Along with so many other foodies, we saw Julie & Julia over the weekend.    Simply brilliant.  Loved Meryl Streep as Julia Child.

I was particularly struck by the way Julie found inspiration and direction in Julia’s life and writings.  They shared a common passion, yet their methods were different.  Both found meaning in preparing meals, yet used different media to convey their messages.  Julia wrote and acted.  Julie blogged.

As a young pastor beginning to think about how to start a new community of faith, I resonated with their relationship.  While I find inspiration in the writings and life of so many faith leaders who have gone before us, our context is unique and, therefore, our methods for reaching folks in this generation will be unique as well.  This reality always creates tension.  In the church, the tension plays out as new generations of leaders develop new ways to do church.  In Julie & Julia, the audience is left with an uncomfortable tension between the two women.  The reasons for the unresolved tensions are unclear.  In her blog yesterday, Julie Powell writes, “Julia, I think, from what I gather, was less irritated than simply uninterested.”  While initially devastated, Julie finds strength to carry on in admiration for her teacher.  She continues, “That’s what I love about her – she inspired because she was a woman, not a saint.”

IMG_0094Michael Pollan wrote a brilliant article in the New York Times last week about the film.  He traces the move from Julia Child’s teaching of cooking to the decline of cooking amid the Food Network’s fetishization of food.  Pollan writes, “…it’s hard to imagine ever reforming the American way of eating or, for that matter, the American food system unless millions of Americans — women and men — are willing to make cooking a part of daily life. The path to a diet of fresher, unprocessed food, not to mention to a revitalized local-food economy, passes straight through the home kitchen.”

I wonder if something similar might be said for the re-formation or revitalization of protestant churches in America?  Perhaps we could read John Wesley as a Julia Child of his generation.  He was providing common folks with a method for making faith a part of daily life, just as she was providing common folks with skills to make cooking part of daily life.  Both were teachers.  Both inspired a sense of purpose and commitment.  The method in Methodist might correlate to the recipes of Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

In other words, it’s hard to imagine ever reforming the American way of being Christian or, for that matter, American Christianity unless millions of Americans — women and men — are willing to make faith practices and spiritual disciplines a part of daily life. The path to a diet of authentic, less pre-packaged faith, not to mention to a revitalized local-faith economy, passes straight through the home kitchen.

Advertisements