2014 book list: Whitebread Protestants

Well I was a little surprised I was able to finish my first book on my 2014 book list so quickly. Less a review to follow than a few notes.

Daniel Sack’s 2000 Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture — despite the title — is a quick but academic review of mainline Protestant food-related practices and politics. If you are looking for a cute book about Protestant food folk ways — Jello and casseroles recipes — you’ll be disappointed.

Its topics include the politics about how communion is served; the role of food in church socializing; the appropriate response to local and global food relief; and how we should live our with respect to food; indeed, I would’ve loved to see each of these chapters its own full length treatment, but if that happened I would have never finish the combined series. Of the chapters, the last one on food reform was the frustratingly thinnest. And I’d love to see how Sack would bring it up to date.

Unitarian Universalists will be particularly interested in chapters on local and global food relief and its politics, keeping in mind the postwar Universalist Service Committee work with the starving Dutch. Interesting pages on the Church World Service and CROP. And I wonder if Unitarian Universalists in the 1970s also used vegetarian-focused “lifestyle” curricula that stirred the mainline. Note to self: see if UUA General Assemblies from 1973 to 1980 took on hunger in general resolutions.

Worth a read.

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Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.