Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 27, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

"Into the woods it's time to go..." That's all you have to say to start the rest of the main musical score from Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" running endlessly through my brain. Sondheim is considered musical "calculous" by musicians and performers, because of the challenging changes and progressions of tonality in his music. Yet, the tunes are memorable, catchy, and often filled with lyrics that make us look at aspects of our existence we are uncomfortable with.

One such character in the musical is the Wolf. He of course is after Red Riding Hood. Like the fairytale, he eats Red's grandma and waits for his opportunity to devour Red as well. What's so striking in this story is how Sondheim portrays Red. She herself is a voracious eater, stuffing herself with sweets from the Baker's shop. She is gluttonous and cannot resist eating everything in her basket.

When Red and the Wolf meet in the woods, he struggles not to eat her right there, and only restrains himself when he learns of grandma and the chance to eat both of them. It's masterful and Sondheim does it on purpose - contrasting the adolescent glutton against the professional, in order to give warning about where our desires lead us.

Ultimately, the Wolf eats both Grandma and Red. But the Baker comes and kills the Wolf, rescuing the ladies from his stomach. Presumably, they were still whole in his belly, because the Wolf was such a professional at carnality.

Red, after her brush with death, realizes she was on a dangerous road, and we see a change in her character - not completely, but at least aware of where carnality can lead. Why do I share all that?

Read Romans 8:5-8. Paul tells us about the same danger that comes from living a carnal life - life by the flesh. When "consuming" is our highest motive (whether food, experiences, possessions, or entertainment) we are on a path to destruction. Being a consumer means we are concerned with consuming what we need and what we want. We are regularly indoctrinated by commercials and sales, telling us we are consumers. They want to constantly remind us of what is available and keep us focused on getting, gaining, or eating it. They know if they can keep us focused on consuming, we will shift our priorities to constantly live by the desires we have - and the ones they help create.

The most dangerous part of living carnally is the fact that listening to our flesh can make us deaf to God. If we are unable to see anything other than the opportunity to consume or gain, then we lose perspective on what might be truly good or best. We cannot do the right thing if we are only concerned with what feels good or benefits us. And we cannot consider something "right" based on whether it benefits us. If we become the moral standard, or our benefit becomes the moral objective, then we have put ourselves in place of God. That is why the mind led by the flesh is hostile toward God and cannot please God.

So, where are you Wolf-like? Where have you become a professional consumer, where you no longer even think about the effort - you just swallow whole? Where are you like Red, still able to recognize your own desires and where they are leading you?

Take some time to reflect. What is the major driving factor for every decision you make? Your benefit, your satisfaction, your peace of mind, your comfort? If you don't like the answer, or really want to keep God first, then maybe it is time to do a fast from food? I have noticed that nothing sharpens my awareness of my desires and how they rule me, then when I choose to deny them.

Here's a resource to help you start:

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