Eating is good for you.
Sometimes I forget that there seems to be an unending war on food in society. However, the past few weeks it has come up repeatedly in conversation. What really jolted me was that it’s come up in multiple conversations about the Eucharist.
In the midst of talking about the source and summit of our faith, of Christ’s body and blood given to us for our consumption, the comment I’ve heard frequently in the last few weeks is, “why would Jesus do that when bread is so bad?”
My first reaction is, “wasn’t the Atkins diet like, so early 90’s?” But the kids stating this aren’t old enough to remember the days when everyone ordered meat with a side of meat smothered in cheese. Then my inner catechist wants to explain that it’s only the appearance of bread, and explain transubstantiation. But then I realize the problem isn’t belief.. The problem is that it’s food. (Well, and of course we're in a crisis of faith here, people don't believe, we all know that. But could part of the reason that people don't believe be because of their fear of carbs? is that crazy?)
Lately I’ve been observing an unprecedented loathing of food, especially among teens. That attitude of, “this [insert item of choice: pizza, sandwich, popcorn, chocolate, etc] is bad for me, I shouldn’t be eating it” is the consistent approach to food of any kind. We all eat things we shouldn’t but lately the kiddos are forgetting that the body does require a certain amount of calories to function each day. Unless you’ve got a gluten or wheat allergy, bread is not a bad thing.
If we’re teaching kids that Jesus is the “Bread of Life”, it’s not going to have the desired effect if they hear bread and think, “food is evil” instead of “that which has nourished humanity since before manna appeared in the desert”.
Culturally, there’s obvious contributing factors like skinny supermodels and diet trends. However, I think there’s more to it. Dinner time as a family rarely happens—taking away the community aspect that food once had. The way food is portioned now—100 calorie packs, light yogurt that tastes like black forest cake, smoothie supplements— means that even when we eat, the goal is to be as close to not eating as possible. When I hear youth talk about food, it’s always in apologetic tones, as if eating were equivalent to smoking or skipping school. No joke, I hear conversations like, “today, I forgot to do my homework” and then, “yeah, well I ate lunch… Ugh… Fail”.
Today's Second Reading reminds us that our bodies are the temple of God. Eating is building up the temple of the Lord (not a basilica rotunda—but we’ve definitely taken the other extreme). I’m not lamenting that everyone’s got an eating disorder or about the shallow images of beauty that we fixate on as a culture. I’m stepping back and realizing that our warped understanding of food has finally trickled down to how we perceive the source and summit of our Christian life.
I’m not quite sure where to begin to address this. Anyone find anything that works?