The Bread of Life in an Atkins world

Jesus is the Bread of Life: “He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” How much do we value that promise in an Atkins world? For many modern Americans (including me) hunger isn’t really a problem — we worry more about fullness. The Bread of Life seems to be a quaint topic when we’re all wondering whether we need to go on a diet. Is it possible to worry about hunger in 2006? Does it even make sense to ask for bread in today’s Atkins world?

More has changed than the perception of bread — in America in 2006, the very perception of hunger has changed. In centuries past, hunger was an implacable enemy. Today, however, many people want to be hungry. Sports slogans tell us to “stay hungry”; Bruce Springsteen concurs (with some help from the “E” street band). If we’re supposed to stay hungry, then what can we do with this bread of life which will fill us forever?

I wonder, is the hunger for hunger something that Christ can fill? Can he quell the unique insatiability that comes from being too full? And I think, though I don’t know, that the answer is yes. It’s a different challenge than the ones our forebears faced. They worried about their day to day survival; we worry about ennui and boredom in a post-Fight-Club world.

And yet, we read in the 23rd psalm: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. And I think – I hope – that that ultimately includes a freedom from wanting to want. Does the “goodness and mercy” that follow the righteous include some level of spiritual “job satisfaction,” some level of freedom from ennui and fulfillment in a bored world? I hope so.

The world has changed since the days when Isaiah wrote: “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” The concept of letting our souls delight in fatness seems outdated and strange. And yet we still see those who spend money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which satisfieth not — too often, I see one such person every morning as I shave.

(The Second Nephi account of Isaiah subtly alters the message: “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.” Our role is to hearken to God’s words; our reward will be one that perisheth not and cannot be corrupted.)

The metaphors may change, but I still find that I am most at peace when I come to Christ, when I let myself be filled with the Bread of Life, and when I stop worrying about hunger, or hunger for hunger, or hunger for hunger for hunger. I think that Christ can satisfy, even in today’s world where people don’t always want to be satisfied.

The Bread of Life fills, and it also turns us toward a new hunger, a hunger that will push us in the most exciting possible direction. It is not the case that in Christ, our every hunger and desire satiated, done away with, and gone, and that we become fat and slothful couch potatoes. The Bread of Life makes us realize the insignificance of earthly hunger, and allows us to concentrate on the greatest race of all. Do we seek a challenge? Do we want to stay hungry? What greater challenge is there than attaining eternal life? And what greater hunger can there be than the hunger to return to our Heavenly home, and to progress onward from there? This challenge is sufficiently daunting that we can only focus on it when we partake of the Bread of Life, for only then are we at peace.

We stumble at times in our race back home; we tire; sometimes, perhaps, we interact negatively with the local fauna. We pick ourselves up, and continue the race. The Bread of Life fills us, yes – and allows us to focus on the greatest hunger of all. The gospel brings peace and tranquility in this world, fills us, and allows us to focus on eternity. Our hunger for eternal life propels us onward.

10 comments for “The Bread of Life in an Atkins world

  1. Seth R.
    February 21, 2006 at 12:11 pm


    We may be full, but we are generally full of rubbish.

    Anyone who has ever experimented with a variety of really good homemade bread or sampled REAL cheese (which excludes anything with the word “processed” on the label) knows that the supermarket mass offerings in the US may be plentiful, but they aren’t very good.

  2. Kevin Barney
    February 21, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    I went to law school at the Univ. of Illinois from 82-85, and during that time went to church in the student ward in Champaign-Urbana. It seemed to me that our ward had a sort of a sports theme, in that our bishop was the school’s former Athletic Director, a counselor in our bishopric was a sports psychologist for the school’s teams, and our ward earned budget money by working the concession stands for football games.

    So we have this ward talent show, and I did a stand-up comedy routine based on incorporating the sports theme more fully into the workings of our ward. For instance, I suggested that our ushers wear striped shirts and carry whistles. If a baby got too fussy, the usher would throw a yellow flag, and that family would receive a 15-row penalty and have to move back in the chapel; a second infraction would be followed by an ejection. Silly stuff like that.

    Anyway, I argued that instead of using Wonder Bread for the sacrament, we ought to use popcorn. We could probably get all we needed from the leftovers at our concession stand gig, and just think of the efficiencies involved: it was already white, and the priests wouldn’t have to waste time breaking it, as it already came in just the right size individual morsels.

    (Don’t worry, I’m not quitting my day job.)

  3. Pete
    February 21, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Let’s not forget the importance of the partaking of “flesh and blood” in all of this . . . .

  4. Boris Max
    February 21, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Atkins world? Uh, isn’t that company in trouble? Isn’t the low-carb craze fading fast? Didn’t Dr. Atkins death lead to speculation about just how fat he actually was?

    Sic transit gloria mundi

  5. Boris Max
    February 21, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Atkins world? Uh, isn’t that company in trouble? Isn’t the low-carb craze fading fast? Didn’t Dr. Atkins death lead to speculation about just how fat he actually was?

    Sic transit gloria mundi

  6. February 21, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for a thoughtful post that was just what I needed to be thinking about today. I have no gems to add, only my thanks.

  7. Julie M. Smith
    February 21, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    But Boris, the larger thought is still very relevant in a world where one can buy an entire loaf of bread for less than a buck.

  8. February 21, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    I love bread. Period. I’m grateful that the Atkins and South Beach diet are out of vogue now.

  9. ronin
    February 22, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Dr Atkins was a modern-day false prophet, if there ever was one. His company is now bankrupt, and Dr Atkins himself passed away a while back.
    But, in my Ward, I sw quite a few people who bought into the Atkins message, and negelected the truth. That Heavenly Father gave us bread, fruits and vegetables, as well as meat to eat, and from D&C Sec 89, the message that we ought to eat in moderation, and do things like exercise, in order to keep healthy. The result? Middle-aged mena nd women , who wanted the magic pill, who decided to go the Atkins way becasue it sounded so much easier. This has resulted in a Ward full of obese, unhealthy people, and a large number of heart-attacks and heart bypass surgeries!!!!!

  10. Seth R.
    February 22, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Actually, the NYT recently reported on a recent $415 million federal study that found that


    Sorry, I’ll try not to do that again.

    Anyway, the study found that really, the only thing that seem to matter on all these health issues was how many calories you consume and, more importantly, how active your lifestyle is.

    So really, as long as you watch how much you eat and stay active, it doesn’t really matter what you eat. Well, not exactly … but on all the major health issues we’ve been harping on, nope! Doesn’t matter!

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