"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

No. 5 is not that easily avoided

Take, eat.  It's not gluten free, but a little nibble couldn't hurt!

Diabetics have to control their diets very carefully.  Those afflicted with celiacs disease have to avoid gluten.  There are other perfectly sensible reasons to avoid certain foods, control your diet, etc.

But do 100 million people in America really have to watch their gluten intake?

Probably not.  This, of course, is a matter of personal choice.  But what's the purpose, except to avoid death?  And what is this fear of death that creates an almost religious faith (i.e., trust) in food?  Is it merely human?

Virtually ever religious tradition has had food taboos and sacred diets. I think part of the reason is that food is something that we have direct control over. It crosses the boundary in a very personal way: we take something outside of our body and put it into our body. Eating is very personal, and it’s easy to invest those kinds of things with religious and ritual significance.
That is certainly why Christianity, alone of all world religions I know of, puts food at the center of its worship.  The Eucharist has been a point of contention since Paul and Peter argued over what to eat and Paul argued with his house churches over how to eat it; but it is still central to worship because "eating is very personal."

What's interesting is that everybody gets upset because some politician somewhere says we have to allow people to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when it comes to serving wedding guests (which hasn't yet been upheld as legal or denied as unconstitutional) or we have to teach creationism in schools (which hasn't been upheld) or...well, I'm hard pressed to think of a true "victory" that the religious have one (the examples like Hobby Lobby v. Burwell are more like egregious errors by the Court that it will have to rein in, if only because of the bubbling arguments over state RFRA's that are its progeny).  Things are, in other words, in a state of flux.

But nobody is complaining because 100 million people think they can cheat death by cutting out the white bread.  If anything, that's a greater display of superstition and fear of death than any random group of Christians (or Muslims, observant Jews, Hindus, what have you) that I've ever encountered.

It's all about the narrative; the framing.  An expression of faith in reason as the ne plus ultra and only arbiter of human experience is no less a religious expression than putting your money literally where you mouth is by adopting a gluten-free diet because you think you will live longer; or than reciting the Apostle's or Nicene Creed, for that matter.

If you want to mention in comments that you are watching your gluten, or even maintaining a gluten-free diet, I will not argue with you.  I make no judgment, except on those who judge.  There are very small minded people out there who consider the internet their proper domain, and they insist that whatever they damn should be damned in heaven, and whatever they loose should be loosed in heaven.

But don't put it to them that way; they'll get very upset.  No one likes having their faith challenged, you see.


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I liked Crossan's comment about how much of the Gospel was about food, the feeding of multitudes, Jesus telling people to feed the people he brought back from the dead, his disciples eating with him after the Resurrection, the Last Supper (communion), him eat with sinners and strangers, the disciples eating the ears of corn when they were hungry.

Or course to people who are at the other end of the calorie scale don't quite appreciate how close to hunger and scarcity the people who would have been the first to hear the Gospels were on a continuing basis. It was inevitable that food would be at the center of that religion, even the metaphor comparing the very Gospel to bread that you would never hunger again if you took it.

I have been a rather strict vegetarian most of my life but I don't judge people who eat most things, though I draw the line of impunity with eating endangered species. Jesus ate fish, I wouldn't.

5:12 PM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:12 PM  

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