John J. Thompson recently published what I believe is his first book. Entitled “Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate – Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World”, the book is one part auto-biographical, one part informational (overviews of how beer is made, where chocolate comes from, etc.), one part biography (he shares brief stories of several artisans), and one part analysis. This may make it sound like the book is schizophrenic. While it does cover a lot of ground, it is so well written and organized that it works and is not hard to follow.
In “Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate”, Thompson explores how the mass production of certain products has produced items of little substance. He compares this to Western Christianity, suggesting that we’ve done something similar. Some churches have focused on appeal in order to bring people in, but have offered little of substance to those who do show up.
Thompson devotes chapters specifically to bread, chocolate, coffee, and beer. He looks at their history, how they are made and, in the process, compares traditional, handcrafted versions with mass-produced ones. Overall, he writes as a supporter of locally sourced food and products.
Thompson has resided in East Nashville for a number of years now and seems to fit in well with the culture of that area. Since I now also live nearby, the book felt like it manifested what it spoke of: a locally, thoughtfully and lovingly crafted work. I enjoyed either being familiar with what Thompson wrote about or knowing that I could go check most of these things out after reading about them.
“Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate” is worth the read, especially for those who are interested in locally sourced and/or handcrafted items and for anyone residing in middle Tennessee.