First Things on Rhetoric of Sin and Control in Orthodox Christianity and in Eating Disorder Recovery

First Things on Rhetoric of Sin and Control in Orthodox Christianity and in Eating Disorder Recovery May 21, 2014

Really fascinating piece which I hope sparks (see what I did there?) a much-needed conversation:

One cannot encounter Orthodoxy without also encountering food aplenty. People customarily do not eat their first meal until after receiving the Eucharist, so eating together comes to define the community. Along with the times of feasting, four fasting seasons collectively span sixteen to twenty-two weeks each calendar year, giving rise to popular Orthodox cookbooks featuring extensive “Lenten” sections with fast-friendly recipes.

While I rejoice in the way shared meals can unite believers, as an Orthodox Christian in recovery from bulimia, I also find the Orthodox stress on food challenging. Eating disorders are rarely discussed within Orthodox parishes. When this topic does arise, efforts to ensure doctrinal soundness inadvertently frame “the Orthodox response” to eating disorders in a manner that seems at odds with advice from medical and mental health professionals.

more (and I note that this is yet another example of my old hobbyhorse, in which spiritual metaphors which are necessary and life-giving to one person can be unhelpful and even damaging to another–why we need a diversity of vocabularies and metaphors, see point #4)


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