Review: Leonard Sweet’s From Tablet to Table

 

I’m a foodie. I love fine dining. I love simple home cooking. I love experimenting. An important part of all our family vacations are the restaurants we’ll visit along the way.

I’m this way because my mom and grandma. My grandma was a tiny abuelita who had eight kids and more grandkids than I can count. When I was a kid and living in CA, I remember the entire family—kids, grandkids, cousins, aunts, & uncles—all meeting at her tiny home for a huge feast. I may not be in CA anymore, but my family stills meets together for a Sunday lunch!

All that to say, the cover, title, and topic all struck at things I’m passionate about. “The table is the place where identity is born—the place where the story of our lives is retold, re-molded, and relived” (3). I couldn’t agree more.

Let me briefly address my only concern. It felt at times Sweet conflated the sacrament of the table with the everyday table fellowship anyone might enjoy (see p. 15 for example). Due to this, the argument sometimes lacked clarity (p. 46, 90).

With that being said, I enjoyed From Tablet to Table. If you’re passionate about food, family, story, and fellowship I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Central to this book is a term Sweet calls narraphor (narrative + metaphor)—a story told through metaphor a la the prominent place the table holds in the story of Scripture.

There’s a good dose of biblical theology and story weaved through out. I loved these tid bits.

Our true identity begins in the Old Testament with the Jewish collective memory with the people of Israel whose identity was rooted in God’s miraculous salvation from slavery in Egypt. Our identity deepens with the New Testament, where Jesus increases the use of narraphors to plumb the depths of human nature. (p. 50)

The bride of Christ is not a mistress of the moment or a pimp for the status quo. The bride of Christ is a pioneer of possibilities and harbinger of a new humanity. . . . The table is where the church can offer silence to a culture that fills every space with sound. (p. 123, 127)

Sweet also pushes Christian to read Scripture as a good story. That’s important. Too often our initial response to Scripture is to parse and dissect. There’s a place for that. But what’s neglected often is reading the Scripture as story and appreciating it as such before we dive into dissecting the finer points. A good corrective.

Don’t hesitate to pick up this small gem.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the project manager for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.