More years ago than most of you have been alive, there was an ad for (I believe) General Motors cars, featuring a sleek, gorgeous machine, along with a sleek, gorgeous blonde, and the caption, “Body by Fisher.” Which body, was left to the imagination of the viewer (and the ad was clearly designed to capture the attention of people with very little imagination).
For the past three or so weeks, I have been working out at a local gym. Relax, never in anyone’s wildest dreams will I ever have anything remotely resembling a Body by Fisher, or anything else earthly. I’m of two minds about it: I deplore, absolutely deplore, the Cult of the Body that exists in modern America. I see some of these people working out, and the exercises they are doing…. One involves kneeling on the floor between two weight posts, grabbing a handle from each, and pulling on them while bowing down to the ground. Would any one of these people consent to doing any such thing in a church? Obviously, I don’t know; but they are happy to do it at the gym. And the question for me is, do I want to do such a thing at the gym? Well, no, it’s not a serious question, because there is only one place I would do any such thing. But it bothers me that such a clear act of worship should be possible anyplace but at church. Or maybe what bothers me is, it’s such a parody of worship.
So why am I there in the first place? Because I need to get this old bod moving somehow. I need, desperately, to strengthen leg muscles that have lost all tone since I fell down that flight of stairs three years ago, and on top of that, began experiencing such pains in my right foot that I was barely able to hobble around. (The two are unrelated, though there was a possibility at one point that a bone might have been broken in the fall, and had been overlooked in the face of more obvious injuries.) The pain in the foot, it turns out, was from — are you ready for this? — a badly fitting pair of athletic shoes! Good brand, very well known, and in fact the shoes I have now are the same brand — but it was just the way this one pair of shoes was designed, so that the lace tightened right on a nerve that disabled the whole foot. No, I didn’t get this diagnosis from my doctor. What, Dr. Dementa giving serious consideration to the ills of a fat person?! I went to a shoe store that specializes in hard-to-fit feet.
Anyway — there is a point to this, I think — it does seem to me that the body I have, “Body by God,” should be maintained in sufficient shape to allow me to handle the tasks proper to this point in my life. I should be able to wash windows, for instance, without feeling as if pushing up the window is the equivalent of an upper-body workout. I should be able to change the beds, including flipping the mattresses, without feeling as if that was a full-body workout. At some point, though at this point it’s a distant hope, I would love to be able to kneel down so I could scrub the tub. (When I fell, my knee was one of the injuries the ER people were most concerned about. Three years later, it still bothers me.)
At least, I’m hoping there’s a difference between caring for the body and worshipping the body.