Noodles: A New Symbol?

Noodles have become the foundation of church potluck dinners today. Once they were only a colloquialism defining the addled and trivial, but now they have risen to a place of honor as a basic food of American evangelicalism.

In a recent newsletter from a rather large church, I noted a curious article:

“Please check your Corning Ware dishes. Last week at the fellowship supper someone picked up the wrong dish by mistake. They both had noodles left in them, but one was bigger than the other. If you took home the wrong noodle casserole dish by mistake, bring it to the church office and pick up yours.”

I can’t be the first to react to casserole Christianity. I have no doctrinal objections to eating in the fellowship—while Acts 6 shall stand—but across the years I find myself becoming more and more prejudiced about the rise of the noodle in church life.

My objections are not only peptic but philosophical and symbolic: could the noodle casserole become the cold and sticky matrix of modern church fellowship? Noodles are as cheap as the popular view of grace and are mortared together with bits of tuna, chili, and chicken, thus fitting into any matrix, holding any identity.

But just consider all the unpalatable aspects of this symbol. Noodles are plastic. Noodles are dry—often. Usually they are yellow, an uncourageous color. Noodles are chummy when they are warm, gummy when they grow cold; cheesy at times, and unable to stand firm in hot water.

Of course, koinonia can grow sweet around the noodle, so we should never avoid the church where these bits of pasta are the regular potluck fare. After all, this is the age of the noodle. But beware the fellowship where they seem to be a congregational symbol!


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