When I was in grade 11 or 12 my father read to me the theological novel, A New Kind of Christian, by Brian McLaren. It is a story of two guy discussing seemingly dichotomous theological questions. One would bring up the question, the other would give the answer. The answers are all strikingly similar. A question might be Arminianism or Calvinism. In response the man makes two points in the dirt, one representing Calvinism, and the other Arminianism. He draws a line connecting the dots. He then says “the answer is neither here,” pointing to one of the dots, “nor there,” pointing to the other, “nor somewhere along this line. Rather,” and he would wave his hand in a circular motion about two feet above his diagram, “it is somewhere up here.”
Disclaimer, it was quite a while ago when this book was read to me. I might not have all of the details right, but I remember this answer. The answer is not one side of the dichotomy, nor the other. Neither is it some compromise of the two. The answer is not on our diagrams. It is something other. We need a new way of seeing things. I found this answer both compelling yet dissatisfying. It seemed right to be, but if the answer was neither Calvinism nor Arminianism, then what was it? I wanted more. I was okay with him taking away the only options I saw, if he could replace them with something. Yet all he gave us was something, somewhere, two feet above.
I want a new way of seeing food. I can draw one dot on the ground and label it over-indulgence, gluttony and obsession. I’ll draw another dot and label it counting every calorie, dieting, and at the extreme anorexia. I think both dots could be considered eating disorders. Neither of them are healthy and so we draw a line connecting them and try to find our place on the line.
I like food. I like food quite a lot. I like to be eating, and sometimes find myself eating when I am not hungry and the thing I am putting in my mouth doesn’t even taste good. So, naturally I find myself closer to the gluttony dot. The gluttony dot exclaims, “Food is good!” I think that food is good, but I recognise that it is not healthy to be eating all the time. So, I try to distance myself from the gluttony dot. I slide along the line, “watching what I eat,” and praising myself when I deny my desire to eat. The dieting dot screams “food is bad. It’s a trap. Keep far away from it and rule over it. Don’t let it rule over you.” Again, I find myself agreeing that we shouldn’t let food rule over us, and that food is bad if we eat too much. However, I don’t want to count every calorie. I try to avoid these two dots, and balance on the line somewhere in between them. I want the good from both perspective, but I want to avoid the bad. I’m trying to tiptoe along and avoid the muck.
I hope McLaren is right. I hope there is some answer that is neither here nor there, nor a messy compromise, but somewhere two feet above. I hope there is a way to enjoy food without having to worry if I am eating too much. I’m just not sure what this two feet above perspective on food really is. Any suggestions?