Daily Bread

October 11, 2011 | 44 comments
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“Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.”

This is the prayer in my heart, the words my mind speaks each time I cut a slice of bread.

I don’t bake bread every day, but all of the bread my family eats, I have baked. This is cause for gratitude. I am able to make bread, good bread, to feed my family. I am home enough to wait through the rises. I am strong enough to knead the dough. I have a reliable oven in which to bake, sunny warm spots free of drafts for rising. I have a grinder for my wheat and a carefully stored up abundant supply of ingredients.

I have a dozen recipes I use regularly, switching breads as whim, weather or ingredients on hand dictate. Some of my slow rising breads I only make in summer when my house is warm. Made in winter, those end up as dense, compact loaves.

I am thankful I’ve been baking long enough to build up this repertoire, this knowledge of accumulated experience.

And the bread is good.

My husband took a class in baking artisan bread during grad school. He loves good bread and enjoyed working the dough. But he’s never had the time to develop the feel for the dough that he needs to produce consistently excellent bread. It’s hard to do if you’re an occasional weekend chef.

I’m no artisan. My breads are humble, the simple whole foods of daily life. I thank God that I am able to do this little work for my family. It is a grace that I, an unprofitable servant, am able to do this.

Saying it is a grace does not diminish the work required. All things worth doing require work. But surely it is a grace to be able to work. The wheat, the yeast; these are gifts whose presence is unquestioned in my life. But these staples cannot be taken for granted by many hungry people across the world and throughout history.

My work is a time for reflection, and even that leisure to reflect is a gift. We jokingly call money bread, and use it to purchase plastic wrapped spongy loaves, but that is just a transaction for a commodity; there is no reflection and no space for gratitude in economics.

And so I think about my debts as I make our daily bread. I pray that I may be forgiven, and thank God for what I have been given.

44 Responses to Daily Bread

  1. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 7:43 am

    A more stewardship/thrift based post about bread is at ldstewardship.org.

  2. Adam Miller on October 11, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Nice, Rachel. This – “Saying it is a grace does not diminish the work required” – is, of course, the key to the kingdom itself.

  3. Sam Brunson on October 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I love baking bread, too; I love the feel of the dough and, even though I usually make no-knead bread (or, if I need to knead it, I do it in the stand mixer), I love the feel and repetitiveness of kneading bread.

    Plus, what I get at the end is way better than what I could buy. (Unless, of course, I forget the salt. Or if I’m near a decent bakery, especially one that has sourdough.)

  4. James Olsen on October 11, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Most weeks I bake Challah with my kids. I very much enjoyed your reflections on such a meaningful practice. It’s interesting the way that today we look to older practices whose meanings were then entirely transparent to those performing them, and we adopt them in explicit, conscientious ways in order to restore meaning to our lives that are often so devoid of meaning once the hands on practices of providing get replaced by mere commodity transaction.

  5. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

    An absolutely lovely post is ruined by the penultimate paragraph, which spits on everyone who chooses to (or has no choice but to) use their resources differently than you do.

    I can assure you that there is plenty of reflection and gratitude from me when I can spend $1.59 to buy a loaf of 100% whole wheat bread and use my time for something else that I feel called to do or have chosen to do. Access to convenient food is a blessing unknown to most of history (and much of the world today) and the usually unacknowledged bedrock on which most of women’s liberation rests.

    I also find it interesting that you have couched your choice as being free from “economics” when you have a wheat grinder, yeast, wheat, etc., and the financial support that allows you to spend an afternoon using them instead of earning money.

    I find it disappointing that you define all the women (and men) feeding their families store-bought bread engaged in nothing more than “a transaction for a commodity” instead of a deliberate choice to feed their families while conserving their time and energy for other resources.

    I try to feed my family mostly unprocessed foods (and I am grateful to have the time, education, and money to do this–many people don’t), but I also believe that people having Wonderbread slathered with Velveeta for dinner washed down by Mt. Dew can be grateful for it and reflective of their blessings. And while they might benefit from some lessons in nutrition, a post like this just extends “the mommy wars” to the nutritional and stewardships front in equally, if differently, unhealthy ways.

  6. Bob on October 11, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I love home baked bread. But I am not sure it is good ‘stewardship/thrift’.
    I think history shows community baked bread is a wiser stewardship of time and material.

  7. Yet Another John on October 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Substitute ‘bed’ for ‘bread’ and you have my life.

  8. Jonathan Green on October 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Julie, that’s one way to read Rachel’s post, but I think it’s fair for her to observe that purchasing any commodity necessarily alienates us from the labor that produced it, and that occasionally reminding ourselves of how much work goes into the things we consume is a useful exercise and a cause for reflection and gratitude.

    I like efficiently operating markets; they create the surplus and leisure that gives us space for reflection and gratitude. At the same time, it’s important to remind ourselves that it took a lot of work on the part of dozens or hundreds of people to get that bread sliced.

    And where are you finding decent bread for $1.59, anyway? We’re lucky if we can find anything below $2.49.

  9. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Julie- Economics may not have been the best word. Perhaps “financial transaction” would have served better. I do think that money has a distancing function. It adds a step between labor and reward, the consumer and the product. Some people may find space for God in that transaction, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not particularly grateful or reflective in the act of purchasing food from a store, and that may well be my own failing. I have found that I am more grateful to God when I am able to work than when I am able to buy. That may be because while I have the means to work, I do not get paid for any of it. And because my SAHM work is necessary, if often tedious and redundant, I have to find ways to imbue it with meaning.

    Bob-We have a bakery a few blocks from our home, but they mostly do sweets and pastries. I haven’t found a local bakery that makes really good bread since we moved here from NY. We used to get stollen from the farmer’s market until they stopped offering it at our location.

  10. Bryan in VA on October 11, 2011 at 10:18 am

    In her new DVD “Opening Isaiah”, Ann Madsen suggests that the request for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer is related to the practice in the Lord’s time of women baking enough bread for a single day. Sister Madsen suggests that the Savior’s message there was to encourage the people to petition God for their more immediate temporal needs.

  11. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Jonathan, Rachel’s post seems to eliminate the possibility of “occasionally” baking to remind oneself of the labor involved: “But he’s never had the time to develop the feel for the dough that he needs to produce consistently excellent bread. It’s hard to do if you’re an occasional weekend chef.”

    And I get my sliced bread at VoldeMart, of course. I do make, from scratch, whole wheat bread, pitas, rolls, pizza crusts, calzone crusts, hot pocket crusts, flatbread, and naan on a pretty regular basis. (I also make homemade, among other things, Ranch dressing, without even the Packet of Dust.) So I honestly do understand the multiple financial, spiritual, nutritional, enviornmental, and other benefits involved here. I just don’t approve of the competitive aspect Rachel introduces into the post by dissing other people’s choices to use their time and money and energy differently.

    Rachel writes, “And because my SAHM work is necessary, if often tedious and redundant, I have to find ways to imbue it with meaning.”

    And I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but I think you just summed up the root of all Mommy Wars: women trying to imbue with meaning the work they do end up inadvertently criticizing those who choose to do the work differently.

  12. Russell Arben Fox on October 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

    A wonderful and touching post, Rachel–but Julie’s challenge to your next to last paragraph is on point. One could brush it off, arguing that you’re simply expressing your feelings, not articulating a rule…and yet, the very notion of trying to inculcate (or revive) a sense of real homemaking and stewardship amongst members of the church can’t avoid entirely the suggestion of rules, can it? I’m doubtful.

    And so we really do have to think about what might be involved in articulating a rule regarding bread, or anything else, even if we don’t intend to mount a legislative campaign anytime soon. The mass commodification of basic foodstuffs (packaged bread, bottled water) has been, I think and I’m sure you agree, basically lousy for the environment, a mixed blessing for our health, and pretty much bad news across the board for the social strength of our communities. But on the upside, Julie is absolutely correct that, for better and/or for worse, advances in women’s liberation over the past 60 years (I won’t speak for before World War II; feminism was a different animal back then) have been probably inextricably tied to their entrance into the workforce in pursuit of ever cheaper, mass-produced, labor-outsourced goods, which families need and/or want as they deal with the male breadwinner’s declining wages. There is a very real sense in which you are correct: the economic model which comported with that kind of feminism is a model that generally doesn’t incorporate much by way of a reflective sense of our place on earth. On the contrary, as Jonathan notes, it often incorporates the opposite: a distancing and alienation. Still, one can’t dismiss the claim that said distancing and creation of leisure time as been a boon, especially to women.

    My own answers have become increasingly radical over time; if we genuinely believe in sharing the gratitude which baking our bread involves us in, then I think we have to be pursuing more radical challenges to our whole socio-economic order. Of course, that presumably is what “Zion” is supposed to mean, anyway.

  13. Bryan Stiles on October 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I personally think the work aspect applies to buying bread in my life too. I worked for that $1.59-2.49 to buy that loaf of bread and I enjoyed that work. Just because I didn’t directly make that loaf of bread doesn’t mean there wasn’t work involved, and the great thing is I probably enjoyed that work more than I would have enjoyed making the bread.

    And I think saying there is no place for gratitude in economics was a bit off. While economics gets a rap for being “heartless” there is consideration for non measurable things like happiness, satisfaction, and gratitude. Sometimes economists will even take a stab at trying to measure those things with a huge caveat that it’s not really possible. Therefore in practice most nods to non measurable things are only in theories and not empirical research.

    But my point is, there is a place none the less…

  14. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Russell writes, “the very notion of trying to inculcate (or revive) a sense of real homemaking and stewardship amongst members of the church can’t avoid entirely the suggestion of rules, can it? I’m doubtful.”

    Really? I think it is quite simple. You have the original post as written minus the next-to-last paragraph, and the job is done. She presents us with the blessings of home baking without judging those who do otherwise. Sam did an absolutely glorious job of explaining why someone who can command very high wages in the marketplace might engage in menial labor:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/10/09/the-windows-of-heaven/

    . . . without criticizing anyone who chooses differently. He just invited. He didn’t judge.

  15. Tracy M on October 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I also find it interesting that you have couched your choice as being free from “economics” when you have a wheat grinder, yeast, wheat, etc., and the financial support that allows you to spend an afternoon using them instead of earning money.

    Thank you, Julie (and Russel, as well) Rachel, it really is a lovely idea, and a lovely post- but I felt the same division as Julie did. Having been in shoes, and having those shoes brutally taken from me, the line between the women who ‘have’ who ‘have not’ is especially painful- particularly when one is writing from a position of privilege.

  16. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Julie and Russell-I am very thankful for the leisure time that I am afforded by living here and now. I do think it is important to use the time we have been given well, to find ways to be productive and make our lives useful and meaningful. I don’t honestly know if being a SAHM is the best use of my native talents, but it is the choice I made, and will continue to be the defining work of my life for a few more years. I try to make the possible life out of my choices, and neither covet nor condemn others who choose differently. I do think that we can discuss our lives and choices in ways that give each other support and strength, even as we continue to be different.

  17. James Olsen on October 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I don’t disagree with a lot of what Julie and Russell have said, but they overstate their points in the present context. The paragraph under question:

    My work is a time for reflection, and even that leisure to reflect is a gift. We jokingly call money bread, and use it to purchase plastic wrapped spongy loaves, but that is just a transaction for a commodity; there is no reflection and no space for gratitude in economics.

    I simply don’t see either the polemic that Julie does here or the pernicious “rule” that Russell does. Rachel begins by noting (in agreement with Julie) that her opportunity here is a gift, specifically one of time. This implies a gratitude for the ability to choose as she has – surely Julie, you don’t want to criticize Rachel for the choice she’s made? If so, you’ve not made your case, and anyway, such criticism would be hypocritical giving what you’re claiming (i.e., it’s illegitimate to criticize women for their choices).

    Second, she notes the clear difference between a mere transaction and an activity that include agency, sacrifice, work, reflection, and gratitude. Is this really controversial? Everyone seems to be in agreement concerning the Marxist alienation from labor point. Julie’s criticism is that other’s might well choose to go for the $1.49 (or less) bread and then use the extra time/effort to engage in other rewarding activities of their choosing. The only way to see these two points in conflict is to import the “Mommy Wars” polemic and peg Rachel on one end of it. Stating one’s gratitude for the time & ability to engage in a practice “imbued” with meaning for Rachel just isn’t a criticism of those who choose otherwise (though it might well be a criticism of those who are not choosing, but simply take the thoughtless default, contributing to the bad-for-environment/health/sociality that Russell notes).

    At most, Rachel’s comments here could be the basis for a criticism, but it would take a bit more work to make the point. And nothing in the context of Rachel’s post makes it appear that she’s in the least interested in making the criticism Julie alludes to, or, as Russell thinks, normatively legislating in favor of this choice over and above other choices that women might make that would have the same effect.

  18. Russell Arben Fox on October 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Julie (#14),

    Sam did an absolutely glorious job of explaining why someone who can command very high wages in the marketplace might engage in menial labor…without criticizing anyone who chooses differently. He just invited. He didn’t judge.

    Are you sure about that? Sam wrote:

    “Ridiculously over-educated medical researchers and historians should at least occasionally perform difficult or tedious manual labor at which they have little aptitude. We should periodically serve ‘beneath’ our station. It will not maximize efficiency, nor will it minimize costs, but it will, when we allow it, break up the calcified sensibilities about our importance that keep us from growing into Christ’s.”

    Negatively categorizing medical researchers and historians like himself and his wife, while also aligning the work they did with becoming like Christ, in contrast to those who wish to “maximize efficiency”…not judgmental? Hmmm. Rachel wrote:

    “We jokingly call money bread, and use it to purchase plastic wrapped spongy loaves, but that is just a transaction for a commodity; there is no reflection and no space for gratitude in economics.”

    Which gives us a non-specified “we,” and a bare insinuation that that “we” is failing, by embracing the consumer economic model, to reflect and show gratitude. I don’t know–seems to me that Sam’s judgment was much harsher than hers.

    Which, to me at least, is not big deal–because I don’t think we can avoid rule-making, I don’t think we can avoid judgment. We are obviously called not to judge but I’m not sure exactly how we are to do that. I definitely think that our judgments should be voiced by way of example and invitation, but judgments they remain. And hence, they are calls for us to think about rules, and the social and/or economic bases they presume.

  19. Russell Arben Fox on October 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

    James (#17),

    or, as Russell thinks, normatively legislating in favor of this choice

    No, I don’t think Rachel’s post is involved in doing such, or even promoting such. What I’m saying is that I doubt very much that you can write a post like Rachel’s and refuse to consider such as a possibility. I think Julie quite legitimately discerned a critique in Rachel’s post, and responded to it. Rachel can choose to pursue her critique in light of that response, or not. I’m the sort of person who would, but if Rachel isn’t, that’s fine. But be that as it may, it certainly doesn’t follow that the critique isn’t there. Neither is it the case that the critique needs to be turned into something it isn’t–namely, a legislative gambit.

  20. Kaimi on October 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    First, great post. I really liked it.

    Second, I understand Julie and Russell’s comments, but I think that some of their own comments are overreactions.

    I think it’s true that baking bread is substantively different than running to Von’s to buy a loaf for $1.99. One requires time, and planning, and forethought, and talent, and care. The other requires $1.99. And in many cases, one tastes better.

    This isn’t to downplay the possibility that Von’s would have an excellent loaf of bread. But the overall experience is simply less intimate, less connected to one’s surroundings.

    As Julie notes, that’s not the only factor. People don’t have infinite time. And some people might reasonably choose to spend their time on other things. A woman might reasonably choose to buy her bread at Von’s, so that she can write poetry instead of grinding wheat. Her $1.99 might come from selling hand-sewn clothing. Her net experience might be just as connected as Rachel’s.

    But we don’t know that. All we know is that she has $1.99, and five minutes of time. She could be uber-connected; or she could be a trust-fund baby who spends all of her free time playing World of Warcraft.

    Given what we do know, I think that the experience of baking bread as Rachel describes, as a method of bread acquisition, is superior to running to Von’s. And that’s nothing to freak out about, and it’s not an overall lifestyle criticism.

  21. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    What I like about my bread is that it is an opportunity for reflection. It is a time to connect the work of my temporal daily life with prayer and God. What I failed to do in the post was ask for the practices and routines that you have that connect you with God. Do you find time for reflection in your commute to work? Quiet time for contemplating the fount of righteousness in the shower? What ways have you found to make your life and work an act of prayer and worship?

  22. Bob on October 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    It’s fine to think of home baked bread as a joyful thing on it’s own. But it’s bad stewardship/thrift. Mass bread baking is a core need of ‘The Masses’. Mass baking is a faction of the cost. A large baking center can make a loaf for pennies. All big groups/cities through time needed to mass bake their bread.

  23. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    James, Rachel labels choices other than her own (in the OP, she does back away from it in later comments) as:

    1. just a transaction
    2. commodification
    3. no reflection
    4. no space for gratitude
    5. mere economics

    Without recognizing that Wonderbread buyers are completely capable of 3 and 4 and her choice absolutely does involve 1, 2, and 5.

    You write, “This implies a gratitude for the ability to choose as she has – surely Julie, you don’t want to criticize Rachel for the choice she’s made?”

    I’m criticizing her for criticizing bread buyers; I am not criticizing her for baking bread.

    You write, “Second, she notes the clear difference between a mere transaction and an activity that include agency, sacrifice, work, reflection, and gratitude. Is this really controversial?”

    Yes. All of those things come into play when you earn money and use it to grocery shop and then prepare the food you have purchased. I don’t think Rachel went so far as to say that Wonderbread buyers aren’t exercising agency, sacrifice, or work (she did say reflection and gratitude in the OP, but later nuanced it in the comments), but if you are saying those, I disagree. Again, this gets into the Mommy Wars theme when only the bread bakers are seen to be displaying agency, sacrifice, etc., while those who just buy bread aren’t doing any meaningful work. Everyone who has slogged through a grocery store, particularly with little ones in tow, should realize that it is work!

    “Everyone seems to be in agreement concerning the Marxist alienation from labor point.”

    Nope. Earning money, writing a grocery list, shopping, storing purchased foods, and preparing them might be alienation from a certain kind of labor, but it is labor nonetheless. And homebakers are alienated from *those* forms of labor.

    “Stating one’s gratitude for the time & ability to engage in a practice “imbued” with meaning for Rachel just isn’t a criticism of those who choose otherwise”

    I would agree with this if the post was written without the penultimate paragraph. But that paragraph clearly makes a criticism of those who choose otherwise by labeling them incapable of gratitude and reflection and describing their action in strictly economic terms.

    Russell writes, “Negatively categorizing medical researchers and historians like himself and his wife, while also aligning the work they did with becoming like Christ, in contrast to those who wish to “maximize efficiency”…not judgmental? Hmmm.”

    There is a pretty big difference in stating “my actions did not maximize efficiency but had other positive values” and criticizing people who choose to maximize efficiency, don’t you think?

    Kaimi writes, “Given what we do know, I think that the experience of baking bread as Rachel describes, as a method of bread acquisition, is superior to running to Von’s.”

    Yes, I like this formulation a lot. And I don’t think Rachel has an obligation to explore in this post how that method of bread acquisition affects other decisions (time, money, energy). But once she criticizes other people for making other bread acquisition choices, that’s where I find trouble. (But, again, her later comments have tempered the original post.)

    I think especially her comment #21 is useful in acknowledging that homebaked bread is not the only true and living use for one’s time.

  24. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Bob, I don’t see where anyone on this thread has argued that home baking is more frugal. Rachel begins by arguing that it has other very significant benefits, and I agree with that.

  25. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Bob, this post is not about stewardship or thrift per se. And just because I, one particular baker, find meaning by denying the economies of scale in this instance doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the pragmatic value of such a system.

  26. Alison Moore Smith on October 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Just read this post. Rachel, I really loved it, sincerely. But just as Julie was, I was struck with the backhand of a couple of statements. I sat there wondering if I should even bring it up. Julie already said what I would have said, only better.

    I can make bread. Not great bread, but decent bread. I made whole wheat rolls last night for dinner. (OK, I actually took whole wheat dough out of the freezer and let it thaw and baked it (um, well, my daughter baked it). But they tasted great.) But I don’t LIKE to make bread. I simply don’t like cooking at all.

    As I said in a previous post, I really don’t see the NEED to do it in some moral sense any more than I think YOU should start coding WordPress plugins just because you USE them. :)

    The problem to me isn’t the expression of the things YOU LEARN from doing the things you choose to do. That’s great and insightful. It’s denigrating what others choose to do, when there is no moral reason for doing so.

    I do think that money has a distancing function. It adds a step between labor and reward, the consumer and the product.

    Not at all. When I take my $1.79 to the store to purchase my whole wheat bread loaf (I buy Dunford and/or Harpers at Walmart – love them – and Great Harvest if I feel extravagant of have a 2 for 1 coupon), I had to LABOR to get the money — just as someone labored to buy your wheat (or seed) and yeast and grinder. Money isn’t magic, it’s just an easier way to exchange my work for someone else’s work than trying to find a bread maker who needs web design services.

    I work every bit as much for my bread as the person who made it. Recognizing that it’s an arms-length transaction, I worked $1.79 worth and so did they. We just happened to specialize in things we like to do and/or are good at.

    OK, when we get back from the dentist, I’ll actually read the rest of the comments. Oh, wait, in order to be a good steward, I think I’ll just whip out the pliers and start extracting. My kids will love that! ;)

  27. Cameron N. on October 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    “But surely it is a grace to be able to work. ”
    My favorite part. I think this comes close to that elusive relationship that we always struggle to define in sunday school. It is by grace (the spirit of Christ and His atonement) that we can live and thus do any work/act.

  28. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    So let me answer the question Rachel poses (“What I failed to do in the post was ask for the practices and routines that you have that connect you with God. Do you find time for reflection in your commute to work? Quiet time for contemplating the fount of righteousness in the shower? What ways have you found to make your life and work an act of prayer and worship?”):

    It feels like magic every time I sit on the couch with my kids and read them a book about history or science. I can’t believe the world is so complex and marvelous; I can’t believe we have access to knowledge about it; I can’t believe I get to share it with curious people.

    Standard disclaimer: this is not a criticism of people who don’t homeschool and/or read to their children. ;)

  29. Sonny on October 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Julie,

    “It feels like magic every time I sit on the couch with my kids and read them a book about history or science. I can’t believe the world is so complex and marvelous; I can’t believe we have access to knowledge about it; I can’t believe I get to share it with curious people.”

    Wow, you too? We don’t home school, but feel the same awe you describe here when reading and discussing how the world works to the kids.

    And like you, I felt Rachel’s post was great because she discusses how she gets that feeling, and the post was awesome IMO if that one paragraph were taken out. I felt the implied judgement in it as well, even though it perhaps was not intended.

  30. Peter LLC on October 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I work every bit as much for my bread as the person who made it.

    If Bob is correct, that doesn’t mean much. Can you think of a more dramatic way to describe what you do?

  31. Alison Moore Smith on October 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Peter LLC, I haven’t read Bob’s comment (I’m at the dentist office trying to catch up). But I dont know why acquisition of a $1.79 loaf of bread must be dramatic.

    My comment was in reference to “…but that is just a transaction for a commodity.”

    I work, I get paid, I go to the store. I buy. I have bread. I don’t see that as markedly different in stewardship or result from: I buy wheat. I buy yeast. I buy a wheat grinder. I buy an oven. I make bread. I have bread.

    There is more than just monetary value to bread baking, but there’s more than just monetary value to my work, too. And there is certainly a big element of “econonomics” in both.

  32. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Julie-I love reading with my children and discussing everything with them–scriptures, stories, character motivation, history. It is one of the great joys of having children. All the books we read together become part of our shared frame of reference and helps us understand each other better. And those conversations are how we teach about morality and integrity, good and evil, right and wrong, whether the impetus for conversation was gospel related or not.

    I’ll concede that the second line of the penultimate paragraph was the weakest point of the post, but I didn’t know that before I posted it. Thank you all for helping me clarify my thoughts and my writing through your lively discussion.

  33. Kent Larsen on October 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    “there is no reflection and no space for gratitude in economics.”

    I took this a bit differently than Russell and Julie. I see it as an observation about the limitations of economics.

    Having waded through 4 or 5 economics classes in my schooling (nothing compared to Frank, I know), and having batted economic issues around in political discussions (possibly in error, since I’m no expert), I do think that we need to be very conscious of the limits of economics. Too many of those I have discussed the world with seem to think that an economic argument solves the issue (and, I admit, even more seem to ignore economic factors completely when making decisions).

    So, for me, Rachel’s statement above simply adds one more way of looking at what the limits of economics are.

  34. Alison Moore Smith on October 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    So, to the question: the practices and routines that you have that connect you with God.

    I would say it’s talking with people. First and foremost my family, then to friends, then even speaking at conventions and the private conversations afterward. I am up late almost every night just talking with someone about something they did, thought, felt, dream about, worry about, etc. The connection to other people is a supreme thing to me. (And far better than sleep!)

  35. Bob on October 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    ” Baking my bread, eating it all, even the scraps, is one step toward the wise use of our resources that is encouraged by the provident living principles of thrift and self reliance. And it is one step toward being a better steward of the earth.” ( Rachel Whipple).
    I am sorry for being a pain. I just can’t stop thinking of the millions who starved in WWII when stewardship/thrift failed__when the factory bread stopped coming.

  36. Rachel Whipple on October 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Bob-So we don’t get rid of factory bread. I am more careful to not waste any of my bread when I bake it myself, so in that case my personal use of resources is better than I if I purchase bread which I don’t value as much. But if you value your mass produced bread and take pains to never let any of it go to waste, then that is great. You don’t need the process of baking your bread in order to appreciate it, and you can use that time to do good in other areas.

  37. Bryan Stiles on October 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    “… I do think that we need to be very conscious of the limits of economics.”

    I think this could be said about almost academic way of thinking whether it be engineering, psychology, philosophy, etc.

    I say this as an economics graduate who often gets sneered at by anthropologists, political scientists, psychologists, physicists and many others with a superiority complex.

    Also I took a number of classes from Frank and found him to be absolutely hilarious and a good teacher. He’s the reason I found this blog as he mentioned he wrote for a blog from time to time. I promptly googled him and ended up here.

    Thread jack aside, I really do like the article. For me it’s about finding things to create. I personally have found the invigoration of creation through music (and writing music), programming (at a very basic level) and through cooking. Cooking is my most recent thing. I rarely use recipes. I prefer imagining what will mix will together and creating my own recipes.

  38. Naismith on October 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I loved that the OP spoke of the value of breadbaking. In a consumerist society that seems to value earning money to purchase a service over the act of performing the same service, that is a refreshing insight.

    However, I also agree with the comments raised by Julie, Alison and others. I just don’t get how it matters whether bread is baked or purchased. Ditto for sewing clothes, canning tomatoes, or a zillion other cost-benefit decisions that we make every day. Nobody can do it all, so we each do the best we can.

    “I am more careful to not waste any of my bread when I bake it myself, so in that case my personal use of resources is better than I if I purchase bread which I don’t value as much.”

    I don’t understand this at all. Food is food, and any wasting any of it is a Bad Thing. We try not to let anything go to waste in our house, irregardless of whether it came through our own garden or the bounty of a neighbor, or whatever.

    I also don’t understand the denigration of “transaction for a commodity.” For me, I consider shopping to be the hunting/gathering of modern life. I put as much “sacrifice, work, reflection, and gratitude” into shopping as I do into my own creative endeavors. We’ve been needing an item, which I finally bought this weekend with an early-bird special plus $10-off coupon. I would have continued to do without and not bought it without being able to find a price that was acceptable. I remember being very grateful as I drove home, and then sat down to sew a garment. The feeling of accomplishment and being a good steward is the same to me from both of those acts.

  39. Chadwick on October 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

    If store bought bread is good enough for contemplating the atonement during the sacrament, why can’t it otherwise suffice?

    I can dig what Rachel says on many levels. But as a working stiff, couldn’t I also argue to my SAHM-wife that she doesn’t appreciate money because she is not the one making it? That only I should be allowed to do the shopping because only I, the breadwinner, can properly quantify the value of the dollar that we are spending, and am therefore better equipped to say that dollar should be spent, not on Twinkies, but on Ding Dongs? In that respect, can a SAHM ever really appreciate and connect with the things he/she uses to create if they didn’t participate in the work required to purchase the raw materials needed for said creation? Not a slope I want to slide down, and I hope it’s not true.

    I’ve never baked bread. Never. No one ever taught me how. Maybe I’d like it. Maybe I wouldn’t. But I’m a cookie fiend, and I absolutely LOVE that my kids love baking cookies with me. So like I said, I can get where Rachel is coming from. These cookies are normally superior to Oreo’s because we made them together, with our own two hands, and therefore the journey becomes just as fun as the destination, ie eating the cookies. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a time and place for Oreo’s.

  40. Rachel Whipple on October 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Chadwick-Money has different functions. It is both the wages paid the laborer and a means of purchasing commodities. Perhaps the wage earner has a greater appreciation of the work involved in earning the money, while the spender has a greater appreciation for the purchasing power of that money. The earner and spender need not be the same person, and therefore need not value money in the same way.

    Naismith-I appreciate shopping as a form hunter/gathering work. As the primary shopper in our household, I know the satisfaction of being able to get what we need with the money we have. And while I agree that both work and wise purchasing can be demonstrations of stewardship, they remain qualitatively different experiences. It is worth recognizing that those differences exist. And I certainly agree that
    “Nobody can do it all, so we each do the best we can.”

  41. Alison Moore Smith on October 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Naismith (#38), I loved your comments.

    Perhaps the wage earner has a greater appreciation of the work involved in earning the money, while the spender has a greater appreciation for the purchasing power of that money.

    I think Chadwick’s points were spot on in this regard. I honestly don’t know what it means to say that a spender appreciates purchasing power more than the earner.

    I had a number of roommates who had daddy’s credit card. Did they like to spend? Yea. Did they appreciate the WORK INVOLVED to PAY FOR their spending? Not one of them.

    When we were dirt stinking poor in college, I have stood in line at the grocery store buying carefully selected, generic brands of dried beans and grains. Right in front of my — dozens of times — were people with food stamps buying rotisserie chicken, bakery cupcakes, frozen lasagna, and oreos. Things we could never afford. Did they appreciate the cupcakes as much as I would? Probably not, but maybe. But did they make their food money go as far as they possibly could? No way.

    This is exactly why my kids start earning their own money (first from us, then from others) when they turn eight. So they make the real connection between how much work is involved in owning a loaf of bread. Whether they get it by planting wheat and kneading the dough, or by mowing lawns or babysitting in exchange for it, makes no difference.

    BTW here is the reason Chadwick’s statement doesn’t fully explain the family dynamic. SAHMs can appreciate the work involved to buy a loaf of bread, because they work as a team to earn the money and provide for the family. Caring for the kids, taking care of domestic duties, and using the income frugally, are contributions (and work) toward the same cause.

    Rachel, as I read over the comments, it seems that, while soft-pedalling a bit, you’re still defending your initial position in most responses. I’m trying to figure out why that is, given the other comments. To me, it seems to come back to this:

    And because my SAHM work is necessary, if often tedious and redundant, I have to find ways to imbue it with meaning.

    It seems — and of course, correct me if I’m wrong — that meaning in activities is somehow derived from labeling the alternatives inferior. Not just inferior to YOU, but inferior in some global sense. I understand that validation that comes from that, but don’t see the need for it.

    Having spent 24+ years (and counting) as a SAHM, this brings up some thoughts. They may not apply to you, but maybe someone else will find them useful.

    The work of SAHMs is often tedious and redundant. So is the work of just about everyone I know. (I’m also an accountant, talk about tedious and redundant!) But I don’t try to imbue meaning in anything at home that I can think of. If it’s necessary, that is the only meaning it needs. If I hate the necessary thing, I try to find a more efficient, less objectionable way to do it. Or I delegate. :) If the thing I hate isn’t necessary, I don’t do it. :)

    Well, I need to bow out and get back to tax forms. (Tedious and redundant! FAIR TAX!) But thank you for a thoughtful post that brought up a lot of reflection. :)

  42. Rachel Whipple on October 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    It seems — and of course, correct me if I’m wrong — that meaning in activities is somehow derived from labeling the alternatives inferior. Not just inferior to YOU, but inferior in some global sense. I understand that validation that comes from that, but don’t see the need for it.

    It is not that those activities are inferior, it’s that I often don’t find them personally satisfying. And because I must do this work, I need to find a way to be satisfied doing it, or I feel worthless. As someone who has struggled with periods of depression, I know how crippling it is for me to feel worthless. These are not general statements, they are my personal experience, my life. To make my work a craft is a personal act of redemption. It is a way to find meaning and worth in the work the fills my daily life.

    We all have to struggle to make our way in this world. What you call soft-pedaling is me trying to be open to other points of view, to have a discussion without taking offense and being offensive. Yeah, I stand by what I wrote in the opening post. That is my perspective. A financial transaction is a brief, fleeting experience. Kneading bread is slow and takes time, and allows time for thought. That thought is revived when I slice the bread. If I pull a piece of pre-sliced bread out of a bag, it does not take my mind back to the thoughts I was reflecting on while I made the purchase. My relationship to the bread is different, emotionally and spiritually, based on how I came to have it.

    And this is my experience. It is not a manifesto against store bought or factory produced bread. It is not a condemnation of those who prefer to buy bread or live their lives in any way different from the way I live my life. It is not to say that anyone who doesn’t think about the Lord’s Prayer as they eat their bread is less righteous than I am.

    It is saying, This is a good experience for me. Can you relate to it? A lot of you can. So however you find magic and meaning in your daily life, do that. Recognize it as the blessing it is, and be grateful.

    As for my response to Chadwick, that again is from my own experience. My husband prefers not to buy anything, and does not have a good sense of what reasonable prices are for household goods, food, and clothing. (He does know about scientific equipment, as he has to buy that for his research lab.) Because I do the household budgeting and shopping, I know what our purchasing power is. This goes along with your point about “using the income frugally.”

  43. prometheus on October 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Late to the game, but I figure I would comment anyway…

    I thought this was a great post. What I took away from it seems to be completely different from a lot of the commenters. To me, it felt like a celebration of mindful contemplation during routine tasks. The choice of bread-making seemed personal, the mindfulness global.

    I really think that I could stand to add some more mindfulness to my daily chores – something along the lines of always keeping a prayer in my heart.

    Anyway, just thought I would chime in with a different reading of the OP.

  44. Parker Brown on October 31, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Nice post. I thought you might take interest in this passage about the Lord’s prayer from a book by Diarmaid MacCulloch entitled “Christianity: The first three thousand years”:

    “The prayer moves straight from addressing the father in Heaven to the plea ‘Thy kingdom come’. It is also shown to belong to the earliest strata of the Gospel material even in its Greek form, because one of its petitions includes an adjective whose meaning has baffled Christians ever since: ‘epiousious’, a very rare word indeed in Greek. The puzzling character of the word is not apparent in its common English translation, which suggests a very ordinary request, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. Yet epiousios does not mean ‘daily’, but something like ‘of extra substance’, or at a stretch ‘for the morrow’. The first Roman Catholic attempt to translate ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ into English from the Latin Vulgate in the late sixteenth century courageously recognized the problem, but also sidestepped it simply by borrowing a Latin word as ‘supersubstantial’; not surprisingly, ‘give us this day our supersubstantial bread’ never caught on as a popular phrase in prayer. . .”

    [pg 89]