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  Blog Noir. An interplay of cultural references, snark, the occasional smutty joke, Dadaism, Mamaism, and a genuine outrage at the horrors of The Situation.

--to paraphrase Freddy el Desfibradddoro
Sunday, October 07, 2007
We Don’t Swallow


To our Latin-speaking forefathers, swallowing was gluttire, a word that is also the root of "gluttony," one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

As you remember, last year’s Cavendish Encyclical was about the dangers of gluttony, a topic that has been at the forefront of my mind since Mrs. Betty Overholser skipped services to escort her growing daughters Nora and Nellie to the clothing store. You must recall the Encyclical’s conclusion that the Overholser women would today be closer to God if they tried to distance themselves from saturated fats!

Missing services is surely a sin of omission, but buying larger clothes for children who consume too much is simply enabling them, and hence is an additional sin of commission. My sainted mother, when I was a husky lad, used a shoehorn and whale oil to force me into my old clothes. I still remember her singsong voice: “No new clothes for Prurience, as long as Prurience keeps inhaling licorice sticks between meals!” Soon simple respiration became a challenge, and I grew mindful of my weight in a way I had never been before! I remember one October morning, walking home in the wind and rain. As my jeans constricted my blood flow, I saw Catherine of Siena materialize in front of me. She lectured me on the evils of gluttony, and I realized that if my own attempts at bodily discipline failed, I would need to rely on some Other Power to discipline my body!

I remember a later epiphany when, having survived into adulthood, the widow Sheila, of whom I have spoken to you before, instructed me further in the voice of Catherine of Siena. She told me that I could repay the martyred saints by helping others discipline their bodies! And how she made me labor in the fields of the Lord! Of course, when I related this imperative to Mrs. Overholser, she understood it in completely the wrong way, and to this day I am grateful to Judge O’Grady for viewing my offer in the theological light in which it had been intended!

But I digress. When it came to light that I had issued a “Secret Opinion” pursuant to last year’s anti-gluttony Encyclical, some of you suspected me of speaking out of both sides of my mouth (Indeed, at times when my blood sugar level falls during a sermon, I have been known to suck on a Carl’s Jr. M&M Shake, and this does cause me to talk about of both sides of my mouth. But my point is that both sides are saying the same thing. It is sort of like getting one sermon in Stereophonic Sound. Seriously. What’s not to like?)

Today’s Reading will bear this out. In order to reassure you, I offer you selections from both last year’s Encyclical, and the “Secret Opinion” that has your knickers in a collective twist. As you will see, there is really no contradiction between the two:

The 2006 Cavendish Encyclical Contra Gluttony:
It is the excessive desire for food that typifies gluttony, for we must not forget that over-consumption of food necessarily leads to its withholding from the needy.
The 2007 “Secret Opinion” on the Encyclical:
Since the sin of gluttony applies when over-consumption deprives the needy of food, “excessive desire for food” only applies to those foods that the needy might crave. So it is gluttony to eat too many staple foods and other products sold at the Piggly-Wiggly, but never gluttony to eat too many gourmet items that the masses do not crave, such as products that arrive from Harry and David, or items bought at Whole Foods.

The 2006 Cavendish Encyclical Contra Gluttony:
Gluttony applies not just to food, but also to resources. Indeed, the United States consumes over 25% of the world’s resources, despite being less than 5% of world population.
The 2007 “Secret Opinion” on the Encyclical:
St. Thomas Aquinas defined one of the five aspects of gluttony as studiose or “eating too daintily.” For this reason, if you have to drive somewhere, it is Godly not to mince around in a Prius, but rather one should eschew daintiness and make sure you have a vehicle that can go off-road, like a Hummer that has been upgraded to 1000 HP.

The 2006 Cavendish Encyclical Contra Gluttony:
Remember that associating with gluttons disgraces your family. This is the message of the Book of Proverbs 28:7: “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.”
The 2007 “Secret Opinion” on the Encyclical:
For this reason, if your friends run the risk of consuming too much, like at a keg party or an auction for lucrative government contracts, it is important to drain the keg yourself or arrange to be awarded a no-bid contract prior to the auction, thus keeping yourself from becoming a “companion of gluttons.”

Some critics have written that “Reverend Cavendish’s ‘Secret Opinion’ on gluttony proves him a modern-day Augustus Gloop, straining to justify in private the very behaviours he rails against in public,” (Mincing Minister’s Monthly). I can only remind you that gluttony is a characteristic of Beelzebub, of whom in the past I have warned you against (and here I note that Mrs. Carrington Bertram is again not present in our Holy Precincts, only confirming my suspicions that she is and always has been on the brimstone end of the mineral-theological spectrum). If I am against Beelzebub, how could anything I write be for Gluttony?

Others have claimed to see contradictions between the two documents, but I remind them that that the Encyclical and the “Secret Opinion” were intended for different audiences. Of course, the theologically literate are better able to understand the nuances of my “Secret Opinion” than the hoi polloi. To say that the two documents contradict each other is to miss the point. I am not arguing that "swallowing is not bad," I am just saying that in many cases, gulping things down is not swallowing. And we do not swallow.



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