Viva La Revolution

There's a moment in the "sneak preview" episode of the new ABC reality/philanthrotainment show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in which Oliver, after reviewing the typical diet of a family in dire need of a nutrition makeover but before commencing the lessons on a new way of thinking about food, steps into the backyard and turns over a patch of sod with a shovel. I was completely expecting (and hoping for) a Michael Pollan-esque message that a healthy diet at best involves growing at least some of our own food, but Jamie didn't go there -- at least not yet.

Instead, he conducted a funeral for the family's deep fat fryer.

He asks the mother of family to say a little prayer as they bury the abomination. He is kidding. She is not. Her kids reverently join hands and bow their heads as she utters a sincere prayer of consecration. It's one of the clearest portrayals of repentance I've seen on mainstream TV, ever. (Starts at about 25:38 in the episode.)

The episode indulges in one of the standard tropes of "reality" TV, the exaggerated conflict, depicting the entire city of Huntington, West Va., as being up in arms against Oliver's "British invasion." But I loved the fact that the one ally they show is Pastor Steve Willis of the First Baptist Church in neighboring Kenova. Evangelicalism's abiding temptation to gnosticism leads too often to neglect of concerns relating to the body (with occasional pendulum swings into a legalistic association of thinness with sanctity). So it is brave, and counter-cultural, and deeply faithful, for Willis to invite his congregation and his community not just to change their individual eating habits but to work together to create a culture of right relating to our food.


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