We stopped at Holy Resurrection, a Byzantine Catholic Monastery out in the desert in Newberry Springs, California. After attending early evening prayers with the Fathers here, we were invited to dinner. It was a simple fare of spinach sandwhiches, salad and rice. We sat in a rectangle with a podium positioned in the middle of the tables. The whole time we ate, one of the Fathers read from the book The Ladder of Ascent by John Climacus (a Lenten ritual at the Monastery). This particular night the essay was: “On Gluttony.” Some excerpts included: “Gluttony thinks up seasonings and creates sweet recipes… If a visitor calls, then the slave of gluttony engages in charitable acts — but for the reasons associated with his love of food… So let us restrain our appetites with the thought of the fire [read: Hell] to come… What we ought to do is to deny ourselves fattening foods, then foods that warm us up, then whatever happens to make our food especially pleasant… Fight as hard as you can against the stomach. The man who fights his stomach causes it to shrink… You should remember a demon can take up residence in your belly and keep a man from being satisfied, even after devouring all of Egypt and after having drunk all of the Nile…” Now while I had been oscillating, it was after this last one that I decided not to ask for seconds… On a more serious side: Several years ago during a campaign stop in Vermont, I interviewed Fr. James Noonan who has been a Maryknoll priest in Cambodia — amidst extreme poverty and hunger. He said to me that we in America are “food terrorists.” That is, we take the abundance God has given us and waste tremendous amounts of money on non-nutritional junk food or spice up (“…make food especially pleasant”) and then overeat it — while scores of little children starve daily in the Third World. Yet from the pulpit (unless it’s a small Monestary in a California desert) do we seldom, if ever, hear this called what it is. The sin of: gluttony. Note: In a case of interesting timing, the next day after the monestary experience, the Arizona Republic newspaper ran an AP story saying the US Center for Disease Control just released an updated report saying a larger portion of Americans, than ever before, are overweight — and we were now one of the most overweight populaces in the world. A phenomenal 30.5% of all American adults are now considered obese and a staggering 64.5% are overweight. And one-third of U.S. kids are now overweight as well… Meanwhile, 17 million people stand on the brink of mass starvation in drought stricken East Africa.