I met a dear friend at a coffee shop not far from where A went to high school. I had hot tea, because my thermogenics can’t support an additional coffee+trimmings each day.

I headed a little south to collect a lunch sandwich–there’s a bakery not far from there that I’ve treasured ever since I found it in 1991. (They make the best cinnamon rolls (!= sticky buns, people) I have ever had. You should come to Austin to eat one.) I chose a “petite” sandwich, which came on their wheat bread…baked in what seemed to be the loaf-pan size we have at home. It seemed small, in a way, because I’m now used to the big slabs of bread now commonplace, but my tummy really is full of avocado and greens and cheese. It was plenty.

My scale continues to be at odds with how my body feels — including my hungries — and I keep intending to retrench for a few weeks, only to not quite seal the deal. My teatime friend shook her head at me–“You look fine. You look good, just right for you. You know how it is when people get too gaunt…?” Which is likely true in several dimensions, but not in the ‘published medical weight metrics’ or (I fear) the A1c numbers dimensions.

As I drove southward along Lamar Blvd, I passed all sorts of restaurants, most of which I’ve patronized: Uchiko, Taco Shack, Rudy’s, Snooze…

And I thought: who would eat at Snooze, a super-indulgent-though-very-tasty breakfast spot for lunch? My imagination conjures a collection of co-workers, laughter, and a, “Ohmygoodness, I shouldn’t, but that pancake sampler is just calling to me….”

A latte. A double-wide sandwich. A cinnamon roll. A pancake platter. A little more, and a little more, and a little more…

made easier by the magic of only having to walk in and ask.

I’m not saying I eat more healthily on my own at home, because I frequently don’t—I often opt for the home equivalent of convenience food when left to my own devices. But I remember when my life — our lives weren’t like this.

When I was little, going to McDonald’s (or Hardee’s — we lived in the South) was exotic. Not simply because that’s how my parents operate, but because in 1974 fast food was rare and restaurants unusual. Compare that to my lunchtime drive. One of the greatest difficulties of contemporary privilege-life, I think, is how much license we have. I mean, folk often call it freedom, but in these respects it’s really license.


4◦ freedom to behave as one wishes, especially in a way that results in excessive or unacceptable behavior.

The gap between my envisioned food-life and my actual food-life is license. Who will tell me no? What stops me from swinging by the P.Terry’s for a milkshake? Or worse (for me!) opening the pantry and eating a third of a box of crackers? (Triscuits. They’re satisfyingly hearty, plus: salt.)

When we were made with the possibilities of free will, and landed in the midst of our natures (which tend to separation, to turning in toward self),

we ended up with license as well as freedom.


Dr. Wilton, I suppose in deference to modern phrasing, writes, “Christian liberty… is not a matter of being ‘free for.’ It is a matter of being ‘free from’— free from the horrible consequences of sin” (30). He’s paraphrasing from the twentieth chapter of the Westminster Confession, but it still catches my ear today in this my perhaps wholly secular context.

My operational default, and I’m not special, is ‘free for.’ Said like that, I hear “free-for-all,” and maybe that’s where we’ve all arrived — one big brawl of choosing.

How, then, would I here frame ‘free from’? Free from A1c numbers inching me up into diabetes, and then into its complications? Free from regret that my past narrowed down my future such that I couldn’t care for My Sweetie in the ways I want to be able to? Those qualify as horrible consequences…

…but like sin’s other consequences, what if they’re a little too remote

to stave off the sirens of license?

Wilton, Carlos. Principles of Presbyterian Polity (2016).

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