I have an article that posted today at CNN's Belief Blog that explores what we're learning as we follow the Orthodox Nativity fast. Go here to read it. Go here for the description of our food & faith project.
The article title is a little misleading because we are actually going to feast on a lucious ham from Rocky Ridge Ranch tomorrow. A more accurate title would have been, "Why this year's Christmas ham will be the best ever."
The last week has been mostly a strict fast (no oil, no meat, no dairy, no eggs) and we're a bit weary of peanut butter and bread. Surprisingly, the no oil pledge is the most challenging aspect of the fast. Everything seems to have oil added to it. We did have a great vegan, oil-free wheat berry chili last night from Abbey Farms in Waitsburg, Washington. The wheat berries added a great heartiness to the chili. By far the best strict-fast meal we've had.
In response to the article I received an email from someone associated with the Orthodox Church in America. They write:
This may help you on your spiritual journey if you haven't already discovered this web page regarding Orthodox fasting discipline - abbamoses.com.
Most creatures with no back bone also do not have a highly developed circulatory system. The Orthodox fasting discipline was influenced by Aristotelean thought which considered apparent lack of of blood as basically vegetable in nature, Fr. Schmemann often remarked jokingly in his lectures that shell fish like lobster (a luxury today) was overlooked inadvertently by the monks of the Early Church because of the science of that period.
One can argue that foods which are considered as luxuries should also be avoided during the fasting periods. Orthodox fasting is not just a set of dietary rules, but we should fast with our mouth and with our minds — fasting is a holistic discipline. Giving up certain favorite foods and items is not in our theology.
This month has really gone by quickly and I feel like we've just scratched the surface of the Orthodox tradition. I'm hoping to catch up on sharing about the experience next week when I'll have more free time.
For now I'm off to prepare for Christmas Eve worship services.