Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Good Point, To A Point

Paula Huston:
And that's what good food, not to mention all the other pleasures of life, can do to us: distract us from the big picture.


As I think about my own relationship to food, I can trace its evolution from unthinking overindulgence, which was strongly rooted in the legacy of family anxiety I inherited, to a slow dawning of the light: I did not want to remain dependent on sugar, fat, salt to make me feel safe, calm, happy. I could see what that dependence had done to beloved members of my family: they had put themselves in precarious health, cut productive years from their lives, and ensured that they would become increasingly enslaved to pharmaceuticals.

I thought about St. Paul's beautiful image of our bodies as "temples of the Holy Spirit." How did overindulgence in unhealthy foods fit into that picture? And so I began seeking a way to become virtuous in the area of eating.
Her good point is that too much focus on food is a form of idolatry, just as any pleasure is. Dependence on "sugar, fat, and salt" is an expression of that idolatry. So we are good to that point.

But this also can turn very bad. "Sugar, fat, and salt" are not of themselves unvirtuousness or sinful - they are just food. We are the problem - not the food. You see to make those morally neutral things bad is to grant them more power than they really have - it is a form of "reverse idolatry."

Sometimes when we develop "spiritual disciplines" we do so to avoid the genuine change the Holy Spirit seeks to work in our lives. By focusing on what we eat instead of who we are when we eat - we avoid the central issue.

Christ did not die and resurrect to save the world from Cheetos - he did so to save us from our sinful selves.
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