I am the church. Not the whole church, though I could stand to lose some weight, but still, I am the church.
It’s like when people talk about the government. It makes me crazy when people talk about the government as if it were this separate entity, some big business that benevolently watches over all of us.
I talk with people who are on social assistance, welfare and they talk about the government giving them this or that and feel bad about it.
And I keep thinking, “Crap man, that’s my tax money, money I work for and then put in the community pot to share. I get mine and then you get yours and someone I’ve never met gets a little too.” I would just as soon see my friends get their oil tank filled by social service using some of our tax money than see one more grant given to someone who peed on a canvass and put on an ‘art’ show with our money. My friends don’t need to feel bad at all but the guy peeing on the canvass needs to re-evaluate how he’s spending his time.
All I’m trying to say is that I am the government. Me.
In an even truer sense, a more immediate sense, I am the church.
So as I get all critical about part of the church (here it comes), I’m saying up front that I’m criticizing myself. I know this. I own this.
But the 11th Diet is making me crazy.
A friend of mine used to work for MacDonalds. Now he works as a safety supervisor for a nuclear powerplant. When he worked for MacDonald’s he would often bite his sarcastic tongue completely off when exceptionally large people ordrered exceptionally large meals with a diet Coke. I know, I know, could’ve been diabetic but you have to admit the absurdity of the picture.
You know how, on a regular basis, a new diet comes along and everyone tells everyone about it and a bunch of people go on it, buy the books, the extras that go with it and everyone, collectively, loses 5 pounds and then gains 7 back and waits for the next diet?
I’m standing at Indigo books, looking over the section that includes diet books. According to the computer kiosk there are 7,928 matches under diet: The South Beach, the Sonoma, Atkins, the Fat Resistance diet (big shock here, I thought all diets were about resisting fat), the 5 factor diet, the Saint Tropez diet, the Rice diet, the Self-hypnosis diet, the Ultimate Sex diet (with pictures?), the Supermarket diet, the Fast Track Detox diet, ad nauseum, literally.
(That’s what my professor Peggy called a run on sentence. Sorry Peggy.)
I feel like we do that. We, that’s the church we. We have issues, we know we have issues. We don’t move as fast as we used to. The breathing is a little laboured. We keep Cheetos in our coat pocket and we keep talk about getting together to get fed.
Then we can’t take it anymore and someone comes along at just the right time and offers us a program, if we’ll just do this, follow this, take these steps, we’ll shed the weight. Quick, easy. It might even hurt like a tummy tuck or stomach staple post op but look at the difference!
And so we do. But the pounds don’t stay off.
The church often calls these diets, ‘revival’. That’s code for those of you not part of the ‘we’. Now you know.
So we gather and we pray and we sing and we cry and we stand up and fall down and we tell stories about places and times when extraordinary things happened and people lost a lot of weight over night.
In some places, as the stories go, jails empty, bars closed down (that one shocks me as I’ve not understood a pub to be a bad place or alcohol to be the root of all evil), people come to church meetings for hours at a time or turn up at church buildings for reasons they can’t really explain (going to church meetings is a HUGE theme of these diets) and many people decide to follow Jesus who previously were not interested.
And then we start putting on weight again.
What would happen if we just took the body to the gym (not a metaphor for church meetings) and we did exercise every day and we ate right every day and we hung out with people who were trying to stay fit and have fun?