November 30, 2010 / Theology
This essay is neither for nor against Glenn Beck. The philosopher Michel Foucault warns us …
After twenty-five years of counseling over 7,000 women with eating disorders, reflecting on what could lead someone to starve herself to death, or to consume 20,000 calories a day punctuated by self-induced vomiting, we ask ourselves: What has gone wrong in our relationship with our bodies? There are three aspects of modern Western culture that we believe are contributing to eating disorders, yo-yo diets, and rampant body hatred—experiences that diverge dramatically from biblical revelation about the nature of our embodied selves.
Charles Darwin’s impact on the world has been enormous. Prior to Darwin, Man “. . . had been seen as a being different in nature to the members of the animal kingdom by virtue of his possession of an immortal soul, he was now seen as being part of the natural order, different from non-human animals only in degree of structural complexity.”1
Primary to Darwinism is natural selection or survival of the fittest. Natural selection is a force in the evolutionary process resulting in life and death competition within and between species. Adaptive traits enhance the odds of procreating and passing on adaptive DNA. A strong male lion kills a weaker lion and his cubs. The mother of those cubs willingly mates with the lion who just killed her cubs.2 The new cubs, by virtue of the stronger lion’s DNA, are more likely to survive and procreate. The species becomes more fit—it evolves.
An inescapable and logical consequence of being different “only in degree of structural complexity” is that humans are equally bound to the laws of natural selection. Natural selection then becomes the definition of morality.3 An act by an individual or group is wrong if it runs counter to natural selection; it is right or moral if it enhances the chances of winning the competition to survive.
Competition in the Bible
The potential for our competitive nature likely existed before the fall in the Garden of Eden. A central component of the fall was Adam’s and Eve’s vulnerability to be lured into competition with God. The serpent manipulated this vulnerability, deceiving Adam and Eve to believe that God’s motive for setting boundaries was malevolent. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.”4 Paraphrased, God has a leg up, but you can change that and become like God too. You can compete with him.
In Hebrew, adam refers to the person Adam and to mankind in general. The fall thus impacted the individual Adam as well as humankind. The first known post-fall manifestation of sinful/pathological competition occurs in Genesis 4 when Cain murders his brother Abel, who, in Cain’s eyes, out-competed him to win God’s approval.
Importantly, God was extremely benevolent in his correction of Cain. God assured Cain that he too could be accepted, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”5 God did not say Cain’s reaction was sinful. God understood that Cain’s competitive response was automatic, arising from his fallen humanity. What God told Cain is a vital message to all of us who share Cain’s sinful nature, “. . . sin is crouching at the door . . . you must master it.” Our competitive, egocentric nature can manifest in sin, or it can be mastered.
Biblical examples of competition continue beyond Genesis. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul exhorted the Corinthian Christians to agree, as they had divided themselves into Team Paul, Team Cephas, Team Apollos, and, in a real show of one-upmanship, Team Christ. In Luke 22, Jesus mediated a dispute among his twelve Apostles about which was greatest. Jesus did not correct their desire to be great, but redefined greatness in a way that is inconsistent with natural selection and its ensuing competition. He said, “turn the other cheek” and “the meek [not the fittest] will inherit the earth.” According to Christ, success does not come from winning at competitions—be they in sports, academics, economics, or politics—but from a spiritual change within us that pushes beyond our fallen instincts.
Competition is key to capitalism and America’s two-party political system: “Excellence demands competition. Without a race there can be no champion, no records broken, no excellence. . . .”6 “Competition . . . spur[s] stunning innovations and makes their fruits available to business and workers worldwide.” (President Clinton).7
Competition has also exponentially grown due to increased population and the freedom to move up and down in status. Competition in the industrialized world has essentially shifted from biological survival to status and power. From an evolutionary perspective, attributes such as power and status should be beneficial. But from a biblical viewpoint, the pursuit of power and status results from our egocentric sinful nature. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”8
Two primary needs are greatly intensified in a competitive world: the need for acceptance and status in a group, and the need to avoid attack by the group. Acceptance can be assured by power over the group (moving against people) or by not being a threat and connecting with people who have power in the group (moving towards people). Evading attack is achieved through isolation and withdrawal (moving away from people).
Anyone who has observed children has seen competitive power-struggles for acceptance. Moving against people is a power-play that results in the dynamic exemplified in the movie Mean Girls.9 Defeating others through gossip, name calling, physical violence, and exclusion can elevate one’s status. The process can be ruthless. Teens who have gone on school shooting sprees were usually victims of this type of ridicule.
Key in gaining status within a group is understanding what the group values. Poetry reading in a motorcycle gang is unlikely to be a productive strategy. So what does our culture value? American culture values individual success—those who out-compete others or out-compete the odds. We risk our lives to save a single individual. At the same time, we often neglect the needs of the weak and poor. It would be hard to defend the excess wealth that many possess in light of Scripture. We are a nation intoxicated with status, as witnessed by shows such as American Idol and the enormous salaries of athletes, celebrities, fashion models, and CEOs. We read “blessed are the meek,” but we do not truly value meekness. We proclaim “blessed are the peacemakers,” but the person on the street could likely name 100 celebrities for every peacemaker.
I bought posters for my children of famous Christian athletes. These athletes are genuinely good people who contribute significantly to charities, and are good role models. But when I step back, I see these role models are extremely rich, popular, physically attractive, and gifted athletically. Why do we not have posters of those being persecuted to feed and minister to the poor in countries where their lives are daily at stake?
The things our society appears to value most, based upon how we spend our time and money, are things over which we have the least control: physical attractiveness, athleticism, talent, intelligence, and charisma. Although with individual effort a person can improve in each area, there are inborn parameters limiting the improvement. Regardless of how hard I study physics, I have a greater chance of winning the lottery than being accepted into MIT, and I am equally unlikely to challenge Brad Pitt for the cover of GQ Magazine, no matter how hard I work at my makeover.
In a highly competitive culture that overemphasizes status, power, and physical appearance, insecurity runs rampant. Insecurity pressures me to knock down my competition so that I may look good—as with Cain and Abel. In modern competition, second place is the first loser. We seek to be good, but that is not enough. So we seek to be the best, but that is never good enough either because the things over which we compete are incapable of providing the security and identity we need. The Bible tells us that the approval of others is fleeting. Status based on physical appearance, athletics, or other performances that gain group approval is an extremely fragile foundation for self-respect and identity. Instead of trying to gain worth and identity in more biblical ways, we simply try harder or switch to an equally fruitless endeavor. “Why do you spend your money on that which does not satisfy?”10
Within this cultural milieu, children and teens seek to fit in. To fit in they must excel in areas valued by the group. Being thin is one of girls’ most valued characteristics. Sometimes this is an attempt to enhance sexual attractiveness, but thinness can easily become the only focus, regardless of how attractive or unattractive it may appear.
For some, thinness is the one socially valued arena where they believe they can excel. When a girl becomes thin, two things happen. First, there is a sense of accomplishment—in part from out-competing those who are not as thin. Then, there is also a feeling that the thinness is not quite good enough. Competition teaches us never to be satisfied with where we are, so the sense of accomplishment eventually fades. In a never-ending search to regain the feeling of accomplishment, the girl must become thinner. Perfection—being the absolute best—is the goal.
Other girls observe the obvious and ubiquitous bias against and the rejection of those who are overweight. Fearing attacks for being overweight becomes overridingly important. Thinness guards against this.
Most of the girls and women who are treated for eating disorders have enormous feelings of insecurity, a by-product of our intensely competitive world. The eating disorder helps them cope with the anxiety, to stay within or to exceed the mandated weight and body image ranges our society has established. The eating disorder is their source of identity, for it is the area where they have competed successfully. The movement toward natural selection principles has created a war zone for our youth; eating disorders are one symptom of this cultural shift.
We each have a need to be special, as we are each a unique creation. Our society defines “special” as someone who excels in areas that society values. If you do not excel in these areas, you are not special. We have honor rolls to elevate students, many of whom achieve high grades due to the hard work their DNA did in developing their brains, combined with an enriched environment because of their parents’ good fortune in receiving similar DNA. Some on the honor roll may have worked far less on their grades than a C student, and some are far from honorable in character. We especially treat physical attractiveness as special. In both cases, we are honoring certain DNA; our value system has been imbued with the principles of natural selection.
God defines “special” differently. Special is not better than; special is irreplaceable. We are not irreplaceable because of our appearance, intelligence, talents, etc. We are irreplaceable because we are unique in all the world; we have inherent value in our being because God said so. The Bible story about the one lost sheep makes no sense at all from our social definition of special. Unless that sheep was the prize stud or had some other incredible attributes, why chase after what was a one percent loss at the risk of the other ninety-nine percent? Jesus was not talking about sheep; he was talking about people. I have two children; neither could replace the other, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any measurable characteristics they may possess. As we become more competitive, we drift further away from the security of God’s definition of special. If we are irreplaceable to God and to our loved ones, regardless of our abilities, appearance, and so on, we are indeed secure. As such, we have no need to compete to obtain self-respect or worth.
Recently, on a cross-country flight, my seat-mate and I struck up a conversation about our culture’s infatuation with youth and beauty. As an eating disorders specialist, I was pleasantly surprised by her healthy views of the body. As the conversation ended, however, she said, “And if you don’t like your body, you can always change it.” She is right. For the first time in history, we can change our physical selves dramatically through braces, rhinoplasty, colored contact lenses, liposuction, extreme plastic surgery, and, of course, diet, exercise, and eating disorder behaviors.
There are human benefits from some of these medical advances. Thousands of women benefit from reconstructive plastic surgery following breast cancer, retaining a sense of normalcy and femininity. Plastic surgery has benefited countless trauma victims and cleft palate patients. Yet, biblically, the belief that if we do not like our body we should change it suggests a flawed and broken view of what is good and right about the human body.
Channel surfing reveals TV shows such as Dr. 90210, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and The Swan. These are built upon the premise that if you do not like the current state of your house, car, or body, the right people and enough money can dramatically change your life. The flaw in our culture is not that we love to renovate and recreate, for our God is a restorative God. One day, he will execute the most extreme makeover of all when he brings about the New Heavens and New Earth. Rather, our problem stems from seeing the human body in the same way that we view a computer, car, or house. Our bodies have become objects, rather than essential parts of our person.
Bodies as Objects of Display
The objectification of the body goes far beyond women’s bodies being treated as a sexual objects, but does not exclude it. In our culture, the human body is something to be sculpted, shaped, improved, and reduced. It is an object that is regarded as separate from the person. Men fantasize about sex with a woman’s body, but not about relational intimacy with the person inside. Adolescent girls admire the thin bodies of Paris and Lindsay, but give little regard to their unhappy lives. A “hot” body is seen as a possession to display, much like one shows off a new car or iPhone. It is meant to impress, attract, and even intimidate those around you.
Bodies as Objects of Work
We see our bodies as something to work for or to neglect. When a fit young woman displays herself in a bikini, we may hear, “She should be proud to show it off. She’s worked hard for that body.” And for the obese we may say, “He’s really let himself go.” Rather than commenting that someone’s “kind eyes,” exude compassion, we talk about cleavage and six-packs. Rather than being thankful for our legs that carry us throughout the day, we complain about varicose veins and cellulite.
Bodies as Objects of Dominion
In previous generations, one of life’s greatest joys was ownership of land. To cultivate and harvest a crop from one’s own land was the dream of many. Even if you did not own land, you were likely engaged in the cultivation of the earth to provide for the needs of your family and community. But now, in post-industrial civilization, most people are engaged in technological and service industries, and direct contact with the earth is diminished. The place most people call their own is the square footage of their home. So over what do they exercise dominion? What can they cultivate, improve, or impact? For many, the answer is the body. Tattoos, piercings, dieting, and eating disorders take on an element of exercising dominion over one’s body. Toning muscles, tongue piercings, and refusals to eat red meat even take on a spiritual dimension. An advertisement I recently saw at a fitness club demonstrates this: “Your Body is a Temple. Train Accordingly.”
Bodies as Objects of Pleasure
In our culture, bodies are treated as something that should experience pleasure nearly constantly. From dining out to maximizing sexual pleasure using tips from Cosmopolitan, the message is the same: Do what it takes to feel good. Although one cannot deny the pleasure of a good massage, heated car seats on a cold morning, or the sweetness of sexual intimacy, Christians need to see beyond the cultural belief that we should experience physical pleasure throughout the day. In fact, this belief contributes to many of our pathologies. Those who compulsively practice unhealthy behaviors often claim they do so because, “it feels good.” Athletes who push themselves to their physical limits describe the high of the burn, and those with anorexia describe how food restriction feels better than eating. Even some who self-harm do so because it feels good to them. Although physical pleasure may not be the only aspect of these addictions, it provides a compelling reason to continue.
Correcting the Church’s Error
Secular culture is not the only source of our impoverished view of the human body. Influenced by ancient Greek thought, many in the church believe the dualistic teaching that the spirit is good and the material world is evil. In an attempt to steer believers away from sin, some teachers have muddied the waters about the nature of the body and sin. Christians who hear that they should avoid the sins of the flesh, without having a more substantive discussion on the nature of man and sin, can come to believe that any urge or instinct of the physical body is sinful. The literal flagellation of the flesh by some Christians, and the denial of pleasure by others, is the spiritual legacy of this belief. In fact, those with anorexia who are addicted to exercise often mirror ascetic beliefs and behaviors, believing they must conquer the mortal needs of the flesh like hunger and thirst in hopes of becoming better persons. The overweight are then condemned for their lack of spiritual discipline.
To treat our bodies as objects, products, or property degrades who we are, and leads to hopelessness through endless comparisons with the young, fit, and computer-enhanced. To try to make ourselves happy only by changing our bodies ignores the importance of the interior life. This leads to an identity crisis that intensifies every time a pound is gained or wrinkle appears.
To make humanity, God first created the details of Adam’s body, and then breathed life into him. As such, the physical is quite significant to who we are. We carry in our bodies the Imago Dei. God placed a physical man and woman into a physical place. This was not a temporary state, but rather a model for how people were to live out eternity. We will forever have bodies and live in a physical world. God calls this good. Therefore we must see our bodies as essential parts of who we are meant to be, not just objects to manipulate for a particular end.
Balanced exercise and diet can be a part of the stewardship of my flesh, and sexual purity an honoring of the temple of my body. Yet I am much more than a consumer of food and sex. Learning to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the body is part of learning to live out our identity in our bodies. We interact with the world everyday through our bodies. With our faces we smile or frown; with our arms we console a child who has fallen; with our hands we serve food to the hungry; with our legs we walk beside a friend in need; and with our ears we listen to his woes. Our bodies are not objects, but are intimately interwoven aspects of our most personal identity.
A colleague at Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders tells a story that beautifully illustrates a biblical view of the body as intrinsic to a person’s identity. A husband was spending a weekend with his wife, who was in treatment for anorexia. During their free time, she found herself standing in front of a full-length mirror. Aware that she had gained weight while in treatment and experiencing the paralyzing thoughts of anorexia, she asked him, “Do you think I’m fat?” Gently, the husband walked up behind her, put his hands on her arms, and said, “I love your arms, because with your arms you hold me at night. I love your legs, because with your legs we go for walks in the park. I love your belly, because inside it you carried our children. You are perfect for me.”
We must gain a proper sense that we are whole people—body, soul, and spirit—who can develop and mature both physically and spiritually, and that these aspects of our identity are intimately intertwined. We must change our errant beliefs about the body, seeking to honor God through our whole lives—our beliefs and thoughts, actions and feelings, and our bodies. As we embrace this biblical understanding of ourselves, a growing peace and grasp of reality will allow us to offer our whole selves to God and others.
Seventy-six years ago, C.S. Lewis began his famous sermon, The Weight of Glory, with the assertion that nineteen of every twenty people would agree on which virtue is the highest. If Lewis preached his sermon today, he might receive peculiar stares and requests for a dictionary! “Virtue” is no longer an everyday word. If you Google “virtue,” nine million results appear.11 This sounds like a lot, until Google reveals forty-two million results for “luxury”12 and 280 million for money.13 A friend commented to me, “I don’t know if I have ever used the word ‘virtue’ to describe anything or anyone.”
Virtue, Then and Now
Virtue signifies conformity to a standard of right, moral excellence, a beneficial quality or power of a thing, a capacity to act, and chastity.14 In its broadest sense, virtue means the “excellence of a perfection of a thing.” It quickly becomes apparent that although we may not use this specific word in ordinary vernacular, there are things we believe to be excellent, and we strive toward the perfection of those qualities.
The Greeks believed there were four virtues that should be desired and perfected by all human beings. These traits were Justice, Prudence, Courage, and Moderation. Christian theologians added the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love/Charity. Other Christian writers exhorted seven virtues: Chastity, Abstinence, Liberality, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility. Modern culture has exchanged the traditional Christian virtues for concepts like Sexiness, Luxury, Wealth, Thinness, Stylishness, Coolness, and Self-Esteem.
When it comes to the virtuous woman, the Bible offers us the entire concluding section of Proverbs. Here, the virtuous woman is known by her hard work, generosity, wisdom, strength, dignity, and faithfulness. Yet today’s virtuous woman is defined differently by the media and marketplace, using new words.15Women are to be skinny, thin, hot, and sexy—all words that attribute her excellence to her body being a certain shape and proportion. With this comes the insidious message that virtue is found in the form of one’s body or public façade. And so, virtue can be found on the cover of a book, no matter what its content.
Surely the virtue of thinness is shallow in comparison with higher virtues, such as justice or kindness. But both the virtues of the past and of today can fall prey to the same problem of pursuing virtue for the virtue in and of itself. A man can be consumed with justice to such a point that complete justice becomes his only goal, missing out on kindness all together. In the same way, a woman can chase thinness to the point of emaciation, and lose her very self in the process. The seeking after virtue for itself can become lust. There is an intense preoccupation with or desire for that something, which often leads to a singular pursuit, enslaving the pursuer.
It is this lusting—the preoccupation with the desire and pursuit of a perfect, specific body—that creates a problem for many women (and men). Magazines full of diets and pictures of emaciated women help create and feed this desire for the perfect body. Pornography tells men what to desire, and these images taunt the everyday woman. As such, plastic surgery, exercise, diets, and eating disorders have become commonplace. Capitalism has not missed the opportunity to make a buck off of those consumed with the desire to be the right shape, cashing in on women’s fears and hopes. Caroline Knapp puts it this way in her memoir Appetites: “Our culture’s specific preoccupation with weight—particularly women’s weight—has a lot to do with our more general preoccupation with women’s bodies, not all of which is benign or caring.”16
In the end, many women are enslaved by this singular pursuit. The woman who runs five or more miles a day is lauded as disciplined even though she is physically beating her body and screaming obscenities in her head to keep going. Another’s ability to only eat salads and avoid desserts is considered honorable even as she wars against her God-given instinct for tasteful food. Constantly counting calories, and going to the gym to contour one’s thighs, stomach, and other “problem areas,” have become the new moral excellence. Family and friends note how good a mother looks, having no idea that she purges nightly to keep her figure, that her children are petrified for her health. And so, in an ironic twist, today’s woman is seen as virtuous because she is enslaved by a form of lust.
The Function of Lust
As an eating disorder therapist sitting across from often talented, bright, and witty women who have perfected thinness, I understand that lust has a real function. Women with full-blown eating disorders struggle with memories and stories that hold great harm, sorrow, betrayal, and fear. The virtue of thinness works because the state of a waistline is easier to contemplate than the state of one’s soul.17 To experience the pain of one’s stories creates intolerable anxiety. Beyond the initial lie of being “pretty and happy,” these women have fallen prey to the idea that they can trade internal terror for an external obsession. The lust for thinness silences all of their desire for connection, fears of failure, and of hope itself. Knapp poignantly captures this lust when she writes about reading a story of a girl with an eating disorder:
I envied her. I envied her drive and her focus and the power of her will, and I suspect I saw in this poor girl’s sheer determination the outline of a strategy: one anxiety (weight) as the repository for many anxieties (men, family, work, hunger itself); emaciated thinness as a shortcut of sorts, a detour around painful and confusing feelings, a way to take all hungers—so varied and vast—and boil them down to their essence, one appetite to manage, just one.18
The Cost of Lust
As with all lusts, deadness is the end of the lust for thinness. The heart loses its ability to experience joy, to live and to hope. The modern virtues narrow the person to a particular form and ultimately negate the person completely. Take the concept of thin: one is defined by being less. Intrinsic to this virtue is becoming nothing. For those with eating disorders, some actually kill themselves in the end, but before this happens, the heart has been dead for much longer. One night at dinner, I sat with several eating disorder women who had been sick a long time. I sensed death in the room. There was a silence, a fear, a lack that infiltrated the room as I realized that the women were wrestling not just with the meal in front of them, but with the cosmic question: “Will I choose death or life?”
To choose death, one gives into the enslavement of lust. Lest we see eating disorders as something extreme, we must be honest with ourselves about the things in our own lives that are easier to focus on than our souls. We find ways to kill our hope for life and to settle for seeming pleasures that become dull, that dull our hearts, and which, in the end, leave us empty, almost heart-dead.
Psychologists and theologians have argued about what a human being’s telos is—his/her purpose as a being, where s/he is headed. Both disciplines intersect at the relationship between woman and herself, others, and God. Seen as allies rather than as enemies, psychological wholeness and the scriptural idea of shalom agree that there is an inner desire for intimacy, communion, a sense of harmony within oneself, with others, and with God. “In the Bible, shalommeans universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”19 In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis captures this idea of Shalom in his picture of heaven. Its inhabitants are exquisitely beautiful and of great character. They are in harmony with each other and take great joy in the earth around them. They are men and women who are at peace with themselves and God, and they know how to live in the fullest, intimate, communal sense.
With telos in mind, virtue is the vehicle that moves us toward our created life purpose. Justice and kindness and the rest of the old virtues become means to the ultimate end of Shalom, and even things like physical beauty become a means to blessing others and reveling in the smile of God’s goodness. The telos of communion—with each other, with all that is around, and with God himself—is what determines what is virtuous, for the things that lead us toward inner harmony, closeness, and joy with one another, and hope on each other’s behalf are the true virtues.
“Pain festers in isolation, it thrives in secrecy. Words are its nemesis, naming anguish the first step to defusing it, talking about the muck a woman slogs through—the squirms of self-hatred and guilt, the echoes of emptiness and need—a prerequisite for moving beyond it.”20 Unfortunately, we still deal with pain, and things are not the way they ought to be. We all make decisions to choose death or life. So, being virtuous means that we have to live counter to a culture that exhorts virtues leading to forms of death, and we have to move instead toward the more difficult task of listening to the longings in our gut for deep, intimate communion with ourselves, with those around us, and with God. As we listen to our own hearts, we may better hear the hearts of others, wrestling with the hope and longing to find God here with us.
1. “Sigmund Freud (1856-1936),” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/freud.htm, accessed November 16, 2007.
2. This is not a fictional example, but one from the real world of lion behavior.
3. A.R. Mohler, “The Dawkins Delusion,” The Christian Post, October 28, 2007,http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071028/29872_3_The_Dawkins_Delusion.htm, accessed November 16, 2007.
4. Genesis 3:5, New International Version (NIV)
5. Genesis 4:7, NIV
6. John Hawkins, “The Best of Ronald Reagan’s Quotes Part 2,” http://www.rightwingnews.com/quotes/reagan2.php, accessed November 16, 2007.
7. “Address by Mr. Bill Clinton, President of the United States,” International Labour Conference, 87h session, June 16, 1999,http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc87/a-clinto.htm, accessed November 16, 2007.
8. Luke 6:20, NIV
9. Mean Girls, dir. Mark Waters, Paramount Pictures, 2004.
10. Isaiah 55, NIV
11. Google “Virtue,” http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=virtue, accessed on November 16, 2007.
12. Google, “Luxury,” http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=luxury, accessed on November 16, 2007.
13. Google, “Money,” http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=money&btnG=Search, accessed on November 16, 2007.
14. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “Virtue,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virtue, accessed November 16, 2007.
15. Many, including Caroline Knapp in her book Appetites, have astutely named that these new words are the continuation of the social oppression that women have been experiencing for ages.
16. Caroline Knapp, Appetites (New York: Counterpoint, 2003)
17. Ibid., 17.
19 Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans), 10.
20 Knapp, Appetites, 158.
A. David Wall
Dr. A. David Wall is a licensed psychologist serving as the Director of Psychology at Remuda Ranch’s Programs for Anorexia and Bulimia. Dr. Wall received his Ph.D. from the California School of Professional Psychology, and his M.Div. from Fuller Seminary. He has authored several articles on eating disorders as well as speaking on this topic at national conferences. He is married with two children, ages 15 and 19.
Caleb Mitchell (M.Div, L.M.H.C., L.P.C.) has spent the last four years working at Remuda Ranch as a therapist, presenter, and all around utility man. He currently spends his time attempting to find himself, camping and watching Lost with his wife, Elisa, and traveling.
Travis Stewart (M.A., L.P.C.) graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary with degrees in counseling and theology and completed his practicum in parenting (with emphasis in potty training and diaper changing). After working for 4 years as a therapist at Remuda Ranch treatment center for eating disorders, he now serves in Ministry Relations for Remuda and lives outside Phoenix with his wife Susan and two kids, Laura and Spencer.