On Sunday morning at church, the layspeaker opened the service saying that everything is relative. We may think that it is cold outside, but those living in Minnesota have it worse with temperatures in the negative Fahrenheit. Then on a side note hunger also was relative. This was a strange way to talk about relativism, why couldn’t he have said something different like sports averages comparing them from the conditions in the 60’s to today. That made me so upset at the beginning of the service that I could barely focus on the words that I recited in my prayers and hymns. How could someone think that hunger is relative? Is hunger just a state of mind to be overcome?
Relativism is such a misunderstood issue. Although, it may be colder in Minnesota that does not negate the temperature outside in Philadelphia. I should know, I walk a mile to get to the church and it was a frigid morning. More importantly than the weather, hunger is not relative! There are too many persons in the U.S. and the world who suffer from food insecurity to rationalize hunger to a relative state. This is the reason why we collect food for pantries each week and help at soup kitchens.
For the rest of the day, I asked myself the question, “How can we understand hunger in light of the church season?” ( since I am so liturgical)
The church celebrates the season of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday, which was last week. For the Catholics, Ash Wednesday is also a day to fast. I had a few friends who gave the money that they would pay for their three meals to charities combating food insecurity. I applaud them for their compassion. Lent has also been considered the season of self-reflection, of giving up our creature comforts so that we may draw closer to God/She.
In Sunday School, we are slowly going though Luke’s temptation narrative (4:1-13). On Sunday we discussed what it meant that Jesus said to the Devil, “One does not live on bread alone.” I told them how we simplify ideas in our society (especially in terms of economics and politics) and I asked them to write down what makes them feel alive or feel human. They wrote down like friends, family, the color purple, artwork and music. To my surprise none of them wrote money. We talked about how God/She wants us to live into a righteous life (righteous in the sense of justice), and to stay from temptation and from sin (personal and structured). Afterward, we played a game of never have I ever, and related it to the differences of our group, and how Jesus needed to fast because God’s Spirit was persuading him to go to the desert. Yet, each of us have different ways that we come close to the divine, although sacraments are in place, there is an infinite amount of ways to come close to the divine according to each one’s context.
In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus fasted for forty days. Jesus removed himself from the local community and shunned the comforts of civilization that he may come closer with the divine. In our society, we are facing a dilemma concerning the way we eat, how we get our food, and grow it. We are too busy with jobs that we neglect our energy for life, food. We scarf down food and no longer need eating utensils because fast food restaurants only make finger foods. The saddest truth is that 40% of the food prepared in the US is thrown away.
We are going about food production and consumption in the wrong way. People eat because they have too, not because it makes us feel human. God/She from the opening poem in the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis 1) declares that we are co-creators with Her making new life. The Earth reproduces by herself, we have become the bad stewards, the ones who care more about the symbolic (money, politics) rather than the needs of human beings, citizens of the Earth. If we are going to move forward as a society and as a people of God/She, we have to find better ways to produce and consume food.