Bread Body SpiritNext to Godliness

Bread Body Spirit

What's so divine about food, anyway? The Birmingham Foodie Book Club reads Bread Body Spirit.

hungry friends (May, 2009)

Bread Body Spirit reviewed by Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck in U.S. Catholic:

This is a book that will make you hungry. You'll be hungry for the rich curried vegetable soup in the chapter entitled “The Parable of the Squash,” and you'll be hungry to take a new, more meaningful look at the meals you serve and eat.

Editor Alice Peck set out to create a compilation of already-published essays on the spirituality of food and eating. The result is a nourishing collection of reflections by authors of different faith traditions.

In a world that juxtaposes fast food with an obsession with dieting, Peck's anthology invites the reader to go deeper. “Looking closely at the relationship between bread, body, and spirit—the food we eat, how we eat it, and who we invite to our tables to share it—can be a framework to study what is sacred about a seemingly mundane part of our lives.” The essays she includes are well-chosen. I saw...

U.S. Catholic (November 16, 2008)

Cooking With Ideas interviews Alice on Bread Body Spirit

Cooking With Ideas (October, 2008)

Boston Globe logo

Nourishing the body can feed the soul
By Rich Barlow | May 31, 2008

A Buddhist master had a cook who was a simple man. One day, the cook burned his hand while preparing a meal and suddenly achieved the Buddhist goal of enlightenment, as the nature of all existence became clear to him. Excited, he asked the master what he should do next. "Keep cooking," came the answer.

The story comes from Tibetan lamas by way of Lama Surya Das, a Buddhist teacher and author in Cambridge, who values its elemental wisdom: You don't need a house of worship to encounter the spiritual; it's found in the pattern of daily living, such as cooking the food we need. (Emily Dickinson made the same point in a poem, though not about food, that Das likes to cite: "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church -/I keep it, staying at Home -/With a bobolink for a Chorister -/And an Orchard, for a Dome.")

The story of the cook is Das's contribution in a forthcoming anthology, "Bread, Body, Spirit," which draws on numerous traditions and their takes on eating. Explaining the motivation behind the volume, editor Alice Peck, writes in the introduction: "Everybody needs to eat, to be nourished. It's simple. It's unending. Food presents us with a vast opportunity: through our experiences of food we can sustain a constant connection to the Sacred that pervades our lives."

Glimpsing the divine in a hot dog won't surprise devout believers who say grace before every meal; gratitude for plenty in a world where many starve is a recognition of blessing. Yet "Bread, Body, Spirit" includes contributions from outside organized religion. "Since You Asked," a poem by Williams College English professor Lawrence Raab, comes from the pen of a self-described agnostic...

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The Vancouver Sun logo

Slow down ... eat
What Italy has to teach us about cooking, eating and living in a fast-paced world
Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, June 07, 2008

... In the book Bread Body Spirit, Alice Peck laments the moments missed by "not paying attention to the poetry of the ordinary."

Taking note of the food we eat and who we share it with makes what can be a mundane event a sacred event, she writes. Even planting a seed is spiritual, an act of faith.

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Interfaith Radio presents "I Can Eat Chocolate for Breakfast" by Jessica Swift.

Bread Body Spirit is an intellectual and thought provoking look at how the human spirit is fueled. A poignant and thoughtful title, highly recommended.

California Bookwatch (August 1, 2008)

Bread Body Spirit is filled with links between agriculture and the sacred, between the food we eat and death (and the ways we are all ultimately food ourselves), between cooking and other forms of right action, and between all this and the notion of grace.

Cooking With Ideas

With an eye for emotion over academia and a collection of powerhouse contributors like Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Thich Nhat Hahn, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalom, Bread, Body, Spirit offers a completely accessible and engaging set of short stories, poems, and religious texts that made me laugh and feel well equipped with "Torah" to bring to my own dinner table.

The Jew & The Carrot

Visit Cookin' in the 'Cuse blog to read what contributor Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and friends have to say about Bread, Body, Spirit.

I enjoyed reading the book, as it revealed the vast ways people approach food and find spiritual meaning within it.

There are important truths to glean from these different perspectives that can help me as an Evangelical live more responsibly and think more carefully about food.

Read Full Review in Christian Epicurean

Next to Godliness

Washington Post logo
"Next to Godliness" is not a guide to how to clean but a thoughtful, surprising anthology that aims to inspire us to think differently about how we keep our domestic space.
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Detroit Free Press logo
From one of the most innovative religious publishers comes a book that many readers may skip over in stores. Inspiration in housekeeping? But Peck's breadth of vision in choosing dozens of selections on this timeless theme turn the book into a cultural landmark exploring our changing attitudes about home.

Detroit Free Press: Top 10 spiritual books range from housework to globalization

Body + Soul logo
“‘Everyone has to clean up…. You can look at it as a chore, or you can imbue it with something much more powerful.’”
—Alice Peck, in the April/May ’07 issue of Martha Stewart’s body + soul

The book [Next to Godliness] gently shifts our attention from the drudgery of household chores and inspires us to see these acts as prayer and a doorway through which love can enter and dwell in our homes and hearts. By focusing on everyday acts, the book also helps us see ways to begin cleaning the interior stains and grime out of our hearts and minds.

Quaker Life March/April 2008 (note: magazine website–complete review not online)

Peck... has spotted a crucial spiritual void in our lives: We move so fast as Americans, these days, and we've become so disconnected to any spiritual feeling of "home" -- that we've forgotten the spiritual connections involved in the very meaning of maintaining a home. (note: scroll down)

San Francisco Chronicle: Dusting Your Way to Enlightenment

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Books to Stir the Soul, Mind

This delightful book is not about cleaning hints or un-cluttering tips. Instead it offers a collage of writings that will transform the way you look at that load of laundry or broom in the corner. It may even inspire you to find sanctuary in that sink full of dirty dishes.
Presbyterians Today Online

Whether it's a comment by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta on showing hospitality by silently picking up a broom with a big smile and cleaning another's room, a story of a soldier calling home to hear his wife dealing with an out-of-control family dog in contrast with his own dreadful daily tasks of cleaning or a poem by Allen Ginsberg, the reader will find enough to provoke thought or a smile and to bring the realization that some things, like the chores involved in housekeeping, are indeed universal.
Catholic Online

A book which encourages spiritual insight into the inevitable tasks of the day or, surely, the week is a treasure. If I am to pray always, as St. Paul urges, a book such as this one makes it seem more possible.
St. Anthony Messenger Magazine Online


Bread Body SpiritNext to Godliness