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Jesus Bread and Chocolate - a Book Review

Growing up, we had a garden. My mom was this wonder woman of a housewife. I think she actually liked doing all the chores around our place. But when she’d ask me to help, particularly in the garden, I struggled to find even a glimpse of her enthusiasm in me.


You see, in Missouri, the state of my childhood, there are bugs outside. Little, incessant gnats and mosquito-ey creatures that no amount of swatting will diminish.


And it’s hot. Like, too-humid-to-do-anybody-any-good hot.


Well, I’d complain the moment I got to work. Much to my brother’s chagrin. The bugs bothered me. How could I work in the heat? I became incredibly thirsty. Tired. Hungry. I suddenly needed to go to the bathroom. I just wasn’t a big fan of the garden.


Today, I have a garden of my own. The same challenges still exist. But I’m willing to endure them because I realize the healthy, flavorful fruits and vegetables we harvest are worth all the effort. I’ve learned how to prepare new dishes with our abundant bounty. I can preserve just about anything in the freezer or in a jar.


Mom might have been on to something.




I received a copy of  Jesus, Bread And Chocolate written by John J Thompson, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are either Bible verses or quotes from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own. This book released just last week!



I’ve often wondered if this desire for fresh food growing within me speaks to a larger part of a heart work God is doing. A longing for real. Authenticity. Worship that requires all of me. Products that take time and passion. Further, I begin to wonder, is this just part of our spiritual make-up? Are we meant for a life full of real and authentic?  

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)


Author John J. Thompson asks questions much like these in his new book, “Jesus, Bread & Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World.” He explores our fast food culture. Also, the effects, good and bad, industrialization has had on our society. 

Mass-market bread costs almost nothing. Get up close, though, and watch bread being made, and its value increases exponentially. Get your own hands covered in dough and invest precious time watching it rise and bake, and bread will be worth even more to you. The same is true when it comes to the community of faith.


Telling the stories of people he’s met personally and sharing knowledge from the years of research he’s done on this subject matter, he explores what might happen if the church would remember our artisan roots?


Definition Artisan: a person whose occupation requires skill with the hands.


In bodily form, Jesus kept on creating. He was a winemaker, a community builder, an architect, a healer, and a story teller. He was a bread maker and a fishmonger.


I'd recommend reading this book with a little notebook nearby. So you can jot down the Nashville-based chocolate company, Olive & Sinclair Chocolates. The coffee farmers who have won the worldwide Cup of Excellence competition. Calfkiller Brewing Company and The Black Abbey Brewing Company. Also, a number of other books the author refers to as additional resources. Thompson mentions “In these pages I’m going to do my best to ruin you for the cheap stuff.” I would say well done!



Photo used from the Olive & Sinclair Chocolates website.


The more the author learned about these artisans living our their passions, the more he realized it truly became an act of worship. To a God who provided us with all these natural resources.

Chocolate, like coffee, bread, and so many other essential human creations, is the product of a unique divine/human partnership. God gives us the raw materials and then allows us the pleasure and honor of finding the way to make it taste good.


Finally, I gave a lot of thought to how I could help my church become more authentic. To stop worrying about growing bigger and focus on going deeper. These ideas are a big part of Thompson’s book as well.

Maybe bread and chocolate and coffee and farmers markets can show us something about what it means to cultivate a taste for real community, real humanity, and real discipleship.


** I've added this post to The Book Nook at Creating Joy.

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