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September 10, 2007


The Cheng

Once again I'm reminded of Babette's feast.


Yep, the southerner made a feast while the north-enders ate dried fish stew.


Before the Babette's Feast comment (BTW one of my all-time favourite movies), I was thinking about the food too. I spent some time in Northern Germany and the Netherlands. My children were asking me the other day what kinds of things Germans eat. I said, "Roast beef, potatoes, roast pork, red cabbage, green salads, stuff like that." They said, "That's just plain ordinary food!" They were hoping for some exotic answer. I like German food, but it is pretty utilitarian (as is English food). Contrast that with Italian or Greek food.


True, I lived in Munich as a child but...Germand and, to a lesser extent, English food, look like huge exotic spreads when compared to Scottish or Swedish fare. I mean the Swedes make a big deal about eating imported crawdads once a year and sheepgut stuffed with bland boiled grain is not my idea of a national dish. Give me fish and chips or wiener mit pomm frits any day of the week!

Evan Donovan

This is a good point.


I always thought the Scandinavians were basically Lutheran and that Methodists [an American novelty?] were either the proponents or culmination of pietism. Have I missed something in church history? I think you're spot on about the food. Thanks.


Yes, you have sir! The Methodists got their brand of "pietism" from the Moravians via Wesley (though there certainly a deep echo of pietism in Methodism). Pietism proper was a renewal-type movement in the Lutheran state churches. The main progenators were Philipp J. Spener and August Francke. It reached its most lasting form in the "free churches" (liberated from the Lutheran state churches) of Scandinavia which still exist in this country in the form of the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Free Church. Wikipedia has some stuff on it here:



In this connection, see the 1990 essay "Eet smakelijk" by David Koyzis of Redeemer College (http://byzantinecalvinist.blogspot.com/2003_10_01_archive.html#106639939381756702, though you might have to scroll down to find it), where he posits Koyzis' law connecting food and the Reformation.

A few years later, Peter Leithart (http://www.leithart.com/archives/000295.php) said something similar, though he didn't mention the Orthodox.

What they don't mention, though, is that the good food wasn't available in the countries affected by the Reformation. It was available, instead, in the south. That may just be a function of geography.

Moreover, contrary to this thesis, I'm pretty sure the Roman Catholics in these northern countries ate just as miserably as the Protestants.

Still, I wonder if the asceticism, which was partly a function of geography, inclined people to a certain ascetic approach to doctrine, a tendency to like the "hard" doctrines and to focus on sin and misery more than on "soft" doctrines like the love of God and the goodness of His creation.


Just curious, and not by way of accusation: are you using "hard" and "soft" as stand-ins for "objective" and "subjective"? I ask because many people use "hard" or "soft" this way to modify "doctrine" or any other word involving teaching.

Point is, God's love (union with Christ) is given to us objectively in baptism and the supper (among other means). This is a wonderful, glorious, dare I say "hard" truth.

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