Over the years, I’ve wondered just what stomach-as-god religiosity would entail. Today I direct my usually serious spiritual nature towards that matter—a religion centered on stomachs.
First, the name. I’m thinking maybe Bellyacity, 1Vagalanity, Tummyology or the more elegant Abdomenalism. Other beliefs and practices would fall into place: Chefs would be admired as holy women and men, restaurants as formal gathering places of the faithful. Small groups would meet in coffee shops, bistros and diners. Like many religions, worship would involve sacred eating, observed in weekly banquet feasts. (Some fundamentalists would continue to relish all-you-can-eat buffets.) Inspirational readings would come from cookbooks and the writings of nutritionists. Inclusivity would be baked in because of the universal nature of food consumption. Stomachaches would indicate sinfulness; antacids would function as forgiveness and gut-punches as punishment. Street vendors and food trucks would serve as evangelists, bringing in new converts. The church year would be framed by seasonal food availability.
This religion would function under a large umbrella, welcoming and sheltering Keto-ists, Nofaterians, Adkinserans, organicrants, vegetarians and gluttons. Farmers would be known as saints, food servers and dishwashers as church workers. Internal medicine doctors would be revered because of their ability to mitigate food-related diseases and conditions. The doctrinal plate would be sparse, but would certainly include pre-digestion, salvation by eating and the dangers of fasting. Obesity would be admired. Food poisoning would be seen as the work of Bile, a fallen angel mistakenly rejected by the earliest stomach-worshippers. Children would be schooled in dietary habits, and home life would include food rituals in the kitchen, now repurposed as a shrine. Food would be amply shared with the whole world.
Thankfully, this 2religion doesn’t exist in our world today, so what I’ve imagined here is pure whimsy.
This entry’s title comes from Philippians 3:19 (KJV), part of St. Paul’s end-of-epistle exhortations. In his mind, the hell-bent sinfulness of gluttony (and worse) deserved punishment.
1Here I remind readers that the vagal nerve system—extending from our nether regions through all our major organs (including the stomach) to the back of our brains—is known as “the gut brain” by neuroscientists. This tightly interwoven cell bundle depends on its intake of food, water and air. It holds more of the brain’s feel-good chemicals than the brain itself! Perhaps coincidentally, the abundance and variety of society’s food-related vocabularies attest to the centrality of stomach-awareness for all of us. Its place as a religion? That’s another question….
2Thankfully, too, religions existing in our world today—Christianity included—insist that life is precious, and that no one should go hungry. We are part of something bigger than we perhaps realize!
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