The war on church suppers

A new study has found that young adults who frequently attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age compared with those who don’t take part in any religious events.

I don’t doubt this, but suspect the picture is a lot more complex. Church-goers are more likely to be married, which implies regular meals; more likely to have children, which leads to “mommy clean the plate” syndrome; more likely to bake. But there’s a piece of religious culture that’s been missing in America, even among Catholics: fasting. Yes, I’m as guilty as the next guy, if not more so. Avoiding meat on Friday by going to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet is not penitential. But it seems to me that encouraging fasting would be a more spiritually profitable way to deal with the problem than to worry about the calorie count in the hotdish.

8 Responses to The war on church suppers

  1. kishnevi says:

    Hmm, those Chinese must be on to something. They get you Christians on fast days, and they get us Jews on Christmas….

    Seriously, there’s one more factor I think may be involved: church/synagogue activities are more likely to have a food and drink element attached. How many times does a church group sponsor a pot luck dinner? Or just have snacks available during Bible Study? And a full table of snack foods is de riguer for any self respecting synagogue’s Sabbath kiddush after the services.

    • coloradojoe says:

      In many cases–too often! I used to belong to a United Methodist Church which focused its fellowship around congregational lunches, dinners and more at least once a month. I protested to our pastor, but he would not listen. The pastor even tried to sabotage my diet (I count calories) on one occasion; on another occasion one lady tried to force me to eat a plastic-container full of chocolate donut holes.

      If I had been a director or officer in that congregation, I would have started a mandatory exercise program for everyone, which would have included pushups, situps and walks around the neighborhood. But no one listened or paid attention; I am no longer a member of that church.

      • jeffreyquick says:

        Of course, the problem there is “mandatory”. If the “top-down, regimented, authoritarian” Catholics can’t get their members to cease their rubber-protected premarital shagging, there’s no way Prots are going to herd the cats into the exercise room. But they can certainly do something about the culture of gluttony.

  2. Jeffrey Quick says:

    OF Catholics don’t seem to do after-service munchies at all. But the Vienna church has coffee and donuts…had a nice chat with their schola director there, and may join up but it doesn’t look like I can do so until after Easter, because of work and Composer Guild obligations on Sundays.

  3. kishnevi says:

    OF Catholics don’t seem to do after-service munchies at all.

    Of course not. Why do after service munchies when you just had in-service munchies?

    [runs for cover….]

  4. jeffreyquick says:

    In the case of Vienna…perhaps because they actually fast in preparation for the “in-service munchies”, and are hungry afterwards. Not that OF Catholics don’t, but it’s not as much a part of the culture (when you’ve got people practicing birth control, pre-Eucharistic fasting is pretty small potatoes.)

  5. Braniff says:

    I just left a church because it sponsored a church supper featuring fattening food every month–in some cases every week. I told the leaders that there was an obesity problem, but they told me that no one would come to church unless food was involved. Some of the groups like to go to restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory. The former pastor preached about pigging out at the local state fair–this clergy fellow with a doctorate in divinity was clueless about obesity, diet and health!!!!! Most of the members involved with the church are old; many are very fat.They are not keen on diet let alone exercise. I am sure there are many churches which don’t believe in the gospel but prefer to believe in getting fat.

  6. Jeffrey Quick says:

    Gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins….a subset of “thou shalt not kill”. If “no one would come to church unless food was involved”, then obviously something other than the Holy Trinity is being worshipped there, and you’re right to move on to spiritually greener pastures. I recommend to you a church with regular days of fasting and abstention…the original and Universal church (Orthodox or Catholic).

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