One of the ‘seven deadly sins’, the word ‘gluttony’ is usually reserved for overeating. Not so....it’s about excess...... the ‘sex, drugs and rock and rock ‘n roll lifestyle. Mind you, ask Mick Jagger & Ronnie Wood these days, and they would probably prefer a cup of tea and a quiet snooze after a concert, to a session of drunken partying with a bunch of scantily clad and morally challenged ‘groupies’. I’m amazed that the Rolling Stones have survived fifty years on the road and lived to tell the tale.
Excess has not stopped some prominent individuals from attaining their century. The late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, whose life spanned 101years is a case in point. Her consumption of alcohol by today’s standards would be described as excessive, no doubt necessitating medical advice.
Copiously detailed by Major Colin Burgess one of the Queen’s personal attendants in the book “Behind Palace Doors,” the Queen Mother’s alcohol consumption of around 70 units per week (the safe weekly limit for women is 14) is graphically laid bare. “She would start her drinking day at noon with her favourite tipple, gin and Dubonnet: two parts Dubonnet – a pink vermouth – to one part gin.......Rarely went a day without having at least one of these.....Lunch with red wine followed, finished off with port.” At 6pm every day a she had martini plus two glasses of Veuve Cliquot pink champagne with dinner. Carolyn Chapman, commenting on the Whiskey Goldmine website about the ‘Queen Mum’ says wryly, “so much for alcohol consumption shortening your lifespan- in her case she was preserved by it from the inside out!”
Alcohol apart, the contemporary hue and cry is about food and the ‘obesity crisis’. Too much food and too little exercise will cost our health system billions unless individuals change their lifestyle. According to a 2012 study, half of the American population will be obese by 2030. It is estimated that this will require $66 billion dollars extra in health care spending to deal with the 7.8 million new cases of diabetes, 6.8 million new cases of stroke and heart disease, and 539,000 new cancer diagnoses.
I was always convinced that the Christian lifestyle produced good health. However, a 2006 study found that born again Christians in the USA are by far the heaviest of all religious groups, Baptists having an obesity rate of 30% compared with Jews at 1%, Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%. The lead researcher, Ken Ferraro said, “America is becoming a nation of gluttony and obesity and churches are a feeding ground for this problem.”
Sadly, I’m not optimistic about Scotland as successive generations continue to fuel themselves on Irn Bru, burgers and deep fried Mars bars.
Fortunately, the Bible can help us out as we grapple with ‘excess’ in whatever form it takes. The book of Proverbs warns, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” In the New Testament, the ability to say “no” to anything in excess.......i.e. self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the life of all believers. The Bible also talks a lot about fasting......perhaps a step too far for someone like me still battling against sloth !