Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Can Siri help me with my obesity?

Tuesday morning April 17

Since starting this experiment I have been using Siri for all my text writing tasks. She is extremely good at voice recognition. For some reason, it is easier to do effective Google searches using Siri than using the keyboard. This may be because it's quicker to refine a search using voice than typing, and so I don't settle for imprecise results as easily, I just give another command by voice and off we go.

Using Siri, I have a new personal assistant a robot personal assistant. When I first got my iPhone, I thought that Siri was just a flashy bell and whistle. Basically a showy frill. Not so, not so at all. I use her for writing notes to myself throughout the day, and I now compose long emails on the iPhone instead of waiting until I get to my computer. The biggest problem is that I can't figure out copy and paste. I fall into them randomly, but can't seem to initiate a copy when I want to. I'll have to look that up online. I'll ask Siri to search.

Yesterday I searched on the topic, how can I deal with the venial sin of gluttony. I found an excellent audio file with a good transcription. It was from a website called Desiring God, and the audio file was by a Pastor John Piper.

 "Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you." Good, succinct definition.

Obesity can have many causes Pastor Piper says, gluttony is one of them. For me, it is a primary cause. A good way to conquer gluttony, he says, is not by saying no but by offering an alternative. How can I conquer gluttony?

Hmmmm. I tried to copy a couple of paragraphs from the pastor's talk. I wound up copying the whole transcription. Clearly, I have my work cut out for me in this experiment. [I also wound up posting with no line breaks, which an anonymous commenter pointed out and I am now fixing. Bugs, bugs....]

Since I am free to distribute the transcription, I might as well put the whole discussion in. True, it makes this a long blog entry, which is contrary to blog etiquette. But I've never been all that well mannered. So here goes.

The following is an edited transcription of the audio.

How can I conquer gluttony?  - by John Piper

There are a lot of reasons for obesity in our culture. It's not just that we eat a lot of bad food. We're also pretty inactive and don't do a lot of walking, running, biking, etc. Oftentimes obesity issues are connected as much to activity issues as they are to what goes into our mouths. Muscles are designed to burn food, but if they aren't being used then any amount of food is going to result in obesity. But "gluttony" is a better word to use in this context rather than "obesity," because overeating is where the problem is, not how much you weigh. There are all kinds of reasons why a person might weight too much or too little that is not a result of gluttony.

Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.

The text of Scripture that holds out the challenge to me on this issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12 where Paul says—specifically in regard to food and drink—that he will not be enslaved by anything. He is saying, "I have one master, Jesus Christ, and I don't want any other master." Then in 9:27 he talks about pummeling his body: "I pummel my body lest I be disqualified." I think we need to recover a large appreciation for the biblical disciplines of self-denial and fasting. That is the discipline side of this issue: "I will not be enslaved by anything," "I pommel myself," and "I take up my cross daily."

I think we should esteem, extol, and cherish the biblical teaching that the Christian life is one of confronting our cravings and saying no to them. But easier said than done, right? So how do you fight the battle?

I think it must be fought mainly not with the word "No" but with an alternative "Yes." It is very interesting to me that there are so many food and taste analogies in the Bible for God himself:

 "Taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8)

"Desire the sincere spiritual milk of the word." (1 Peter 2:2)

"I am the bread of life. Come to me and you will not hunger." (John 6:35)

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." (Isaiah 55:1-2)

The implication here is that if we give ourselves to being satisfied with spiritual bread, wine, and milk, then physical hunger will lose its supreme power. The main way to fight cravings that we don't want is to experience higher cravings and have them master us.

Here's where the rubber meets the road. Say you're sitting down at the table, and you're very hungry. You know that if you give yourself free reign then you'll eat two or three helpings of everything, get up stuffed, gain weight, and feel guilty. Why are we tempted to do that?

One very practical reason is that we are bored, and nothing is happening after supper that is more exciting than supper. Therefore staying at this table and eating feels really good, whereas leaving the table to do whatever is next on our agenda feels boring. Very practically then, I would plan something after supper that you want to do. It can certainly be something spiritual, but it can also be a type of exercise or a visit with a friend.

A lot of gluttony is born of boredom. Life is not satisfying or stimulating, relationships feel empty, and work is boring, but food is always there and tastes so good. So we need to cultivate a range of appetites for great and good things, things like good literature, people's fellowship, reading the Bible, nature, work, etc.

Discover these other appetites so that things other than food can satisfy you. Then pray earnestly and cultivate and nurture these satisfactions.

 © Desiring God Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God. Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org


Anonymous said...

Hi Rae. Siri doesn't seem to know how to do paragraph breaks.

Rae said...

Thanks! Is this my GF in NJ? Good catch. I think it's blogger though, not Siri, because Siri makes the breaks when I dictate "new line" to her. She's good with commas, periods, quote marks, etc., just like a real transcriber.

But blogger often gives me these problems, and I wasn't able to view my blog after I published it this time. Thanks! Fixed.

Anonymous said...

Nope, it wasn't me!

I am thinking about the concept of "satisfaction" that is raised in essay. Also, "satiation," which I'm introducing. On the subject of food, anyway, and using it for pleasure/satisfaction, I agree with the idea of substitution. But also something else: I have noticed that when I eat a really good thing, instead of lots of less good things, I am more satisfied and not craving more, More, MORE. That's kind of at the heart of my love for really good apples. I used to have ideas in my head about food, many of which I grew up with, on which foods to buy, how much to spend etc. I often avoided buying, say, a piece of really good, fresh fish because it seemed too expensive. Also, apples, berries and so on. So I kept buying, and making and eating less good things (all assuming one can afford really good food)many of which were less healthful and ultimately, also less tasty and satisfying. When I started buying and making really good food items, and often preparing them much more simply so I could truly taste them, I found myself eating less and kind of retraining my tastes. Now, I don't find some kinds of food that I used to buy and consume in bulk all that tasty and satisfying. I still like some fast food french fries here and there, but many things that used to lure me no longer do because I've learned what really good, high quality food is.

Perhaps analogous to "cheap sex" v loving/committed? I dunno -- too deep for me, but I thought I would through this idea out there...

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.