catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 3 :: 2010.02.05 — 2010.02.18


Company’s here!

Eating the medium

I ripped out a page from Time magazine several months ago, an “Eating Smart” column titled “Six Rules for Eating Wisely” written by Michael Pollan.  Last night as I was going through food and recipe clippings, I came across it again and the final paragraph really struck me:  How you eat is as important as what you eat.   And another exhortation: never eat alone

As we were having a family dinner at my parents’ house several Sundays ago, we were all commenting on the delicious loaf of bread on the table:  a two-pound semolina loaf from Panera.  My brother-in-law remarked, "Did you all know that the word “company” comes from the root words for ‘with’ and ‘bread’?"   We went on a tangent with that morsel of wisdom for a while. “Having company over is having bread with someone!”  “A companion is someone you have bread with!” “A company of soldiers is a unit that eats together!”

Our book discussion class at church began the fall season with a book on media use, and the reading and discussions got me thinking so much more about the words medium, mediate, media.  A medium is any tool that serves as a go-between to provide an encounter or shared experience between two parties who may be otherwise be unable to communicate due to timing, distance, language or any other obstacles to direct face-to-face communication.  The Bible is a medium, as is a telephone, a book, the mail, the church newsletter, a microphone, a message in a bottle, a CD, an interpreter, a camera —  the list is endless! 

My family recently had a jovial conversation about ways that a corporate worship service could use and access media in such ways as piping in professional pre-recorded accompaniment music without mistakes or tempo issues, or videocasting the denomination’s best preacher to all of its churches.  How about the drive-in church where everyone can sing and listen to the sermon in their own cars?  We could even download a live streaming webcast of our favorite worship venue onto our iPods!

Here’s how all these paragraphs connect: communion.   I’m wondering if eating bread with each other may be the only worship activity that cannot be mediated through technology, whether high-tech or low-tech.  Maybe then, it is one of the most fundamental activities of corporate worship.   Maybe my fingers and your fingers have to touch that same loaf if we truly are to be companions. 

Thanks to the printing press, I can read John Donne or Martin Luther, but I cannot literally commune with them.  Thanks to my CD player, Leonard Bernstein and my Atlanta Symphony Orchestra recording, I can worship God through the tunes of the Chichester Psalms anytime I like, but that is not as good as it gets.   Even prayer and sermons and Bible reading aren’t as good as it gets.  They are the best lingual media for communicating with God, and words do carry living power.  But it’s not quite, I guess, not quite as amazing as when the Media-tor himself has us over for company, becomes the host, and mysteriously breaks through time, distance and language to allow us to eat the good news, to give us a taste of what happens when word is made flesh, and to draw us into a companionship that no virtual technology could mediate.

Published in Peace Notes (November 2007), the newsletter of Peace Christian Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus