Daily Archives: February 9, 2017

Obesity, Gluttony, And Christianity.

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An article on the generally good (for what I can read) Crisis magazine states some rather preposterous things, like the rhetorical question whether we should have asked St Thomas Aquinas to exercise more. Once again, the Western society is so secularised that it does not even get how much it has lost the sense of faith.  

St Thomas Aquinas was a great saint, and a man of extremely strong will (the episode of him being locked in a room in the family’s castle, and the other famous episode with the prostitute introduced therein to persuade him to abandon his plans to become a priest, are abundant demonstrations of it). The man wasn’t your run-of-the-mill saint, who might be heroic in fighting temptations but is often overcome by it. All we know of him tells us this was a ferociously disciplined man, and a man of both overflowing holiness and overflowing intelligence. It is simply preposterous to think that he would not have his appetite for food, or any other of his appetites, under control. Whilst the man was certainly big (as abundantly reported, in very colourful words, by one who was demonstrably very fat, G.K. Chesterton, and (cough…) very probably never met the man in person), it is plain dumb to think he would sit in front of just another real (not dumb) ox and would be unable to restrain his food intake. I am not informed about the daily diet of the man, but elementary sensus catholicus tells me this: if the man had seen a serious problem in his eating habits you can bet your last shirt he would have starved himself to Obama levels all right. Those ones weren’t the times, and that one wasn’t the man, to take the sin of gluttony lightly. In the man’s case, I can’t avoid thinking he considered his less than attractive physical appearance a blessing in disguise, a lesson in humility, and in general a help to a saintly life.  Even the tale of the “ox” might have been vastly exaggerated, as in the middle of thin people you become an “ox” much more rapidly than among the “minorities” in, say, 2017’s London (ask me how I know). 

Alas, modern times are stupid. People don’t understand anymore than once upon a time, people behaved (and believed) in a far more intelligent manner than today; that they had a great fear of the Lord and a very keen sense of sin; and that they might have perceived as very sinful what many later saw as venial sin or not a sin at all.

There, we already have out of the way the first platitude of the day: Saints weren’t gluttons, period. If they were big, of even fat for ancient standards (certainly much different from the disgusting accumulation of big fat waves of people unable or almost unable to walk in their Thirties or even Twenties we see today), it was because the Lord in His wisdom had decreed so, but heroic virtue can’t live together with stuffing one’s pie hole to the point of disgusting obesity.

He who tells you otherwise is destroying in front of you the concept of heroic virtue, trying to persuade you that you might be a saint in the making, or trying to make you believe sinners who actually kept sinning all their lives went straight to heaven.

Famously, Padre Pio ate almost nothing, and it was clear his rounded figure was a straight demonstration for all living around him that he was sustained by God. But Padre Pio wasn’t obese in any of the sense commonly used today. He was a well-rounded man, like a Pius IX or a JP II; and this as he was aging, again *almost without even eating*. There was, most certainly, no hint of gluttony in him, as there could be no succumbing to a deadly sin if there is to be heroic virtue.   

Which leads us to the crux of the matter: gluttony.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, and many sensible people of his and of all ages, would not eat too much simply because of the sinfulness of the habit.  A concept, this (the sin of gluttony), that has all but disappeared in an age which wants to justify and “scientifically” explain everything, from sexual perversion to evil tendencies to morbid obesity. 

I grew up in Italy, in a time when the concept of gluttony was alive and kicking. I have seen people berated, humiliated in front of everyone because of their gluttony. I have seen ridicule, mockery and outright condemnation surround them, from children and adult alike, and I am talking of people who in today’s US would not even attract attention. I have not seen many people who were fat for half-moderate US standards, and I have seen none (zero, zilch, nada, nothing. Not.A.Single.One.) that were fat in the way millions of US and UK teenagers and young adults are fat today. 

Now, sensible societies always had a sensible approach to the matter. Older people and some ugly women were allowed to verge on the fat. Provided they remained able to conduct their daily life, walk, work, go up stairs, play with their children, people were not considered gluttons. Wise men like Cicero are often portrayed as portly. Saintly men like Pius IX certainly were. Omo de Panza (man of belly) meant, in Catholic Sicily, the man’s man, the manly man. But every sensible person must see the difference between the famous actor Aldo Fabrizi in his old-ish age (pictured above; pretty much as fat as it went in those years) and people forced to go around in a wheelchair in their thirties, or who are about to massacre their knees in their twenties, because they just can’t stop eating.  There has always been a distinction between a natural roundness, particularly with age, and disordered obesity, particularly at a young age. Everyone could pick the difference. Everyone understood the difference between what is reasonable and what isn’t. Everyone felt free to condemn the latter. 

Don’t tell me it was “cruel”. I won’t have any of that sensitive faggot shit. It worked. Therefore it was salutary, not cruel.  Now we have people dying in what should have been their prime, and after having attracted on themselves all kind of disease and discomfort for many years; but we are too stupid – or too sensitive in that faggoty way mentioned above – to tell them to **eat the Obama less and exercise the Obama more**, and in case (money allowing; no, not necessary) invest in a dietologist that might make things even better, or faster, or smarter for them. Much less we tell them gluttony is a sin. No: nowadays people with $1,000 smartphones die of junk food, gluttony and utter stupidity, but woe to the one who tells them some straight facts about life.

Let their stupidity kill them instead. Don’t you know it’s the sensitive thing to do?

No sense of sin. No common sense. No desire to improve the lot of other people if it makes us, or them, feel “uncomfortable”. It’s no surprise people seriously ask (and be it in a rhetorical way) whether a great saint should have been asked to eat less and exercise more.

We need to go back to the basics. We need to understand that 1) a strong religious feeling and 2) strong societal condemnation are extremely effective weapon in the “war on fat”, an expression unknown in those Countries who had 1) and 2). 

As St Thomas Aquinas very well knew, Gluttony is a deadly sin.

That’s all you need to know. 

M  

 

 

 

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