Food for Thought: Food in Isolation vs. Food in Community?

I was going through a previous test for my “community and ministry” class and came upon this test item: “True or false, according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian community has enough to eat when one shares it with others. When one desires to eat in isolation, hunger ensues.”

Regardless of what Bonhoeffer thought on this subject (as important as his reflections are to me), what do you think, and why?

If it is the case that eating in isolation leads to hunger, why would that be?

And what about the shipwrecked castaway or homebound elderly widow or widower who longs to eat with others, but who has no one with whom to share his or her food? Does that person grow hungry even while having enough to eat? Or does the divine host-guest fill the individual’s meal with company?

How hungry are you and I for community? Would we rather eat an abundance of food in isolation or smaller portions in abundant community? Perhaps these are good test questions for a community and for one’s own individual life.

About Paul Louis Metzger

Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and Professor at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University. He is the author of numerous works, including "Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths" and "Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church." These volumes and his others can be found wherever fine books are sold.

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  • Andrew Kruse

    Thanks for approaching this question Dr. Metzger. I feel less inclined to eat when I have no one to share it with. In fact, just the other day I had a few friends over for dinner that I made and it was one of my most enjoyable meals that I’ve had since Thanksgiving. In our Western context, the value of sharing and the sacredness of meals are often neglected in favor of convenient instant quick fixes such as Mac N’ Cheese and McDonalds’ happy meals since we are often in a hurry to get to events that occur in the space of normal meal times. Even church events can get in the way and cause us to not be able to fully enjoy the people we live with in our homes and the daily bread the Lord has provided for us. -

  • Galen Smith

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that might be true, assuming the available food of all beleievers could be spread equally among all believers. However, I’m uncertain about the logistic hurdles. Is it really possible to get the surplus food from wealthy Christian communities dispensed among those communities that need it most? I’m not sure all the geographical, political and practical barriers can be overcome. Nevertheless, it seems obvious to me that if we desire to eat in community, fewer people will go hungry.