Interview: Sarah Pinson
Can you start by telling the readers a little about yourself?
I grew up in Bamberg, South Carolina (it’s tiny!) and have spent pretty much my whole life in the southeast. Since college I’ve bounced around a bit, from working in higher education, to going to divinity school, to a couple of nonprofit jobs in food justice and community health. As of a few months ago I’m back in higher education, having moved to Atlanta to recruit students for Emory University’s Candler School of Theology…and to be closer to my sister, who has three kids three and under. I’ve been writing a blog off and on for about seven years (wow! I hadn’t counted before).
You run a blog called, Bring a Little Bread. Can you tell me a little what inspired you to start the blog?
Originally Bring a Little Bread was a recipe blog. I started getting into cooking and baking in college and thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite recipes. Blogging in general and food blogs specifically were becoming popular, and honestly I think I just jumped on the bandwagon! I tried to be sneaky with the title; it comes from a story in Genesis, in which Abraham and Sarah welcome three strangers for a meal. Upon their arrival, Abraham tells the visitors, “Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” He asks Sarah to make bread using three measures of flour—an amount that would make 50+ loaves, way too much for three or five people. I chose this title not only because I liked the passage and what it says about hospitality, but also because it was an obscure enough reference that I didn't think anyone would realize it's biblical!
You write mostly about food and I think, from what I know about you, that you've been pretty interested in food and faith for awhile. What got you interested?
During my first year of divinity school I met with Vanderbilt's field education director to talk about where I might work during my second year. She asked me what I was passionate about, probably expecting me to respond with an academic subject or social issue. Without thinking I blurted out, “Food!” and I wasn’t talking about food justice, I was thinking about cooking and eating. But that was when it really clicked for me: my interests in food and faith weren’t separate. Food, religion, and spirituality were all connected. Starting that second semester, almost all of my writing centered on those subject areas.
What is something you've learned from studying and writing on food and faith?
Food is such a huge part of all religious traditions (that I know of!)—their sacred texts, traditions, symbols, and everyday practices. And food is much better at bringing people together than theology is. If we could start more religious conversations and services with food, I think they would be a lot more productive and loving for all involved.
We are never really done growing up. What do you hope to do in the future?
I would love to write or work with food (whatever that means!) full-time. I do love working with students, though; so continuing in higher education would be fun, too. If I could find a job that combines all three, that would be the dream.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I’ll take this literally; on days I can remember how pretty the sunrise is, my morning run does. On other days, it’s breakfast: oatmeal with peanut butter and banana when it’s cold, and yogurt with berries and homemade granola when it’s warm.
Do you have advice for girls growing up today?
Spend your energy on developing relationships and pursuing what you care about, rather than trying to live up to what you think people expect you to be. I’m still learning this lesson, but I think it helps to start young.
Do you have any female figures that you look up to? (real or fiction)
As a kid I loved the character Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time and I still do. She’s so smart, peculiar, and fiercely loving. I’m also inspired by Madeleine L’Engle, the author who wrote A Wrinkle in Time and dozens of other wonderful books. She was someone who defied norms and lived her life on her own terms. And it helps that she was a wonderful writer.
Why do you think it is important to tell our stories?
Although it’s easy to forget this, I’ve found that everyone has at least one interesting, beautiful, heart-breaking story they’re willing to share…and usually many of them. In my experience, when we tell our stories to each other, we almost always end up feeling less alone and more connected to the world.
One of my favorite quotes is a stanza from a poem by T. S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.