Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Christian Life: Catfish Fridays!

It has long been the Roman Catholic tradition to abstain from meat on Friday during the season of Lent, and to eat fish, which is not considered meat. Not that I had that in mind yesterday when my family and another friend's family stopped in at Cook's Fish Barn in Comanche county, Texas.

Cook's is open only on Friday and Saturday nights, and, is renown for its catfish and steak buffet. For those of you "not from 'bout these parts" - catfish is a staple of the southern fried diet. Fillets are cut up into chunks, rolled in a seasoned cornmeal coating and deep fried into a crispy culinary confection! You can use either your fingers or a fork to eat this yumminess, which is dipped into your sauce of choice: ketchup, red sauce or tartar sauce. I prefer tartar sauce, but others like, well, other sauces... Needless to say, whatever Lenten restraint I may have had previous to last night went out the window, because I ate "a whole mess" of catfish. It was crispy, crunch, steamy and tasty. I was eating fish on a Friday in Lent, and still felt like sin! I ate fish, ignored my salad, fries and hush puppies - I ate fish, after fish, after fish.

Problem is, I can still taste fried catfish this morning. I over did it. Truly, I had too much of a questionably good thing (I thought I overheard someone saying something about eating deep fried bottom-feeding, mud-sucking fish couldn't be truly 'good' for you!). I think they were partially right - after the fact.

But I think the greater problem was my serious lack of restraint. I shouldn't have gone back for thirds. I realize, of course, that I'm not the only with that issue though. Every central Texas cowboy around me last night was gorging themselves on the tasty treat. Indeed, most Americans don't know how to show restraint at the table. So, for the first time, I experienced an object lesson on gluttony. Yes, that's right, I'm bringing theology into this post... Let's call a spade a spade and a sin, a sin: GLUTTONY.

Gluttony is an interesting sin, and its usually a sin exercised in moderately wealthy societies. It is the 'eating sin' and is marked by a lack of restraint. We do not know how to discipline our appetites and so indulge them until we make ourselves sick. Proverbs 23:21 says:

For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,

And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

Interestingly, gluttony is sin that marked many baptist preachers in the past and may still mark some today. We are teetotalers in regards to drink for the most part and we won't admit to dancing - but boy howdy, we will sure enjoy a heaping plate of fried food!

Well, its back to Lent for me: moderate portions, nice salads and plenty of exercise. The weather seems to be getting nicer, so I will be biking more to the office. Goodbye gluttony, hello grace!

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