ISBN-10:
0312294425
ISBN-13:
9780312294427
Pub. Date:
02/07/2002
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan US
Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture

Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture

by NA NA, Daniel Sack
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312294427
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 02/07/2002
Edition description: 2000
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 1,208,126
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.02(d)

About the Author

Daniel Sack is program officer for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. He has taught at Hope College and Columbia Theological Seminary. He lives in suburban Chicago.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


LITURGICAL FOOD:
COMMUNION ELEMENTS
AND CONFLICT


It was a dark and holy night. The small group gathered in Jerusalem, prepared for the sacred Passover meal. Before this dinner, the central celebration of their faith, their charismatic young leader foretold a stunning series of events. He told them that he was about to be arrested; after they betrayed and denied him, he would die. His revelations complete, he passed them the holy meal—small cubes of white bread and little cups of grape juice.

    It's an absurd—some might say sacrilegious—image, but most American mainline Protestant churches use these foods in their reenactment of that Last Supper. Most people in the pews probably have never thought about what they were eating or why—they've always done it that way and assume that's the way it's supposed to be. They probably realize that Jesus and his disciples didn't use Wonder Bread and Welch's but don't stop to ask why they do.

    Communion is one of Christianity's sacraments, acts that manifest closeness to God and indicate inclusion in the faith community. Roman Catholics celebrate seven sacraments while Protestants recognize two—Baptism and Eucharist, also called Communion, the Lord's Supper, or the Last Supper. Whatever their name or number, all Christians see these rituals as instituted by Jesus Christ and as an important part of their worship life. Participation in the sacraments is a requirement for full membership, and in some traditions receiving Communion is one key to salvation.

   Despite—or perhaps because of—the important role played by Communion, the Communion table has long been a place of conflict. Through the centuries churchmen and rulers have debated the meaning of the rite: Is it a sacrifice or a memorial? The Protestant Reformers argued about how often the sacrament should be celebrated: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly? Others have debated over who is welcome at the table: only members of the local church, all adults, or everyone who is baptized? These conflicts grow out of Communion's importance to the faith; in these struggles wars have been fought and anathemas have been hurled.

    Compared to these weighty theological issues, the form of the practice—the menu and the method—may appear trivial. Next to the doctrine of transubstantiation, the plastic Communion cup seems preposterous. But underlying these apparently insignificant concerns are profound theological questions. This chapter looks at conflicts concerning two parts of American mainline Communion practice—one involving a menu item and one involving its serving method—to reveal the sociological and theological issues underlying the debate.

    The first half of the chapter investigates the often very public debate, beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, over the use of wine for Communion. The argument pitted traditionalist clergy against reforming women and became an important part of the larger campaign for temperance and prohibition. Throughout, however, all the participants were concerned with authenticity—the need to do Communion "right." The section reveals the role that authentic practice played in the Communion wine debate.

    The second half of the chapter turns from the menu for Communion to the method of serving. Starting in the late nineteenth century, many American Protestant churches began using small individual cups for Communion in place of a single common cup. As with the wine debate, the individual-cup question was part of a larger campaign, in this case the sanitation crusade. But here the antagonists were men of science—physicians and "sanitarians" looking to change church practice over the protests of liturgy-minded clergy. The argument also revealed deep anxieties about cleanliness and the borders of the church and of society. The Communion cup question turned on issues of authority and purity.

    Few historians have studied these conflicts, perhaps due to a degree of myopia on the part of religion scholars. Like theologians they have focused on the spiritual and doctrinal aspects of Communion practice, to the neglect of the very material, embodied food substances. These questions of menu and method are not grand ideas—they are the stuff of everyday religion. Yet for millions of Christians, this is where Christ is revealed—somehow or another. Communion is Christianity's most important ritual meal, making it a good place to begin an investigation of American mainline Protestantism's food culture.


THE CONTENTS OF THE CUP: THIRSTING FOR AUTHENTICITY


Nineteenth-century Protestant evangelicals, the forefathers and foremothers of the Protestant mainline, found themselves caught in a theological bind. They wanted to celebrate Communion exactly as Jesus did. Yet they also were committed to a political and social cause—temperance. While the first commitment may have led them to use wine at the Communion table, the second explicitly forbade it. To get out of this bind, temperance-minded Protestants adopted a creative interpretation of the Bible that allowed them to have their wine and drink it too.

    The difficulty—and resulting creative interpretation—was unique to evangelicals. In the Roman Catholic Church, ritual food choices—the menu for the Eucharist—are determined by tradition and written into church law. The tradition requiring wine for Communion dates to at least the thirteenth century, when theologian Thomas Aquinas stated that "only wine of the grape is the proper matter of this sacrament." He noted that Jesus compared himself to the vine, and thus grape wine—not the wine of pomegranates or mulberries—was essential. Aquinas observed that the Bible praises wine, while nonalcoholic grape juice—called must—"is at the stage of incomplete generation, and therefore it has not yet the species of wine." Correct celebration of the sacrament thus required alcoholic wine. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s significantly changed the celebration of the Mass for the Roman Catholic Church, most notably allowing laypeople to receive the wine as well as the bread, but canon law still requires the use of wine. These traditions must be followed, for incorrect practice makes the sacrament invalid if not—literally—sacrilege. Protestant communities with a strong commitment to liturgical tradition, including the Episcopalians and the Lutherans, also require the use of wine.

    Generally, however, most Protestant churches have few laws or regulations around ritual behavior. They proudly proclaim their freedom from the "dead hand" of tradition. Such traditions, they believe, are human inventions. Instead, these Protestants base their practices on their interpretation of biblical precedent, trying to do everything "the way Jesus did it." This is a phenomenon called primitivism—looking to the first-century church as the model for all behavior. For instance, Presbyterians defend their polity—their system of church governance—as following the way the apostles organized the church. Some churches forbid the use of musical instruments because they are not mentioned in the New Testament. The Disciples of Christ celebrate Communion every week because they believe the first-century church did. Primitivism means that the only authentic practice is the original practice. What counts is not church law or tradition but replicating the religious experience of being with Jesus.

    Early Protestants followed Rome's lead and served wine at the Communion table. Sixteenth-century reformer John Calvin specifically spoke of wine when describing the proper celebration of the sacrament. Presbyterian clergy in seventeenth-century Scotland told their congregations that, as wine "warmed the cold stomach, so did Christ warm the cold heart." The Protestants shared the Roman church's conviction that the sacrament was not valid without wine. One sixteenth-century Lutheran bishop told communicants who could not tolerate wine that they should refrain from receiving Communion at all. In 1567 a minister of the Church of England was suspended from office when he "indede did minister the communion with beare, but it was onelie for necessitie and want of wyne." A seventeenth-century Scottish Presbyterian observed that communicants "eate and drink in such measure, as they may find themselves refreshed sensibly." For some larger Communion festivals sensible refreshment required wine by the gallon or even by the barrel. Thus for Protestant as well as Catholic churches, wine was the standard beverage for the Eucharist.

    The use of wine at Communion meshed well with American culture in the years just before and just after the Revolution. Foreign visitors commented on the huge amount of alcohol consumed by Americans, observations borne out by statistics—in 1820 the young nation consumed over five gallons of rum per person. Communion practices reflected this acceptance of alcohol. In the middle of the eighteenth century a pastor on the Pennsylvania frontier communed two hundred people with six gallons of wine, providing about four ounces of wine per person. And there was other alcohol at frontier revivals; officially banned liquor found its way onto revival grounds, often upsetting the sobriety of the meeting. For many American Christians, particularly on the frontier, alcohol and religion were a natural combination.

    But by the early decades of the nineteenth century, this combination clashed with an opposing force: temperance. It had its roots in the intersection of evangelical morality and industrial capitalism that characterized the time; together they decisively shaped the bourgeois standards of the 1830s and 1840s. They demanded sobriety and self-control on the part of their devotees, attitudes that clashed with the alcohol-centered conviviality of the frontier. Middle-class temperance campaigners sought both to reform their own class and to gain control over the social lives of immigrants and working people.

    While temperance began as a health issue, through a religious movement it seized hold of the public imagination. The movement began in 1812 when a group of students and faculty at Andover Theological Seminary organized the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance. While health campaigners such as Benjamin Rush focused on the health dimensions of alcohol use, the religious temperance movement emphasized morality. Arguing that drinkers would be damned as well as diseased, this moral exhortation captivated the populace. The crusade's morality demanded total abstinence, not just moderation.

    The movement found strong support from the churches, especially among Methodists. They (falsely) claimed John Wesley, the denomination's eighteenth-century founder, as a teetotaler, and continued the tradition; in 1816 the Methodist General Conference barred clergymen from selling liquor, and in 1832 it urged total abstinence. Other evangelical denominations, particularly the Presbyterians and Congregationalists, followed the Methodist lead. The nineteenth century was a heyday for church-related reform movements, including abolition, diet reform, and dress reform; temperance was one of the strongest. The strongest organization in the movement was the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), founded in 1874, made up mostly of evangelical Protestant women. Nonevangelical Protestant churches, such as the Episcopalians and the Lutherans, were less enthusiastic for the cause.

    The temperance movement's mission was to convince the American people of the evils of alcohol and the necessity for abstinence. Its members sought to save Americans—particularly young men—from the captivity of the barroom. Although its mission was inherently religious, the movement was inevitably political—it was engaged in a battle for public opinion. The movement's opponents were the makers and sellers of alcohol—those the movement called the "liquor interests." It was a righteous war, requiring every resource the crusaders could muster.

    In all of the reform battles of the nineteenth century, the evangelicals' prime weapon was the Bible. The scriptures were the only authority in Protestant churches; every theological and ethical argument was answered by looking to the Bible. For Primitivist Christians, the scriptures were the guide to building a church and a society faithful to Jesus; in these communities, authenticity—close adherence to the biblical model—was essential.

    In the temperance crusade, unfortunately, the Bible appeared to be a chink in the evangelical churches' armor, for it appears to support the use of alcohol. In Genesis Isaac blesses Jacob, praying that God would give his son "plenty of grain and wine." In Psalm 104 God is praised for bringing "forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart." Through the prophet Isaiah, God calls people to "come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." In his letter to his young associate, Paul advises Timothy to "no longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." Thus wine appears to be an important part of the Bible's world.

    In fact, the text suggests that Jesus himself drank wine. His critics called him a drunkard. His first miracle was making wine—reported to be good wine—for a wedding banquet at Cana. The steward said to the host, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." And at the Last Supper, Jesus himself gave wine to his followers, blessed it, and commanded them to continue to drink the wine in his name. This supper provided the model for the Eucharist, a central ritual for the Christian community, and the use of wine appeared to play an essential role.

    To be sure, the scriptures are not unanimous in praise of wine. According to the Psalms, wine can be judgment as well as blessing; God "will pour a draught from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs." Isaiah condemns those "who linger in the evening to be inflamed by wine." Paul urges his followers not to "get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit." In the same book where he recommends wine for Timothy's stomach, he warns deacons to "be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine." The Bible's attitude toward wine appears to be ambivalent, at best.

    This mixed testimony on alcohol presented a challenge to temperance crusaders. They could point to the scriptural condemnations of wine to support their cause, while their opponents could use the scriptural blessings of wine—and, most important, Jesus' blessing of wine at the Last Supper—to support theirs. Temperance-minded evangelicals feared that the Bible, the basis of their morality, could be used as a weapon against them. The Lord's Supper, an essential ritual of the faith, was a potential stumbling block to moral reform.

    The case for temperance, its advocates felt, rose and fell on an unambiguous biblical condemnation of wine. Starting in the early nineteenth century, they worked to solve the ambiguity through careful—and sometimes complex—interpretation of the Bible. Their starting point was their ethical objection to alcohol. They looked for a way to read scripture so that Jesus—the real, authentic Jesus—would not be understood as blessing wine. This exercise in what theologians call hermeneutics—scriptural interpretation had a political goal in mind.

    Central to this interpretation was what came to be known as the "two-wine" theory, first suggested in the 1830s by Moses Stuart, a professor at Andover Theological Seminary. Inspired by Stuart, protemperance Protestants—in theological journals, sermons, and a flood of pamphlets—began arguing that there were two beverages in biblical times, both translated in the English Bible as "wine." One, the wine praised by the psalmist and blessed by Christ, was nonalcoholic; the other, cursed by the psalmist and warned of by Paul, was alcoholic. Both were known as wine, but one was good and life giving, while the other was the beverage of disease and death. Such an exegesis gave temperance advocates both original, authentic practice and temperance principles. They could have their "wine" and criticize it too.

    These arguments drew on a variety of sources. The most important, of course, was the Bible itself. Biblical scholars engaged in long and complex lexical investigations, identifying and distinguishing the various Hebrew and Greek words translated as "wine" in the English Bible. In 1880 two writers prepared a voluminous commentary showing the prominence of temperance sentiment in the Bible. Two years later a church leader named Leon Field devoted lengthy articles over four issues of the Methodist Quarterly Review to the question, including a close linguistic analysis of sixteen Hebrew words and five Greek words. After exhaustive—and often exhausting—discussion, Field identified all the positive references to wine as nonalcoholic and all the negative ones as alcoholic. He concluded that "there is no term in the Old Testament or in the New which invariably indicates a fermented liquor, while there are nine which signify an unfermented article, and six others ... which leave us free to decide, by reference to the context or circumstances of the case, whether or not a fermented wine is intended." Given his devotion to both the Bible and his temperance principles, Field shaped his interpretation of these last texts to exclude any positive biblical references to alcoholic wine.

    Among all the biblical references to wine, the most important were those regarding the Last Supper. Almost all of the temperance crusaders were convinced that the beverage Jesus served to his disciples was unfermented grape juice, not wine. There were two major arguments. First, they pointed out that "by a careful study of the New Testament, we find that the word 'wine' is not used in connection with the Lord's Supper. Nine times it is simply called 'the cup,' and our Saviour's own descriptive term is 'the fruit of the vine.'" Second, they felt that the nature of wine was totally contradictory to the meaning of the Lord's Supper. As the newspaper of the WCTU asked in 1910, "How can a priest of the living God give to the communicant at the altar the cup containing alcohol—'the enemy of the human race' and say that it represents the blood 'shed from the foundation of the world' for us!" With the temperance advocates' assumptions about the nature of alcohol and the meaning of the sacrament, using wine at Communion was unimaginable. The two-wine interpretation gave temperance-minded evangelicals biblical warrants for using nonalcoholic wine as authentic practice.

    There was a great deal at stake, for Jesus' use of wine at his last meal would threaten the reputation of the Lord as well as his sacrament. Alcohol being what it is, temperance advocates could not conceive of their Savior having drunk it, let alone blessed it. Stuart was "quite certain that persons of such a character as the holy Savior and His disciples, as on an occasion of such deep distress as that when the Lord's Supper was first instituted, did not use undiluted wine." "The disease, corruption, and sin associated through the coming centuries with alcohol—alcoholic wine not excepted—may have been in the mind of the prescient and divinely foreseeing Christ," Gordon argued; there is no way that Jesus could have intended to sanction its use. Field points out that biblical descriptions of the Last Supper speak only of "the cup," not of wine. The cup was


the subject of thanksgiving, the medium of blessing. Such, indeed, would be the pure and nutritious juice of the grape. Such never could be the wine upon which God has poured his maledictions, and upon which he had warned his children not to look. We cannot conceive of Christ bending over such a beverage in grateful prayer. The supposition is sacrilegious. The imputation is blasphemous. No cup that can intoxicate is a cup of blessing, but a cup of cursing. It does not belong to a eucharistic feast, but is the fit accompaniment of scenes of revelry and riot.


If the beverage created in the miracle at Cana truly was wine, "that must stand as the single exception to all his other miracles. It was a malevolent and mischievous manifestation of power. There was no glory in it, but shame." Since the temperance advocates assumed the evils of alcohol, a Jesus who drank alcohol could not have been a savior. They read their antialcohol agenda back onto the first century and declared that Jesus, too, must have been a teetotaler. It was the only way to keep him divine.

    To support their argument that fermented wine was illicit for the Passover—and thus for the Eucharist—the temperance scholars engaged in an early kind of practical ecumenism, looking to ancient and contemporary rabbis for evidence. Field argued that since the Last Supper was a Passover meal, Jewish law allowed no leavened food to be served. Hence the beverage in the cup must have been unfermented grape juice. "The Jews have so understood the law. The Mishna expressly specifies certain fermented drinks whose use would be a violation of the feast." He cited several "leading rabbis" who claim that "fermented wine, as everything fermented is rigidly excluded from our Passover fare." Perhaps Reformed Jews use wine, he acknowledged, but the strict Orthodox bar it. In 1884 the WCTU newspaper quoted a "learned Jewish Rabbi" of Albany, who said of Jesus, "To suppose that He used fermented and consequently intoxicating wine on that memorable occasion,—an occasion on which the Jews were strictly forbidden the use of any fermentation whatever, is too absurd to be entertained for a moment." One of the most commonly cited authorities was Mordecai Noah, a leading New York Jewish layman, who shared with the temperance press his recipe for unfermented "raisin wine." Because it was unfermented and thus had no leaven in it, Noah told inquiring Christians, it was the traditional drink for Passover. For many evangelicals this may have been their first encounter with rabbinical authority. For these Jews, on the other hand, this may have been the first time they were respected as an authority by Christians.

    Having proved that alcoholic wine for Communion was not historically authentic, temperance advocates argued that unfermented grape juice—called must—was the historically correct beverage for Communion. They believed that Jesus and the disciples would have used must at the last supper. Since the Bible offered no explicit evidence for the existence of nonalcoholic wine in biblical times, they had to look beyond the scriptures. Referring to texts from classical authors, Field argued that "it is without doubt or question that both the Greeks and the Romans had a beverage which consisted of the pure, unfermented juice of the grape." They knew what caused fermentation, and they knew how to stop it. Even when they did drink alcohol, he concluded, "all wines, until the last hundred years, were comparatively weak." Stuart agreed, stating that all "sober men" in Greece and Rome drank only wine mixed with water; only barbarians drank pure wine.

    The testimony of Western missionaries in service in the Middle East, these writers argued, confirmed that nonalcoholic wines were still common in biblical lands. One man accumulated a large collection of unfermented wines from throughout the Middle East, seeing it as evidence of unfermented wines in biblical times. Field concluded that "there was and is such a beverage as the unfermented juice of the grape, that it was used as freshly expressed and when carefully preserved. That it was a common drink is amply attested by the frequent references to it in the writings of almost every ancient author ... from the earliest to the latest." And, he stated, it was often known as wine. The network of Protestant missionaries in the Middle East confirmed the temperance argument.

    Nonalcoholic grape juice was not only historically accurate, the reformers believed, it was also natural and pure. Unfermented grape juice, they contended, was the perfect food. "The constituent parts actually of blood and of the expressed [unfermented] wine are strikingly analogous," Field wrote. A leader of the WCTU noted that physicians favor grape juice, as "there is no other fruit which contains so large a proportion of building materials for the body.... All of these are retained, unchanged, in pure and properly prepared grape juice." While grape juice is the pure and natural creature of God, temperance advocates preached, fermentation is the mark of decay; alcohol is thus the result of decomposition and death. The WCTU minutes saw it as "obvious; leaven, ferment, is the principle of decay in the material world, hence God uses it as a fitting symbol of sin in the spiritual, and excludes it from any offering made to him, and from all his solemn feasts." Field cited a scientist who stated that alcohol is "an artificial product, devised by man for his purposes." One twentieth-century crusader argued that "fermentation destroys the life blood of the grape, making it a liquid corpse, unsuited to represent the uncorrupted blood of the Savior." While nineteenth-century evangelical Christianity sometimes had an adversarial relationship with modern science, here it served their purpose; in the case of fermentation, two bible scholars stated, the church "has there been taught a practical lesson of physiology and dietetics, which it would never adopt on mere principles of self-denial." This scientific material allowed the Christians to make a natural law argument for temperance and thus convince nonevangelicals. "Those who do not admit the authority of the Bible will concede that intoxication is injurious to health, usefulness, estate, morals, and reputation," Stuart concluded. Science and scripture both confirmed the inappropriateness of using wine.

    Drawing on this broad variety of sources—scripture, the nature of the sacrament and of the Lord, rabbinical and classical texts, the testimony of contemporary missionaries, and science—temperance advocates concluded that using alcoholic wine at the Lord's table was inauthentic. They wanted to return to the original practice, to celebrate the Last Supper exactly as Jesus and his disciples did. Through almost a millennium the church had used alcoholic wine for Communion, but the principles of the pro-temperance evangelicals kept them from accepting that practice as authentic.

    Some evangelical Protestants, however, did want to keep alcoholic wine for Communion. They did not support the temperance movement, and they did not accept the arguments of the wine opponents. The wine advocates also based their stance on their interpretation of primitive practice. They read the same Bible as the temperance advocates, but very differently. Like the two-wine advocates, they mounted arguments from the Bible, Jewish tradition, and missionaries in supporting the one-wine theory. Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge argued that the "fruit of the vine" cited in the institution narratives refers to alcoholic wine. "The plain meaning of the Bible on this subject has controlled the mind of the church, and it is to be hoped will continue to control it till the end of time." In 1897 his son Archibald supported the pro-wine argument with references to "the unanimous testimony of all competent scholars and missionary residents in the East." A Methodist clergyman conducted a long analysis of the language of the biblical texts and concluded that the wine used by Jesus was alcoholic. He also stated that the Talmud does not ban the use of wine in the Passover. Another minister cited missionaries who reported that unfermented grape juice is unknown in the modern Middle East. A Presbyterian stated flatly that the Bible testifies to Jesus using wine, which "is sufficient evidence that the act is right." Like the two-wine crusaders, the one-wine camp looked to history but interpreted that history to suit its assumptions. Both sides were searching for the authentic supper, but that search led each side in a decisively different direction.

    The debate between the one-wine and two-wine sides was not always friendly. Temperance advocates accused those in favor of using wine of selectively interpreting the Bible to serve their own ends. The editors of the Temperance Bible Commentary suggested that "social customs and personal habits of diet and indulgence, continued from childhood upwards, may induce a state of mind inconsistent with the unbiased interpretation of Holy Writ." If a person grows up with alcohol, they concluded, he will easily interpret the scriptures as supporting it. A WCTU leader wrote in the Union Signal, the union's newspaper, about the publication of a pamphlet critical of the two-wine argument. She concluded, however, that "the sophistry that so palpably characterizes the whole argument of this book, the cynical tone and pettifogging style of the entire work, would render it harmless to all educated, thinking people into whose hands it may be thrust." In the eyes of the temperance side, wine supporters were misled at best, corrupted at worst.

    The one-wine theorists, on the other hand, accused the two-wine advocates of extremism and emotionalism in their arguments. One stated categorically that the wine at Passover was alcoholic and then observed that "neither lamentations nor maledictions can change it. Instead, then, of bewailing or misrepresenting the opinions that others have been led to form on this subject, let us accept them as what they really are." Modern interpreters should "not change the immutable past to make it harmonize with our present ideas of policy and right; but by wisdom and faith, candor and courage, patience and self-sacrifice, to bring in a better future." A Presbyterian asserted that "persistency and force of assertion will never convert fiction into a fact, however they may impose on the credulous and unreflecting." One of Stuart's critics stated that "the uniform practice of the church as it now exists, and as it has existed for ages, is right; if you say that it is not right, then surely it behooves you to prove that it is not,—not to call upon me to prove that it is." Another accused the anti-wine faction of "perversion of scripture." The one-wine supporters returned the charge of selective interpretation and extremism.

    For many temperance crusaders, there was more at stake in the two-wine argument than authentic ritual practice. Many—especially the members of the WCTU—were concerned that taking alcoholic wine at the Communion table would encourage reformed alcoholics to drink themselves to destruction. Reflecting the union's commitment "to make the whole world homelike," these women focused particularly on the need to save men—husbands and sons—from the scourge of alcohol. The Union Signal is full of stories like that of the son of an alcoholic father. After his first Communion "he immediately expressed to his horrified parent the delights of that one sip, and never stopped until he had obtained more; today he rests in a drunkard's grave, by the side of his dishonored father and heart-broken mother." Through its work against wine at the Communion table the union sought to prevent such tragedies. In 1886 another woman meditated on "a lovely sight: a little boy, perhaps six years of age, going to the Lord's table and kneeling between father and mother to partake of the emblems of Christ's broken body and shed blood. Would a mother dare do this if thereby her boy was likely to learn to love the taste of that which might prove his eternal ruin?" The men could debate the authority of the tradition and the interpretation of the Bible until they were blue in the face, but for the women of the WCTU this pastoral concern for their children demanded action. It was also a wise strategic move; even if the two-wine theory did not stand up to scrutiny, "the Bible doctrine of expediency assumes all the importance and authority of a divine command not to 'do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.'" Care for the weak brother trumped all other aspects of the Communion wine question.

(Continues...)

Table of Contents

Introduction
• Liturgical Food: Communion Elements and Conflict
• Social Food: Potlucks and Coffee Hours
• Emergency Food: The Development of Soup Kitchens
• Global Food: Hunger Politics
• Moral Food: Eating as a Christian Should

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