A Thin Line

Bread shows up in many places in the Bible in reference to both famine and feast. It is the minimum needed for survival — God rains down manna from heaven for Israelites suffering famine in the desert. Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord's Prayer, which includes the petition for "our daily bread," which can be interpreted as referring to food or spiritual nourishment.

Bread is also the ultimate feast. Jesus calls himself the bread of life, and at the Last Supper, he offers his body and blood through the bread and wine, a feast that we continue to celebrate in his memory. Jesus spoke often of feasts in parables, and at the wedding feast at Cana, he performed his first miracle, turning water into not just ordinary wine, but the best wine that had been served that day.

During the 2008–09 academic year, first-year students at Saint Mary's are exploring the theme of "Feast or Famine." Although the theme was selected long ago, the sobering events of the last half of 2008 revealed all too clearly how thin the line can be between feast and famine.

As stock markets collapsed and hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their homes and jobs, as automakers begged Congress for bailouts and retailers slashed prices dramatically, our students had a first-hand look at just how precarious many seemingly secure lives and businesses were. Students were forced to stop taking things for granted, whether it was their parents' ability to pay their tuition or their own hopes for future careers.

In this issue, we look at the ways feast and famine may affect the College, the country and the world. We show you the impact that the global financial crisis had on how economics and business courses are taught at the College, and, through the eyes of an alumna, the impact that a mysterious disease is having on honeybees.

We also profile an alumnus who for more than 40 years has helped shape and promote the California cuisine movement, which has changed the way we look at food. We also share with you the questions — and answers — that students had for prize-winning journalist Michael Pollan on ways they can make the right choices — for themselves and for the earth — at the dining table.

Feast and famine are often products of wealth and poverty, so we asked a religious studies professor at the College to share his insights on the ways that the Bible deals with economic issues. And in keeping with the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, we share stories of how lifetime commitments began in the dining hall, classrooms and dances at Saint Mary's. For many alumni, the feast of love began in Moraga and has sustained them through good times and bad.

Erin Hallissy
Editor

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