Would you like to join me for dinner? More specifically, would you like to join me in a return to making dinner more civilized, more polite, more human. All too often we forego a traditional sit-down meal for something on the run, or it’s a date with our cell phone, or the family members all fend for themselves. Some would argue that all of civilization has developed so that we can eat. Hunting and gathering alone was not sufficient to provide enough food consistently for the family. As a result farming developed and ultimately allowed people to pursue other interests with their time (thus civilization!) at the same time providing sufficient food for the family. Feeding ourselves is a basic act of self preservation.
However, we are social creatures and require more than just to feed our face. We need, crave, and thrive on interaction with others. Gathering to eat together is the perfect opportunity for interaction with each other. That is why so many cultures and religious traditions sanctify the act of eating: the Jews have the Passover, Christians have the Eucharist, Muslims have the meals that break the fasts of Ramadan, and many of the Far Eastern religious have religious rituals that are conduct within the context of meals. Eating together and sharing together can be a deeply spiritual experience as well as an act of pure enjoyment!
We, as Catholic Christians, have a long and deep tradition of connecting eating with our central beliefs. However, we are in serious danger of losing the ability to share this tradition with our young people, and perhaps all people, because the tradition of a regular sit-down meal spent attending to each other and sharing our inner selves is quickly fading away. It is quite significant that the act that inspired the impetus for the process of civilization is fading away. We should NOT let that happen! Despite the busyness of our everyday life, or rather because of it, we owe it to our social nature to make the effort to preserve this cornerstone tradition – intentional dinner. This is a dinner where we intentionally gather to share a meal and our thoughts with family (however you constitute your family) or friends or both.
There is a new and burgeoning movement called #DinnerMode that has started to specifically help people to preserve the Dinner tradition, especially in regard to avoiding the use of cell phones during your intentional dinner. This movement issues us all a basic and simple 4 part challenge:
- Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes. Your choice! Challenge whoever you’re with (friends, family, co-workers) to do the same.
- Turn your phone down on the table. Don’t cheat! Give yourself that time to disconnect from your device and technology to enjoy the people you’re with (or quality time spent alone) and the food you’re eating (at home or in a restaurant).
- Congratulations, the timer goes off. You feel amazing, calm and refreshed.
- Challenge your friends and family to take the #DinnerMode challenge. Use the hashtag #DinnerModeand to share your experience online.
I issue a challenge to all who read this to go to #DinnerMode’s Facebook page. Like the page. And, take the challenge. Encourage others to visit the page and take the challenge. View their website. Have dinner! Eat, drink, and be merry! That’s why after every Eucharist in the Diocese of the Epiphany all the participants are invited to go to dinner together. Let’s become civilized again. Eat together!
Hey Everyone, how about dinner?!?!