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Food and Faith in Christian Culture$
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Ken Albala and Trudy Eden

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231149976

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231149976.001.0001

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Enlightened Fasting

Enlightened Fasting

Religious Conviction, Scientific Inquiry, and Medical Knowledge in Early Modern France

Chapter:
(p.105) Chapter 5 Enlightened Fasting
Source:
Food and Faith in Christian Culture
Author(s):

Sydney Watts

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231149976.003.0005

This chapter examines how acts of piety changed during the Enlightenment with the focus on rational, scientific understandings of the world. In seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century France, Lenten food habits were criticized because they revealed as much about a believer's commitment to divine inspiration as his rational understandings of dietary nutrition. And, as the eighteenth century progressed, critics of the Church contributed to the desacralization of Lent as they voiced opinions about the hypocrisy and injustice of its dietary rules. With the transfer of authority from the parish priest to the physician granted by the Paris Parliament in 1957, doctors now held the responsibility of determining whether or not a person was “fit” to fast. This very choice, by law, rested primarily on the physical needs and temperament of a particular patient, and secondarily on his or her religious obligation.

Keywords:   acts of piety, Enlightenment, Lenten food habits, dietary nutrition, Paris Parliament, fasting

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