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Golden Corral

[Ancient Faith Radio; January 16, 2008]

This is another one of those times when I’m someplace and kind of embarrassed to say where I am. I’m in the parking lot of an all-you-an-eat buffet restaurant; this one’s a Golden Corral. I’m about to go in and have some dinner. And this is one of my secret techniques at being a writer, that when I have a lot of stuff I need to go through, a lot of paper, like when I’ve gotten the manuscript of a book back from the editor and I need to look at every page and see what all the suggestions and changes are, this is my plan: I go to an all-you-can-eat place and I put the big stack of paper on the table and I’ll get salad and then I’ll read for a half hour. And then I’ll get some vegetables and then read for another half hour. And just stretch it out and make it a little more cheerful than it might otherwise be.

My project today is that I’ve been invited to write a book about the Jesus prayer. And I’m just, you know, appalled to think that anybody would think I was capable of that. I’m thinking maybe I could write, ‘Beginning the Jesus Prayer.’ I certainly don’t have the wisdom or experience to do anything authoritative. But it’s been encouraged as a very, very good idea, and they’d really like me to do it. And so I’ve got a stack of about 12 books, I think, about the Jesus prayer, one aspect or another. And the encouraging thing is they’re all very thin books. So I keep looking back in the backseat and thinking, ‘I’m going to take this stack in with me and kind of whip through it and perhaps I can come up with a thin book as well.’

But thinking of thin and not so thin as I prepare to get out of the car, I’m seeing people come in and out of that door, and they are not thin. They are huge. These are huge people. It’s a kind of obesity that I didn’t see when I was growing up. It’s like whole new borders of obesity are being explored, new frontiers, all the time.

It reminded me recently when I went for some lab work, the nurse said, ‘It used to be when we had obese people, that meant 200 lbs, now it means 400 lbs, 500 lbs.’ She was just marveling at the extent, the lengths that obesity has gone to pretty recently. I had to get blood taken and they showed me into the little lab room, it was a chair like I’ve never seen. It was wide enough for two of me. And it was up off the ground, I mean, my feet were swaying, they didn’t touch the ground. I said, ‘I feel like I’m on Santa Claus’ lap here.’ This huge chair.

And you know they’re saying they’re going to have to make caskets bigger. You have to get cars with specially reinforced undercarriage; just a lot of stuff is changing because of this obesity that’s becoming so prevalent.

And I guess why it is, is that people just don’t naturally have any control about some things. You know, if it was drinking water, you would stop. But if you’re eating food that’s high-carb and sweetened, we might be intelligent about other things, but we don’t know how to stop eating it.

Now here’s a strange thing: these are not wealthy people going in and out of those doors. In fact, obesity is more a problem for poorer people. And an article I read about this a couple of years ago in Harper’s magazine said for more upper class people, they know that looking obese makes it look like you don’t have self-control, and that works against you in the workplace. It makes it look like maybe you’re not cut out to be a leader if you can’t exercise self-control. So movie stars are very diligent about their weight. The highest achievers, they are very careful about their weight. This has to be the first time in history that poor people have been fatter than rich people. It’s just a bizarre thing to think about.

So with that thought in mind, I guess I’ll go in and join them and try to pace myself and stop every 15 minutes and half hour, and try to be a little less gluttonous than I might otherwise be, because to tell the truth, I’m tempted that same direction. I’ve got about 20 lbs I ought to lose, but I don’t think I’m going to start tonight.


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