(Keith L. Jensen, July 2008)
"That's why the Lord made such an everlasting variety of a world for, so every man could find his own kind of knowledge. There used to be a fellow down at Toll House, who had been reading these health magazines until he began to eat nuts and raisins and olive oil and pine sawdust — and not much else. Old Doc Harkness was talkin' to him once when I was there. 'But, Doc,' says he, 'this yere editor don't eat nothin' else, and he works fifteen hours a day, and keeps healthy on it.'
'Sure,' says Doc.
'And ain't they the healthiest sort of foods?'
'Sure,' says Doc again.
'Then why . . .'
'Do you like 'em ?' the Doc interrupted him.
'Not very well,' said this fellow at Toll House.
'Well, then they ain't healthy for you. That's why there's forty-eleven sorts of grub—so you can get what you like.'"
Chapter VII “ON THE CONDUCT OF LIFE” (as found in Stewart Edward White’s book The Cabin)
When I was a kid growing up in Sun River Valley, one of my most pleasant memories is of potluck dinners at the Sun River Valley LDS Church. On a summer evening on the 4th or 24th of July, we would all gather at the Sun River Valley LDS Church. Depending on the weather, tables would either be set up in the cultural hall or outside on the grass. Everyone would bring their favorite dishes to share.
Some were made from family recipes handed down for generations, and others were made from recipes newly discovered. My mom would make her rice pudding that her mother had taught her to make. Bernice Christensen would bring a green jello with pineapple and cottage cheese salad. Aunt Donna would bring her homemade chili, and Aunt Wanda would bring her homemade rolls.
And so it went on and on, everyone would bring the food item that they felt best about and would like to share. With joy, I’d get in line and wait my turn to select the foods of my choice. With plate in hand, I’d begin to make my food selections. My selections would be based on a number of factors. I’d listen to recommendations made by others.
“Oh, you just have to try Sister Feeler’s fried chicken. It’s to die for!”
“Son, you better not have any of Bishop Christensen’s baked beans. Those are only meant for the men here.”
Other selections were based upon memories of dishes from previous years. Sister Vergie Nielsen’s crumb crust deep dish apple pie was always a dish that would get my attention. And then, there were always the selections based upon the sights and smells of the day.
“MmmMmmMmm! What’s that that smells so good? I just have to have some of those scalloped potatoes.”
“That has to be one of the prettiest tossed salads I’ve ever seen. I think I’ll just try a bit of that.”
And so it went. Each person got to select the foods they’d like to eat. There was no one making an announcement that because of their position or calling that they knew what the best or “most right” foods that everyone ought to eat. In fact, the whole joy of the “potluck experience” was that I got to eat just what I wanted and in the portions I liked.
At a potluck dinner the very idea of someone getting up and saying—
“Through much prayer and fasting the brethren have received a revelation on what the proper and healthy potluck diet is. Each of you has been given a list of ‘appropriate foods.’ Please make your selections only from this list. And remember, ‘even though there is meat on this table, as God’s chosen people, you are to partake of none of this’”
—would seem ridiculous and absurd, and I hope few of us would put up with it. If we did, the whole experience of the potluck dinner would have lost much of its appeal as a fun and festive gathering.
And yet this is the very trap that we fall into when it comes to many aspects of our lives such as parenting, religion, and spiritual matters. We have bought into the delusion that someone has a special dispensation from God and that they know what’s best for us. We have lost touch with our own bodies and the messages that they first quietly speak to us and then more loudly and loudly they shout when we are no longer listening. Constantly, God is speaking to each of us, but we have fallen into a sleep of not hearing and not seeing. We have fallen into the trap of believing that there are others who can hear for us and see for us. It all reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew.
“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13:13-16)