Sunday, November 25, 2007

Good News

Some good news for everyone this Christmas...

Except for the waistline that is, and for those struggling with food addictions. I honestly don't understand why we as a society treat food addictions any differently from alcohol or drug addictions, and yet we do. Or why gluttony is such an easily overlooked sin. Or, for that matter, why so much of the church seems to hold a neo-Platonist view of food that says that if it tastes nice it must be evil.

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:3-5, NIV

So enjoy chocolate, but enjoy it responsibly!


Anonymous said...

Ooh, those look like good stocking fillers. Thanks for that.

Things may be different down in Oxford, I don't know. But do Christians really treat nice-tasting food as bad? I honestly hadn't noticed. Can you provide any examples?

And (genuine question), which foods contain addictive substances as powerful as alcohol or heroin?

John said...

Easy way to observe neo-Platonic attitudes to food among Christians. There's plenty of other examples, but this one works pretty much every time:
1) Assemble a group of 20 or so middle-aged Christian women
2) Offer them a plate of cream cakes
3) Listen to conversation, and see how often the words "naughty" or "wicked" comes up.

John said...

And the food addiction thing was a sudden flashback to a meeting I was in, where there were various alcoholics, drug addicts, etc present, and where an alcoholic had recently been banned for turning up drunk.

At that meeting, there was a morbidly obese woman, who was openly eating far too much and laughing about it. Nothing was said or done. My brain put itself in the position of an alcoholic who could legitimately say "It's really hard work for me to cope with my addiction and turn up here. And if I don't cope with it, I know I can't come. But she's there, she's obviously addicted to food, and they're letting her indulge her addiction. How come?"

PamBG said...

I am a middle-aged woman. My experience is that if I eat until I'm satiatied, that I will become technically and medically obese. A woman, by the way, can be medically obese whilst looking fairly slim.

So, basically, I feel hungry a good bit of the day. And I do this to keep my blood pressure down and so that I can be fit and mobile.

Let's see what you have to say when you're fifty.

Oh, also, I believe that Puritanism is the main culprit in enshrining neo-platonic thought into Christianity.

John said...

Pam - I'm overweight (but not obese), and I'm always hungry. I do have to be careful how much I eat.

On Puritanism introducing neoPlatonism into modern English Christianity - you may well be right. World Christianity, I think some of the ascetics had it first...

PamBG said...

I suspect that neo-Platonism is inescapably tied to Christianity. I think it was the philosophical backdrop, it was "the way things are" when the early church formed its thinking. Not sure we can get away from it entirely.

I reckon that if I ate an extra three biscuits a day (easily done when you don't want to insult people) I'd probably put a stone on in a year (I know this from experience). So I think that over-eating is a genuine temptation.

Do I think it would be sinful for me to eat an extra three biscuits a day? Honestly, no. But there is genuine temptation there which is why I'd use that language.

What I think *is* sinful is the fact that our society as a whole has more food than we know what to do with and people in other parts of the world are starving. This is not a problem that can be easily solved. It's also not a problem that can be solved by individual will-power and I think we dearly love to relegate our sins to the realm of the individual and the responsibility for sin to lack of will-power.

I'm certain, however, that in the Kingdom of God there will be no starving people. With these extremely difficult-to-solve sins, I really have to throw myself on God's grace and I think we're really uncomfortable with grace. (Myself included)

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced that people calling food "naughty" or "wicked" is limited to Christianity. It seems to permeate most of our culture.

Also, tendencies like that have probably increased since they were (fairly recently) facilitated by us having more food than we know what to do with (Thanks Pam).