About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Global Communion

Cathedral in Skálholt.
When a religion goes global it is faced with some surprising challenges, especially if it insists on the rigid adherence and fossilized interpretation of its rituals (as is often the case).  Just look at medieval Icelanders.  In the year 1000 their parliament adopted Christianity as their national religion. Soon they were faced with a serious problem. Communion wine was very expensive and often not available at all. Icelanders could not possibly grow their own grapes so close to the Arctic Circle. And as much as they were audacious sailors, bringing barrels of wine in their open boats across the stormy North Atlantic wasn’t reliable enough. Resourceful Icelanders came up with a simple solution - they started to brew their local berries or substituted mead for wine. An ingenious solution perhaps, but it was soon banned directly from Rome. Communion was to be served only with wine, and the wine made from grapes. Sometimes it feels like wine growers had a really powerful lobby in Rome. 
    Protestant missionaries had similar problems all over the tropics. Grapes do not grow in the arctic and subarctic regions but they do not grow particularly well in the tropics either. Grape vines need a cold dormant season. In the tropics a vine grows plenty of leaves, alright, but hardly any harvestable grapes. And in addition to wine problems, the tropics presented also a problem with the bread. Before the arrival of missionaries it was virtually an unknown food. In the tropics, yeast is unpredictable and hard to work with and after bread is baked, it spoils really fast. Roman Catholics had their communion wafers, while Protestants kept on baking and serving strange approximations of wheat breads. Could it be that bakers had a similarly powerful lobby among Protestants?
    These are unfortunate examples of rigid ritualism, textual fundamentalism and lost opportunities to translate Christian faith to the climates, and into the lives and cultures of the peoples around the world. Thankfully these attitudes have been changing in the last few decades. I came across long, and learned tracts discussing with all sincerity the use of wafers in protestant worship and sometime even the use of other juices of other berries, as long as they are red. (As if the color was so important!) Some theologians are slowly recognizing that wine and bread are staple foods of the Mediterranean region while other cultures have their own staple foods. And as is often the case, these other staple foods and drinks also have their deeper symbolical meanings; cocoa in Mesoamerica, ‘awa or poi in Polynesia, tea or mochi in Japan to mention only some. Many of these foods and drinks (and their symbolisms) are well suited to be adopted and to help translate the deeper meaning of Holy Communion.
    This World Communion Sunday we will take Holy Communion global. So come this Sunday, taste and see that the Lord is good, God’s love endures forever and permeates the entire world (not only the Mediterranean corner of the world).

Global Communion with bread but also with potato, mochi and poi,
with grape juice, but also with coconut milk, green tea and cacao.

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