Saturday, September 1, 2012

What's Wrong with Fat Free Brownies?

I must confess that I was absolutely elated one day when, perusing the aisles of a local supermarket a few years ago, I came across FAT FREE No Pudge Original Fudge Brownie Mix.

Let me reiterate: Fat Free Brownies.  

The box was in my cart within seconds and I vividly recall presenting them to my mom, enthusiastically explaining, "And we could eat the WHOLE pan and not gain any weight!"

Oh, those brownies are so good. As stated, they are truly decadent, fudgy, and chewy, I think we did, indeed, finish off the whole pan in a day.

Then, just a day or so ago, I was listening to a homily given by Rev. Gary Selin, who was preaching at the church Chris and I attended while we were living in Virginia.  It was through his homily that I came to realize these glorious, guilt-free brownies are, in fact, quite dangerous.

Of course, they are not evil, in and of themselves.  Certainly not!  However, the mentality they create can become the means for evil.

What is the danger with products like fat free brownies, diet soda, or lite beer?

Look at my rationale above: you can eat or drink as much as you like and not face the consequences--no fat, high calories, or excessive sugars to be faced.

These products train us to seek a pleasure that is divorced from its natural effect.

God is omniscient and there is such perfect logic in how He designed creation.  God created certain foods to have particular qualities.  Butter, chocolate, cream--these are supposed to have high fats and high sugars so we would enjoy them, but realizing they will cause wider waist lines, we would eat them in moderation.

God has set-up nature so that with sugary sweetness comes calories.  Thus, we are supposed to enjoy our ice cream but expect some calories because of it.  And if we can't afford those calories?  We choose an apple instead.  Reason governs our actions.

However, when we artificially remove the negative consequences, suddenly there is no need to be temperate, to keep reason directing one's passions.  Remember that vice called gluttony?  Eat the whole pan of brownies and gain no fat...why not?!

There is something actually a bit perverse about seeking pleasure and simultaneously cutting it off from its natural, God-given consequence.

Look at where this train of thought leads is so imperceptible and unassuming that I never connected the dots until the priest did so for me...

Can you think of another pleasure people pursue without its natural consequence?  Something people can enjoy as much as they desire, whenever they desire it, because they have cut-off the God-given consequences of said action?

Fat-free brownies and contraception are based on the same exact ideology and it's a dangerous one for our souls.

Now, I'm not saying boycott No Pudge Brownies!  But don't fall into the same thought process as I did: don't think it's fantastic that you can have your cake and eat it all.  

Remember that our use of food and drink effects our spiritual life.  As the great spiritual classic Imitation of Christ explains, "When the stomach is full of food and drink, debauchery knocks at the door."  

Gluttony has eternal consequences, no matter what the No Pudge Brownies may state.

I would like to conclude with a particularly striking quote from Rev. Selin.  (If you want to hear his whole homily, which I highly recommend, you can find it here--just look for Jan. 20, 2008.)  

"When modern man forgets his soul, he takes great care of the body.  There are more gyms today than than retreat houses; more beauty salons than churches.  A person can spend two hours/day in a gym, but not even five minutes/day on bended knee in prayer.  And then there is the scandal of the poor who go hungry while we waste food.  It's the story of Lazarus and the rich man over and over again.  We need to make reparation for our sins of gluttony, delicacy, and excess.  'Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams' (from Brothers Karamazov)."