Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What is it with liberals and food, anyway?

Kathy asks,
What IS it with liberals and their stomachs?

..."It's a happy invasion for most people in this country," Clift proclaimed. "[W]e love the diversity of food."

I sent her an email,

...actually there is an answer to this question.

philosophically, the large grouping of ideologies that we usually call "liberalism" for brevity's sake, all come from the same root: radical materialism. They don't admit of anything higher than the material world. Their "ideals" all have to do with the material world; the causes they champion are strictly relegated to material ends. They deny any meaning or relevance of any transcendent value, and it tends to impoverish their minds and souls.

This was one of John Muggeridge's themes in our conversations. He held that most 'liberals' are obsessed with things that strike us normal people as very petty and transient. He also said they tend to develop food fetishes. John's father, he said, never got over his weird insistences about the way his food was cooked and what sort of food he ate, even long after he had more or less converted from liberalism to reality.

While I lived with John, we had a family friend from way back, in fact Anne's school friend from Newfoundland, come to stay for a while. I didn't get much contact in those days with the liberals and hippies in Toronto, being somewhat shielded by the Oratory and my work, and this woman, though she was very like the hippies and lefties and feminists I grew up around, struck me as extremely odd. She lived in a strange little world of her own in which very petty things took up a great deal of her attention. For example, she insisted on buying organic eggs, of which she would only eat the whites. The yolks, she said, were "contaminated".

They're materialists, so they have to make up things to become obsessed with that, while remaining strictly within the material realm, can be imbued with a counterfeit, substitute significance.

One of these is food. The other is sex.


Kathleen from Ottawa said...

Another is the environment. Recycling can be a religion-substitute.

Unknown said...

Have you forgotten that Christianity's most sacred ritual revolves around bread and wine? Are the rituals involved with the preparation of the Mass any less odd than your friends obsession with egg whites?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

they're even more odd, since they actually become the body and blood, soul and divinity of the second person of the Holy Trinity.

The point, therefore, is that they are not a fraudulent replacement for something real and transcendent. They are, in fact, THE real and transcendent.

Ingemar said...

"They're materialists, so they have to make up things to become obsessed with that, while remaining strictly within the material realm, can be imbued with a counterfeit, substitute significance."

Ask 10 atheists how morality works and you'll get 12 different answers. Because they a priori reject God and/or transcendent higher truth, they literally have to make s*** up with regards to things that don't involve basic animal needs. To the question of "Why should we recognize human rights," I've heard the the following answers:

1. Because the afterlife doesn't exist, we have to make people feel good now.*
2. Because it makes me feel good, it makes you feel good, and we'll all feel good.
3. Because revenge is bad.
4. Why not?
5. Because that's how we've always been.**

*Note that this justification is ignored when it comes to abortion.
**This wouldn't have to do with some troublesome religion, hmmmm?

lambertdw said...

Interesting post. I think you are spot-on. But, I have also found also that food obsessiveness is class marker. I live in Alabama which is a place, as you might imagine, where we eat a great deal of meat, preferably deep-fried. But, in the Episcopal Church in Alabama, which still has a good deal of the old upper class nonsense, there are a strange number of vegetarians, vegans and other food obsessions (such as drinking a piping hot cup of water for breakfast). I have reached the conclusion that this is all a kind of brahmanist purity thing. That is, "I am purer that you because I don't eat meat, eggs....".

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


you should tell them that you are working to prevent your organs from being stolen and re-sold by leaving them in a condition in which no one would want them for transplant. Tell them you're doing this because you believe in the integrity of the human body.

Best to do it while blowing cigar smoke in their faces of course.

Unknown said...

The apple in the garden of Eden, Moses and manna from heaven, loaves and fishes, milk and honey, the fatted calf, the Last Supper, Leviticus and its labyrinth of food rules...

What is it with Christians and food?

You do realize that those of us who don't subscribe to your beliefs think that YOUR views of food are "a fraudulent replacement for something real and transcendent."

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

You realise, I suppose, that I actually don't give a shit.

I forgot what happens when I get a Kathy-burst. All the boorish people with no manners out there come into my little intenet house upsetting the tea table and behaving badly.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

...but hey, thanks for making my point for me...

That always gets the Stupids a little lattitude.

Liberals really are incapable of grasping the difference between the material and the immaterial/transcendent.

Ingemar said...

^ What is it with Christians and food?

Some points to raise:

1. The fruit in the Garden of Eden was not an apple.
2. The "labyrinthine" food rules of Leviticus was a Jewish thing. We can go on a huge riff about how Chrisitans are "bad" because we don't follow the Bible to a T, but the thing is the Christian way is to follow the faith handed down by the Apostles, of which the (basic) message of the Bible is a part.
2b. This point is a more ecumenical, as it covers the Catholic and Orthodox position.
3. Your final point is just a wordier version of "well *I* think it's stupid" and brings nothing to the table. It is also a tacit denial of the existence of truth. Upon that basis, I can eloquently make a case for why wearing clothes is stupid and why cats are evil.
4. The particular foods you pick out only have special spiritual value if you devoid them of context. "Milk and honey" referred to the richness of the promised land. "Loaves and fishes" were the foods Jesus happened to multiply. If the disciples gave him dates and almonds or doves and locusts, he would have fed the 5000 with those. "The fatted calf" is the best food, given as grace to the prodigal son who sought forgiveness. And Manna was basic sustenance for the wandering Isrealites who had no provisions. Despite its miraculous providence, the Isrealites began to be bored of it.

All of these foods mentioned have their own specific parts in their own specific contexts and you remove them from their contexts to make them seem "deep" in a way they are not.

But the thing about food, ultimately, is that it sustains us. That is why Christ said, "My food is to do the will of the Father."

Unknown said...

I'm not trying to be rude or boorish. I have a different view. You were the one to trot out the words "fraudulent" and "stupid." I guess this is not the place for civil discussion.

Unknown said...

Ingemar, your points are very fine, and I appreciate them. I would like to briefly comment on your third point.

I never meant to suggest that I thought Christian beliefs are stupid. (As I re-read it, I guess it does look that way. I apologize.) I simply take issue with the accusation that MY beliefs are fraudulent.

It's not that I am incapable of "grasping the difference between the material and the immaterial/transcendent." It's that we have a different notion of transcendence. I do not seek to deny the material world; rather, I seek to transcend the cloud of superstition which inhibits our understanding of it.

Unknown said...

OK, sorry, one last comment and then I will return to my secular badger-hole forever.

My original point, from which I have allowed myself to be diverted, was simply that if we atheists have strange views about food, so do Christians.

As Ingemar wisely stated, "...the thing about food, ultimately, is that is sustains us." On that one small point, at least, we can agree.

Peace to you.

Felix said...

jwmatthys commented that, "if we atheists have strange views about food, so do Christians"


but Hilary's point (which I agree with) is that sensible people don't get too hung up about food

BTW, do you remember C S Lewis' comment that gluttony can involve being too picky about food, as well as eating too much?