Why Your Pursuit Of A Better Body & The Perfect Diet Is Never Going To Make You Happy, How Christians Should Make Food Choices, The Ultimate Source Of Joy & Much More With Doug Wilson.

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food catholic
Lifestyle, Nutrition, Podcast

“You can sin with food in many ways — by not sharing it, by eating way too much of it, by throwing it across the restaurant table… But you do not sin with food by bowing your head over it, saying grace with true gratitude in your heart, and tucking in.” – Doug Wilson, Confessions of a Food Catholic

In his sharp-edged but humorous title, Confessions of a Food Catholic, Doug addresses the unscriptural approach to food that many Christians have developed in recent years. (By the way, a “food catholic” is somebody who accepts all eaters of all foods, even if he or she doesn’t actually eat quinoa.) Specifically, the book addresses divisive threats to Christian table fellowship, the know-it-all pride of newfangled “health food” rules, and the dislocated moralism that makes “organic” and “natural” the signs of righteousness while disdaining the brethren who buy their beef at Stuffmart.

On today’s podcast, Doug and I get into his approach to how Christianity mingles with food choices, and much more—including longevity and anti-aging, nutrition, diet, fitness, and the ultimate source of the joy and happiness so many of us turn to these type of activities to fulfill. We also discuss Doug’s take on Joel Salatin, the true cost of food, and how we care for the planet.

Doug is an old family friend and the minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, which is a member of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) and the church I attended all throughout my childhood and during college. After his stint in the submarine service of the U.S. Navy, he attended the University of Idaho where he obtained an MA in philosophy.

As one of its founders, Doug has served on the board of Logos School, a classical and Christian school (K-12), since its inception. He is also a Senior Fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College, which I consider to be one of the better liberal arts institutions in the country. He is the author of numerous books, including Reforming Marriage, The Case for Classical Christian Education, Letter from a Christian Citizen, and Blackthorn Winter. Doug is also the general editor for the Omnibus textbook series. You can check out his blog here, and his metric ton of grandkids can be found spread across the planet with rapidly increasing frequency.

During this discussion, you’ll discover:

-What a “food catholic” is…9:15

  • A food catholic believes that all foods are acceptable for us to eat with regard to our spiritual condition
  • People feel a “spiritual guilt” when they eat
  • Food itself does not corrupt the soul; a lack of discipline does
  • We want to blame the “stuff” rather than the root: a relationship with God

-How to identify what Doug calls “phood pharisees”…12:35

  • A “phood pharisee” is someone who wants to feel superior to those who make, what they believe, are suboptimal food choices
  • Everything is on a “dimmer switch”; the pharisee wants an “on/off” switch
  • Relational roles: children, people hired to give advice, vs. the neighbor with whom you have no moral, legal, or contractual obligation to instruct
  • Writing checks…relationships and responsibilities is akin to having sufficient “funds invested to address and/or correct poor food choices

-How people use diets as a substitute for true righteousness…16:50

  • Post, Kellogg, Graham, etc. marketed their food products to confront sin, i.e., lust
  • Evangelist Charles Finney founded Oberlin College and had all the students on the “Graham Diet” to “subdue animal urges”
  • Charles Spurgeon: “People are praying for revival, when all they need is to open their window”
  • “Bank shot”: your spirituality can be influenced by your diet, but the food itself is not made up of pure thoughts and you cannot get pure thoughts from food
  • The most important thing about the table is who you’re eating with; loving the people you’re sharing a meal with; the food is celebratory
  • God first, then our neighbor, then our food
  • Book: The Atomic Power with God, Through Fasting and Prayer by Franklin Hall

-How to use food to assist in the pursuit of holiness…22:15

  • A rigorous discipline of ascetic fasting attunes you more closely to the spiritual realm
  • Being in the spiritual realm doesn’t mean you’re equipped to be there (drug use)
  • Fasting without a relationship with God can actually derail your spirituality
  • Spiritually attuned is not the same thing as spiritually right

-How food as an anti-aging tactic can enhance or detract from your spirituality…26:25

  • It’s a good thing to be fruitful and productive as long as possible
  • Cost/benefit analysis: trading time on the earth for quality of life
  • We’re stewards of the bodies we’ve been given
  • Do the best you know to do with the information you have and leave the results to God
  • Your life is intended to be “spent”, i.e. active, with normal wear and tear
  • Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law”

-Advice for social situations where you’re offered food you personally find objectionable… 36:50

  • The Golden Rule: Do as you would be done by
  • The loving thing is to make your host aware of any allergies
  • If you simply don’t like the food, it’s your responsibility to act as though you do like it
  • “Trust God, and love your neighbor”
  • Being a good neighbor or guest is the priority over personal preferences or choices

-How to view food with respect to the humane treatment of God’s creation…41:50

  • BGF podcast with Joel Salatin
  • Book: The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs by Joel Salatin
  • Economies of scale: How much does Joel Salatin’s bacon cost?
  • BGF podcast with Dr. Mark Hyman
  • Being conscious of the environmental impact of food production practices
  • We’re operating “above our pay grade” in regards to food production
  • P.J. O’Rourke: “There’s way too much of you, and just the right amount of me”
  • Politicians want to coercively set the boundaries of what is appropriate and what is not; let the market work out the issues
  • The scalability of regenerative farming may be more practical than what we’re led to believe by huge corporations
  • Equal weights and measures: what applies to one, applies to all

-Balancing rigorous physical and spiritual disciplines…52:00

  • Idolatry: relying on any finite thing to supply a need that only the infinite can supply
  • The drive to be fit/healthy – If you’re looking to that to satisfy a need in yourself that only God can supply, then the problem is you’ve slipped into idolatry
  • Book: Desiring God by John Piper
  • “Where are you finding your joy?”
  • True spiritual joy will satisfy your inner desires
  • “There’s a God-shaped vacuum in every human heart.” – St. Augustine – Only God will fit there
    • Like putting together a puzzle
  • Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (God has put eternity in our hearts – we were made for communion with him)
  • Infinite abyss can only be filled with an infinite object, that is God – Pensées by Blaise Pascal

-The one thing fitness buffs need to hear the most…1:00:15

  • Doug Wilson’s blog
  • Don’t focus on living long in such a way as to make you forget what life is about – the point is to have lived, not living a long time
  • To journal:
    • “The short life well lived is better than a long life frittered away”
    • “Food does not make you holy”
    • “Loving your neighbor is a lot more important than the food you are putting into your mouth”

Resources from this episode:

– Doug Wilson:

– BGF podcasts:

– Books:

– Other resources:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Doug Wilson or me? Leave your comments below, and one of us will reply!

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