockingly amoral. Or rather, they transgress and overcome the binary structures that define “religious” morality.
Jesus doesn’t come to offer a new way for the unclean to be made clean, the profane made sacred. He comes to obviate the whole notion and throw a party instead. And this is his glory (2:11).
One of the foremost reasons I ever hear for why Christians don’t give to beggars is the claim that said beggars will undoubtedly use the money for buying alcohol. Thus any act of monetary giving is not only unnecessary (despite Matt 5:42 which seems pretty friggin clear), but possibly morally wrong. Well, like I always wonder, what does the Good Book say about this line of thinking?
Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more. (Prov 31:6-7)
Now obviously proverbs are proverbs. But let me just say a couple things. First, most Christians I know who don’t like giving to beggars on the basis of the logic mentioned above tend to love the book of Proverbs. All the stuff about being wise, taking care of yourself, disciplining children with rods, etc. So if that stuff is wise guidance, clearly we can’t just throw this out, right? (Note also that this passage comes right before the eternal evangelical favorite passage about “the virtuous woman” which is always considered the unadulterated voice of God.)
Second, regardless of the particulars of how we approach wisdom literature, doesn’t it matter that the only verse in the Bible that directly speaks to this issue tells us that helping the distressed forget their troubles over some booze is a good thing? I mean, it seems like that would tilt the scales a little, right? Since that’s the only direct reference in Scripture that we have and all . . .
So, be biblical! Give to beggars and don’t try to weasel out of it by blowing smoke about how you don’t want them buying alcohol with it. And if you want to be even more biblical, you could just go ahead and buy them the beer yourself.
In the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into “the best wine” (2:10), the story ends interstingly. Verse 11 reads “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
What I find interesting is the mention of glory here. Obviously this is a huge theme in John’s gospel, and how John messes with the meaning of “glory” throughout the book is very important. And he’s messing with it here as well.
What is it about this sign that reveals Jesus’s glory? Certainly I don’t think its the mere fact that Jesus is the worlds best alchemist. What makes this glorious is not simply that Jesus can change one substance into another, it is that Jesus’s power takes the form of generating festivity, conviviality, partying. Jesus’s glory is revealed because he makes this wedding party off the hook.
Jesus’s glory is manifest in celebration, in festivity, in, well, drinking.
As some of you know for the occasional random posts I’ve done, I love to cook in many forms and have over the last year developed an interest in mixology. In the interest of not cluttering this blog with my every culinary whim, my best friend Andrew and I have started our own blog to log our culinary adventures. If you’re interested in that sort of stuff, check it out.
This is where I’ll be. If the Lord wills. Please, Lord will.
Over the last few months as I’ve plunged in my latest hobby, the creation of classical and obscure cocktails, I’ve found it funny that so many of the drinks are named after the Prince of Darkness. Two of the best cocktails you’ll ever have are entitled the Satan’s Whiskers and the Diablo.
Of course, one of the very best drinks (actually a family of drinks) ever created is called the Corpse Reviver, which one could, I suppose argue is a reference to the resurrection. But since the resurrection is not supposed to be merely the resuscitation of a corpse, I don’ think that quite works.
This leaves me to think that a truly Christian cocktail is yet to be invented. I think we need something called “The Jesus.” And it should be some sort of salute to the hilarious antagonist in the Big Lebowski as well. When I make it all let you know. Until then, we muse cede the point that the kingdom of darkness has all the good cocktails.
Real posts return tomorrow with a flurry of reflections on stuff I’m reading in Barth and Yoder. In the meantime, enjoy a nice smoked chicken if you have the equipment, time, and inclination.
Still taking it easy. Last night enjoyed my first-made Corpse Reviver. Definitely lives up to the name.
Real posts coming soon. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon. In the meantime, enjoy a Bourbon Renewal. It’ll change your life.
There is a great article in Slate Magazine about the odd American fixation on searching for health benefits in wine drinking. A couple snippets from the article:
Personally, I’m thrilled to learn that red wine could help me avoid cancer, outlast opponents on the tennis court, survive a nuclear attack, and lead a long, lucid, and Viagra-free life. However, a little caution is in order. Most of the testing with resveratrol has been done on mice, and they have been given ungodly amounts of the stuff. As the New York Times pointed out in a 2006 article, the mice in one experiment were injected with 24 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight; red wine contains around 1.5 to 3 milligrams of resveratrol per liter, so to get the equivalent dose, a 150-pound person would need to drink 750-1,500 bottles of wine a day. I weigh 195 pounds and can finish a bottle of Beaujolais and feel no different than if I’d had a bottle of Gatorade, but tossing back 1,100 liters of wine in a 24-hour period? Probably not.
It is great that science is uncovering so many possible ancillary benefits to merlot and pinot noir, and I hope that resveratrol is indeed the cure-all that mankind has been hoping for. But if and when a proven resveratrol tablet hits the market, I won’t be liquidating my cellar, nor do I intend to load up on any of the resveratrol-enhanced wines that are apparently coming our way (unless, of course, they happen to be seriously good). Likewise, if it turns out the mice have been screwing with us and that red wine carries none of these magical side effects, there will still be a bottle on my dinner table every night. Wine is a habit that requires no rationale other than the pursuit of enjoyment.
Cheers to that! The author here is at one with the prophetic images of wine in the Bible and in the life of Jesus in which wine serves no other purpuse than spontaneous and liberating joy. Indeed the constant quest to search for health benefits in wine is a rather disgustingly modern instumentalization of what the Bible, and nearly all of historic wine-drinking cultures simply view as a celebratory and delicious part of life. Rather than grasp after ways to justify wine as healthy, lets just enjoy if for the awesome, tasty thing that is.
One of my passions is learning the fine art of smoking various meats and learning the nuances of regional forms of barbecuing. I have now become known as the guy in my congregation that wants to throw parties centered on everyone eating brisket and well-rubbed and smoked ribs. From the double-dry rubbed ribs of Memphis to the pulled pork and coleslaw topped with pepper-vinegar sauce in North Carolina, I love all things barbecue. In the spirit of perhaps the single greatest contribution of America to the world: ribs, I offer this theology of ribs.
Firstly, to eat ribs is to live in the mode of receptive doxology before God as we receive from God a gift of new life and promise. It should be noted that in the story of the Bible, meat is not given to humankind to eat as a result of the Fall, rather it is given after God’s covenant with Noah that he will never again destroy the earth (Gen. 9:2). Thus, the eating of meat is an act of celebration and confidence in God’s gratuitous promise to preserve, sustain and nurture our lives.
Secondly, to cook and eat ribs is to resist the consumerist zeitgeist of this present age. Smoking meats is an inherently timeful activity, requiring patience and the discipline of submitting oneself to learning the skills and virtues necessary to produce properly tender and delicious meats. As such it is an embodiment of discipleship which requires Christians to timefully commit to learning the hard art of the craft of discipleship. In a world of instantly prepared Big Mac’s, Christians must be found amongst those timefully smoking racks of baby back ribs if they are to be counted as true disciples.
Thirdly, to cook and eat ribs is an act of subversive solidarity with the poor and the oppressed. It is not often known, but the most delicious and treasured forms of barbecue, particularly ribs are, historically speaking, the product of slaves and peasants. It was those members of society who were at the bottom which were given these cuts of meat because the larger cuts of boneless meat were treasured by the rich. Thus, the enslaved, the poor, and the oppressed developed methods of slow-cooking over smoke that tenderized and rendered mouth-wateringly delicious these “less desirable” cuts of meat. Thus, to eat ribs is to participate in an ancient tradition of solidarity with the oppressed.
Fourthly, to cook and eat ribs is to participate in the hospitality of the Triune God. To engage in the timeful process of preparing ribs is to be turned outside of oneself toward welcoming others into the joys of mutual feasting. No one cooks a rack of ribs for themselves. To prepare ribs is to live ek-statically and in the inherently ecclesial mode of koinonia.
Finally, to cook and eat ribs is to anticipate, through the Spirit the final eschatological consummation of all things in the great messianic banquet. Some vegetarian Christians may insist that in the eschaton there will be no more eating of meat. However, the prophetic visions insist that this is not the case:
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine– the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. (Isa. 25:6-8)
Thus, I believe we can confidently say that we will all feast on ribs eternally. And thus we shall find ourselves, rapt in Triune goodness enjoying forever the luminescent symphony of savor: smoked ribs and barbecue sauces from all tribes, tongues, and nations in the fullness of perichoretic delectability.