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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

You Neglect the Weightier Matters of the Convention

Monday, I shared with you an article talking about the pervasive obesity in our land, and it looks like, well, we could be neglecting the weightier matters of the convention. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Cathleen Falsani wrote an article on August 25 called "Weighty Matter: Is Religion Making Us Fat?" In the article, Falsani explains the epidemic today:

"America is becoming known as a nation of gluttony and obesity, and churches are a feeding ground for this problem," says Ken Ferraro, a Purdue sociology professor who studied more than 2,500 adults over a span of eight years looking at the correlation between their religious behavior and their body mass index.

"If religious leaders and organizations neglect this issue, they will contribute to an epidemic that will cost the health-care system millions of dollars and reduce the quality of life for many parishioners," he says.

Falsani then makes the connection that some of the most religious people are also some of the most obese people in the country. Here is some of her analysis:

Ferraro's most recent study, published in the June issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, is a follow-up to a study he published in 1998, where he found there were more obese people in states with larger populations of folks claiming a religious affiliation than elsewhere -- particularly in states with the most Baptists.

So it's not surprising that Ferraro's latest study found that about 27 percent of Baptists, including Southern Baptists, North American Baptists, and Fundamentalist Baptist, were obese.

Surely there are several contributing factors to such a phenomenon, but when Ferraro accounted for geography (southern cooking is generally more high-caloric), race and even whether overweight folks were attracted to churches for moral support, the statistics still seem to indicate that some churches dispense love handles as well as the love of the Lord.

Having attended a Southern Baptist church for most of my formative years, I was hardly shocked by Ferraro's discoveries. From the coffee (and doughnuts) hour after Sunday-morning worship, to the huge potluck dinners and the Sunday-night ice-cream socials, there was always food around, and it was rarely the lo-cal variety. Ambrosia salad. Seventeen different kinds of chicken/broccoli/cheese casserole. Banana-and-Nilla-wafer-pudding. Fried chicken. Barbecue chicken. Sweet tea.

Those were the elements of our social sacraments at the Baptist church.

The rest of the article is worth reading, so I would encourage you to check it out. Coming from a secular newspaper, this should remind us that the watching world is paying attention to our hypocrisy when it comes to our "resolutions." While it would be easy to pass resolution #62 on the issue of alcohol, I seriously doubt we can pass the first resolution on fried chicken or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Some would argue that we need to implement into our church growth strategy a "weight watchers" program or start an aerobics class, but we are missing the heart of the problem. Inasmuch drunkenness is a sin and abuse to the body, so is the abuse of food and gluttony. The question is whether we will be consistent or not. And what makes it most difficult is that we are developing the idea that nonessential matters (adiaphora) are important enough to determine whether or not we can partner together in the gospel. Well, we will see what happens in the years to come. In the meantime, can we say that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, that we are doing it for the glory of God?


Blogger Tony K. said...

Maybe all the resolutions on hunger are targeted at our own stomaches. If only we could leave out the part about fasting.

Resolution On Hunger: June 1975

WHEREAS, The problem of hunger is one of the most serious social issues of our time, affecting millions of adults and children all over the globe; and

WHEREALS, America has been blessed with an abundance of food and the technological knowledge related to food production; and

WHEREAS, By words and deeds Jesus taught the necessity for helping to feed hungry people; and

WHEREAS, The president of our Convention has urged our churches to have a day of prayer and fasting for the starving people of the world,

Therefore be it RESOLVED, That we the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, gathered in Miami Beach, call on all Americans blessed with abundance to develop a lifestyle of sharing, and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge government and private agencies to seek ways to share agricultural technology with countries which need this help, and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we work to replace any tendency toward hoarding with an ethic or sharing from our abundance of food, material blessings, and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we as Southern Baptists seek to use our resources to bring relief to people who suffer from hunger and to develop a Christian social ethic which will provide guidelines for dealing with hunger problems, and

Be it further RESOVLED, That in order to implement these efforts to relieving world hunger, that we request our churches to set aside a day of prayer and fasting each month.


9/06/2006 11:28:00 PM

Blogger Steve Weaver said...

Are you shooting at me?

9/07/2006 07:27:00 AM

Blogger Timmy said...

Nice research Tony. Maybe we can add that one to our long list of articles and stats supporting the need for such a resolution.

@ Steve,

Shooting at you? Of course not, bro. I don't limit the application like that. I put it out there and let the Lord bring home the darts to the conscience.

And oh, I think the Backyard Burger is waiting on another visit from us. Let me know when you are in town!

9/07/2006 09:18:00 AM

Blogger Mike Hess said...


You are starting to meddle (LOL!). Really though, great post that proved to be a tremendous source of conviction to me personally. In fact, over the past week I have begun an arduous weight loss regimin that limits me to 1200 calories a day or under and walking/running two miles a day. I miss my junk food (namely pizza) like crazy but I do feel better. Thank you brother for this convicting post and be sure to hold me accountable about losing my Michelin spare tires that consume my waist line.


9/07/2006 01:53:00 PM

Blogger Steve Weaver said...

I'll be in town next Thursday, staying overnight with a class on Friday morning. We could get together for dinner on Thursday night. I'll try not to be as gluttonous the next time.

9/07/2006 02:00:00 PM


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