Monday, November 22, 2010


I ate his destiny, and it was sweet. My professor didn’t believe in fortune cookies: this dessert was a threat to orthodoxy. But I could not let a delicious, chocolate-dipped cookie go to waste on the Lazy Susan. I snatched it up and swallowed, waiting for the wrath to come.

Eating another man’s fortune cookie is playing with fate. Eating another man’s fortune cookie who declined to eat it in good conscious because he wants God to author his future not a treat is playing with God. I ate it nonetheless.

Surprisingly, nothing happened. No divine condemnation. No wrinkle in time. No acid reflux. Just sugary, sweet aftertaste.

More surprisingly, simple table etiquette has a way of revealing deep, moral convictions. What we eat may be driven by a sense of purity, holiness, or festivity. Whom we eat with may be motivated by a sense of equality, fraternity, or charity. When we eat may be guided by a sense of rhythm, rest, or compulsion. Why we eat may be fueled by a sense of thanks, remembrance, or liberty.

Not only was fellowship around the table central to Jesus’ ministry, but narratives of dining and feasting are woven throughout the biblical narrative. Eating shapes God’s people. (Obesity is not in view). The what, with whom, when, and why are important. Love feasts and idolatrous meat markets sparked regular debates—all questions included (Acts 15; Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 11). Christian liberty and bad company incited arguments.

My biblical position on fortune cookies was more liberal (and tasty) than my professor. His view was more thoughtful and less caloric. But I did not want to trifle over a truffle. Nor did he. “It’s just a damn cookie,” he stated. Better it than him.

No comments: