Monday, October 11, 2010

"And She Took Flour"

Denise Frame Harlan is a writer, an educator, and a fiber artist. Her writing is featured in The Spirit of Food, a collection of stories on spirituality, cooking and eating. She shares her reflections below, a story that began when a young man name John Skillen, now the director for Gordon in Orvieto, gave his brother, Jim, The Supper of the Lamb, an odd book about cooking and theology.

“When I was training for college ministry at Penn State, Jim Skillen taught our summer classes. At the end of a long morning of lecture, he opened the theological cookbook The Supper of the Lamb and started reading aloud about heartburn, indulgence, pleasure, and God's goodness. The writer described the final feast at the end of time, the Supper we will share with The Lamb. As Jim read, his face flushed and tears streamed from his eyes. The passage read like poetry, not theology. By the end of the reading, I wondered if perhaps I had lived my life all wrong.

“Jim pulled out a handkerchief to wipe the tears from his face, and I thought about Moses coming down from the mountain, needing a veil to cover his glory. I wrote in my notebook: ‘Buy chocolate chips.’

“That afternoon I picked up The Supper of the Lamb on the way back to my apartment and began the long slow process of teaching myself to cook.

“When Leslie Leyland Fields was assembling The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting toward God, she asked for my ‘cooking conversion story.’ Contributors include Wendell Berry, Andre Dubus, Lauren Winner and the author of Supper of the Lamb, Robert Farrar Capon. I’m honored to be in the same book with these great writers.”

Denise teaches The Great Conversation at Gordon College. And She Took Flour is a wonderful read for any cooking enthusiast. Her magazine writing includes articles for Comment, for Interweave Spin-Off, and Living Crafts. Denise finished her M.F.A. in creative writing at Seattle Pacific University in 2009 and has been teaching at Gordon for two years.

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