Big Fat Liar II

Reader Hannah kindly dropped a link in the combox following my post Big Fat Liar. That post is a year old; for some reason it reappeared in the list of posts that are being read. So, I decided to unpack the article she linked because it is a perfect illustration of a certain type of churchian thinking, and of the resulting beliefs it can generate about the subject, obesity in this case.

A great deal of what can oxymoron-ically be called soft churchian doctrine is never stated plainly. Churchian soft doctrines are not expressed in the form of “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not”. Neither are they plainly implied in such a way that clear doctrine is the inference a person takes away. The manner in which these soft dogmata are created is, churchians see a group behavior that is counter to plain interpretation of scripture, reason that the behavior really isn’t hurting anyone and that most of the group are engaged in it, then offer quasi-christian sounding rational for it.

Easy example: Divorce is prescribed under a narrow set of circumstances. It is proscribed under all other. People are changing marriages in the church more frequently than one needs to change synthetic oil in their cars. Moreover, the preacher’s wife can understand how those people feel, and she can empathize. “Honey, you need to take it easy on the doctrine, those folks are hurting and they need encouragement, not guilt”. You know the resulting double speak that we hear about divorce from the pulpit, and as a result, from churchian friends who mindlessly parrot this stuff.

It’s the same case with submission. Even the most so-called traditional churches have found a way to say they support male leadership while wrapping in it outright apologies for its existence and offering easy conditions to choose from when a wife needs a quick “but”.

The formula is, offer equal parts rationalization for the perpetrator and condemnation for anyone who deigns look askance. Simple.

Churchian soft dogma regarding obesity does what it does adroitly. Soft dogma on obesity offers rationalization for the obese, and condemnation for those who deign look askance. It does this using weasel words scattered among words that are suggestive of accountability. It effectively uses shaming as well. From the article

Sandra was morbidly obese.

She spoke freely to us about the dirty looks and the under-the-breath mutters of “disgusting” that she heard while out and about. She knew first-hand the biases against fat people.

I’m not here to support overt meanness. But I want you to think about this scenario.

Let’s take George. He was born with a defect in his physical coordination. It is of pathological origin. When George walks in public he appears to be heavily intoxicated. That’s the nature of his condition. People look askance at George, they silently or sometimes overtly wonder what someone so compromised by drink or drug is doing walking around among sober citizens, making a spectacle of himself and drawing ire from the crowd. “Lets walk this way sweety”, mommy says to little Chelsea, dragging her away from George. George sees this every day. It is sad and unjust and unintentionally cruel.

What’s our take away? Is it that, once we discover that George cannot help the way he walks and moves we crusade and guilt people to never ever look askance at anyone who may act intoxicated because they may be a person with a pathology that causes it? Do we lecture people on acceptance and that God loves people that are wasted in public just as He does the sober? Do we point out that a regularly intoxicated person is a wonderful person and giving in every way?

Do not make the mistake of fixating on the part of my analogy that would suggest I am absolutely equating obesity with drunkenness. That would be another type of failed thinking. Plug in X for obesity and Y for drunkenness and the analogy holds because its the other aspects of the comparison, the part about our guilt driven reaction or its lack, that is operative.

The author continues:

She knew first-hand the biases against fat people. Yet we found her to be one of the most gorgeous persons alive and an engaging disciple.

See that? From unkind looks and remarks she asserts there is bias. Bias is a hot button word, a we-can’t-have-that word. And in a fit of up is down she decrees that the woman is one of the most gorgeous persons alive. What does that even mean? She plays a shell game with ideas. I take at face value that the woman was a wonderful person. Her personality and her “heart” were magnetic and Christlike. That is a testimony to her inner beauty. But it is not saying an iota about her external beauty, it is conflating the two. The real point that should be made is to SEPARATE them, not use one to airbrush the other.

On airbrushing the author then goes down the other path so common in this discourse. That is to set up a straw man of fake beauty and unrealistic expectations as the standard by which we wrongly judge others, and then state that because the standard isn’t real, any conclusion we make about appearance is invalid because its based on a fake standard.

We are made to believe, through advertising and entertainment, that a youthful, well-endowed size 0 is the ideal for women, and that a chiseled David Beckham-like body is the archetypal man. (Never mind that the glossy magazines we consume are air-brushed, or that many of our celebrities are nipped and tucked or enhanced so that even our ideals are illusions.)

See that?

The other, similar tact (which the author does not do in her piece) is to point out that looks are fleeting and that we need to accept natural aging and weight gain as our spouses (and others) grow older. This is another false premise.

No direct endorsement of obesity has been offered. Likely she would even give lip service to healthy living and trying to stay as attractive as your raw material affords. But what is the takeaway for those who lack the will to make any effort? It is that they can avoid doing so, and in a false mutual exclusivity, focus on the inner person and not the outer person. The mommy who dragged her child away from George would spout all manner of rationale for obesity.

Divorce, submission, sexual denial, and obesity are all behaviors where these manipulations of reason with emotion manifest in their increase in the church. Unfortunately one of them can have dire consequences. Regarding the woman the author wrote about:

Six months after our job relocation, she died in her sleep. It has been nearly four years, and we still miss her like crazy.

Sad and tragic. In a broader sense it is sad and tragic that anyone can write about a person whose affliction killed them and provide cover for others traveling the same path.

There are so many reasons to take our appearance into account. Its not about meanness, it’s not about superficiality or discounting inner features at the expense of external ones. It’s about common sense gut honesty, something that has gone by the wayside in favor of elaborate emotional appeals that take, one by one, the guardrails off Christian life.

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21 thoughts on “Big Fat Liar II

  1. “It’s the same case with submission. Even the most so-called traditional churches have found a way to say they support male leadership while wrapping in it outright apologies for its existence and offering easy conditions to choose from when a wife needs a quick “but”.”

    Of all the buts in church, this is my most hated.

  2. It’s also a general human tendency to go from extreme to extreme. There’s no need for either reaction. It should be simple enough to say “I’m not attracted to fat people” and judge them on their merit on a case by case basis, like everyone else.

    There’s been a slow public shift back into people enjoying life outdoors and amateur sports, which is probably a good thing, but in the meantime there was this enormous encouragement to sit at home with your home entertainment, eating as much junk food as you can, and it took effect. Surprise surprise. Notice how all the fast food commercials show fit healthy people eating enormous greasburgers? Like that really happens all the time.

    So of course we struggle as a culture. It doesn’t help to pretend fat is beautiful. Having compassion doesn’t mean encouraging things that are unhealthy and wrong. Having compassion is harder than being merely hard hearted and condemning, or being approving; it requires you to be compassionate even when people behave badly or stupidly.

  3. People brought up on a diet of lies, lie. The entire schooling system teaches such distortions of logic and truth, confusing and conflating truths with PCist irrationalisations.

  4. Most of the feminized modern church prefers to keep its head in the sand about underlying issues. They preach so-called ‘fat acceptance’ because they are inherently anti-sex.

    If the truth of the matter were known; most Christian men would run from Ameroskanks as fast as they could. Check out this article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/12/fashion/12bisex.html?_r=0

    “Dr. Chivers’ work adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that places female sexuality along a continuum between heterosexuality and homosexuality, rather than as an either-or phenomenon.”

    In other words, most women hate men, are not attracted to them sexually at all. Well, except for the so-called ‘bad-boys’ which is noted:

    “Dr. Chivers and her colleagues found women slightly but significantly aroused by footage of bonobo chimpanzees mating. Men showed no such responses.”

    LOL—so much for all the talk about female attraction to the strong, confident, ‘alpha’ male! The closer a man is to a chimp, the more arousal he engenders!

    “For heterosexual women,” Dr. Chivers sums up, “looking at a naked man walking on the beach is about as exciting as looking at landscapes.”

    Thug-chasing, man-hating, cold-blooded bitches: ALL OF THEM!!!!!

  5. Eric from your article
    “She’s pinpointing what’s kind of obvious, and yet unexplored: that women are so fluid in their sexuality,” one of the directors of “Bi the Way,” Josephine Decker”
    I have to agree with most of what you have written, and I want to unpack this one too.

  6. Nice post 🙂

    Years ago when I was agnostic, I was staying with a Christian friend and went along to her church. The pastor spoke about the evils of smoking. Later I was at the pastor’s house with my friend and a bunch of the ladies from the church. Something interested me – every one of them was married to a thin man, and yet every one of the ladies was obese. (including the pastor’s wife)

    Some time into the discussion, the women started going on about how great it was the pastor really ‘gave it’ to the smokers in the congregation.

    I couldn’t bite my tongue any longer!

    So I said “Fine, the pastor picks out the people’s weaknesses and attacks from the pulpit. Smoking in and of itself hardly seems a sin although I agree it’s not looking after the temple of God.
    But how often does the pastor acknowledge the obesity issue in his church and speak against gluttony?!”

    hehe… needless to say it didn’t go down well! Every one of them broke down crying. Then came rationalisation/justification/empathy…. you know where it leads to – ‘let’s have a cup of tea and some cake to feel better’.

    meanwhile, desperate to escape – I went outside and had a ciggie* 🙂

    *(I’ve given them up since becoming a Christian, but I’m still just as likely to be brutally honest in the given situation. Exposing sin requires being courageous enough to speak the truth. I’m kinder than I used to be, so I would now choose to speak the truth in love!)

  7. Your beta species is both brutish and primitive, your arguments thick with thinly veiled rhetoric. you make a mockery of the universe and our interplanetary alliances- your simplistic dichotomies are laughable, your male crumudgeonry obvious, your cockshrivillary a result. your mastery of self touch is perhaps your only trait. bow down to our mastery.
    Intergalatic Alpha females and Alpha males

    [comment du jour….winner]

  8. Empath:
    On the fatkini: why do I have this uneasy feeling that American culture is about to have another revolting ‘new normal’ shoved down its throat?

  9. I agree, we are in a new normal. After i posted that, just running around online I saw adverts for same.

    Lets be honest, genetics will not allow every woman to be fat….and by fat I mean FAT. Genetics (Gods design) is that there will be some women bigger than others, that is irrelevant.
    I was attending the zoo yesterday and saw fat….one woman bought, with vim, lotsa food, then she walked back, and i watched, to her really huge man. It was evident they found the concessions the best enclosure at the zoo.

    Its unpleasant.

  10. why do I have this uneasy feeling that American culture is about to have another revolting ‘new normal’ shoved down its throat?

    It is a new normal, Eric. But it isn’t being shoved down America’s throat. America is choosing it by the things she shoves down her own collective throats.

    You know my pet peeve: It’s “lumpy” being called “curvy”, leaving those of us who are curvy but not fat (who are in fact toned and fit) being lumped in with them.

    I am no longer curvy. I am officially “statuesque”. I think I like that better anyway.

  11. Okay, I just saw a news spot on the “fatkini”. There is something I notice about the featured women like Gabbi Gregg, who was the driver of this trend, are not the apple shaped, super flabby, shapeless women you see in mainstream fat America.

    When I was fat, as I usually was for 12-18 months after every pregnancy, I looked closer to Gabbi Gregg, and it was easier for me to lose weight when I had the energy and was ready to do it. Most people in America who are obese don’t look like that. We’re being sold a bill of goods.

    Here’s another example:

    http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/h-m-uses-plus-size-model-to-showcase-swimwear-collection-and-the-skinny-girl-backlash-175911707.html

    This is not what “plus size” typically looks like.

  12. Elspeth, that link points to a woman who fits the comments Deti usually makes when he says when a man walks in a room, he would have sex with most of the women there. That woman is not obese. She has a great face (ugh, I actually said that, now comes how sweet she is) and looks sensuous. The thing is though you can tell it would be no problem for her to tone up, she is what i would call obviously thinner underneath the weight if you get my drift.

    The folks I saw at the zoo, MOST of them….were obese, double that woman’s size. Dont get me wrong, one neednt be morbidly obese to be obese, but that model is neither.

  13. The other thing is that the model is 6 feet tall. That matters. My 38-30-42 figure looks much different on me than it would on a woman say 5’4″. My height really narrowed the field of who I was willing to date when I was single, but extra height really does hide the extra poundage.

  14. Elspeth:
    “America is choosing it by the things its shoves down its own collective throat”

    Technically, that’s probably true; unfortunately though the American populace hasn’t demonstrated much resistance to social engineering. Basically, all anybody has to do is proclaim himself an ‘expert’; declare anything a ‘new normal’ and the Ameroboobs will line up behind the program—whatever it is. So yes, I think in a passive way, they take down their own throats. Or maybe a more accurate metaphor would be that they’ll ‘swallow anything’!

  15. Hey empath, since we were discussing H&M using the plus sized model (the fact that a sized 10/12 woman is plus sized is very depressing to me given that’s my size), I thought you might find this interesting. This company has not given in yet to the new normal:

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/4947346/Beyonce-fury-as-H-and-M-trims-her-curves-on-pics-of-her-modelling-their-bikinis.html

    Not sure looking at the picture what exactly they felt the need to “trim” but she won the battle to keep her actual shape as is in the photo.

  16. @Eric

    That Tingles In the Midst link called to mind a relevant cartoon from the early to mid-90s.

    It’s the cliched scenario involving the aliens who have landed — they’re standing next to their spaceship — and the take-me-to-your-leader thing has played out, so there’s our generic representative delegate standing in front of them…

    And the aliens are saying: “If you send Julia Roberts into space we will destroy you.” !!!!

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