Satisfaction Factor

#23 - Lent is Not a Diet with Rev. Carrie Carpenter

March 02, 2022 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#23 - Lent is Not a Diet with Rev. Carrie Carpenter
Show Notes Transcript

This week's episode is a little bit different  and special episode for many reasons, one being we’re interviewing Sadie’s, older sister Rev. Carrie Carpenter! With today being the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday) we wanted to talk to Carrie about diet culture and how it shows up in church culture, specifically this time of year when it’s a common religious practice for folks to either fast or give up specific foods for Lent…which can be triggering for those with a disordered relationship with food.

Carrie shares with us how she observes Lent as a clergyperson in the United Methodist Church, and how, for her, it’s not necessarily about fasting or giving things up; instead, it’s about being reflective and more intentional. It’s also about observing where there are needs that need to be met within her community, finding opportunities to consider how to live into grace, care for the people who are on the far margins of our society, and have authentic conversations about reconciliation and restoration.…and that it’s not all about giving up candy and potato chips for 40 days

We also chat with Carrie about other ways diet culture intersects with church culture and have a mini-exploration of faith-based diet books and programs: The Daniel Plan, Eat and Stay Thin: Simple, Spiritual, Satisfying Weight Control, The Weigh Down, and more!

You can stay up to date on all things Satisfaction Factor by following us on IG @satisfactionfactorpod!

Here's where to find us:
Sadie Simpson: www.sadiesimpson.com or IG @thesadiesimpson
Naomi Katz: www.happyshapes.co or IG @happyshapesnaomi

For this episode's transcript, visit: www.satisfactionfactorpod.com

This episode references:
https://www.muddychurch.co.uk/
https://katebowler.com/the-preachers-wife-2/
https://katebowler.com/

Naomi Katz:

Welcome to Satisfaction Factor, the podcast where we explore how ditching diet culture makes our whole lives more satisfying. Welcome back to Satisfaction Factor. I am Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach providing anti diet support to free thinking grownups who want to reclaim their autonomy and consent from diet culture.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor and Intuitive Eating counselor, and I help other fitness professionals disengage from diet culture, so they can improve program enrollment, engagement, impact, and retention without shame and manipulation. Today, we have a different kind of episode for a lot of reasons- one being we are interviewing my sister Carrie. With today being the first day of Lent, or Ash Wednesday, we wanted to talk to Carrie about diet culture and how it shows up in church culture, specifically around this time of year, when it's a common practice for folks to either fast or to potentially give up things like food for Lent.

Naomi Katz:

It was a really amazing conversation. And I, for one- I learned so much from Carrie, both about this topic, and a little bit about Sadie.

Sadie Simpson:

Reverend Carrie Carpenter is an ordained Deacon- so a clergyperson- in the United Methodist Church. United Methodist Deacons are ordained to ministries of word, service, compassion, and justice, and serve as an extension of the church into the world. Carrie has a bachelor's degree in music education from Western Carolina University- go Catamounts- and a master's degree in Christian practice from Duke Divinity School. She has served in United Methodist congregations over the past 14 years across North Carolina, and specializes in congregational discipleship. Carrie is currently appointed to Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Shelby, North Carolina as their associate pastor. She lives in Lincolnton with her husband Josh, her bonus kids Cypress and River, and their dog Tennessee Jed, and their cat Ruth Bader Ginsburg Carpenter Collins. Two of Carrie's greatest gifts are her two younger sisters, Jamie and Sadie. And she put that in her bio, I didn't put that in there.

Naomi Katz:

I'm sure it's true, though.

Sadie Simpson:

All right. Let's talk to Carrie. Welcome, Carrie. Thanks for joining us today.

Carrie Carpenter:

Thanks for having me.

Sadie Simpson:

So the first thing that we like to ask people who come on our podcast is to tell us a little bit about their own experience with diet culture. So can you tell us a little bit about maybe your body story or how you have experienced diet culture?

Carrie Carpenter:

Sure. Yeah. I'm Sadie's sister. So there'll be a little bit of Sadie in this story, too. But when we were kids, of course, we were around a lot of Weight Watchers. Our mom, and our grandma, and friends did a lot of on and off dieting. So it was just kind of a part of life. Even when Mama told me she was pregnant with our younger sister, Jamie, I started crying because she lost a whole bunch of weight at Weight Watchers, and I didn't want her to gain weight, because she'd worked so hard. And I also didn't want another sister. But I was glad that I got another sister. I'm also glad I have two. That's kind of my earliest memory of dieting. But then I also just remember conversations about such things for years. And I was always a- kind of a smaller framed- I was a pretty skinny kid, honestly, and stayed that way up into college. I didn't really start to become conscientious of weight gain until about my senior year of college. I was getting ready to move into that season of- well, I was a school teacher- I was going to be a school teacher, and I was band director for a while- so moving into that season of student teaching, started gaining some weight, and Sadie at the time was- kind of had gone on and off dieting, on like fake versions of Weight Watchers, where they made up their own points. And Sadie gave me this little journal, and it listed all of the different foods and what their points values were. And the best part was she made this fake slider that she had printed off of like the computer at home, that she probably scanned. And we slid it up and down and actually calculated points. And I ended up doing that during my senior year of college, and, you know, lost some weight, and I was out walking and exercising every day and yeah. Do you remember that?

Sadie Simpson:

I had totally forgotten about that slider. I did- like I'd scanned it. We had one of those big old scanners, and like scanned it in, and printed it off, and like stapled it together. Totally had forgotten about that.

Naomi Katz:

Oh my god. This is the most Sadie story I've ever heard. Like ever. I can like so picture this happening.

Carrie Carpenter:

Oh, and they were little things like eat a couple of chips, not the whole damn bag. I mean there were all kinds- I remember those instructions. And drink lots of water. Throughout the years, I kind of just stayed on that pattern of yo yo dieting. I paid money to go to Weight Watchers some, and lost weight. Did, you know, some low carb stuff sometimes, and keto, and other things, but kind of on and off. I was always anchored back to that Weight Watchers place and space, I guess. I enjoyed being in the groups and interacting with people. And as I shifted from being a school teacher to a church employee, and later a clergyperson, I also really appreciated those small groups because it wasn't something I was in charge of. Like I wasn't the pastor in charge of their spiritual development. I could sit there and talk about food too. And it was- it was very nurturing for me, and I really fostered some interesting friendships in those environments. And then, let's see, so during- during some of that time, too, I went through a divorce, still was going to Weight Watchers, started going to the gym because I was, you know, ready to lose a bunch of weight because I was newly single. And eventually, our dad just got all of his daughters involved in mountain biking and doing things outside. So I think that kind of helped shift my paradigm a little bit that maybe active living was more important than diet. Still wasn't 100% believer on that- I'm still trying to, on and off, do different fads here and there. But I had stopped pretty much committing to the Weight Watchers thing. And then ended up getting into a new relationship, and getting engaged, and what did my new almost husband do and I? We went to Weight Watchers again. And we tried it for a couple months, and we just tanked, and we never went back, and that was about three or four years ago. And then when the pandemic hit, I think that really shifted my mindset a lot, too. And just, you know, when your sister posts about this stuff on Instagram and Facebook all the time, you start to learn, and- and ask questions, and do some reading and exploring for yourself. And I mean, you just get so fatigued. Every time I'd lose weight I'd gain back out to about the same size I was before. And I just got tired of not appreciating that this was how I am built to be right now. I just feel like I'm in a very different season now, where, you know, if I need to go and buy some clothes that fit me, I don't care because they fit, and I feel good about it. And it just doesn't matter anymore. Doesn't matter what the number is. So that's where I've kind of just shifted into, this is who I am and where I am, and it's okay. There doesn't have to be a diet to dictate every step of my life. Because that's kind of how I felt for- when'd that start- 2003- 20 years? Approximately?

Sadie Simpson:

Something like that. I know. It's just- it's wild how- we've talked about this before on the podcast- just how Weight Watchers specifically is that thing that a lot of people in our generation and in our parents' generation- it's just what we were exposed to and what we've been drawn back to.

Carrie Carpenter:

You can just say, I'm going to Weight Watchers, and they're gonna be like, well, how many points is that? It's automatic- like that is already built into our cultural conversation. Especially in the south.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that. And I think, again, that's something that a lot of people can really relate to that experience, especially within the last couple of years since COVID. Like taking this time to kind of divest from some of these diet culture expectations and things. It's been a common experience that we've heard about. So anyway, let's kind of shift into talking a little bit more about your work, and about how diet culture tends to show up in church culture. And since today is Ash Wednesday- today's the first day of Lent- let's talk about that some. Because I've seen a lot of posts on social media, and about people starting some sort of a fast, or that they're giving up sugar, or something like that for Lent. And it's always felt a little bit off. And it's seemed like- to me anyway- that people tend to use this time of Lent as a reason, or an excuse, or whatever, to pursue some restrictive practices, especially with eating. And it might be a little bit misinterpreted, or misused, or abused, or something like that. So let's talk about that. But first, can you give us just a quick explanation of what Lent even is?

Carrie Carpenter:

Sure. Before I even do that, let me just throw a few disclaimers in here. Big thing to remember is Lent is a piece and a part of Christianity, and we have to be very cautious with Christianity, and remember that it's a real diverse religion. It's global. And we can be very Americanized in the way that we approach Christianity. And so we have to be really cautious when we talk about Lent, or anything in any faith tradition, that there's so many different ways that these faith traditions are observed. Some Christians are all about Lent. Some Christians do not observe Lent at all. And so I can just share with you from my own lens- and I'm a United Methodist clergyperson- but through my own lens of Lent, comes through the lens of my denomination, and through the lens of my denomination in North Carolina. It's going to look very different even in, you know, other parts of the country. Lent's going to look very different in our churches in Africa or in churches in China. People observe religious traditions in a lot of different ways.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

I really appreciate that distinction. That's- that's a really- that's a really, really good thing to keep in mind as we have this conversation.

Carrie Carpenter:

So yes, everything I'm going to say it's kind of going to come from my own theological training. And know that I'm not the expert. And just like, you know, Todd Snyder says, I didn't come down here to change anybody's mind about anything. I came down here to ease my own mind about everything. But anyway, Lent is- it's a season of the Christian year. And so some Christians observe the Christian year and some don't, but it's basically a liturgical calendar that goes from Advent through the Sunday before Advent. So Advent, of course, is four Sundays before Christmas. So that's a season. And then there's a season of Christmas that lasts a couple of weeks. So yay, Jesus is born. Advent is the preparation for Christmas. Then there's the season of Epiphany, where we reflect on light in a dark time of the year- where, you know, it's real dark outside, because it's January and February. And then Lent hits sometime in February or March. And we don't have an official start date for Lent, it changes every year, because it depends on when Easter falls. And Easter always hits on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, I feel like I need a chart like to like outline all of this.

Carrie Carpenter:

So that's why we let companies make our calendars for us, so we don't have to do all that work. But it's really challenging when you plan your year. So then Easter is celebrated in the church for about six Sundays, and then Pentecost happens, which is the celebration of the start of the church- that's when the Holy Spirit descended upon the people and started spreading the Good News of Jesus. And then for the next months, from June until about the end of November, it's called Ordinary Time. That doesn't mean it's 'cause it's boring. It means that it's ordered. So we just spend time studying more about the life of Jesus and continuing to grow in our faith. So that's the Christian year. And within the Christian year, we have two seasons of preparation or penitence, and that's Advent, which is the season before Christmas, and Lent, which is the season before Easter. And if you're nerdy like me about theology, most churches use purple to celebrate these- these seasons. Some use blue at Advent. But it's purple time. I always like it because I get to wear purple stole. So anyway, Lent is, of course, the season that we're looking at now. It's a season of 40 days, and that doesn't count Sunday, so there's really 46 days in Lent. But they don't count Sundays because Sundays are kind of little Easters in Christianity. We believe that every Sunday is a small Easter. Some people aren't at- take a day off from fasting on Sundays during Lent. So Lent, of course, begins on Ash Wednesday. It ends on Holy Saturday, which is the day before Easter. And it's representative of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. So like in the Bible, there's like, you know, baby Jesus, little kid Jesus, and then it skips till he's about 30 and he goes into the woods. And in that time, he, of course, endures some temptations, and he just prepares to begin his ministry on earth, which lasted about three years. So part of the purpose of living in the Christian year is living our life with Jesus and experiencing some of the things that Jesus did so that we can live like him. So for Christians, Lent's a time for preparation for the coming of Easter. It's a time for repentance, and fasting, and just a time to be self-reflective. On Ash Wednesday, or tonight, Christians will have ashes rubbed on their forehead like a little cross, and- and the pastor will say something like repent and believe in the gospel, or from dust you have come into dust you shall return. And this is to remind us of who we are and whose we are- that we are just mortals, but that it's the time for us to not be afraid of who we are, no matter where we are in that season of life. For me, Lent's a season of self-reflection, and I don't really give up stuff for Lent. So that's why people give up things, is the fasting piece, and we'll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. Instead, what I try to do is reorient myself during that time. I study scripture more intentionally. I'm a part of multiple Lenten worship services throughout the week. There's studies that I'll do with members in my congregations. And I try to really focus on my own spiritual practices, like actually keeping a true Sabbath one day a week- like not- not working at all. And even just finding time to be more intentional in my own prayer life. The other thing that I try to do is try to find way to grow personally, in my knowledge of other people. Where are the needs in the world around me? Where are the needs right now? What are places and people that I'm ignoring? And how can I be better focused on how to offer care, love, and compassion, just like Jesus?

Sadie Simpson:

Thinking about the theme of this podcast- it is all about how ditching diet culture can help enhance our whole lives- thinking about being more intentional with how we treat others, being more intentional with honoring self care, and rest, and that type of thing- that is very related to this. And I feel like, for people who are listening who may observe Lent, like that could be a good opportunity to kind of check in and see where there might be opportunities to be more intentional with how we go about our lives.

Naomi Katz:

So I'm curious how you feel about people using Lent as sort of like a diet. So obviously, there is a, you know, a religious component to the concept of restriction during this time. Like Sadie said, I also have seen so many social media posts from people who talk about, you know, cutting things out during Lent. And I don't get the impression most of the time- I'm not trying to make a blanket statement about everybody's intent with this- but most of the posts that I've seen definitely frame this more as like a, hooray, now I get to meet my diet goals, kind of a thing, as opposed to here's like an intentional, mindful time to, you know, practice my spiritual beliefs. And I'm just- I'm curious how you feel about the use of this as a diet time, and how you feel like that reflects- or maybe doesn't reflect- the intent of this time.

Carrie Carpenter:

I'm kind of the type of person that doesn't want to put whatever I'm doing to improve my spirituality all over the internet. I mean, that's one example just right there. But I think one of the big challenges that I have with it is that, initially- like, way back in the early church, year 100 and earlier- when people were going to be baptized and join the church, they were baptized on Easter Sunday. So for the six weeks leading up to Easter during Lent, they fasted. And the- the actual religious practice of a fast- it's a very deeply religious practice. And people can get a religious fast confused with something like intermittent fasting, and other, you know, diet, fasting terms. And it's not. It's about self denial. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was a huge proponent of fasting. He fasted before communion, I think about every time he took communion, and when he fasted he would go and spend time with the poor and offer care for people, too. It's a spiritual intentionality that goes along with observing Lent. So if you are observing Lent to diet, and you're saying something along the lines of, I'm honoring- my body is a temple, and I'm honoring my temple, and I wanna get skinny. Well, are you honoring your temple, if you're not providing the nourishment that your temple needs? A lot of times people will just say I want to give up this candy bar for Lent, or I'm not gonna eat chocolate during the season of Lent, and then they see a candy bar, and they crave it, and they pick up that KitKat, and they eat it. Well, if they already have an unhealthy relationship or understanding of who God is, how are they going to interpret that misstep during Lent? Are they going to say, oh, God's going to punish me because I had this- this candy bar? I mean, how many times do you hear people say, God is gonna strike you because you did that? And in our secular culture, there's a lot of secularization of who God is that may not be scriptural as well. So I mean, you know, in Lent, you may miss some- you may not do it right every single day. That doesn't mean God's not going to love you anymore. That doesn't mean- I mean, this is a God that forgives. The whole basis of this is his forgiveness in relationship. And I just always am so concerned that when people observe Lent, in quotes, and it turns into some kind of a weight loss or self restriction situation, that it can create a scenario where there's just some unhealthy relationships with God, with your body, with your community, and with the world.

Naomi Katz:

That's so interesting, because I think one of the things that we see in diet culture in general is this, like, very serious emphasis on perfectionism around our like eating or our restriction, whatever the case may be, and stuff like that. And then, because that's never sustainable- perfect is a myth, and we're human beings- and so instead, when we fail, we get this, like shame and guilt spiral. And so it's so interesting to hear that like, one of the biggest issues with using something like Lent as that kind of restriction and perfectionism is that it almost like amps up the guilt and shame on this like other level. I hadn't really thought about that as one of the issues here. But that's a really great point.

Carrie Carpenter:

It's one of my biggest concerns, are people who have been hurt and harmed in the church. I've been very lucky that I haven't been in that situation. But I have been in environments where I've been exposed to language that would have harmed my understanding of God. And there are a lot of people that come out of those- those cultures and those backgrounds, where there's already that baggage. And they're constantly trying to figure out, what is even going on? Who is God? What is good? What is goodness? How do I continue to grow to be a better person? Oh, here's this Lent thing. Let me go give up potato chips, and fast food, and all these other items. And then you make a misstep. What does that say, with someone with long term psychological damage from the church, too?

Sadie Simpson:

Again, like, there's just so much overlap here, but people who have experienced things like an eating disorder, or have a history of disordered eating, and that type of thing, if they were, you know, exposed to Lent in this way, or this idea of restriction, and if you break the fast then it, you know, results in all this guilt and all these shame based feelings, it can just be really harmful, too, for people who have had background with- with disordered eating. So do you have any ideas or thoughts about healthier ways people can observe Lent? And when I say healthy, I don't mean like, you know, healthy in the sense of food.

Carrie Carpenter:

Well, number one, Lent never, ever, ever has to have anything to do with food. I mean, you don't have to fast from food. You can fast from texting, or playing on Facebook when you should be spending time with your family. Or, you know? There's some simple things you can just do to set things aside. And when I've taught confirmation classes and things, and they're always like, well, what can we like, fast from, or give up, or whatever it is we were kinda talking about? And I said, well, what's something that you think you shouldn't be doing? And I'm gonna fast from saying ugly things about so and so. I mean, there's a lot of different options there that I've always tried to encourage. Like, it doesn't have to always be about food. But I think the most important part about Lent is that this is an opportunity to add to. That, yes, we're taking- we're stepping back to reflect. But that doesn't mean that you can't grow. So a big concept that I lean into is building the kingdom of God. A lot of people say the kingdom of God is Heaven, and that Heaven is this place that we go when we die- which is true, too. However, the kingdom of God is also- it has a duality. Kingdom of God is right here right now. And then it's also the already and the not yet. So Christians are called to live in this balance of what is going on now and what is yet to come. And it is our Oh, my gosh, I love that so, so, so much. And again, it's like responsibility to build the kingdom of God on earth. So the Lord's Prayer- They kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. It's not just one, it's both. So in that time, in that season, is this wonderful opportunity to think about what do we do to build the kingdom here? How do we live into grace? How do we offer reconciliation and restoration into the world that we live in right now? How do we care for people who are on the far margins of our society? This year in the lectionary, we're all in the Gospel of Luke. And Luke constantly addresses the needs of people who were considered the least, and the lost, and the last, and the lonely. So I mean, how are we aware of those needs? Are we really paying attention to the homeless person that lives under the bridge in town? Or the person who is receiving like mental health care in places and spaces that you've never explored or thought about before? Where are people oppressed where you live here? Where are people oppressed all around the world? And, you know, where can we step in to start to, not just put a bandaid on these situations, but actually have authentic conversations about reconciliation and restoration? I really kind of get hung up on why people like to throw up an action to a project instead of actually figuring out what's wrong. So I think that that's a big piece around, you know, Christians who are very involved in this social principle, or sometimes we call this a social gospel of bringing the kingdom to Earth right now. This is justice at its root. And we believe this is what God is calling us to do. And that's a wonderful use of this season. Instead of restricting, you know, what candy bar you're eating, what's going on with this mother who's pregnant and homeless, and has no access to any medical supplies? just this perfect parallel. You know, we talk so much about how, when we're super hyper focused on counting calories, and restricting food, and all of this other stuff, like, what are we then not paying attention to, or putting our energy towards, or putting our time towards. And like, this is just such like a perfect encapsulation of that exact thing. In our Ash Wednesday liturgy, when people come in to have this worship service, they come in and they pray a prayer for forgiveness of sins, to turn away from the cause of worldly success, to turn away from the desire to have what everyone else has, to turn away from greed and the race for power. And then it goes on to just hearing about why we practice this discipline- that it's a time for persons who've committed serious sins and have separated themselves from the community of faith to be reconciled, and to feel that reconciliation within the community- that this is all about mercy and forgiveness. And so we're called in this season to observe a Lent that's holy, that's full of self examination, and repentance, and by continuing to live into our God, who is constantly creating, redeeming and loving us, no matter what we do. And that's why we get the ashes- because it reminds us of who we are, that we're mortal, but that there's more to it than just that. And that helps us to remember that God's with us, no matter where we are. And I think that's important too, with people who are struggling in this season, like- like, you know, someone who is struggling with disordered eating. I can't- you know, they say to themselves, I can't observe Lent because of the food thing. Well, you know, how is God gonna feel about me because I'm struggling with this. And the truth of the matter is, is that God's with us no matter what, and that's where Lent can offer life and hope for people. And I always just rely right back to Romans 8:38 and 39, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor depth, nor height, nor anything else in all creation, will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord." That piece is our goal in this season, no matter if it's a good day or a bad day, a fat day or skinny day, a diet day or not diet day. Ups and downs. God's love is no matter what. Sorry if I got a little preachy on that, but that's like my big- that's like my thing.

Naomi Katz:

So often, diet culture shows up in the church in general, like even outside of Lent, as like making your body good for God-

Carrie Carpenter:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

-and how that's in such opposition to everything you just said. This might actually be a good transition to broadening the conversation outside of Lent into sort of how diet culture shows up in the church in general.

Carrie Carpenter:

One of the ways that really shows up- which is not really a part of my religious or Christian tradition as a Methodist, but it infiltrates sometimes- is in that evangelical mindset of purity culture. People who say things like, you know, that the body is sinful and shameful. And- and some churches teach that. And- and that's just such a disconnect from what the scripture says. And I mean, goodness, you can open up the Bible to page one of Genesis, and it talks about God creating the world, and people, and God called all of it good. You know, of course, there is sin, and there's things that happen, but my goodness, we're people, we're not God. And- and that's where I think some of this- this culture comes out in that shame, is that there's- it's all bound up in- in we're just so horrible, and that other people control your opinions about who you are. As a Methodist, I explore God through the lens of Scripture, tradition- so the background and tradition of the church, reason- our good old brain, and our experience, and that lends room for one to think for oneself, and not allow shameful culture to take over and co-opt the work of God. And you can watch a lot about it on HBO right now, because The Weigh Down is on there, which is a documentary about that crazy diet church. And then, if you watch The Righteous Gemstones, right now they've got these muscle dudes who are like fasting out in the yard in front of the theme park at the Righteous Gemstones' home. But it's all about, you know, muscular, dieting, fasting guys right now. So, and that purity culture shows up in that too.

Naomi Katz:

There's all that- I don't know if you've heard about it- there's that woman in Texas right now who- like the health coach who like was basically prescribing restrictive meal plans to people recovering from eating disorders, and is now like marketing herself through the lens of Christianity. And yeah.

Carrie Carpenter:

It happens all the time. And Kate Bowler- she was my church history professor when I was in divinity school at Duke- she's got a pretty popular podcast called Everything Happens, and it's wonderful. It's all about just life being life, particularly through the lens of some health challenges and stuff she has had. But Kate's like professional church historian background- she's a prosperity gospel theologian, for lack of better words. But prosperity gospel are people who believe that, if you believe in God, then you're going to be blessed with riches and wealth. And so one of her- I guess it's probably her most recent academic work, is called The Preacher's Wife. It came out a few years ago, and she talks about all these different women- not just preachers' wives, but different women who are in that evangelical world- like what their lives are like. And there's a whole chapter dedicated to women's bodies. And in there, it talks about beauty and beauty queens being tied into it. And then she talks- Kate talks substantially in the book just about the diet culture that's within the evangelical culture too. And like- I'm looking at the index for the book right now. Let me just give you some names of some titles of books. Slim for Him. Free to Be Thin. Those were out in the 70s. The Weigh Down: The Solution to Permanent Weight Loss- that's where you can watch your, you know, HBO documentary on that. Rise Above: God Can Set You Free from Your Weight Problems Forever. Lay Aside the Weight: Taking Control of It Before It Takes Control of You.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh.

Carrie Carpenter:

What Would Jesus Eat?

Sadie Simpson:

Do they make bracelets for that?

Naomi Katz:

What Would Jesus Eat, oh my gosh.

Sadie Simpson:

WWJE

Carrie Carpenter:

Diary of a Fat Housewife. The Exodus Diet Plan. Running the Good Race. The 10 Commandments of Health and Wellness- that one's 2008. Here's one- Eat and Stay Thin: Simple, Spiritual, Satisfying Weight Control. And, God's

Answer to Fat:

Lose It. Yeah. So there's just some examples. And then yeah, there's other things that go on in church culture, too. There's a mega church in North Carolina that about 10 years ago had some dieting cultures. They were talking about health, and on their children's ministry page they had a link for kids to track the foods they were eating.

Sadie Simpson:

No.

Carrie Carpenter:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Oh my gosh.

Carrie Carpenter:

So I researched some of that, and I mean, it's- it's around. And then the other thing that some churches dig into, more in the evangelical side of things, is a program called The Daniel Fast. And it's another situation where people who may not be very spiritually mature. And it's a very restrictive diet. So I could see where there could be a whole lot of harm there. So yeah, I do know some healthy things that churches do.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Well let's hear about some of those too. Because we hear a lot about-

Naomi Katz:

Let's hear some encouraging news.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Well we hear about a lot of these like harmful things that you just mentioned- all of these books that are fatphobic, and restrictive, and borderline disordered- potentially not borderline, but very disordered. So yeah, let's hear about some of the good stuff too.

Carrie Carpenter:

Several churches I've served at have had a Zumba instructor come in and teach Zumba for very low cost- not ever been marketed as you could burn 1000 calories by coming to Zumba. It's come in, they'll have a little bit of a devotion time and then have a Zumba class, and charge like $1 a person. When I was serving at a church in the eastern part of the state, there were a lot of people who couldn't afford to go to an exercise class, so we had, you know, 50 or 60 people in the gym taking Zumba sometimes. And that was- that was- I thought that was very life giving. I've also served at churches where we've had yoga- and yoga that meets the needs of lots of people, you know, like chair yoga for older people, and modified for- for all different age groups, and tied into some Christian prayer with it. Prayer yoga was another program that I saw or had been a part of in churches as well. I led a study this fall called Every Step a Prayer, which was a walking class. And it was so funny. I mean, people showed up, you know, with their pedometers and sneakers on, and I, you know, read a devotion to them and said, you're going to take 20 minutes, and you're going to walk, and you're going to observe. And I don't want to know how far you walked, I just want to know what God told you, and when you get back, we'll talk about it. And that was a book that's put out through Upper Room, which is a Methodist Publishing Group. But it was wonderful. It even encouraged people to go out and take a walk like in the community, and pray for the people that just walk by, or take a walk in the grocery store. But it talked a lot about how we use our bodies, and that God created our bodies so that we can be vessels of bringing God's kingdom to Earth right now- going back to that whole kingdom on Earth piece. There's always an opportunity to use our health, and to lean on our health, so that we can minister to people as well. The other thing that I have noticed in places I've served is not necessarily exercise, but it's just inclusion. It's just offering opportunities for people to grow in ministry, for those who aren't always reached. My last appointment- that means the last church that I was a pastor at- we had a group of adults with developmental disabilities. And they came in and had some movement as a part of their class. Sometimes they'd have a devotion with me, sometimes they'd have sign language class- we had a- we had a deaf ministry at that church as well. I've been in churches where one of the big goals is to help people know that our bodies are part of how we honor God.

Naomi Katz:

But not necessarily in that like puritanical-

Carrie Carpenter:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

-like perfectionist way.

Carrie Carpenter:

Right.

Naomi Katz:

Just like, in that, like, it's like a home for our soul, and for like- and like a vessel to move through the world, kind of a way.

Carrie Carpenter:

It just goes back to that whole piece- is that we're trying to find a way that what we're doing is for good, because God created us to lean into that goodness.

Naomi Katz:

Sometimes I wish nodding came through on podcasts. Like when we have this conversations, so often I'm like, yeah. Like it's like sinking in.

Sadie Simpson:

I know, sometimes I catch myself, and I'm trying to actively say, mm-hmm, yeah, mm-hmm.

Carrie Carpenter:

Go listen to Kate Bowler sometime. She's the best at mm-hmming people. She'll go, mm, mm-hmm.

Sadie Simpson:

Well, this has all been really awesome, and really interesting, and a very different episode than we've ever done before. So it was neat, one, to hang out with my sister. But, two, to get another perspective- a faith based perspective, or religious based perspective- especially as we're coming into this season of Lent, again, when a lot of these diet culture things tend to bubble up. Just recognizing how diet culture shows up everywhere, even in faith and religious spaces, but also how there's so much overlap. I think it's important that we look into this from different perspectives and from different lenses, different religious, different cultural backgrounds. So thank you for having this conversation with us. And I just wanted to ask before we wrap up, is there anything else you want to share?

Carrie Carpenter:

Well I did want to share just one other resource, just something I've been seeing on Facebook a lot and hearing a lot about. There's a movement, I think that has come out of the Church of England, which is kind of like the Episcopal church, called Muddy Church, which is doing church outside. And they have these wonderful Lenten resources that work for all ages, from, you know, the teeniest tiniest of babies to the oldest people, which I think is just so beautiful. And ministry is for all people from cradle to grave. And so there's always opportunities for growth, no matter where you are. They have all of these different practices for Lent- like they said, get 40 different bags- like sandwich bags, or you know, a book bag- and to put different things in a bag each day. You could bless someone with the bag, or you can fill a bag with recycling, or with clothes to give away. So I thought that was a really cool idea. And then they also had this thing to do for 40 different moments throughout Lent. So that's things like jump in a puddle, or walk backwards, or plant some seeds, or spot 10 birds, or help someone. So I think that kind of just goes back to the heart of adding to Lent. Sometimes you just need a good ol' resource, especially if you're as Type A as members of our family are. Just having a box to check off feels really good some days.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes it does.

Carrie Carpenter:

So, and also not having to think a little. It even goes Lenten Easter practices. And almost everything that they do on this site- they call it trails, like you're on a trail, like a walk- and they give you different ways just to engage with God's creation, and to really feel that authentic, deep connection with, not only did God create people, but God created the whole world. And there's a lot of intrinsic interconnectedness that sometimes we forget. And it's just a easy, beautiful thing to do on this little website. I just like to always provide a family resource when I can for people.

Naomi Katz:

That's awesome. We'll definitely include that in our show notes. And thank you for providing that.

Sadie Simpson:

So Carrie, we like to ask this question to everyone who is a guest on the Satisfaction Factor podcast- what is satisfying for you right now?

Carrie Carpenter:

I've been kind of sick for a few weeks on and off with COVID, so I've been binge watching a lot of HBO Max, and the West Wing's on there, and I haven't got to binge watch the West Wing in a few years because it's not on Netflix anymore. So I have rewatched the West Wing almost in its entirety. I'm in about the last season. It's just really kind of made me happy. And it's made me laugh. And it's also just reminded me of how different things are from when that show was made in the early 2000s, late 90s. And then I'm kind of laughing a lot right now because it's where they're getting ready to go to the new presidential elections, and I always think it's so funny that in the Brady Bunch movie sequel, theyhad the two guys competing on which one was actually the dad- well, they're both competing to be the president. And I just always laugh that it's Mike Brady and the fake guy, and then they get beat out by somebody else. Always kind of just brought me a little bit of nostalgia and satisfaction. And I just love the West Wing. I just think it's so smart. And- and it was just a nice break. You know, all the other things that are going on right now in the world.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

That's awesome. Carrie, thank you so much for coming to talk to us today. We really, really appreciate it.

Carrie Carpenter:

Oh, it was a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Naomi Katz:

Well, that's all for us this week. Big thank you to Carrie for having this conversation with us today. If you enjoyed this podcast, we would love to connect with you over on our Instagram page @satisfactionfactorpod. Be sure to comment and let us know what you think about this episode.

Sadie Simpson:

One simple thing you can do to support us if you're listening in Apple podcast or Spotify. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review because this is what helps us reach more people.

Naomi Katz:

Thanks everyone. Catch you next week.