About that bill in Arizona…and what other implications it might have had

“The Sinner Series.” Photo courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr Creative Commons. - See more at: http://rachelmariestone.religionnews.com/2014/02/26/sb1062-arizona-religious-freedom-law-gay-gluttony/#sthash.j8JjtyH1.dpuf
“The Sinner Series.” Photo courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr Creative Commons.

I grew up in a Baptist church that didn’t condone the use of alcohol. But it was also located in an area where tourism was a key industry, which meant that a lot of young (and not-so-young) people were employed in restaurants. Restaurants that served alcohol.

Different people in my religious circles had different opinions on the subject, but I can remember more than one conversation ending with the acknowledgement that almost anything could be construed to violate certain Christian beliefs.

You could be a librarian and have to check out offensive, anti-Christian books.

You could be a city clerk and have to issue marriage licenses to people who were divorced.

You could be a cashier and have to sell condoms to unmarried people.

{Continue reading at Religion News Service.}

*updated* Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed the bill.

Humbled, Grateful & Slightly Terrified–Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food–Now Available for Pre-order!

I’m humbled, grateful, excited, and slightly terrified to see that my book is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com:

I did not write a book on “redeeming God’s gift of food” and on “eating with joy” because eating and food is uncomplicated for me–quite the opposite. My story was never one of eating disorder such that would make a good after school special (The Best Little Girl in the World, anyone!?), but it was a story common to many American women and girls–that constant, nagging, calorie-tally in the head. The sense that ‘everything else’ would come together if I could just lose a little more weight, or tighten that flabby area, or get my sweet tooth under control. It even had Christian overtones: Christians should stay thin and lovely, Christians shouldn’t be ‘gluttons.’ Meanwhile, conflicting notions of dietary “righteousness” abound: local, organic, vegan, Nourishing Traditions, macrobiotic, freegan…

Food and eating–even and especially in this Land of Plenty–are complicated, touching on family, finance, community, faith, justice, creation care, and more. Even so, I think God invites us eat with joy. 

{Really looking forward to hearing what you think of it!}

It’s a Sin to Be a Foodie?

The current (March 7) issue of The Christian Century has a round-up review of 5 ‘food movement’ books by Christians; since I’m revising my own such book for InterVarsity Press, I read it with great interest and a touch of dismay.

Rev. Martin B. Copenhaver, the author, fears the moralism and judgmentalism in food talk, concluding that the “hyperfocus” on good food is a middle-class indulgence; that it’s possible that being “too mindful” of what we eat is itself the sin of gluttony:

“There are just so many ways to get food wrong these days and no shortage of people willing to judge the food practices of others.”

Rev. Copenhaver has sounded two of my favorite alarums:

1. Being overly fussy is a privilege of the middle-class

and

2. It’s not conducive to joy to eat with anxiety–or to judge others for their food choices

Our final analyses, too, are similar: Jesus eats imperfect meals with imperfect people, so it’s all grace and therefore all good. True enough.

But I think Copenhaver is, ultimately, unsympathetic to foodies; I get the sense that he’s much more “just eat the darn cheeseburger!” than “search for a grass-fed alternative…” He seems to think foodies are fussy for fussiness’s sake.

In a way, it is too bad that we have to have so many books decrying the industrial system of food production and pointing a different way forward. But food activist types (like me, I guess) would like nothing better than for the revolution to be done and dusted–wouldn’t I love to be able never to wring my hands over feedlots or government-subsidized processed corn and soy because these things don’t exist any more?

You bet I would. I fuss about food because there are real things to fuss about: the treatment of workers, of animals, of soil and water and air.

As to the charge of gluttony, yeah, I know St. Thomas Aquinas listed six ways to be a glutton, and being “too fussy” is one of them. But here’s where that whole “love God and your neighbor” thing trumps Aquinas’ rules: it’s okay to be fussy when it’s more loving toward your neighbor–and more honoring of God’s creation–to be so. 

Is it possible to be annoyingly picky about your food and judge-y about other people’s food? Yes, it is. But it’s possible to care about good food–and all that good food means–without doing either.

For me, gratitude is the best antidote both to over-fussiness and to judgmentalism.

{Oh yeah, and JOY, too.}