What Are You Eating?

Edmund is tempted by sweet treats in the Narnia tales. The temptation, though childish, lures him into evil. This idea of gratification of appetite is poignant. Wormwood in “The Screwtape Letters” says that humans are “primarily food” to Satan, “the absorption of its [the human] will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense.”

The hunt evil keeps to find and feast on good squares up with the thoughts of Augustine and others who viewed evil as parasitical. And because it needs sustenance from something more life-giving than itself, we hear it beckoning all the time. Unlike other religions that pit good and evil equally, Judaism and Christianity recognize the source of all goodness is God, we are made in his image, and evil is made because of sin. It is not equal to the good and it will ultimately be defeated.

We started with Edmund and his yum-yums, but in reality Jesus makes it clear that it is not what goes into the body that defiles it, but the words, intentions and actions that come out. Jesus says we ought not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wears like the pagans who have no knowledge or hope in a God who knows us personally and cares for us intimately. I’m belaboring this point to drive at the Eucharist. The communion table sits as a paradox between the physical and spiritual. And Lewis addresses this wonderfully in “Mere Christianity.”

“And let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral,” he says. “When they speak of being ‘in Christ’ or of Christ being ‘in them’, this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts-—that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—a biological or superbiological fact. There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely’ spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.”

And I want to give you the more complete quote from “The Screwtape Letters”:

“To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense,” Wormwood says. “But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself –creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him, but still distinct.”

What do you think about evil? It’s certainly prevalent as a hungry reaction to the milk and honey of God’s plan–across the Jordan, in the land of his promise. Be filled up with Christ and let evil run off a cliff in the guts of pigs, as they did in Jesus’s miraculous casting out at the graveyard.