"Of all the ways our culture spins us dizzy, it's up session with food is one of the most glaring.
We are a Mad Hatter culture, a nation of gluttons and weight-watchers. Go into any gas station food mart, and see for yourself. Magazines, rafts of them, depict men and women with bodies of impossible tautness and hardness and litheness. The women are svelte and buxom with incandescent skin. They gaze out at you, brazen as harlots or coy as schoolgirls. The men are stone faced, all of them, grim as though bent on some mortal quest, their bare stomachs an armor plate of muscle, their arms all sinew and veins.
These pictures are arrayed next to shelves laden with chocolate bars, tubs of candies, shrink wrapped trays of mini-donuts, racks bulging with bags of chips and cheesies and nachos, walls of refrigerators stuff for with creamy and sugary drinks. And that's not all. Besides the magazines with our pantheon of beautiful people are other magazines, magazines that have on their covers photos of succulent, sweet-drenched desserts, casseroles dense with sauces and sausage and cheese, or mounds of pasta tossed in a rich cream sauce bejeweled with shrimp and scallops. "Details on page 70", the cover announces. Invariably, somewhere on the same cover, and an inset on the top right-hand corner, maybe, is a picture of a woman in a tight dress or skimpy bikini– and she does it justice – with the caption beneath: “how to lose 10 pounds and rid yourself of unsightly cellulite before the beach weather hits! Page 73.”
Go up to pay for it and there at the counter, next to the till, are several paperbacks on various diet fads, and usually a few dessert cookbooks, next to baskets bristling with chocolate treats.
We're a culture stuck between Barbie and the bulge. We dream thin and live fat. We spin this way, spin that way, back-and-forth, round and round." ~ Mark Buchanan (The Rest Of God) Reading this after visiting South Africa was quite eye-opening and a bit of a slap back into the reality that I live in. Interestingly while I was in South Africa, I ate whatever was put in front of me and I didn't have particular concerns about how much I ate. But somehow after 10 days I came back to the States having lost about 7 pounds. Some of this of course was due to the manual labor I engaged in, and some of this was due to the fact that much of the food I ate was fresh, organic, and not pumped full of hormones and preservatives. Some of it was also due to the fact that I ate smaller portions simply because that was what was put in front of me. Ironically, I don't remember ever feeling the sensation of starving or being excessively hungry. Mark Buchanan's point about us always feasting and therefore not being able to ever really feast, because in our culture we have an excess and are able to do so all the time, is well taken. "'Without a fast,' Dorothy Bass writes, 'it's hard to recognize a feast.' Overabundance is our common lot, muchness our birthright, and all Sabbath serves up is more of the same. And when we see anything as a birthright, it ceases to be a gift." So as we bounce back and forth, are tossed to and fro by our ever changing societal and cultural "norms", let us remember that we are not citizens of this world, nor this or nay nation, but rather citizens of heaven. (Phl 3:20)