There's a long history behind Lysa Terkeurst's bestseller, Made to Crave,recently out from Zondervan. All jokes about "Calorie Baptist Church" and attendance-boosting potlucks aside, American evangelicals have long worried about weight, health, and food. Early writers of Christian diet literature felt that God couldn't be glorified in fat bodies, nor could souls be effectively won for Christ by overeaters. Recent contributors to the conversation reject this view, but not the conviction that food and eating are spiritual issues.

Made to Crave falls within this tradition, but unlike other programs, it specifies neither what to eat (a la The Maker's Diet or What Would Jesus Eat?) nor how to eat (a la Gwen Shamblin's Weigh Down Diet). Instead, it aims to be "the missing link between a woman's desire to be healthy and the spiritual empowerment necessary to make that happen." It's message is simple: Instead of craving food, crave God.

Much in this book will appeal to readers. TerKeurst's writing is casual and confessional; she dishes the details of her struggles with candor and charm. (More than one Amazon reviewer said something like, "I felt like Lysa and I were sitting in the same room.") Built into the book's message and marketing strategy is the creation of a community of "Made to Cravers": "Friends don't let friends eat without thinking." You can sign up online for free magnets for your car and fridge and for the "21 day challenge." The book has already hit a number of bestseller lists, including The New York Times's; there's a workbook and DVD series. You can feel the movement gaining momentum. So what's the substance of it?

Among other things, a big portion of old-fashioned asceticism. TerKeurst stops way short of saying ...

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