Bringing Something To The Table

I happen to be immensely fond of food metaphors, for a variety of reasons. Whether it is the relationship between food and my own personal life and history [1] or whether it is my open love of good conversations over good food [2], food forms an enormous part of all of our lives. Not only do we spend a great deal of our money and time dealing with matters of feeding ourselves and our friends and family, but eating also serves as a way to frame a great deal of the concerns we have in other areas of life. Our habits of culture, in terms of terms of the form and content of media that we appreciate, is a matter of feeding our mind in a like matter to the way that the feed we eat feeds our bodies for well or for ill. Food likewise involves a great deal of political concerns from the way that we deal with our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation.

Yesterday, while reading a most excellent book about Israel and geopolitics [3], I was reminded of the way in which our outlook and mindset is a lot like the way we deal with foods in the context of a potluck dinner or an all-you-can-eat-buffet or family meal, or even a regular restaurant. We may all have our favorite foods, but when we eat, we can only choose what is on the table or what is on the menu. We may have our favorite meals, but we select what we are to eat based on the options that are available. Depending on the format of the meal, our fondness for the items that are available, and the size of our appetites or the extent of our self-control, we may eat a lot of a few things or eat a little of a lot of things. We may like to eat the same things over and over again once we find something we like a lot (which is my general approach), or we may eat a variety of things to decide what we like the best, or enjoy the love of novelty even if we do not like what we try as much as what we have tried before.

Our approach to intellectual matters is the same. One of the reasons that the Bible counsels that in a multitude of counselors there is wisdom [Proverbs 11:14] and that hearing the first person in a dispute is not sufficient in order to decide a matter wisely [Proverbs 18:17] is that we need options on the table for us to be able to make wise decisions. While we can certainly be overwhelmed with the options that are available, in all too many situations in life we simply cannot figure out where people are coming from very easily and so we have few options in terms of evaluating the behavior of others. Part of the greatness of a very good work is that it opens up options to us, which allows us to see the world in more accurate ways, since we are not limited by our previous perspectives. If we only have a few scripts and models in our mind, we will tend to read situations according to those limited materials, and will miss a lot. If we only have a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail, and there are a lot of situations where a hammer is not particularly appropriate.

So, just like we would appreciate the person who adds a new and excellent option to a pot luck, or the knowledge of items on a “secret menu” that would increase those options we liked at a favorite restaurant, or appreciate it when our fried chicken or broccoli is refilled at our favorite buffet, we should also appreciate those situations and books that increase our awareness of options in terms of how to think about others. As someone who greatly appreciates it when others have enough knowledge and awareness of the options that are available to make sense of the world and the people in it, without resorting to hostility and ugly speech.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s