“It wasn’t a very spiritual thought–we’re all FAT.”

That’s what went through Pastor Rick Warren’s mind when he was nearing the end of an 800+ person baptismal service last year.

Recently, one of the New York Times‘ blogs had an interesting piece on the ‘Daniel Plan,’ the small-group based health program at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California.

The Daniel Plan–named, of course, for the Biblical Daniel who rejected the king’s rich food and drink for a diet of vegetables and water–involves three medical celebrities: brain expert and Saddleback member Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, the heart surgeon, author and TV doctor, who attended Daniel Plan rallies and made videos.

I don’t know a whole lot about the Daniel Plan, but it looks to be mostly in the tradition of “healthy eating is a spiritual discipline” and emphasizes a mostly vegan, whole-foods diet and moderate exercise. The distinctive feature of the Daniel Plan is the fact that participation in small groups–whether online or in person–is the first step of the program.

While I must admit that a program that speaks the discourse of “health” in a narrow way never appeals to me, I’m not surprised at all by the successes of the Daniel Plan thus far. As I’ve suggested elsewhere on this blog–eating together is powerful stuff, and it seems to be just as powerful for those struggling with obesity as those struggling with anorexia and everything in between. I just wonder if The Daniel Plan is really capable of creating a new but lasting food culture. As with all plans that are so health-focused in their understanding of eating–food is to bring health, full stop–I’m doubtful it is. And its ‘Biblical’ basis is flimsy indeed.

But I wish them well.

 

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