I just finished the book Skipping Toward Gomorrah by Dan Savage. Through seven chapters, he describes his experiences with each of the seven deadly sins – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. His experiences, travelling around the US exposing himself to these deadly sins are at times funny and at times audacious, but always very thoughtful. His rationale (aside from the obvious reason of getting to travel around the US and sin) is to make us think about how ludicrous many of these sins are when seen in black and white.
Reading this made me think about my experience with the Seven Deadly Sins, which I will share in a series of posts over the next few weeks.
First up, Gluttony. I had thought I had outgrown it. My perspective changed a bit as I looked into what is meant by gluttony. I still believe I have outgrown it in the narrow sense, but certainly not in the broader. Read on…
So what is gluttony? I have always interpreted gluttony to be indulging in food to excess. I think this is the standard definition, but gluttony is actually something slightly deeper. From a Christian, religious perspective gluttony is overindulging in food to an extent that it causes food to be withheld from the needy.
So, in the traditional meaning of gluttony, I think I have it beat. When I was a kid, I would go to a buffet and eat until I could hardly move from the table. Similarly, if we had pizza after hockey, I would always eat until there was’t a piece left, whether I needed or wanted it or not. The idea of passing up free, yummy food was just too tempting.
But that was a teenage thing for me. I still love good food, but there is virtually no meal, treat or desert that will cause me to eat so much that I will feel gross or sick afterwards. It’s not because I am saintly or health obsessed. It is simply that the way I feel being grossly full is far worse than any feeling I get form eating that extra desert. This has become self-reinforcing over the years; as I see old high school and college buddies pack on the pounds, I am still the same weight I was in university.
So, on the standard definition of gluttony, I am A-OK. But, now the broader religious scope – indulging when others are in need. This really made me think. My family, we buy expensive food. Having had a pretty blue collar upbringing, I have always felt a little guilty/conspicuous shopping at speciality ’boutique’ food shops and spending $6 for a loaf of bread, $10 for organic milk and $20 for specialty cheese or $30 for wild caught fish. The organic and the wild caught stuff, I became OK with because it was a health and environmental issue. But the rest, it just seems excessive.
My rationale has always been, well… while we’re not rich, we can afford this so why not. But the gluttony thing now has me thinking. I am spending a fortune on food, when others – right here in my community and elsewhere – are starving.
So, here, is my plan. I am not saint, so don’t expect miracles or transformations. But starting this morning, $100/month to our local food bank, as a regular/ongoing donation. I will still indulge in gluttony, but at least with a somewhat clearer conscience and a comfort that as a treat myself, I am doing something (even if its something small) for those with less.