“Man cannot live by bread alone. He needs peanut butter.” James A. Garfield, US president
A fascinating event in the long history of bread (if having the words ‘fascinating’ and ‘bread’ in the same sentence is not deemed by the reader of this post as an oxymoron) is the Great Schism. For those of you who remain interested, this was the rupture of the Christian Church in 1054 into its Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox divisions, which remain to this day.
One of the theological reasons for the division was which type of bread to use in the Eucharist. The Pope in Rome said it had to be unleavened bread, because that’s what Jesus broke at the Last Supper - which was, after all, a Jewish Passover feast and the Jews always had unleavened bread at the Passover to commemorate the exodus from Egypt, which was done in such a hurry that the poor old Israelites didn’t even have time to give their loaves time to puff up. Meanwhile, the Patriarch in Constantinople said it had to be leavened bread, because yeast symbolise the rising up of Christ and anyway the guys in the East wanted as much clear blue water as possibe between themselves and the Jews.
A point of technicality? Not so back in 1054. So contentious was the issue back then that the Bishop of Rome - Pope Leo IX – and Patriarch Michael I Cerularius both threw the toys out of their prams and excommunicated each other, thereby committing the 11th century equivalent of mutually-assured destruction.
The Schism of 1054 was about much more than just bread, of course. The underlying political driver was the breaking up of the Roman Empire, the fallout of which was still going on some 500 years after the last centurion had hung up his sandals and gladius.
Back to bread though, something the Christian Church still gets its theological knickers in a knot about is the transubstantiation: whether the consecrated bread becomes – really is – Christ, or whether it’s simply symbolic of Him. The RC’s say yes, the rest say don’t be daft. And here, the G’s hopping-about brain makes a curious link with today’s transgender argument: what type of opposite does a person become through physical modification or self-identification? Some say it’s a real opposite – a transgendered woman (or man) is a real woman (or man). Others say it’s not real and transgendered people should stay out of areas designated for folks who are, er, one understands the term is ‘cisgender’. The Grasshopper has no intention of getting bogged down in either of those two battlefields, other than to observe that the real/not-really-real argument seems to apply in similar ways both ecumenically and genderifically (to coin a new word).
There’s nothing new under the sun in the way some people can get upset over some things, while others simply contemplate how great life is when the cheese oozes out of their toastie like that.