I don't know if this is such an appropriate post for Sunday morning.
A study from Northwestern shows that people who regularly attend religious services are 50% more likely to become obese.
Several years ago I read an interesting book by a French literary figure on his recent travels through America. He reported on the whole-life consumer orientation of an evangelical megachurch. The exercise class was called "Fit for Jesus." I have to admit I was less amused than repulsed. Does that name mean that Jesus doesn't love fat girls, that you have to be fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Are the Pearly Gates only so wide?
So I have to admit I'm strangely reassured by this study. Not that being obese is a responsible lifestyle option, even if it is one that I have chosen. But people who really believe in the living and giving God, it would seem, can relax a bit about their waistlines. They know they're going to stay around even if they die a bit younger than they might if they more rigorously avoided refined carbs, exercised scientifically, attended obsessively to risk factors, and so forth. They certainly don't think that they have to knock themselves out trying to stay around until biotechnology is able to turn us all into immortal robots (who, if Mr Kurzweil is right, will somehow get to continue to have virtual or disembodied sex).
People who go to church usually don't believe that their salvation is in their own hands, and that being itself is extinguished if and when they die. So they aren't so anxious that they can't enjoy some pie.
The article is right about church suppers in the sticks. I've been to hundreds of them, and they are very old-fashioned in being about lots of food that studies show is bad for you. Plus, there's no portion control. And as you enjoy fellowship with other believers you're tempted to go back for seconds and thirds.
The article is right, too, that enhanced health consciousness is making and will continue to make the "potluck" menus more sensible.
Avoiding obesity, nonetheless, is not really a good reason not to go to church with your kids.
(Thanks to Eric Sands for letting me know about this fascinating study.)