A few months ago, my wife and I became hooked on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a six-part miniseries that follows Oliver’s quest to revolutionize the eating habits of America’s most unhealthy city: Huntington, WV. When he arrives in Huntington, he sets up shop in a small store called “Jamie’s Kitchen.” This is the headquarters of his operation, a place where he can make his plans of action and where people can come from far and wide to receive free cooking lessons. Next, he moves into the elementary school system and attempts to get the cooks and staff to see that there are better things to serve children than “pizza for breakfast.” Then he works his way into a local high school and forms a team of six different students who will be his eyes, ears, and voice to the people. This group, made up of guys and gals, jocks and geeks, the popular and the not-so-popular, attempts to infect every clique in the school and win the over to the side of healthy eating. Next, Oliver is off to the radio station, where he makes a wager with the local DJ and takes him on a journey through the life and death of people who are morbidly obese. These are just some of the many strategies and tactics that Oliver uses to get his message out and instigate his food revolution.
While watching this miniseries, I was fascinated with the fact that one of the Oliver’s first and biggest supporters was the local pastor. When everyone else hated Jamie, the local minister had his back. This minister knew what it meant to honour the body and he quickly did whatever he could to support Oliver in his mission to help people eat right and take care of the bodies that they have been intrusted to God. This made me think: Why aren’t more pastors like this? Why aren’t more people preaching about issues that really seem to matter to the lives of real people. In Huntington, morbid obesity was common and death because of obesity was an all-too-regular occurrence. We need more pastors who don’t preach messages of self-love and self-esteem that border on narcissism, but instead focus on the real lives of real people. We need ministers who get their hands dirty and risk alienation for the sake of saving lives and saving souls. To use a phrase from Ron Sider, we need pastors who focus on “good words and good news.”
Poverty, obesity, malnutrition, war, famine, child labour, domestic violence, exploitation, materialism, and AIDS. There are just a few of the reasons that countless children suffer and die every day and in every corner of the globe. Let’s take our cue from Jamie Oliver and get out there into our neighbourhoods, our schools, and the real world. Let’s make things happen. And maybe one day Rev. will stand for revolution.