Book Review: Prayerful Foodies
David Brazzeal's new book, Pray Like a Gourmet (Paraclete Press, 2015) is a book about practicing and including prayer in modern life. It's inspirational literature, personal insights and “how-to” all rolled into one. While many might be bemused by the title, food acts as an apt metaphor for prayer. Jesus Christ uses food to illustrate spiritual truths in parables. The analogy is drawn throughout the length of the book, helping us understand what the heck prayer is about.
The book is beautiful, from the cover photo to the interior layout and design – even the pages feel good to the touch and are classy. Taking cues from books like Dark Night of the Soul (St. John the Cross) or Foster's Celebration of Discipline, Brazzeal crafts and creates a readable and understand text for religious and non-religious alike. Although the author is Christian, the book can be appreciated by anyone of any faith tradition. The book is great material for non-deists as well. Even more awesome, I would venture to say the book is unique, because of its universal appeal, even to "non-believers".
The book is broken down into three sections with the second part about different aspects of contemplation/prayer, such as thinking, meditating, asking, praising, etc. (16 practices or "courses" in total). They can be read in any order. The book is handy to have around the kitchen!
Brazzeal is not one to shy away from thorny issues, such as unanswered prayer. How many of us have prayed and prayed only to feel like we are being ignored? He suggests that we cannot treat God like Santa Claus, giving us everything we ask for when we ask -- no matter our motives. Instead, he presents a mature understanding of all aspects of prayer and adopts a tone similar to Julia Cameron's in The Artist's Way: graceful.
I liked the quote near the end of the book by the Quaker Thomas Kelly. Prayer can become such a mundane practice,"churchy" and platitudinous. It's only until we realize we pray in another dimension -- beyond time and space that it can become awesome. It's truly miraculous to think prayers heard 2000 years ago are heard alongside current ones in real time by a spiritual entity, "not of this world"!
A movable feast that's worthy of a Parisian café or a bistro in the Louvre, Pray Like a Gourmet is bound to become a classic -- a beautiful and readable smorgasbord of style and substance with plenty of nutritional and spiritual value. Bravo, Mr. Brazzeal for your heavenly and tasty chocolate soufflé!