Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Battle of the Bulge: The Diet of Daniel

Time magazine had a feature on Rick Warren, super-pastor, and his desire to make his thousands of evangelicals healthier (including himself). 

What was concocted was "The Daniel Plan," based on the story from Nach when Daniel, Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya arrive in Nevuchadnetzar's court for page training, and are given food from the king's own table (a great honor). 
I went to look up the original text, because it seemed to me Warren was taking a few liberties. 

Food from the king's table was primarily meat and wine, two things that most definitely needs kosher supervision. Daniel, also, did not want to take from the king's table lest he become too chummy with him. So the four consume only fruits, vegetables, and water, what any good Jewish boy would do when surrounded by treifus (like some Cantonists did). 

However, the other Babylonian servants are horrified; by turning down the king's food, he and his friends are in danger of incurring his wrath. No worries, Daniel soothes. This diet means no disrespect, rather it is to keep us up to best optimal servitude. Give me ten days; I'll be in better shape than I ever was.

And lo, after ten days, despite refraining from "nourishing" meat and wine, Daniel and his compadres are fitter than fiddles. Phew. Now no worries about having to eat treif.

Warren decided to derive from that story not as a desperate means of Daniel to talk his way out of forbidden food, but rather Daniel's abhorrence of luxury and self-gratification. Eh, whatever works. 

By adopting Daniel's supposed diet (along with exercise) Warren is preaching to his parishioners that the body we have is on loan, and that we are required to take care of it for whatever time we have on Earth. 

Even though he believes I am going to end up all crispy in fiery hell, Warren kinda has a point. Nowadays we have access to fruits and vegetables year round, magnificent citrus my mother never could get her hands on in the old country, fresh greenery and multicolored munchies from the the world over. And yet we reach for the stuff concocted in a laboratory, while in these plants the Eibishter infused the best minerals and vitamins to keep us up to ideal running capacity. 

An evangelical under this plan went from a size 22 to a size 2. Warren himself lost 55 pounds at the time of the article, 35 more to go to put him in the "healthy" bracket. He says he's losing the weight faster than he put it on; it was only a few pounds a year, but cumulatively they make a difference. Perhaps it was because Daniel had moral support, so the Daniel Plan advocates small groups of fellow plan followers.

So whether inspiration comes from believing Daniel was a communist, or whether it arises from a desire to give our soul the best housing, it can't hurt to have a little religious inspiration to keep ourselves healthy and happy.      

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