Following my post yesterday Fruit That Will Last, my friend Andy Wade commented
I wonder, what would the difference look like between highly processed fruit and whole foods w/o all the junk? What are the parallels between how our bodies respond to processed foods and how our souls respond?
It was a great question that sent my mind whirring as I had just finished reading an article entitled Scientists Claim Junk Food Is As Addictive As Heroin. According to the article:
Junk food elicits addictive behavior in rats similar to the behaviors of rats addicted to heroin, a new study finds. Pleasure centers in the brains of rats addicted to high-fat, high-calorie diets became less responsive as the binging wore on, making the rats consume more and more food. The results, presented October 20 at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, may help explain the changes in the brain that lead people to overeat.
“This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neurobiological underpinnings,” says study coauthor Paul Johnson of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla. Read the entire article
I have also been reading Obama Foodorama with delight and finding out about some of what Michelle Obama has been doing at the White House to promote healthy eating. The Fall harvest is in but she is far more concerned than just planting a few vegetables would suggest. Michelle Obama is working hard to change the way that Americans think about food and nutrition. It gives me hope for the future.
So what are the parallels with our faith? Maybe I am just cynical but it seems to me that they are not hard to find. I think that many of us are addicted to junk food spirituality.
This term is often used to describe the growing trend to embrace practices outside traditional Christian faith but I am using it here to refer to the superficial hear all, see all, do nothing kind of faith. Our weekly dose of church, our reading of frothy spiritual books and our superficial interacting across social networks gives us a momentary high that has us coming back for more but it doesn’t really offer us the nutrition that we need for a healthy faith. And it certainly doesn’t have us out in the midst of God’s suffering world responding to the needs of those who are less fortunate than we are.
When I was on the mercy ship Anastasis I used to get very frustrated with people telling me that they admired what I did but knew God couldn’t be asking them to join because they got seasick. And they certainly couldn’t contribute because they were paying off their new house and car.
Now they just look away when I suggest that God calls us to live simply and sustainably… for life. Living in intentional community for a year is one thing – making a lifestyle commitment to follow Christ without french fries and big macs is another. Making hard choices for our faith is no longer in vogue.
No wonder my missionary friends find it harder than ever to raise support and those who work alongside the marginalized struggle to make ends meet. 50 – 90 million additional people have been pushed into extreme poverty in the last year as a result of the economic crisis and the demands on food banks and homeless shelters is escalating.
Of course there are some who know how to eat a healthy diet. There are millions of Christians around the world who are responding to the growing challenges of our turbulent times. Some churches are planting community gardens to feed the marginalized and others like Eugene Cho at Quest are working hard to raise awareness of poverty issues and the ways that we can make a difference but unfortunately most church attenders in Western nations are definitely addicted to junk food spirituality. They might sing about loving Jesus but when it comes to demonstrating that love they just turn on their ipods and play a few more songs.
So what do you think? Should we be concerned about junk food spirituality?