The Economist wrote an obituary for Robert Farrar Capon after his death in 2013, and they had this to say about the food writer/theologian’s style of life:

Mr Capon had no time for strict scorekeeping, in the kitchen or anywhere else. Grace, not willpower, dealt with sin: Jesus came to save the world, not to judge it. Showy piety, legalism and quietism were all abominations, almost as much as the cheap oil and harsh flavours of phoney ethnic food.

His own scorecard had some blots. Divorce from the mother of his six children cost him his parish on Long Island and his post as dean of an Episcopalian seminary. His 27 books (mostly on theology) and cookery columns only partly filled the gap. But there were worse things than being poor, he wrote, such as losing sight of the greatness of small things…

capon030Small things indeed, like his most famous food book, The Supper of the Lambnow a Modern Library Food publication, whose last chapter deals with the heaviest of small topics: heartburn. While dieticians will push logical measures down your throat before you even earn your heartburn, Capon argues that life without heartburn is a life unlived:

Furthermore, when my gorge rises violently, I thank no man for self-righteous lectures on preventive medicine. I do not want to be told what will help me next time, what I need is something that will work this time–something that will meet me where I am, here in the thick of my inconvenient loves, and not in some cautious never-never land of pure thoughts and wheat germ bread.

And what will meet me where I am? Forget the Rolaids, lose the Tums! For Capon, it’s baking soda all the way. Only baking soda–that long-forgotten refrigerator freshener–will provide the suffering indigestor the relief of a good belch.

For this NYC conference on “absolution,” this is the man we raise a glass to in my breakout session: the man who writes a book about raising a family the right way, and winds up divorced. The man who, in another book, will take on the question of theodicy and the question of venison pie in the same chapter. The same man who, for all intents and purposes, has stood as Mockingbird’s theological guru for all these years, a living reminder of the intersection of God’s Gospel, and life as we live it.

Whether you’re new to Mockingbird, new to Capon, or an old familiar, join me at 2 pm to read through and discuss some of Capon’s greatest hits–and some of his deep cuts, too!