According to the early Christian Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 3.59.3), the second century Gnostic theologian Valentinus taught that Jesus did not evacuate any of his food. Because of his supreme self control, the food did not decay inside him.
The idea reflects two themes common among the Gnostics of those times: the self-control more often associated with sexual abstinence, and the debates about how human Jesus was.
Christian teaching has often emphasisted the importance of getting our beliefs right.
It began with the early Church’s claims about Jesus, and was accentuated in the sixteenth century Reformation debates. Modern religions generally define themselves by what they believe and what they do. On the other hand sociologists have pointed out the importance of belonging, regardless of the believing.
I've just finished reading Jerry Brotton's fascinating A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Allen Lane: 2012). I'll tell you about three.
The first is the Hereford mappamundi. It is the largest of its kind to have survived intact for nearly 800 years, and shows what the world looked like to a thirteenth century Christian. Made from an animal skin it measures 1.59 metres high and 1.34 metres wide. The world is circular and divided by the Mediterranean into Europe, Asia and Africa. East is at the top.