On Sunday, the first in Lent, we heard about Jesus in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. I did address temptations in my message trying to look at the big picture of what draws us into compromised spiritual health.
What about the temptations for our bodies, including what we have all learned to call junk food? I don't think that the term "junk food" existed when I was a young 'un. Oh sure, there were potato chips and Wonder bread (although only whole grains in our household.) Pizza places were virtually non-existent, Macdonalds and its spawn didn't start sprouting up until I was almost a teen, and we just didn't purchase soft drinks except on special occasions. It meant that if we were going to supersize ourselves we would have to do it the old fashioned way.
Jesus was offered three temptations, and so are we according to a New York Times article: salt, sugar, and fat. The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss looks at the craving industry, which has become a finely tuned "eat me, eat me" enterprise. In the article Moss recounts listening to a vice-president of Kraft foods:
Mudd then did the unthinkable. He drew a connection to the last thing in the world the C.E.O.’s wanted linked to their products: cigarettes. First came a quote from a Yale University professor of psychology and public health, Kelly Brownell, who was an especially vocal proponent of the view that the processed-food industry should be seen as a public health menace: “As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies do the very same thing. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco."
We now have high levels of the three temptations in virtually everything, including "good" foods. General Mills' Yoplait yoghurt has more sugar than its Lucky Charms cereal. When I succumb to a fast food craving I'm thirsty forever and ever. Amen. Saaallllttt! Yuummmyyy!
Speaking of the Lord's Prayer, I don't really consider that when I pray "lead us not into temptation" I might be referring to what I put in my mouth. When we had a parish nurse we made more of an effort to emphasize healthy living and eating as an aspect of our faith. Maybe we should find a way to revive that focus.
Or not. Should we just leave this one be? Should we all have been encouraged to give up the Big Three food temptations for Lent? Or is this each individual's business?