The second of the Seven Deadly Sins is gluttony. Gluttony is about enjoying food and drink inappropriately, as lust is about enjoing sex inappropriately.
Church fathers listed a lot of ways of being a glutton: eating to satisfy taste rather than hunger, being too “dainty” about food — that is, fussing over it and insisting on having this sort of food and not that, eating more than our fair share, drinking to excess, or eating and drinking in ways that affect our health and thus make us unfit to do the things we are called to do.
I think I’m guilty of gluttony in the sense of eating for pleasure rather than for necessity (we are allowed to take pleasure in necessary food, but not to eat merely for pleasure), in being dainty when I fuss over the Evil 6, and maybe also in eating more than my fair share, globally speaking if not in my household.
Beliefnet has a quiz to help you determine whether you are in fact a glutton, and I turned up as “Super Skinny.” I’m not so sure.
Drunkenness is an obvious form of gluttony, and the term is also sometimes applied to other kinds of greed, including being too needy in relationships or using more than our fair share of the world’s resources or spending money on shoes when you should have given to the poor. Beliefnet includes these elements, and I as a non-drinking eco-minded person opposed to excessive consumption looked pretty good in the answers. I’m not always so good, though.
I went shopping on Saturday. I went up to the Next County to the special grocery there. They have specially good food there, including special things that do not contain the Evil 6, and also it is a more charming experience than my local grocery — daintier, if you will. Since I was there, I went and bought skincare products, not because I had run out but because I have been thinking about this one particular brand for a while and imagining that it would be better. I took myself to breakfast, too, enjoying a nice pot of hot tea (one of the few brands I consider good tea) and a plateful of Evil 6, because it was delicious. Drawn by a scent wafting from a doorway I passed, I also bought home fragrance products, which obviously are an indulgence, and went back to fulfill the “4 for $20” deal when the clerk pointed it out to me. Then when the grocer asked if I’d like to donate to the Oklahoma relief effort, I didn’t have enough cash left to do so.
Sounds pretty gluttonous, doesn’t it?
St. Francis, once of my favorite saints, included enjoying God’s creation among the good things we Christians ought to do, and I agree with him on that. Surely our creator intends that we should marvel at and take pleasure in the wonderful things with which He filled our world, and in the wonderful things we humans are able to create. Surely it is right to feel gratitude for the abundance of our lives, and to delight in the things God has provided for us.
But we can so easily end up like the Israelites in the wilderness, whining about a lack of melons and cucumbers instead of being grateful for the manna. And it is very easy to be hedonistic about food and drink, rather than enjoying simple healthy food and drink in reasonable amounts for the nourishment of our bodies.
In modern American life, in fact, the opposite of eating more than we should is often being too dainty, turning things away because they include gluten or getting all self-righteous over fried foods. It is also easy — because many people have worked hard to accomplish this effect — to eat large quantities of food that isn’t either delicious or nutritious, mostly just because it is there.
Clearly, this is one I should work on.