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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 24 days to Christmas    Wednesday, December 1 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Food and morality

It being well into the advent fast, a few thoughts about food and fasting would seem timely. But I backed into this topic from a most unexpected entry point.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was in a home where one of the kids was glued all day to rebroadcasts of the NBC "reality" show, "Fear Factor." Having seen commercials for the show and heard comments about it on some chat shows, I had resolved to avoid it like germs. Just hearing about it can be nausea-inducing (and if you're squeamish, you might skip ahead to the next paragraph), as it usually seems to center around the "contestants" eating the most gross items imaginable. But as I passed several times through the living room where the preadolescent watching it was stationed, I had to find out, if I could, what the attraction was and, maybe, what makes me so unhip in my old age. It took only a few minutes of looking in to make me skedaddle after seeing the green innards of a handful of even greener worms of the silkworm type squishing out through the teeth of a hapless contestant.

My initial reflection was that here was as stark an example of post-modern behavior as one could encounter, and being fascinated by it is probably as post-modern as participating in it. But what makes it post-modern? At this point my take on it was entirely intuitive. Also emanating from my bones was the feeling that such behavior is borderline immoral or at least accepting of immorality. I was inclined to think of it as pornographic. But in the past I've argued against the case occasionally heard that war or violence in literature is "pornographic." Literally, the Greek root of pornography being the same as that for fornication, pornography consists entirely of sexual representations. And despite the dressing of as many contestants as frequently as possible in scant-as-possible outfits, such shows aren't about who's bedding whom but who's eating what nonhuman filth.

"Filth" is probably the operative word. In terms of the biblical "unclean" creatures forbidden from the diets of the Jews, the unreality show menu is just plain filthy.* And the Bible and the church fathers also refer to sexual activity outside marriage as filthy, equally abominable. I believe the "oral fixation" in such shows is a metaphor by their producers for oral sex. And "oral" sex, the presumed preference of many post-moderns (cf. Monica, Pamela, Paris, Madonna, to cite the most obvious), frequently overlaps eating unclean things, so the circle closes. Which brings us to fasting.

Among the reasons orthodox Christians fast (doing it reminds us to pray, it fosters ascetic discipline) none is more important than this: If you can resist attractive foods, you can resist temptations to immorality. And the converse of this is the logical syllogism, if you can eat live raw silkworms what would dissuade you from putting mouth to even the meanest body parts?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

*Note: Acts 11:4-9 describes how the Apostle Peter received instruction from God to eat items that the gentiles considered food but that had been forbidden for Jews in the Levitical law. There is no comparable "release" from the moral laws of the Old Testament, however, and the church not only has never claimed such a change but rather reinforced it in the teachings of Peter, Paul and the other Apostles.)

Signs of our times

At a car dealership: "The best way to get back on your feetmiss a car payment."

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Advent thought for today

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong, And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)  

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