Archive for July 23rd, 2008

Hypocrisy of the Stomach

July 23, 2008

I have no intention in this posting to preach to those who struggle with gluttony, or, more likely, just feel guilty most of the time when they think of their weight, etc. Orthodoxy is not a weight-loss program. However, this passage offers wonderful insight into the struggle with the passions. It is quoted from Fr. John Behr’s The Mystery of Christ.

Eating itself is natural to a human being, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying the food one eats; it is gluttony, rqther, which is a passion and a vice. As St. John Climacus describes it, gluttony is a false opinion about the way things are: “Gluttony is hypocrisy of the stomach. filled, it moans about scarcity; stuffed and crammed, it wails about its hunger. Gluttony things up seasoning, creates sweet recipes….Gluttony has a deceptive appearance: it eats moderately but wants to gobble everything at the same time.” Glottony has its own cognitive element, and one which is based in deception. Through the practice of fasting, controlling the stomach, one does not simply reduce one’s dietary intake to the minimum possible, but instead learns to break through the hypocrisy of the stomach, to know that one will not die if one does not eat as one has become accustomed to do. The “hypocrisy” of the stomach is not located in the bodily organ itself, but in the mind’s relation to the stomach.

It is a wonderful insight, and something that can be applied across the board to many of the passions.


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