Being the body: feasting, fasting and disordered eating in the life of the church.
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Taylor, Laurel Audrey.
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According to Christian tradition, inappropriate eating is the occasion of humankind's fall from communion with God and one another, even as salvation from that inevitable isolation and death is effected through a Eucharistic feast in which God offers God's very Self to satisfy human hunger, reuniting human being to Godself and to each other. Thus it is that, in an almost primordial way, eating affects both salvation and damnation. The Christian tradition has acknowledged this phenomenon by parallel emphases on the need to penitently refrain from food as well as the need to joyously partake of food. The Church year dramatically embodies this paradox in the form of alternating feasts and fasts. Flannery O'Connor's "The Violent Bear it Away" and Isak Dinesen's "Babette's Feast" vividly illustrate the theological significance of feasting and fasting, both of which presuppose and expound a sacramental affirmation of the body as well as the inherent goodness of food and eating. A proper Christian understanding of feasting and fasting, therefore, especially in tandem with feminist criticism, offers a radical way of witness to a culture in which food is so problematic, weight preoccupation so commonplace, and eating disorders so prevalent.