Sunday, February 28, 2016

Never Again; Philo's Ascetic Preference for Bread; Mentoring on Grocery-Shopping

I have three items for my write-up on this morning's church service.  The first items two relate to things I have recently watched and read.

A.  In the children's part of the service, the pastor was continuing his series on the Lord's prayer.  The pastor was talking about the part of the prayer that says "Give us this day our daily bread."  We pray for God's provision each day.

I was thinking about a movie that I watched last week.  I've been watching the Love Comes Softly movies on Trinity Broadcasting Network.  In the movie Love's Abiding Joy, there is a land baron named Samuel Doros, who is taking people's land.  Doros tells the story of when he was a poor child and was continuously hungry.  He could find food in those days, but he could never enjoy it because he would be wondering where his next meal would come from.

You would think that such an experience would make him more compassionate towards those who are struggling, as opposed to trying to take their land.  But the experience did the opposite to him: it made him so bitter about life and insecure that he tried to eek out from people whatever money he could.

B.  The pastor was noting that Jesus told his disciples to ask God for bread, not cake.  I am not sure why the pastor was making that point.  He did say that bread is healthier.  In the sermon, he talked about his own recent struggles with dieting.

I've been reading Philo of Alexandria's Special Laws for my daily quiet time.  Philo of Alexandria was a first century C.E. Jewish thinker in Alexandria, Egypt.  He interpreted the Torah in light of Greek philosophy.  In Special Laws, he tries to explain the laws of the Torah.  Mostly, he seeks practical reasons for the laws being as they are.  There are times, though, when he seeks an allegorical explanation.  Special Laws is different from his esoteric works, in which his primary focus is on allegorizing the Torah.

In Special Laws I, Philo is talking about the sacrifices.  In I: 171-174, he is explaining why there are loaves of bread in the sanctuary.  One of his answers is that bread is simple.  He contrasts bread with "high seasonings, and cheesecakes, and sweetmeats" (C.D. Yonge's tradition).  Philo has a negative attitude towards the latter.

Philo is rather ascetic.  Heaven forbid that people want to gratify their fleshly tastes!  Their mind should be on higher things!  What is ironic, though, is that Philo does talk about God blessing people with abundance when they obey God.  And he talks about abundant celebrations, which occur at Jewish festivals.  Philo is ascetic, but he has to deal with that stress on abundance in the Torah.

C.  Someone from the local food bank spoke to us.  She told us stories about people who lost their jobs and had difficulty finding work.  In some cases, they have children.  There was also an elderly couple that was raising their grandchildren, and that was going into their retirement fund.  The husband was a truck driver, but he could no longer drive as many miles on account of his age.  They are benefiting from the food bank.

The lady was also telling us that the food bank offers lessons on nutrition and how to shop for food economically.  That may initially sound patronizing and condescending, but, believe me, such mentoring is good.  She said that the food bank does this so that people are not intimidated when they go shopping for groceries.  I can understand that being intimidating.  Stores have so many options.  A person may want to know how to get more for his or her money.  There's also the issue of buying food that can make a person full: whole wheat bread may be more expensive, but it will make a person more full after eating it than white bread (that's my insight, not what the speaker said).

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