Thoughts on Anthony Bourdain

What was it that made me like Anthony Bourdain?  It was not his religious beliefs.  He was not religious to my knowledge.  It was not his politics.  We were politically, I think, very far apart.  It was not his profanity.  I preach against the kind of language he used.  It was not my keen interest in cooking.  I like to eat, but I am not a cook.  Yet, there was something about him that I liked.  Perhaps, it was the way that he revealed, in his food and travel shows, people and culture.

He seemed to have it all, by the world’s standards.  He was a successful author, television host, and television producer. He had written a dozen books, including best selling selling book: Kitchen Confidential (2000); A Cook’s Tour (2001); The Nasty Bits (2006). His articles appeared in many publications, including: The New Yorker; The New York Times; The Times of London; The Los Angeles Times; Gourmet; Town & Country; Esquire; The Financial Times).   He had multiple successful television programs: A Cook’s Tour (2002-2003); Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005-2012); The Layover (2011-2013); Parts Unknown (2013-2018); The Mind of a Chef (2012-2017); The Taste (a judge, 2013-2016).  He won awards including: Food Writer of the Year; Multiple Emmys; a Peabody.  He visited over 100 countries while filming his television shows. He was in demand. He was away from home in travel between 200 and 250 days per year. He also was a book publisher.

He was found dead on June 8, 2018.  He died in his hotel room (he was staying at the 5 star Le Chambard hotel) in Kaysersberg, France.  He was there working on an episode of Parts Unknown.  His death has been ruled a suicide by hanging.  He was 61 years old.

Here are some things to ponder (regardless of the circumstances of Bourdain’s death):

  1.  Inner peace does not come from external circumstances.  Solomon once viewed life as meaningless, “Vainity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).  Ahab was miserable in his greed (1 Kings 21:4).  Jesus taught, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Paul wrote while in prison, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
  2. Riches do not bring lasting satisfaction.  Anthony Bourdain was rich.  He had a net worth of $16 million. Moreover, He was staying at a 5 star hotel, when he died. Solomon said, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).  Paul wrote, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (2 Timothy 6:6-8).
  3. We do not always know what is going on in the lives of others.  One of Bourdain’s friends, Bill Buford, said after his friend’s death, “I saw Tony regularly over 20 years.  I spoke to him pretty regularly.  I e-mailed pretty regularly with him.  I don’t regard myself as an intimate friend.  I regard myself as a friend.  But I’m beginning to suspect that he didn’t have many intimate friends.  He once said that he has a lot of good friends for one week.  And I think that is part of his performative self, there’s this person who… kind of has to keep busy, because there’s another person that maybe he is even hiding from himself… I wonder now if maybe he was keeping really busy… not because he was trying to get somewhere, but he was actually fleeing something” (Don Lemon interview, June 8, 2018.

We need try to be thoughtfully involved in each other’s lives.  The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).  Let’s move beyond the shallowness of “How are you?” and “I am fine.”  “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).  Let us “warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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