I have a new post up at Relevant, and it’s one that’s dear to me in its concerns, and touches on the heart of what my new book is about. Take a look…
It’s been nearly 20 years since Frederica Mathews-Green insisted that Christians dismiss gluttony as a “cute” sin in the pages of Christianity Today. Since then, other voices have perpetuated the idea that we must love and desire God and God alone. Made to Crave, for example, asserts that nutrition is “food’s intended purpose,” with no room for “unhealthy choices,” not even birthday cake. By this logic, food—and other material goods—that go beyond the basic bodily needs toward any type of aesthetic pleasure are distractions from the Divine.
And in Jason Todd’s recent article at Relevant, he says, “I think I’m hungry for the finite, but I’m really hungry for God.” From this position, it’s easy to take it a step further and say that food, and other things of this life, are best approached with detachment, as competitors—not conduits—of that desire for God.
Of course, none of us need the hyper-abundance available in every American supermarket, big-box or suburban mini-mansion. But we do have to eat, wear clothes and have physical shelter. Whether our diets are highly processed or nutritionally “perfect,” we can’t escape the materiality of our existence. It’s a simple fact that at every step of our lives, we depend on other bodies and beings and things—human, animal, vegetable, mineral—to sustain us. Even the vegans among us live “from the death of the world,” as Wendell Berry has written. Medieval women, such as St. Catherine of Siena, sought escape from this dependence. She fasted unto death to show that Jesus was all the sustenance she needed. While most of us don’t take asceticism that far, many Christians still struggle with how to have their cake, and Jesus too.