About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Of course, correlation is not necessarily indicative of causation, but Ferraro statistically accounted for obvious extraneous factors, such as geographical location (and therefore cultural variations on cooking habits), race, and the possibility that overweight people would be more likely to go to church to seek moral support. Even after all these adjustments, the main findings of the study held up. What's going on?
Apparently, food is being used by fundamentalist Christians both as a focus of social gathering (more so than in any other group) and as a substitute for other “vices,” such as consumption of alcohol. Commenting on Ferraro's results, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Cathleen Falsani reported (August 25, 2006) that she attended a conservative Bible wedding where the bride and groom toasted the guests not with wine (of course), but with a huge ice cream sundae!
Part of the problem, according to author Daniel Sack (Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture) is that Protestant denominations simply don't have dietary rules comparable to those of Catholics, Jews, or Muslims – except, of course, for the silly prohibition about drinking “Jesus juice,” despite the clear indication in the Gospels that wine was in fact drunk by Jesus and his disciples. Well, nobody ever accused fundamentalists of being too logical or consistent.
One welcome solution would be for more churches to cut down on coffee and donuts and offer vegetable platters and gym classes instead, but of course a secularist like me can't help wondering if a little more concession by fundamentalists to natural “earthly” pleasures (you know, a glass of wine a day, sex once in a while) wouldn't do a world of good – if not for their souls, at least for their cholesterol level.