canary of fun (songquake) wrote in fat_theology,
canary of fun

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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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