Tumblr Vimeo Feed

To Love Oneself Through Food: Geneen Roth and a Christian Resistance to Compulsive Eating

As they strive for slenderness, many women in the United States express lifelong frustration with food and their own bodies. Every reader of this piece, if she herself does not experience frustration at her own body shape and size, likely knows at least one woman who chronically diets, expresses displeasure at her thighs and stomach, and hopes for that sunny day that she can lose some amount of weight so that she can go on vacation or fit into a certain dress. It is commonplace for young girls to scrutinize their thighs, waist, and arms as they wish to sculpt and trim themselves according to the airbrushed images they see in advertising. This pressure affects women of all different kinds of body sizes—constant disapproval of one’s body is a staple of North American womanhood.[1]

This fixation on losing weight results in dangerously underweight bodies, as women diet and exercise obsessively. Ten million US women now suffer from anorexia and/or bulimia, and at least half of them admit to feeling dissatisfied with their body size. The economic success of the almost wholly ineffective diet industry, now worth almost $70 billion a year, reflects this dissatisfaction. This dieting obsession also indirectly contributes to the epidemic of dangerously overweight bodies as many women fail at dieting and then succumb to unhealthy overconsumption. When they quit their diets, they quickly gain back all the weight they have lost and then some. Thus, as we continue to idealize female thinness with full force and vigor, women struggle with fatness more than ever.[2]

Christians cannot afford to dismiss many women’s fraught relationship with food and their own bodies as a sort of trite gender niche issue fit only for talk shows; this phenomenon is a spiritual crisis that should spur the deepest reflection of Christians upon the meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Given the complexity of the problem, I will explore only one dimension of it in this essay: women’s practices of compulsive eating, namely, eating that is not about nourishment of the body through the proportionate intake of food but, rather, about either shrinking the body by dieting or expanding the body by bingeing.[3] We cannot theologically analyze the trends toward eating disorders and obesity until we take an uncomfortably close-up look at what happens to women when they believe their only choices for happiness are through dieting or bingeing. We cannot reform society’s views toward food and the female body until we understand what is happening to women in the details of their everyday lives. To this end, I engage with the work of “spiritual but not religious” best-selling nonfiction writer Geneen Roth, in particular her 2010 Women Food and God, to argue two points: first, that eating practices and fundamental religious beliefs are profoundly interconnected realities, and, second, that practiced respect for the body is indispensable for women attempting to confront their emotional and spiritual pain.

The Geneen Roth Story

Geneen Roth has written and lectured about food and the female body for decades. Her determination to help women stems from her own struggle with food, dieting, and her body. As a child, Roth sought sanctuary from her parents’ tumultuous marriage by overeating privately.[4] She subsequently became convinced that her weight problem had caused her parents’ strife, and she commenced a slough of dieting regiments. For Roth, bingeing and dieting served important, mutually reciprocal functions in her life: “I started dieting the same year I started bingeing,” she explains, “Dieting gave me a purpose. Bingeing gave me relief from the relentless attempt to be someone else.”[5] Bingeing provided Roth an escape from the pain and loneliness of her life, and dieting then provided a channel for guilty self-reform. And back and forth. She undertook a decades-long foray into the world of dieting where she attempted the All-Grape-Nuts diet, became addicted to laxatives and amphetamines, and spent months in a sugar-crazed haze of bingeing. She varied in weight from a mere eighty pounds to uncomfortably overweight.[6] Roth thus spent the first half of her life gaining and losing over one thousand pounds.

At her breaking point, she made a desperate choice. Exhausted by the grind of the binge-diet cycle and seriously contemplating suicide, Roth decided that, instead of killing herself, she would stop dieting and simply accept herself as very overweight (which she was at that time). This decision marked the beginning of a new form of self-relation, and as a byproduct, she did eventually arrive at her natural weight.

Roth’s story is important not because she definitively lost weight, but because she stopped trying to fix and numb herself through dieting and bingeing. She underwent a dramatic spiritual transformation in her attitude toward her body, and it is this shift in body praxis, not Roth’s weight loss per se, that I encourage women struggling with food and weight to consider. Although Roth espouses a religiously eclectic perspective, her claims regarding the spiritual valence of eating and the body as a site of dignified self-knowing freshly crystallize the fundamental insights of Christian anthropology.[7]

God is in the Food

Roth breathes new life into the Christian belief that food and the act of eating are deeply connected to God. Christians harbor a fundamental belief that God intended us to take joy in the goodness of creation and the body. The gospels are shot through with tableaus of Jesus feasting with the poor and the outcast as well as parables in which he compares the inclusive graciousness of God to a wedding banquet (Mt. 15:32–39 and 22:1–14; Mk. 6:34–44; and Lk. 14:1–24).[8] Eating with diverse members of society punctuates Jesus’s life at crucial junctures: breaking bread with the disciples before his death, he says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lk. 22:14–20), and, in John, he catches fish with them on the beach after his resurrection and says, “Come, have breakfast” (Jn. 21:1–14). Womanist, feminist, and liberation theologians have employed these kinds of passages to point out that Christians are called, in following Jesus, to break bread with all people, especially those who are impoverished or considered unlovable in society.[9] I want to add that the gospels also call Christians, in imitation of Jesus, to nourish themselves and each other with food. Eating thus mediates God’s intentions about the concrete shape of human flourishing in the everyday. The gospels do not suggest that a woman needs to make herself thin through the restriction of food or that she should best enjoy food through bingeing on it. They portray God as wanting the ongoing nourishment of all and the occasional celebratory feasting of all. This depiction of the spiritual dimension of eating matters for the food crisis many women in America are experiencing.

Partaking of food constitutes a spiritual praxis not only at public, celebratory feasts, but also when one woman, any woman, sits by herself with something like a plate of spaghetti and contemplates whether she can resist the compulsive urges to binge or restrict. When women are unable to use food simply to nourish and take pleasure in their bodies out of gratitude to God because they struggle with food compulsion, it deeply concerns God and all that God desires for them. Roth captures this truth in her descriptions of what happens inside the minds of women as they make decisions about eating—whether women acknowledge it or not, how they explicitly choose to consume reveals their implicit beliefs about the value of their life and its potential connection to joy and peace:

Our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself. I believe we are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions; everything we believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when, and what we eat. [. . .] If we are interested in finding out what we actually believe [. . .] we need go no further than the food on our plates. [. . .] God—however we define him or her—is on our plates.[10]

How a woman eats every day expresses her real beliefs about whether she is loved, by God and by others—or not. God is in the cake, the cornflakes, and the broccoli.

Roth suggests that women eat compulsively (that is, when they are not hungry) because they believe at a deep and often unexamined level that they are fundamentally damaged, that they are consequently devoid of love and peace, and that food is therefore the best source of security they can procure for themselves in the moment. Food becomes a focal point, a sanctuary, when compulsive eaters believe their lives are intolerable, or they are grieving for the death of a family member, or they have been laid off, or they are unmarried and lonely. Roth states, “Compulsive eating is an attempt to avoid the absence (of love, of comfort, knowing what to do) when we find ourselves in the desert of a particular moment, feeling, situation.”[11] Compulsive eating keeps feelings of abandonment and despair at bay, and even when compulsive eaters experience happiness, they still want to overeat because overeating has already been encoded as happiness and security. In this vein, Roth suggests that a woman who consistently overfills her plate and consumes to the point of feeling sick probably believes that the world is hostile and isolating, and that she must stock up on food as her only real source of comfort.[12]

Some women then recognize their bingeing tendencies and become so scared of being out of control, especially if other areas of their lives feel out of control, that they swing in the opposite direction and dive headfirst into dieting regimes. A woman who chronically restricts the food on her plate probably believes that the particular agonies of her existence will be manageable if she can control what she is allowed to intake.[13] In particular, she believes her dietary self-discipline will compensate for her fundamental sense of being damaged or abandoned—if she can punish herself into shape, she can manage the rest of her life, and she will then be worthy of love. In explaining the mindset of women who feel this way, Roth explains that “being thin becomes The Test. Losing weight becomes their religion. They must suffer humiliation and torment, they must enroll in an endless succession of dietary privations, and then and only then will they be pure, be holy, be saved.”[14] Through diet, these women believe they will come ever closer to approximating the cultural image of the perfectly tailored, trim, and elegant woman.

For Roth, food compulsion mediated either through bingeing or dieting ultimately fails because it is an abuse of the physical to address emotional and spiritual pain women believe they are incapable of facing head-on. In this way, compulsive eaters try to shrink themselves to fit inside their fixation on food, and they make their precious lives narrow and joyless: “By collapsing the whole of our wanting into something as tangible as butterscotch pudding, we cancel poetry, sacredness, longing from our lives and resign ourselves to living with hearts banged shut. [. . .] We don’t want to eat hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to be hot fudge sundaes.”[15] When women believe they are not worthy of experiencing interior peace and delight within the actual ambit of their everyday lives, they either fixate on the momentary joy of food or gain composure through the denial of food. For Roth, then, the question becomes: how can women learn to use food as a way to express a sense of fundamental lovability with themselves, others, and God?

Unlike some Christian figures who have tinkered with the connection between weight and spirituality in alarming ways, Roth is not claiming that fatness is an iniquity for which women are entirely culpable and need to get over as they battle their “demons.”[16] To the contrary, Roth believes that we need to get beyond our yearning for thin bodies and our stigmatizing of fat ones and instead think more about how each person, with her particular body size and shape, can care for her own body. Roth is thus shifting the interconnection of weight and spirituality away from the illusory, ever-shifting image of the Thin Woman and toward the learned praxis of embodied self-care that must be tailored to each person of any size. It does not matter if a woman is 120 pounds: if she eats compulsively through bingeing or dieting, she needs to take an honest look at her food conduct and can potentially benefit from Roth’s insights.[17] Conversely, a woman may technically be classified as overweight for a variety of reasons related to overall health, genetics, and age, but if she exhibits the kind of embodied praxis of self-care that Roth ultimately articulates, then her praxis and her body are to be celebrated and respected. Overall, then, Roth’s paradigm shift allows women to contemplate how to be kind to themselves and to value their bodies, rather than punish themselves for the supposed sin of flabbiness.

The Flesh

Roth deepens Christian thinking about the goodness of the body. Christians have always labored to articulate the goodness of the body as created by God and redeemed through Jesus. Christian theologians today, especially feminist and liberationist theologians such as M. Shawn Copeland, Elizabeth Johnson, and Jon Sobrino, among many others, have insisted on the inherent dignity of the body against various kinds of philosophical dualisms that attempt in varying ways to identify the essence of the human person with the immaterial soul, spirit, or mind and then to relativize or belittle the body as something inferior and ultimately transient. One can see the patristic theologian Augustine of Hippo struggling with his Neoplatonic and Stoic inheritance, and his deep suspicion of the female body and of sexuality in general, as he tried to hold in tension the goodness of the body with his desire to gain eternal life and slough off the body as “corruptible.”[18] This permutation of suspicion toward the body runs deep in the Christian tradition and eventually intersects with modern Cartesian dualism, which frames the body as a kind of objectified and mechanized res extensa that merely facilitates the mind’s engagement with the world.[19]

Practices of sanitizing, domesticating, and distancing the body are not in the past, nor are they a problem only for philosophers and theologians. In her analysis of compulsive bingeing and dieting, Roth identifies an insidious form of dualism in the body hatred of women who wish to trim, tailor, tuck, suck, sculpt, deprive, or overstuff their bodies as they live out their compulsive relationships with food. This kind of dualistic self-identity plays out in different ways depending on whether a woman diets or binges.

First, Roth explains that dieting, as a desperate lifestyle choice in which one chooses to apply a heteronomous code of eating rules upon one’s body, falsely presupposes that the body is unruly and cannot be trusted. Dieting is a doomed practice that creates more frustration because, through it, women attempt to fix whatever they think is deeply wrong with themselves, namely, their bodies.[20] But even if they lose weight and shrink down to their goal weight, they realize that being thin does not take away their fundamental sense of unhappiness with their bodies. Even though women continue to diet, it cannot make good on its promise of peace:

We don’t want to be thin because thinness is inherently life-affirming or lovable or healthy. If this were true, there would be no tribes in Africa in which women are fat and regal and long-lived. There would be no history of matriarchies in which women’s fecundity and sheer physical abundance were worshipped. We want to be thin because thinness is the purported currency of happiness and peace and contentment in our time. And although that currency is a lie [. . .] most systems of weight loss fail because they don’t live up to their promise: weight loss does not make people happy. [. . .] Even a wildly successful diet is a colossal failure because inside the new body is the same sinking heart.[21]

Many women have come to believe that, once they are thin, their lives will be manageable and they will suddenly be eminently deserving of love, success, and attention. But here is the thing: when women do not respect their bodies as they are, before dieting, becoming thin cannot manufacture that self-respect out of thin air. Once thin, women will still feel empty, fragile, bored, and lonely. The praxis of self-hatred will never produce a state of self-love.[22] Furthermore, when women who have gotten thin realize this grim truth, they often give up and gain back their weight. Then they think that being overweight is the source of their unhappiness, so they try to get thin again. This kind of yo-yo dieting wreaks havoc upon the body’s cardiac health and organ system over time. The body is not supposed to fluctuate with gaining and losing the same twenty, sixty, or one hundred pounds over and over again.

The body also pays the price when we binge. It is very easy for frustrated women to go through phases where they decide they will be “kind” to their bodies by “giving in” and eating everything in sight, as if the body needs a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream immediately and every day. While the dieting woman tries to control the body’s eating impulses, the bingeing woman succumbs to them, but the shared assumption between the two is that the body is an unruly, inferior entity that can either be controlled or given free reign. This assumption degrades the body. In describing the mindset behind compulsive bingeing, Roth explains that “we want quantity, volume, bulk. We need it—a lot of it—to go unconscious.” In bingeing, women fail to appreciate food and their own bodies, and they become desensitized to the taste or nourishment of food. Roth explains, “When you like something, you pay attention to it. [. . .] You want to be present for every second of the rapture. Overeating does not lead to rapture. It leads to [. . .] being so sick that you can’t think of anything but how full you are. That’s not love; that’s suffering.”[23] To enjoy food, a woman must learn to eat in a way that feels moderate and life-giving to her body so that she becomes less hungry and eventually satisfied. Otherwise, she is creating the pain of over-fullness in her body; this is a mode of self-hatred rather than self-love.

The key to resisting denigration of the body through compulsion is a learned praxis of appreciation for one’s body as one’s gift through this life. This idea of the body as gift, as integral to existing in the material world, has common roots in the best of Christian anthropology, particularly the Christian belief in the resurrection of the body. This doctrine suggests that final redemption includes the entire human person, just as the Father has raised Christ’s body from the dead. And if the body has eternal worth, then Christians have the responsibility to treat all bodies, their own flesh and the flesh of others, with love and respect.[24] Roth evokes this sense of gratitude when she writes,

Your body is the piece of universe you’ve been given; as long as you have a pulse, it presents you with an ongoing shower of immediate sensate experiences. Red, salt, loneliness, heat. When a friend says something painful to you, your chest aches. When you fall in love, that same chest feels like fireworks and waterfalls and explosions of ecstasy.[25]

No matter what size you are, no matter how much cellulite or how many wrinkles you have, your body is your gift for this finite life. So anything you do for yourself needs to come from this place of fundamental self-respect rather than self-loathing.

Women are often upset by Roth’s advice to love their bodies simply because they are theirs. When these women look in the mirror, all they see are disgusting folds and bulges, and they cannot listen to their stomachs or eat simply for physical satiety and moderate pleasure. Embodied self-hatred precludes their ability to know themselves as dignified and to know when they are actually hungry. Thus, only when they can begin to see and eventually come to marvel at the wonder, goodness, and loveliness of their own bodies can they begin to eat and move from a place of self-care rather than shame.[26] In describing her own epiphany about this, Roth writes that “eating was always about only one thing: nourishing the body. And this body wanted to live. This body loved being alive. [. . .] Loved being able to see, hear, touch, smell, taste—and food was a big part of how I could do that. The way I ate was another way to soar.”[27] Women have to get beyond the shock of their own fleshliness, and society as a whole has to get beyond encoding fatness with disgrace. When this happens, women begin to realize that their bodies actually do not want to consume everything; physical hunger has boundaries. This realization gradually curbs the impulses for bingeing and dieting.

Praxis

It is very difficult to learn the given boundaries of one’s body; this requires a gradual habituation to one’s body through various concrete means over the course of one’s lifetime, with varying and indeterminate degrees of success. To this end, Roth enjoins women to engage in the practice of daily meditation, first thing in the morning, in which they breathe intentionally and try to sit in stillness, aware of their bodies, especially their bellies. This practice does not remove grief or loneliness, and it can be quite frustrating, even for Roth.[28] However, meditation is key to helping one learn how to return to an awareness of her body precisely when she would rather get lost in a frenzy of unfocused desire and distraction. Meditation helps women not to fix themselves per se, but rather, to distinguish themselves even slightly from their pain, confusion, and loneliness and to recognize themselves as already dignified in the stillness of their bodies. This kind of embodied self-awareness is the opposite of compulsion and therefore gradually diminishes the impulse to eat compulsively. And this kind of meditation is entirely compatible with Christian notions of contemplative prayer in which a person recognizes herself as a locus of divine presence.[29] What is novel about Roth’s approach, however, is that she connects such contemplation to women’s everyday attitudes toward pasta, potato chips, and minestrone soup.

Roth also asks that women reconnect with their bodies by also allowing themselves to experience hunger and then learning to eat the foods that best make them feel alive and nourished. In other words, Roth is encouraging the praxis of intuitive eating, which is neither a hedonistic capitulation to ingesting massive quantities of pastry and cheese nor an act of submission to a heteronomous list of approved foods. Intuitive eating does not mean eating the “bad” food that one barely managed to avoid while dieting; it means eating foods that make the body feel alive. And to figure out what makes one’s body feel alive, a person must eat calmly, when hungry, without distractions, with much pleasure, and until she is satisfied.[30] Even being able to tell when one is actually hungry is a learned ability for compulsive eaters, but Roth believes that such bodily self-knowledge is indispensable: “When you pay attention to yourself, you notice the difference between being tired and being hungry. Between being satisfied and being full. Between wanting to scream and wanting to eat.”[31] This kind of eating provides the best possible chance for a woman to savor her food with joy and gratitude.

Thus, when a woman does not feel hungry but experiences the impulse to eat, she must learn to allow herself to question and explore those feelings instead of numbing herself. This kind of self-questioning, in calmness, does not replace therapy (which many women struggling with compulsive eating may need), but it is a practiced mode of existing in which a woman decides that there is no sadness or anger that can kill her, and in which she allows herself to feel the pain, to cry, to stare at the wall, to take a walk. To feel one’s pain with this much awareness requires patience, but it is still better than refusing to sit with that pain by devouring an entire cherry cobbler. Some women who follow Roth’s guidelines do lose weight as they become more aware of their real physical and spiritual desires, but such weight loss is not Roth’s main point or final goal. She desires for women to love themselves, to see their own loveliness, and to use food to that end.[32] This idea freshly elucidates a Christian respect for the goodness of the embodied human creature, created and redeemed by God.

Conclusion

Roth’s Women Food and God contributes pivotal insights about the spirituality of eating and the significance of the body that resonate deeply with the best of Christian anthropology. I hope that Roth’s insights not only deepen Christian anthropology, but also allow Christians to become sensitized to the misery of so many women struggling with compulsive eating and body hatred. Roth says it well when she states that “after working with so much suffering in so many women, I believe that the fact that more than half the women in this country are slogging in the quicksand of food obsession is a spiritual, intellectual, and political concern.” I hope that Roth’s work will allow Christians, both women and men, to enact a sharpened political resistance to the pressures surrounding women’s body image and body relation in the United States. Such political resistance may create the chance for women to opt out of body hatred and compulsive eating practices and begin the praxis of embodied self-love. In the spirit of the Word made flesh, then, may Roth’s work help us care for the flesh of others and of ourselves.


[1] In focusing on women’s struggles with body image in this piece, I do not deny that men also struggle with heath and bodily self-acceptance. Men now make up approximately 10 percent of those who struggle with eating disorders in the United States. However, given that women still statistically outpace men ten to one in terms of eating disorders and other kinds of bodily dissatisfaction, this piece focuses on women. See Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber, The Cult of Thinness, 2nd ed. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007), 188–226. For more on the power dynamics at play in the push for thinness upon and by women in the United States, see Sylvia K. Blood, Body Work: The Social Construction of Women’s Body Image (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005), 50. Also see Carla Rice, “How Big Girls Become Fat Girls: The Cultural Production of Problem Eating and Physical Inactivity,” in Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Dis/orders, eds. Helen Malson and Maree Burns (New York, NY: Routledge, 2009), 97–109.

[2] When I speak about underweight and overweight bodies, I am using these terms in relation to body mass index (BMI) measurements. Underweight signifies having a BMI of less than 18.5 percent, standard signifies having a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 percent, overweight signifies having a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 percent, and obese signifies having a BMI of at least 30 percent; see “Calculate Your Body Mass Index,” US Department of Health & Human Services. For anorexia and bulimia statistics, see Hesse-Biber, The Cult of Thinness, 3–15. For diet failure rates (which are about 95 percent), see “Why Diets Fail,” Healthy-diet-habits.com; and “News Briefs: Statistics/Trends,” Healthy Weight Network. For obesity statistics, see “Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity,” Weight-control Information Network. The obesity epidemic in the United States is certainly complex; it is deeply related to North Americans’ increasingly sedentary lifestyle as well as our increasingly caloric and fatty food. In this piece, however, I focus on the socioaesthetic pressures around women’s bodies. For more on these other factors, consult Tara Parker-Pope’s New York Times article from May 25, 2011, as well as Hesse-Biber, The Cult of Thinness, 23–24.

[3] Not all women who struggle with health are compulsive eaters. Compulsive eating is a kind of addiction affecting a certain subset of people, and other people pick other addictions to create numbness when life is too painful. See Geneen Roth, Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything (New York, NY: Scribner 2010), 52. I also think that Roth’s constructive points about food awareness apply more broadly to anybody who wishes to cultivate the best possible relationship with food and her own body.

[4] Roth, Women Food and God, 21–24.

[5] Ibid., 23.

[6] Ibid., 13.

[7] Ibid., 13–14, 28, 58–59, and 108–10. Roth began helping women with food and weight after she decided to stop dieting and bingeing but before she lost weight, and even after she lost weight, she still struggled deeply with appreciation for her body; being thinner did not somehow cure her of her suffering. Roth’s epiphany thus encompasses more than the mere loss of weight.

[8] All allusions to and quotations from Scripture are from the NAB translation.

[9] See M. Shawn Copeland, Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2010), 61–62. See also Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (New York, NY: Crossroad, 2007), 157–58; and Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator: A Historical-Theological View (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2005), 102–4.

[10] Roth, Women Food and God, 2.

[11] Ibid., 34.

[12] Ibid., 17.

[13] Ibid., 31.

[14] Ibid., 64.

[15] Ibid., 172; 174.

[16] Presbyterian minister Charlie Shedd made this argument in 1957 with his Christian diet book Pray Your Weight Away (Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, 1957). These kinds of arguments have continued in different forms up through the present. Popular now is the Weigh Down Diet and the Slim for Him programs that fixate on weight loss as necessary to becoming closer to Jesus.

[17] Roth, Women Food and God, 52.

[18] Tarsicius Jan Van Bavel, “‘No One Ever Hated His Own Flesh’: Eph. 5:29 in Augustine,” Augustiniana 45.1–2 (July 1995), 45–93.

[19] The Christian tradition displays a striking level of complexity regarding attitudes toward the body, but it is outside the scope of this paper to trace all of these strands or to explain why many Christians have harbored such a suspicion toward the body. For insight into the impact of Cartesianism on the body in modernity, see Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 143–76. For a thorough rendering of early Christian attitudes toward the body, see Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1988). For a macrocosmic overview of Christian attitudes toward the body and sexuality throughout the Christian tradition, see Elizabeth A. Dreyer, Earth Crammed with Heaven: A Spirituality of Everyday Life (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1994), 114–35.

[20] Roth, Women Food and God, 83.

[21] Ibid., 176–77.

[22] Ibid., 78ff.

[23] Ibid., 52 and 53.

[24] Karl Rahner, “The Resurrection of the Body,” Theological Investigations, Vol. 2 (Limerick, Ireland: The Way, 2000), Online PDF edition, 214 and 216. Also consult Rahner, “On the Theology of the Incarnation,” Theological Investigations, Vol. 4 (Limerick, Ireland: The Way, 2000), Online PDF edition, 116.

[25] Roth, Women Food and God, 122.

[26] Ibid., 69.

[27] Ibid., 164.

[28] Ibid., 112–14 and 117.

[29] Consult, for example, The Interior Castle, by sixteenth-century mystic and doctor of the Catholic Church Teresa of Ávila.

[30] Roth, Women Food and God, 163 and 211.

[31] Ibid, 194.

[32] Ibid., 41 and 81.

Print Friendly
Author:
Elizabeth L. Antus :
Elizabeth L. Antus is a PhD candidate in systematic theology at the University of Notre Dame. Her dissertation will center around the topic of Christian self-love using Augustine of Hippo, Teresa of Ávila, and Sarah Coakley. Her interests include Christian theological anthropology, feminist and womanist theologies, Christian approaches to the question of suffering, disability studies, the TV show 30 Rock, and her dog, Jubilee.