“Julia Child wants you – that’s right, you, the one living in the track house in sprawling suburbia with a dead-end middle-management job and nothing but a Stop and Shop for miles around – to know how to make good pastry, and also how to make those canned beans taste all right. She wants you to remember that you are human, and such are entitled to the most basic of human rights, the right to eat well and enjoy life. “(Julie Powell, from Julie and Julia, Little, Brown and Company, P. 44, 45)
I bought the book!
I’m not going to tell you to rush out and buy it though.
It’s full of profanity. Also, it oozes with secular angst from a young lady born after most of the great events that molded my life and values.
Still, I had to read it. I think I am intrigued because young Americans without God are searching through aesthetic, sexual, and relational experiences to find solace for their soul and meaning for their lives. The book Eat, Pray, Love told the same sort of story.
What an opportune time to reach real seekers!
A seeker is someone whose soul is hungry.
This morning, as I walked into our church building, I heard the young students of Artios Academy singing. I stopped. I listened. Then I went to join them. My soul had been awakened by the sound of their tiny voices praising God. I doubt that they were as deeply moved as I was; most of them were just obeying their headmaster who wants them to sing every morning to begin their day.
But whatever their experience was about, I was moved.
By one small opportunity to feed my soul.
I had been hurrying to my office from my car.
Who knows? Perhaps because that is what responsible adults do; we hurry, rush, work at something that seems responsible all day and then return to our families speaking in short sentences until bedtime. Not much room for soul in all of that.
“All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea,” the young voices sang.
Stop. Listen. Sing. Drink in the experience that may connect my soul to God and to His people. Take advantage of a moment that may remind me that I am a creature of eternity.
Julia Child doesn’t offer all of that. Julie Powell certainly does not offer it.
So what do they offer? They offer an opportunity to remember that we are not Homo-economicus after all. We are Homo sapiens. We think. We reflect. We create. We acknowledge meaning. We have a soul.
Julia child knew that working class people needed this knowledge. She knew that people are not created to sit hours inside some cubicle filling out forms. They are not meant to spend their lives churning a wheel like a hamster, day after soul-numbing day. They are not meant to be expendable economic units of Behemoth International Inc.
People are made in the image and likeness of God. They are creatures of infinite worth. They are made to commune with God and to relate to their fellow human beings. When they forget those things, their souls get sick.
It’s all in the 23rd Psalm: “He prepareth a table before me. He maketh me to lie down. He restoreth my soul.”
Rest. Eat. Feed the soul. Find renewal. That’s why the 23rd Psalm is the most beloved one.
Scott Hord will not be pleased that I compare him to Julia Child. I will admit that I am doing it partially to irritate him, which isn’t kind. But he’s tough. He can take it.
Scott Hord manages our physical fitness center. He works hard all day helping people find God through physical activity and conversation. He talks about basketball and soccer until the conversation takes a turn that reveals the soul. It takes time. Men are terribly afraid to reveal their soul. They often are even unaware that they have one. When it starts shouting for attention, they may go search for porn, or, if they are healthier, go watch big trucks demolish old cars. Men need noise, arousal, action and even conflict to drown out the cry of their soul. When that fails, they may use a drug to put their soul to sleep.
Soul hunger can inflict a lot of damage on men. That’s why, when Scott talks about basketball, he listens for that moment when the conversation turns to “life just sucks,” or “I can’t figure out what my wife wants; she’s driving me nuts.”
He hears the soul speaking. He then searches for a way to feed the soul, to strengthen it, to do something that will help the man he is speaking with realize that the soul is not dangerous – that it must not be denied or numbed – that it is our very being.
He shepherds men’s souls, in other words. And that is a very important thing to do.
Scott doesn’t cook, though, so I am struggling to find a way to fit him into a blog that has been about cooking for the last week.
Ahh, but he does roast coffee!
So what does coffee taste like when it has been roasted by a man who shepherds souls? Well, for one thing it tastes very, very good! There are two reasons why; he started roasting coffee because he wanted a way to support orphans in Africa. However, Scott also studied how to roast coffee. Had he not learned how to roast coffee from people who know how, he would have had to resort to emotional manipulation to sell bad coffee. A few people would have bought the coffee out of a sense of guilt. Then they would have sworn at him behind his back!
Compare Scott for a moment to Julie Powell. She sounds like a smarty-pants spoiled little girl who took a long time to grow up. Her book reveals this even more than the movie. Also, she is not a believer – she makes that clear from the start. That means she has no Bible.
However, she does have a soul and her soul is perishing from neglect. It is numb from the battering of modern urban life. She has forgotten that she bears the image and the likeness of God. She is soul hungry.
The Art of French Cooking is not a sacred text. Julia Child can’t save her soul. But Julia Child can remind Julie that she has a soul. Julia Child knows that an artful and meaningful meal with friends is good at awakening our souls. That’s what the oohs and ahhs are all about when we eat good food. The soul is being noticed. It responds like a neglected child who is suddenly noticed. It perks up with a sense of anticipation that perhaps it will be restored after all, even in a go-nowhere job, or on an every day journey to work through traffic jams.
Julie’s mitzvot, her commitment to cook for a year through all of Julia Child’s recipes, awakens something that had been asleep in her for a long time. That is the reason I enjoyed this movie: I was delighted watching her soul awaken.
However, when someone takes on a mitzvot like Scott Hord did, something even deeper occurs. Scott’s coffee feeds hungry children. That’s a big deal. It is also growing the effectiveness and leadership abilities of a good man. That’s another big deal. It is developing a business that I believe is going to go very far indeed. That’s another good thing. Finally, Scott offers a moment of relaxation with a cup of coffee that possesses the sort of quality we used to expect from YOUKNOWWHEREBUCKS.
“AHHHHH!” the souls says, “ Life is too short to drink swill.”
How can I end this blog? Oh, I know: why doesn’t someone think of cooking one of those soul-awakening meals from Julia Child’s cookbook?
Then, that blessed person can serve ABBA Java coffee with a small French pastry?
Wouldn’t that be nice?
I would support such a person with my presence and my wholehearted participation!