I’m coming down the homestretch now with my thesis. It’s 179 pages long as I enter into the clean-up/editing phase. Whether it will be any good remains to be seen, but I no longer worry that it won’t get done.
When I began this process a little over a year ago, I was motivated in part by a desire to make the case that churches and Christian faith communities should embrace the food movement. It’s beginning to look like that argument will be passe by the time I finish.
Many in liberal and progressive Christian traditions and denominations began to get on board over the last couple of years. The North Carolina Council of Churches, for example, released a curriculum in 2012 titled “Eating Well: For Ourselves, For Our Neighbors, For Our Planet.” Queen Anne United Methodist Church in Seattle featured Joel Salatin, Norman Wirzba, Marion Nestle, Bill McKibben and others in their speakers series this year. Many more examples could be cited. Church gardens and programs to promote healthy eating have been popping up all over the country.
Conservative evangelical churches were slower to join, but now they’re coming on board as well. Evangelical mega-church pastor Rick Warren has just published a book promoting healthy eating. Liberty University has launched a community garden. It seems that if the food movement is going to have a religious element, it’s going to be ecumenical.
Of course that doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Health problems caused by poor food choices are the greatest in the states that have the highest levels of church attendance. In those states, church-goers are more likely to be obese than those who don’t attend. And pastors are more likely to be obese than their congregations. I don’t think there is necessarily any correlation between attending church and eating properly, but it does seem fair to conclude that pastors in general aren’t doing enough to combat obesity in their communities and congregations.
I’m hoping to describe a Wesleyan food ethic that is consonant with the food movement and that might add something worthwhile to the conversation. Maybe by the time I finish this thing that will already have been done. If so, that would be a good thing.
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