In the recent JTO post, Obese Clergy- The Elephant In The Room, I raised the question: "Why are there so many obese clergy?" I stated that I was at a loss and asked the JTO readers to write the article for me in the comment section. There were three takers. Here is what we wrote:
Anonymous 9:51 AM
I think there are two important factors that contribute. First is the level of physical activity. Our clergy is typically not doing physically demanding work and their schedules may not allow time for an exercise program. second is the social aspect - many parishioners love their priest and express that love through food. Whether it's inviting them to dinner, scheduling meetings over lunch or baking their favorite dessert for coffee hour after Liturgy, it's how many show their appreciation. Let's face it, baklava is not a weight loss food. So even with regular fasting, I can see where it's hard to stay thin. And should clergy worry too much about their appearance? Is that not vanity?
Of course, I would rather our clergy not be obese because I pray for their health and obesity is such a terrible factor in so many health problems.
Guess that doesn't help much.
I agree, Dan.
There is no elephant in the room. I've never met a layperson who was scandalized by a fat priest. Fat priests will have to answer for their sins, just like loquacious priests will have to answer for theirs, and priests with tempers will have to answer for theirs. But there is no elephant in the room. Since we are writing the article in the comments section, I propose the article go like this:
Some people get upset when they see fat priests.
They should focus on their own sins, and move along.
Gluttony is a sin, indeed, but so is lust, anger, malice, pride, jealousy, and the rest.
Sinners need our prayers.
How sad that some priests develop diabetes or eating problems as a result of the stress of they are under.
Let's pray for each other.
Anonymous 8:54 PM
This is something I have reflected on and while I agree that we must first examine ourselves, I think there is something to this question. The truly pious among us want very little from the world and seek few, if any, of it's comforts. I think the Church and sadly, Her Clergy, have focused more on administration and their personal subsistence, rather than worship (in Spirit and in Truth, not in performance). This lack of focus on the purpose of the Church has led to excesses in the world manifested in very physical ways, gluttony and self-indulgences being two of them. I also think that rather than excuse our weaknesses, we should strive to encourage one another to be strengthened in our spiritual battles, that we might all move closer to God. - Marina
Here is what I would add to the article:
Obesity is not necessarily a sign of intentional sin in one's life. It is not necessarily a result of gluttony or of lack of self-control. More often than not, it is a sign of ignorance. My own Bishop, after reading the post and seeing the question raised, commented that clergy fast from meat and substitute starches, such as macaroni and cheese while fasting. My Bishop was on target. Obesity is a result of WHAT we eat. Is it a good spiritual exercise, then, to fast from certain foods while eating other foods that are killing us?
As we have aged, my wife and I, like many others, found our our weight going up and our health going down. We determined to find out how we could be better stewards of the bodies that we were given- the bodies with which we serve our Lord and His Holy Church. We discovered that we are not destined to have overweight, diseased-ridden bodies the older we get. We decided to do something about it. We are still in process, but the answer we discovered is simple...
A plant-based diet. No grains. No dairy. No meat. No refined or processed foods. Eat organic plants void of toxins and modifications.
We do not go hungry and we get all the nutrients our bodies need.
A simple answer, yes, but the decision and understanding as to what one should eat and how one can live this lifestyle is the knowledge that is lacking. I am not content to just look to my own welfare while I see my fellow clergy dying for lack of knowledge. I would much rather weather the consternation of some who are offended that such a question would even be raised, than to keep to myself the knowledge of how to bring our bodies and minds to health, allowing us to serve our Lord longer and better.
A plant-based diet can cure diabetes. A plant based diet can cure cancer. A plant based diet can prevent all myriads of diseases. I have posted a video here of the most profound information that will revolutionize your life... if you will do it. Forks over Knives is a documentary that is changing the lives of millions. The DVD is for sale but can be found on Netflix and other forums for free. The website is http://www.forksoverknives.com/. You can also download it on You Tube for $4.
If you are a clergy (or not) and suffer from disease and obesity, and know of others who suffer the same, take the time to gain the knowledge and share it with others. So, what is the elephant in the room? The elephant is not the obese clergy themselves, but, rather, the elephant is the knowledge that is so readily available to all.