DSPT Events

Faith in Food

Jointly sponsored by the Center for the Arts, Religion and Education (CARE) care-gtu.org and the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT), Faith in Food offers several forums in which to explore the relationship of food to culture, beauty, and our human well-being: two semester-long courses, three GTU gallery exhibits, and a film series.

The Bay Area is an exciting place for food – trendy shops with artisan specialties; abundant markets alight with color and aroma; famous chefs with artful approaches. Our creative ingenuity provides for us a myriad of choices. But what happens when an over-abundant and ubiquitous supply of food becomes the norm. In the U.S., the food industry has come to envision itself as its own end, thereby created dire circumstances for plants, animals and humans – all of creation. While there are certainly many valuable consequences that flow from a vigorous food industry, there are also important questions as to the real cost.

Faith in Food offers several opportunities to examine the cost of neglecting the role that food plays in our health and well-being. The fruits, vegetables, and creatures we consume do more than tend the human body. They provide the means for us to create cultural and religious narratives; to express and experience the beautiful; and to foster healing and redemption. A common renewal of our faith in food will provide us with the spiritual resources we need to rebuild what has been broken.

Running throughout the Spring 2012 term, Faith in Food offers several forums in which to explore the relationship of food to culture, beauty, and our human well-being:

Two semester-long courses:

Three gallery exhibits:

  • The Migrant Project: Contemporary California Farm Workers care-gtu.org. Doug Adams Gallery – Jan 26 to March 23, 2012. Portrait photographs by Rick Nahmais detailing the lives and struggles of the rarely seen faces of this invisible and neglected population.
  • From Seeds to Celebration bade.psr.edu. Badè Museum Gallery – September 2, 2011-Spring 2012. Both the Hebrew Bible and archaeological research provide valuable information about the way the biblical peoples feasted during the Iron Age.
  • Monks & Friars & Food . . . Oh my! Blackfriars Gallery – Spring 2012. From the ridiculous to the sublime, the exhibition here at DSPT charts those points wherein monastic practices, both real and perceived, have left their mark in culinary history. Fine art, prints, photographs, books, and artifacts have been gathered to amaze, entertain, and instruct viewers in the sweet and savory secrets of the cloister.

Film series:

As part of the Faith in Food program, DSPT offered a series of movies related to food. As a visual enticement, Blackfriars Gallery hosted a “wall of images” from the film.

All film showings began at 7:30 pm in DSPT Classroom 1. Anyone interested could meet beforehand at 5:15 pm in the DSPT Blackfriars Gallery and walk to the Shattuck Farmer's Market to purchase fresh produce. Upon returning to the DSPT, we would incorporate those items into a simple meal related to the movie (a small fee for the meal will be required to defray the cost; movies are free and open to the public).

I. Passion in Food – Ratatouille

Thursday February 9, 2012

The unusual alliance between Remy, a young rat from the French countryside, and Linguini, the new garbage boy at a famous Parisian restaurant, provides a light-hearted vehicle for exploring how our passions can provide healthy focus for our natural abilities. By combining savvy with courage, Remy and Linguini support one another in the journey of self-discovery that pits passion against prejudice.


II. Artistry in Food – The Cheese Nun imdb.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

This special evening includes:

Following the horror of Nazi occupation of their monastery in WWI, two Benedictine nuns left the Abbey of Notre Dame de Joarre near Paris to journey to the small town of Bethlehem, Connecticut. Their goal – establishing a community of contemplative nuns in the United States in gratitude to the American soldiers who liberated their Abbey. From this humble beginning arose a vibrant community of forty women whose life of prayer and work (ora et labora) at the Abbey of Regina Laudis today is dedicated to a contemporary understanding of the dignity of all life. It was for this reason that in 1987 the community elected to send three of its members to the University of Connecticut to obtain doctorates in animal, plant and microbial science, as a means of protecting and developing in a sustainable manner their 400 acre farm.

One of these nuns was Noella Marcellino, who obtained her doctorate in microbiology. Her passion for cheese-making began in 1978 after a visiting French cheese master taught her to produce a delectable Saint Nectaire-type cheese from raw milk. The Cheese Nun traces her story and in so doing defines the centuries-old commitment and dedication of many religious to the careful and artistic production of foods and beverages.

This documentary is part of an exhibition in Blackfriars Gallery on the relationship between religious communities and artisanal foods. Entitled, "Monks & Friars & Food - Oh my!," the exhibit was described in a presentation by Fr. Michael Morris, OP, DSPT Professor of Religion and the Arts.

The Cheese Nun

III. Culture in Food – Like Water for Chocolate

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Like Water for Chocolate is a 1992 film based on the popular novel, published in 1989 by first-time Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel. Against prevailing family and social norms, Tita and Pedro fall in love. Their passion, boiling "like water for chocolate," ignites a family feud between mother and daughter. Strange things begin to happen, however, when Tita learns from her beloved abuelita that skills in the kitchen can be used as a positive means for overturning cultural expectations so that love might blossom!

The movie earned all 11 Ariel awards of the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures, including the Ariel Award for Best Picture, and became the highest grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States at the time.

Rated R

IV. Beauty in Food – Babette's Feast imdb.com

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There comes a time when our eyes are opened. And we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions.

General Loewenhielm's speech

Life in a small isolated village in 19th century Denmark takes a mystical turn when a refugee from war-torn Paris arrives one dark stormy night to the doorsteps of two elderly sisters. Quietly serving as their cook for 14 years, Babette turns their world upside down when they grant her permission to prepare a “real French dinner” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of their father, the revered pastor. The meal provides the attendees, including a surprise guest, not only with an encounter of culinary extravagance but also with the truth of the healing power of food.


V. Food and World/Personal Health – The World According to Monsanto imdb.com & Heart & Soil imdb.com

Thursday, May 3, 2012

These two films are presented in conjunction with the course taught by Fr. Chris Renz this semester entitled, "Food: Does Local Really Matter?"

The World According to Monsanto: From Iowa to Paraguay, from England to India, Monsanto is uprooting our food supply and replacing it with their patented genetically engineered creations. And along the way, farmers, communities, and nature become collateral damage.

The documentary is the work of celebrated award-winning French filmmaker, Marie-Monique Robin, whose three years of work on four continents exposes why Monsanto has become the paradigm for malignant corporate influence in government and technology.

Offered as a counter-balance, Heart & Soil is a family documentary which offers a journey into the rich landscape of the southwestern United States, with perspectives from local farmers about personal and planetary health.


Support DSPT and help DSPT continue to present quality art in Blackfriars Gallery and generate conversations between Philosophy, Theology, and the Arts.

See the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology Calendar and Upcoming Events Page for all current events. For more events in the area, visit the Graduate Theological Union events calendar external link and the University of California, Berkeley events calendar external link.

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