Reinventing the Deal

One of the things that go with being a writer, I have discovered, is the phenomenon of people sending you books, book announcements and requests for book reviews. For example, here’s a little item that just came in over the transom in the form of an e-mailed press release:

THE NEW BIBLE COOKBOOK — TAKE GOD INSIDE YOUR BODY! God’s Food for Thought. Nourishment for the Soul. A Revolutionizing Concept. Author Sue Cameron announces the release of her new cookbook ... with recipes directly from the Bible. Scripture matched to recipes created only from ingredients mentioned in the Bible will enhance your cooking experience and feed both your body and soul. Author Sue Cameron, formerly director of daytime programming for ABC-TV, who was creatively responsible for “General Hospital” and “Family Feud,” created this unique concept. Said Cameron, “I made these recipes deliberately simple, so anyone can make them. It is also tremendously rewarding to be able to read the Scripture attached at the same time. It’s a FIRST in a way one can combine the cooking experience and Bible study for the family. Creating this concept was life changing for me.”

So there you have it. It’s a brand-new concept in the whole history of Christianity to combine reading Scripture with eating. Who knew? More than this, it is an absolutely revolutionizing idea to take God inside your body via some sort of sacred food.

This Eucharist-free discovery of Ms. Cameron’s reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman of my acquaintance a few years back, when I had a cubicle job in downtown Seattle. She was a nice lady — a very typical denizen of my Fair City, which is the least-churched city in the least-churched state in the Union. She was listening to her radio across the hall from me, and Joan Osborne’s “If God Was One of Us” came on. As she listened pensively, she finally turned to me and asked, “Wouldn’t that be a great idea for a story?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, suppose God became a human being,” she said. “Wouldn’t that be an amazing premise for a story?”

I said, “Yeah! You could call it ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told!’”

She caught the glint of amusement in my voice and asked what I was talking about. She was hugely surprised to discover that she had stumbled on the central religious narrative of Western civilization for the past 2,000 years. The narrative actually came as news to her.

In the same way, some time back, a Catholic woman I know was talking with a Protestant friend who was describing, with great excitement, how the Holy Spirit was leading her small nondenominational church to take a look at the lives of Christians who lived after the time of the Bible to see how they lived out the Gospel. As long as my wife did not use the spooky Catholic jargon “cult of the saints,” the conversation got on famously.

The Catholic faith describes reality, not the subjective opinion of some eccentrics. So we can expect that any person who is sincerely seeking truth will continually rediscover the truths it describes, just as sailors without maps kept running into America when they sailed west from Europe.

Let that encourage you on those days when the Catholic faith is unfashionable. Unfashionable facts don’t go away.

Mark Shea is the author of

Mary, Mother of the Son, a three-book series published by Catholic Answers.