About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."

2012/08/24

Beware of (spiritual) Junk Food!



Spiritual Junk Food? What is it? Does such a thing exist?
I am convinced that it exists and represents a real danger for human spiritual well-being.
       For several Sundays the lectionary readings have included sequence of passages from the Gospel of John. In it Jesus delivers a chapter-long discourse about real bread and bread from heaven, and about earthly hunger and real spiritual hunger. As I was thinking about the passages, it dawned on me: Wait a moment! This allegory is clearly two thousand years old. It’s so pristine and innocent that in our times it is almost unreal.
       They clearly did not know about our ubiquitous junk food. They clearly did not know about junk food which gives a short sensation of satiety and soon brings gnawing cravings and hunger for more. They clearly did not know about junk food that was industrially constructed to hit sweets spots (reward centers) in your brains; They clearly did not know about junk food which presents itself as homely “comfort food” but in fact creates deep seated physiological and psychological dependencies and even addictions; food that pretends to be cheap, clean, convenient, and economic, but is nothing of these! Food that makes poor people (those who eat it most often) even poorer, physically unwell and chronically ill. Food that hurts the people who eat it; the food that hurts people who are exploited (employed for pittance) to make it; the food that hurts animals that are farmed for it; the food that hurts and cripples the environment in which it is produced.
       I am certain that if the synoptical Jesus lived today, he would protest. He would protest against exploitation of fast-food workers, he would protest in his teaching and parables against the marketing and feeding of junk food to the most vulnerable. He would also perform a few healings, such as curing some cases of type 2 diabetes, restoring a few amputated legs, and reverting a stroke or two. Later, his apostles in their letters to communities scattered across the American Bible Belt, would provide some spiritual encouragement as well as practical advice about how to live faithfully in a religiously hostile environment. And finally, Jesus of the Gospel of John might use the image of junk food to give us strong warnings against false religion.
       It’s that kind of religion where you are served what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. A religion that answers modern anxieties and emotional needs by providing instant comfort and cheep assurance, but over the long run produces gnawing alienation. A religion marketed in large stadiums and mega-churches, that leave people isolated and alone. A “prosperity religion” tailored and marketed with promises of cheap grace and personal(egotistic) salvation, which in fact creates deeper dependency, addictions and poverty. An easy religion without honest challenges, which enslaves and deprives people of independent critical thinking.
       Thankfully, the Biblical tradition is full of recipes about how to avoid this kind of false religion. This Sunday we will be looking as far back as the book of Leviticus. The phenomenological interpretation of the ancient law for peace offering (feast) will help us avoid or heal junk-religious poisoning.

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