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Below are the 13 most recent journal entries recorded in Fat Theology: Theology From the Belly/Underbelly/H's LiveJournal:

Sunday, April 4th, 2010
6:43 pm
It's Easter, and LJ has been giving me theology-themed presents!
(also theology-themed Presence)

From windbringer1, we have The Hymn of a Fat Woman, by Joyce Huff

From revmak, we have Easter, Chocolate and Religion, with extra-thinky-religious commentary by me.

Also, hi everybody! we've been quiet lately.

I'm kind of thinking about the practice of fasting right now -- no plans to do it (even in my Catholic days I was exempt due to Type 1 diabetes), but thinking about societies in which it would spring up and who tended to engage in it.

And the answer? Er, poor people. People who had taken vows of poverty and/or simplicity (ascetics). In the Bible, itinerant prophets. You don't hear much about the well-off fasting as a spiritual discipline unless they're giving up their well-offness (e.g., Siddartha, Moses). And I wonder whether there is a class aspect to this: that perhaps the practice benefited the community as much or more than the individual.

But it brings to mind how in past cultures, being fat was how folks could tell you were healthy. Skinny people? Didn't get enough to eat. Now we've got fat folks who are malnourished, and people trying to gain status by losing weight, because fat has become (through the easy availability of "junk foods," high fees for exercise clubs/teams, and the fact that schools have largely eliminated recess and may only have gym class once or twice a week) the province of the poor. You see ultra-health conscious hip exercise fiends and yoga instructors (who aren't usually that well-off, but are in a segment of the luxury economy that is supposed to look as if they are) doing juice fasts, cleansing fasts, etc. all of it is done in the name of image, "health," and "cleaning the toxins out of your body." not for spiritual reasons.

You don't, i think, hear many ministers at well-off congregations preaching abstinence from food.

On the other hand, now there are churches in poor communities who are trying to do congregational fasts. When i did an internship at Progressive Community Church in Chicago a few years back, the pastor was encouraging the congregation to -- all together -- engage in a 40-day broth fast. There were several objectives: cleansing the bodies of the congregants of toxins, establishing healthier eating habits (er -- it explicitly regarded weight loss as one of the positive possible outcomes), and growing in the Spirit. There were Bible Studies involved. Another intern at the church did the fast, and BOY was she cranky while she did it. But she said that it did help her wean herself off of many foods that she knew were bad for her.

It was sort of fascinating, this idea of simultaneously shrinking one's body mass and growing in the Spirit. An almost Manichean dualism, really.

I don't know; I'm trying to pick apart fasting from an HAES as well as a food justice perspective. It definitely seems possible that limiting consumption for oneself can be a spiritual practice not only in making oneself more susceptible to accepting messages from God, but also conserving food for others in one's (impoverished) community, or even family.

But my sample size is teensy, and I'm interested to hear what others in this community have to say about the spiritual practice of fasting.
Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
5:08 pm
fat liberation theology blog
I have just started a blog about fat liberation theology! My first post is up today, and it's about hunger.

I would absolutely adore it if you fine folks in this community would come on over and check it out, and especially if you went to the "questions and comments" sections to give me ideas of important things to write about.


ETA: thanks to peaceofpie it is now syndicated on LJ as well! kataphatic
Thursday, April 16th, 2009
3:19 pm
interesting post from Beauty Tips for Ministers
Issues in Supervision: The Case of the Sloppy Seminarian

I'm too busy at the present moment to formulate the kind of response that I believe this post deserves, but want to put it out here in this forum.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
12:24 pm
Book recommendations
I'm taking a seminary course this quarter on Liberation Theology, and even though I haven't even gone to the first class yet (it's on Thursday), I am SO excited to write my paper on Fat theology!

The only book I can find so far is this one from Amazon: The Fat Jesus: Christianity and Body Image, but I haven't read it yet, so I don't know how good it is.

I know of a lot of books on fat acceptance, health at every size, etc. from a secular point of view, but I'm not aware of many books or resources about fat theology. (Maybe I'll write one... haha... just kidding... mostly).

Anyway, do any of you have any recommendations of books, articles, films, anything... even just people (pastors, theologians, faithful thinkers doing thinking about fat theology) who haven't put their thoughts down in print media yet, who I could contact? Have any of YOU been doing some fat theology and have interest in talking over your ideas with me? I'll also check in with the professor of the course; hopefully she'll know at least one person in my area I can talk to :)
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
5:48 pm
god talk in the fatosphere
There seems to be an unusual amount of God-talk going on around the fat blogs these days.

The F-Word "You May Now Love Yourself"

"But faith-based diets are especially heinous because they play upon and exploit the very real religious and spiritual beliefs of people. If you can’t lose the weight, is it because you lack faith? If you can’t sustain the weight loss, does it mean you are sinful and blasphemous? Really, there have even been reports of people developing eating disorders after participating in some faith-based diets because they fear weight gain - an inescapable inevitability for 95 percent of all dieters - will keep them somehow from going to heaven."

Ad Imaginem Dei "Body by God"
"The forces of evil are real, and powerful. We are far too easily separated from God. But we don’t have to make it easy. We don’t have to trivialize the reality of temptation by making the dinner table (or the take-out window) the battle-ground. We don’t need to open the door wide for the tempter to find a way in. It has been so from the beginning."
Saturday, November 3rd, 2007
11:18 am
Health at Every Size at a hospital?
I'm working as a Chaplain Resident at a large hospital for the next 10 months and I am picking around the edges of the idea of starting a HAES discussion/action group in the hospital setting. Challenges abound. The hospital has a pretty much total patholigizing posture wrt fat, bathrooms marked as "bariatric friendly," fat patients in any context in the hospital named as "bariatric patients." The "Walk Against Obesity" posters everywhere, to save fat people from fat.

But precisely because this is the place where fat is so pathologized, precisely for that reason I want to be an agent for introducing some sanity and love into the mix. And I'd love your help/input. Any thoughts?

xposted to haes, fatshionism
Thursday, October 18th, 2007
7:18 pm
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
11:17 pm
Introducing myself
I was exploring LJ a little and found this group. I'm no theologian, but I am a fat Christian (Episcopalian) living in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm the music leader for our church's service in Spanish; I'm a gringa still learning Spanish. Life takes you to places you might never have expected.... I'm a fat activist whenever I'm able to be. I have pretty bad seasonal affective disorder, so sometimes I get overwhelmed and crawl in my hole until the sun comes out. I just wanted to say that this looks like a really interesting group and I'm really glad you're here.
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
3:17 pm
Does God care if you are fat?
A link for those who missed the CNN segment: 

Marilyn Wann did a pretty good job, I think, given that the whole discussion really wasn't about religion anyway.  Sounded to me like the author she was responding to was just a guy wrapping health talk in god talk.  

I think it is interesting that they had a poll at the end asking "Does God care if you are fat?"   My answer is YES but not for the same reasons as I suspect many would interpret such an answer.  Yes, God cares if I am fat.  God cares if I am thin.  God cares if I am short or tall or young or old.  God cares about me!  And fat is a part of me.  Something tells me that others who say "yes" aren't thinking along those lines, though.
Monday, September 3rd, 2007
11:16 pm
Does God want people to be thin?
Though I suspect most of us would rather theological discussion about size rise above such petty questions, I have recently received word that Paul Campos and Marilyn Wann will be on CNN tomorrow (Tuesday) at around 5:30 pm eastern to counter a "God wants us all to be thin" author.  Not sure which author that is.  Anyway, it might be interesting.
Friday, August 10th, 2007
1:03 pm
Heal Thyself
Recalling that I tend to think that, at least in part, Jesus healed people by restoring them to the community, addressing the exclusion and stigma if not the physical disease, I'm troubled by the recent backlash against and discussions of banning "pro eating disorders" communities here on LJ and elsewhere on the web. Some people claim that those with eating disorders should only find their support in anti-ED or recovery communities. The message seems to be that one should only have social support, friends to talk to about experiences, if one is already on the path to recovery, or at least identifying oneself as in need of change. It seems like a "heal thyself" command, one that places blame for lack of health on the unhealthy individuals. And it says "unless you share our view of yourself as in need of changing, you do not deserve respect or community (unless that community will work to try to bring you to our view of you)."

Now I'm not saying that "eating disorders" are healthy (though definitions of "illness" and "wellness" change with the tides). I just don't see the communities of those who are in the midst of eating disorders as such a problem in need of banning. People are acting as if these are evil temptresses seducing others into sin. It reminds me of a church youth group handout on eating disorders that referenced the "body is the temple" passage and framed eating disorders as sinful behavior. But at least in our modern culture, many eating disorders seem to stem from social injustices of sexism, fatphobia, hyperindividualism, an overemphasis on self-determination, etc. Those are the problem. Not the people coping through extreme behaviors.

Some of the LJ petition signers use wording that makes me think they see "unhealthy" as "immoral." I can't equate people engaging in unhealthy behaviors together with immorality though. For me, this is mostly because of the scripture passage when Jesus said "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." [Remembering that I have no formal theological training,] I don't hear him condoning the actions of the pharisees to whom he spoke and calling them moral and in no need of change. As best i can tell, that just wasn't his style. ;) So I don't hear him saying that healthy and good or moral are the same thing. When I read that, esp since he was being chastised for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes, I think he called "healthy" (but not necessarily good) those who are doing all right in the system as it currently stands, and "sick" (but not necessarily bad) those who manifest symptoms of injustice, experience harm, and even cope through behaviors they might not otherwise choose.

Anyway, I see the petitioning to ban such communities of people from gathering online as saying "we are currently healthy, you are unhealthy. And we all know healthy is good. So we are healthy and good. And you are sick and bad. So you need some of our healthy goodness to rub off on you, and we need to make sure your sick badness does not rub off on others, so tsk tsk no community for you until you change." A highly moralistic quarantine approach. It is completely different from how I see Jesus dealing with matters of "health."

(As a side note, I happen to believe dieting support communities and weight loss surgery support communities are also "encouraging unhealthy behavior" but again, the problem is not those communities. And they aren't being attacked because those manifestations of society's sins are welcomed, somewhat absolving even.)

ETA: These are all pretty scattered thoughts right now. I'd appreciate feedback and additional ideas.
Saturday, July 21st, 2007
1:27 am
Intro posts sound like a good idea
Hi there.  From what little I know of those already joined up here, I'm the least theologically trained in any formal sense.  I have some ministry experience and a lot of curiosity, but it wasn't until I started hanging out with theogeeks a couple years ago that I had words to put to some of my thoughts and learned that I was not even close to being the first to have such thoughts.  My theogeeks and my dad (a conservative methodist minister) tell me that my ideas reflect a liberation theology, but I just have to take their word on that for now.  I'm a grad student.  I don't have time to do a ton of extra reading. 

ETA (a couple days later): I mentioned songquake's previous post above and, now that I have re-read it, I realize that I completely missed its point and assumed it was the usual concern about health being a prerequisite for respect.  That is what I get for reading and writing after midnight while leading a campus ministry trip (being distracted by students and movies, looking up return driving directions online, and trying to figure out what time to leave the next morning).  Apologies, and I'll work on slowing down a bit.
Friday, July 20th, 2007
6:49 pm
hello, fat-liberation-theologians! (intro post)
hi, folks. i found my way here courtesy of giniliz. i've just finished my M.Div at chicago theological seminary, where i wrote my constructive theology paper on queering disability and how we can look at this as a framework for reimagining both the image of god and the beloved community (especially thinking of the church as the queer and/or broken body of christ).

in terms of fat-acceptance, i've been relatively active in the nolose community, both in-person and online. protested with marilyn wann, and with other NAAFA/NOLOSe folks several times, attended and presented at NOLOSe, etc. i've been less active in the fat-acceptance community over the last couple of years, but that's largely because i'm not hanging out with my old crew in nyc -- i haven't really connected with the chicago fat-acceptance community, even though i know that phat camp is rooted here. le sigh. we can only do so much, though.

at present, i'm working part-time as a chaplain. i'm particularly interested in pastoral theologies around sickness and dis/ability. in terms of fat-acceptance, while i support HAES, i am wary of over-emphasis on health, because too often both our churches and our culture links health to morality and willpower -- not just in terms of body size, but in terms of most progressive diseases and many physical disabilities. we are supposed to either "heal" or "overcome" our physical differences -- much like women, queers, blacks are supposed to "overcome" femininity, queerness, or blackness and become more like straight white men. thin and able-bodied are other bodily markers that are linked somehow to our worth as humans, but really the theological/philosophical assumption is that all these deviant bodies are bodies out of control, bodies that have uncontrolled urges, bodies which have souls too weak or sinful to bring them in line with normative physicality. it is particularly hard on folks who are fat and disabled, or fat and sick. dieting doesn't work, but there is an assumption that the body marked as fat is one which practices both sloth and gluttony, and therefore earns whatever physical infirmities it gets.

i'm hugely committed to destroying the assumption that good health is a reward for being a good person, and i think that while HAES is a huge step forward -- shoot, we should certainly encourage folks to enjoy their bodies by moving them more, by allowing ourselves as much as possible to eat in ways that give us energy -- i worry that it doesn't break down the assumption that in order to show you are a good person, a worthy person who doesn't deserve illness, you must eat well and exercise "enough." if we are fat, and/or don't always eat well and exercise as much as we can, does that mean that we have "earned" our illnesses and disabilities?

i don't think so. i don't think that god wants us to suffer. i don't think that there is any connection between being a good person and having a healthy, intact body. i think that our marked bodies, however they are marked, are sources of knowledge. they can help us learn and value creativity and (perhaps) conceive of a different idea of how the body of christ can be (if you accept that christian metaphor, which i do): a lumbering, difficult body that has to work hard to function all together, but that is committed to finding a way to get through this world that doesn't quite fit. communities are like that. jesus' experiences in his body didn't fit, especially when he was beaten and crucified. circumcised israelites at various times did not fit into the surrounding communities, and so on.

so, yeah, those are just the thoughts off the top of my head. i'm really excited to share this space with you folks, and look forward to discussion about how to create fat theology!

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