Monday, March 30, 2009

More Mac and Cheese, Anyone?

When I was growing up (in an essentially unchurched home) we were poor. My father was an amputee and constantly in and out of VA hospitals. My mother did her best with what she could afford, and also cooking my father's food preferences.
My favorite foods were, therefore, what I was fed. Preference for these foods was cultivated. What I wanted to eat was; mashed potatoes and gravy, tuna casserole, spaghetti, noodles of any kind, meat of any kind, scrambled eggs, a tiny salad with grated cheese and mayonnaise on top, not many vegetables (once my dad felt ill from eating lettuce), bread and gravy, fried chicken (on Sunday's only), and when my dad got a job and we got 'wealthy', potato chips.
Those kinds of foods made up my diet for the first seventeen years of my life. Therefore, they were favorites and they remained so...for quite a while.
After marriage, during college and one aborted postgraduate year, we went vegan. It was hell. Going home was not like going home because we had to fly through the flack of criticisms and remarks about being "fanatics", "extreme", and.... perhaps you know about things like that.
It's hard to be "different", but what's even harder is to be different among those who are called to be "peculiar". Some of the synonyms of that word are; separate, distinct, independent, special, strange, curious, queer, eccentric...pick the one(s) that make you feel best, but in their sum there are words that some of us don't want to be called: It's easier to just go along.
Enter church potlucks: These recurring events should be the bane of the "peculiar ones;" but they're not. On any Sabbath across the land one will find most of the foods I listed above as my "favorite growing-up" things to eat. In some churches you will find all the foods listed as fair fare; nothing peculiar there.
Did you know obesity is a prelude to diabetes? Did you know that obesity is known to increased risk for breast cancer? Of course you know. What's more, one of us here may even be obese. How does that happen? How does one become obese? Answer: Eating favorite foods in excess over prolonged periods of time and failing to burn calories; that is, too much input and too little output (exercise).
Evidently God (and His servant EW) knew what He was talking about because Adam and Eve, (probably Elijah) Daniel and others ate as God designed and He blessed them with long life. Oh sure, the children of Israel ate manna but what they really wanted was flesh pots seasoned with onions, leeks, and garlics. They complained so much that God gave them meat to eat, which they did, until they vomited out their noses. "Then you shall say to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying;"Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the Lord will give you meat to eat. 'You shall eat, not one day, not two days, nor five, days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and you have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt? " ' " [Numbers 11:18-20]
Presumably everyone understands the spiritual implications of being "...brought up out of Egypt..." which each of us should recognize as the preamble to the first commandment [Exodus 20:1]
So what do we (the church) want? Health, or savory? Disease, or "good taste". The most frequent complaint heard about eating vegan is that " doesn't taste good..." and this (hang on) usually from those suffering the mal-effects of obesity and its attendant maladies. I think the issue is as simple, and as difficult as this; we can cultivate tastes for the foods of Egypt or Eden. We can eat to please our palate or to please God. We can eat well and be well know what I talking about.
I'll finish this with a liberal paraphrase from Isaiah [30:21]; '...this is the way, eat ye in it..."
By the way, where's the dessert line at this potluck? Oh! I see. Over there! The longest line...
Filled up with words? Digest them carefully. They are nonfattening, have zero cholesterol, and no sodium, but they are written to those who are admonished to be the "...salt of the world..." [Matthew 5:13]
God Bless. e.c.

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