Last Words on Conversation A

I’m wrapping up my summary of Conversation A from my post a couple days ago.  Today, I’m revisiting the “fat people” comment.

This is in response to a specific discussion on, of all places, Facebook.  The original comment was to a young woman expressing frustration and normal teenage angst.  The person listed “tolerance of obesity” among the signs that we are in serious moral trouble.

That makes no sense to me.  Now, I don’t deny that obesity is a problem in the sense that there are clear health risks.  And I am absolutely in favor of taking care of the bodies we are given.  No argument there.  But is obesity really a sign of impending Apocalypse?  It seems like such a foolish thing to obsess over, given the wide range of really horrifying things we could list.

I suppose I may be taking this somewhat personally.  No, I’m not obese.  However, my mother was.  When I see comments like that, I recall being a child and having classmates mock me because my mother was fat.  Even thought I was not a fat child, my classmates knew about my mother and knew that was the way to get to me, to hurt me.  Yet everyone who really knew my mother loved her.  She was kind, compassionate, and giving.  Mom loved giving to others–her money, her time, and her skills.  She volunteered with my girl scout troop, tirelessly hosting and providing snacks, teaching us how to sew, and listening to us.  She spent 8 years volunteering at an inner city school, playing games, reading, and sharing lunch with children who desperately needed someone to love them.  She took care of a neighbor when her family was in crisis.  Even after her obesity had destroyed her physical body, rendering her wheelchair-bound, she found ways to care for her neighbors in her apartment building.  Recently, a friend asked me for one of her recipes.  We had been out of touch for awhile, so she didn’t know of mom’s death.  When I told her, she expressed sympathy and said that my mom had been a good woman.  I find it very hard to believe that my mother’s weight problems were bigger than her loving heart.

It’s not all roses, however.  My mother did not die directly of problems caused by her weight.  She actually died of cancer, which had gone undiagnosed, for probably 10 years (very slow-growing type).  Why didn’t she seek treatment?  Because of the stigma of her weight.  She was embarrassed, particularly by the fact that the type of exam needed to diagnose the problem was physically uncomfortable for her because of her weight.  And not everyone she knew was particularly sympathetic.  Some people had (and still have) attitudes much like the person I mentioned above, believing thinness is equivalent to godliness.

Before anyone starts thinking this jerk is alone in his beliefs, let me put that to rest.  Another “friend” posted on her blog that she thought there was something “wrong” with Christians being overweight.  Not even obese, simply “overweight.”  And how many Christians do I know who obsess over their weight, trying one new diet after another?  Somehow, this idea has permeated our faith.  Where does it end?

As for me, I refuse to discuss dieting or weight in conjunction with my faith.  Jesus didn’t say they’d know us by our thinness, he said they’d know us by our love.  So where is the love?

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3 thoughts on “Last Words on Conversation A

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your mother. I’m quite certain I met her, as I recall having a meal at your house our freshman year of college. It was so long ago, however, that I cannot picture either of your parents. That said, she couldn’t have been too obese, or that might have registered? Who knows?

    It’s been my experience that those who label themselves “christian” are the most judgmental, unforgiving, mean-spirited people around. Obviously it’s not fair for me to lump all Christians in that category, but an appalling number are.

    I like that you’re willing to discuss hypocrisy and stumbling stones in your own faith.

    • That’s the thing about my mom. She really was very obese, but a lot of people didn’t really notice because of the kind of person she was. My mom actually was a Christian, but not until she was in her 50s. For most of her life, she behaved the way I think Christians are supposed to, but she was of no particular religion at all. She and my two sisters are the reason I can look critically at my faith. My sisters are not Christians, but they always challenge me to think things through. I have been that judgmental, critical person in the past, and I’m now trying to “unlearn” all of that behavior.

      I no longer shy away from criticism of Christian faith. My faith is what it is, just like with anyone else. I’m tired of a religion that condemns other people. Somehow, I doubt that’s what Jesus really had in mind. I simply can’t buy it that the amazing atheists, Jews, Muslims, etc. that I know are all going to burn forever just because they didn’t say the magic words–especially when I see them living their lives the way I want to live mine.

  2. I’m not sure I believe there is a God. But… if there is…

    I agree. Is it fair to say that worshiping Jesus, Son of God, is the only God to worship? Is the faith of my past really so different from the faith of a Jew, Muslim, etc? I must exclude radicals from the M category, as I don’t think there is any good in a person set to exterminate all people not of their faith.

    But, really, is God really different than Allah?

    People spend too much time quibbling over dogma.

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