UgBlogWeek Day 7 – Gluttony

By on October 25, 2015

Gluttony is a word that is derived from the Latin word ‘gluttire’ which means ‘to gulp down’ or ‘swallow’. It is one of the seven deadly sins and relates to an individual over indulging in the consumption of drink, food or even wealth so much that they begin to waste it out of extravagance.

The relationship between Gluttony and greed is extremely close so much that the two are often interchangeably used. However, the difference lies in the fact that with greed, one will want a lot for himself without necessarily using it and while creating a less-than-desirable situation for others while gluttony is more about an individual’s  personal desire to satisfy him or herself beyond required levels and it may or may not have anything to do with others.

In the Christian faith, gluttony is regarded a sin especially if the excessive desire for food leads to a situation where the needy are unable to have some food for themselves. Many Christians believe that gluttony is solely about food and drink but it actually does cover a lot more than that. If an individual wants more for himself than he requires, there is a chance that they will be pushed to step on a few toes here and there in their attempt to satisfy their appetite. Whether it be food, drink, space, property, attention; all these are categorized under desires that lead to gluttony.

In the Jewish tradition, there are 613 commandments that Jews must keep according to The Rambam, a preeminent medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher and astronomer. Among these, gluttony is strongly condemned. It comes in at number #169 and the Jews are taught “Not to eat or drink like a glutton or a drunkard (not to rebel against father or mother)”.

A good number of poets have equally expressed themselves on gluttony over the ages, for instance Callimachus the famous Greek poet stated

All that I have given to my stomach has disappeared, and I have retained all the fodder that I gave to my spirit.

The very famous quote “Eat to live, not live to eat” is often said to have been made by Socrates and this too lends credence to the fact that gluttony has been shunned right from way back.

There is also the famous quotation from Rhetorica ad Herennium IV.28 : “Effe oportet ut vivas; non vivere ut edas” (“It is necessary to eat in order to live, not to live in order to eat”).

The book ‘Devils, Demons, and Witchcraft’ compiled by Ernst Lehner states that people who commit the Sin of Gluttony are punished in Hell by being forced to eat rats, toads, and snakes.

In nearly every culture and faith around the world, glutton is looked at as a sin that will drive anyone to cause further sin and inflict pain and suffering on others just so one can satisfy their desires.

Nineteenth-century Russian Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov summed up the sin of Gluttony in these lines:

“If you please and pamper your stomach, you will hurl yourself over the precipice of bodily impurity, into the fire of wrath and fury, you will coarsen and darken your mind, and in this way you will ruin your powers of attention and self-control, your sobriety and vigilance.”

Gluttony is usually associated with pig and the colour orange.

The challenge for every human being is therefore to take a hold of their levels of satisfaction and thus starve the demon of gluttony. As long as one has gotten what they need, they should work towards letting others have a share of what they too need.  For one to overcome the urge of gluttony there is a lot of self discipline that must be mastered. There is no self-help book or expert that will give you the perfect remedy for gluttony. It is up to you to think long and hard about what the effects of gluttony will be and if they are worth suffering or if you are keen to live a longer and happier life – free of the pressures of over indulgence.

The one whose concern is with that which enters the belly will discover that his value is found in that which goes out of it – Imam Al-Ghazali

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