Review from Professor of Spiritual Formation
I see a very clear helpful contribution from David Brazzeal’s Pray Like a Gourmet. For those students who struggle with structure, or for those who have had painful past experiences of failing at cultivating an ordered devotional life, Brazzeal’s way of making contact with God is wonderfully free of encumbrances. He makes every avenue of expression an emotionally alive and genuine expression of a real relationship. His book can be very helpful lifting students past the dryness and monotony of how spiritual disciplines seem dry and tasteless. (which is no doubt a common consequence for many in their efforts to establish or endure forms of spiritual discipline that have become separated from their emotional or relational connection to God)
The book has the additional contribution of vividly reminding us that eating is meant to be a living, breathing social experience of celebrating life together, which of course then reinforces again the spiritual metaphor Brazzeal has painted. The rich and detailed spiritual-physical correlations of his metaphor are, to use his language, exquisite.
What’s interesting to me is that G.K. Chersterton does a very similar thing for directly opposite intentions – Chesterton tries to inspire us to feel God’s pleasure at simple repetition, without any need to add flourishes or a creative spirit. He speaks of God being thrilled with endless simple repeating of enjoyable things the way children with “abounding vitality say ‘Do it again,’ and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.” Chesterton suggests that with the same glee God “says to the sun every morning, ‘Do it again!’ and to the moon every night, ‘Do it again!’ He offers that God is able to exult in monotony, and that majesty is hidden therein.
So what is striking is that both men envisage a passionate vitality in connecting with God often and repeatedly, and together they offer the student different ways forward in how they relate to God. I think Brazzeal’s book will make an excellent textbook for recommended reading in my Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Development classes. The flowery and artistic style won’t appeal to everyone but it will be a real solution for some.
Dr. Don McNaughton
Professor of Counselling & Director of Student Formation
Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College