The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon is a witty, delightful ode to the beauty of the world and joy of life in the loose form of a cookbook. Interwoven between the praises of good food and the best ways to cook it is a bold affirmation of the goodness of the created world. Just as God beheld the beauty of His creation and said that it was ‘very good’, we too are to rejoice that creation, loving it for the beauty that God sees in it. We are to love the world, not idolize it by loving it more than God, or by loving a fake version of the world that we create for ourselves. This love should reflect the immense love of God for us and for His creation, being unafraid of the painful cost of love, but willing to take the risk. In this love, we realize a longing for the world beyond this world, which God is preparing for those who love Him.
In Supper of the Lamb, Capon entreats his reader to love and delight in the beauty found in the world that God created. In the beginning of the book he introduces himself as an amateur cook, but he insists that his amateur status is by no means a disadvantage. Indeed he says, “the world may or may not need another cookbook, but it needs all the lovers – amateurs – it can get.” It is in his office as lover that he beseeches us to open our eyes to the world around us and to love it, to allow it to intrigue us, fascinate us, delight us, and to allow us to rejoice in its loveliness. But sadly, man often sinks into a bored indifference to the glories of this world, and the glories of the world have suffered for it in the trashy art and tasteless food of which man serves himself instead. Capon, with his love and his recipes, seeks to turn our gaze back to the good, true, and the beautiful. He entices us to once again become lovers of the sights, tastes, smells, and textures, not just of food, but of all the real things of this world that we can see with our eyes, hold in our hands, hear with our ears, and taste with our mouths.
In loving the world, Capon is not referring to what the things of the world often mean to us: their sentimental value, or what they symbolize to us, rather, he begs us to love them as they are, as God sees them. Why does everything exist? Because God loves it all. Why would He go through the trouble of making and sustaining such diversity if He did not delight in each little bit of it? Capon argues that if one is to truly love the things of this world for what they really are, one will have a profound respect for who and what God created. That love results in an insatiable curiosity to discover everything there is to know about God’s creation, and, being made in the image of God the Creator, man will inevitably create, using God’s works of art to make new works of art whether it’s food, or violins, or suspension bridges. This means to bring us back to viewing things in a very ordinary, real way, not laden with our own symbolic or sentimental values, but recognized for the beautiful things that they are in themselves.
Finally, the more deeply and truly we love the world, the more our hearts are pierced with a yearning for something beyond this world. Indeed, God himself is the primary object of our love, and in His love there is no lack, but even in our happiest moments there is a pang of longing. Our love of this earth is not meant to be fulfilled merely by the loveliness of His Creation here on earth. The beauties of this world, and our love of them are also to prepare us for our home to come, the Promised City, the New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Capon says:
Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers? Why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half of earth’s gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become.
Our tastes, skills, joys, and loves here on this earth will not remain here, they are a part of us, and will accompany us to our final home. In loving this earth, we are whetting our tastes for the glorious new heavens and earth that God is preparing for His people.