Friday, August 24, 2012

Weight Comments

"You look great! Have you lost weight?"
"You look so thin! Congratulations!"
"Wow, you've lost so much weight!"

How many of these comments have you heard--whether directed at you or someone you know? How would you expect them to make you feel? Good? I would argue the opposite. I would argue that  commenting on a person's weight, even if you're commenting that they "look like they've lost weight," can be impolite and even harmful.


1. If they are losing weight on purpose and they want people to know, they will tell you. You can then decide whether or not you feel weight loss for cosmetic purposes alone is something to compliment.

2. A person can lose weight from having surgery, getting cancer, or having an eating disorder. Complimenting a person on these things is generally considered to be in bad taste and could lead to further negative health consequences.

3. If they are not losing weight on purpose (or have actually not lost weight), you are telling them that they used to be less attractive than they are now and, if they regain weight, that they will soon be that unattractive again.

4. Losing weight should be for health reasons. If a person is losing weight solely to get compliments, then I think that complimenting them may make them even more pathological about their bodies. If they subsequently regain weight (as often happens because hormones like the body to remain in equilibrium), then they may feel even worse about themselves.

5. Commenting on how thin someone looks automatically makes everyone around them body-conscious and can activate body image problems in others.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nothing Wrong with Doubt, Part 1

The more I learn about the world and different perspectives, the more I realize how narrow-sighted our Christian worldview is. Faith only goes so far. At some point, faith turns into a blind disregard for conflicting information, as if that information being true would somehow derail the entire faith.

For example, the fossil record is quite compelling, yet so many Christians work overtime to prove it wrong, as if all of Christianity is built upon evolution being false. I feel like if your faith is so easily derailed, then it isn't very strong. I read a book on evolution for an Origins class (Why Evolution is True) and I remember thinking, Look. If this business is true, then it's true. Refusing to acknowledge the facts won't make it any less true. And I read the book and learned a lot and I was fine. I am totally okay with incorporating evolution into my faith if I have to, but at this point, no one's making me decide. Either way, it's not a big deal to me anymore.

Now, an argument against this view would go something like this: "You shouldn't expose yourself to these false viewpoints because it gives the Devil a foothold in your life to spread his lies. You think you're being enlightened but you're just falling further into darkness!" While this is an opinion, I think it is a silly one. You can't go through life blinding yourself to differing viewpoints because of an irrational fear of being deceived. If you check back at your Christianity guidebook, it talks about how God conquered sin and death, which are pretty much the embodiment of the Devil (and Revelation's got some pretty fancy images of the Serpent all chained up in a pit). If everyone had this fear, we'd still think [insert classic scientific discovery nearly quashed by the church].

Anyway. I value my exposure to different viewpoints and it is fascinating to see my world through others' eyes. It has also been a stretching experience. It began when I started college and started to struggle with issues that aren't very clear-cut--issues like homosexuality. How can the Bible say it's wrong if people can't help it? Why should gay people be expected to live a life empty of the love and affection included in a marriage? I eventually concluded that I didn't care what the Bible said or seemed to say, the God I knew wouldn't declare "evil" something that doesn't hurt anybody. He wouldn't cause so much pain and suffering.

And after that, questioning some weird ideas we have about the Bible. Why do people quote Psalms as proof of some concept (i.e., Psalm 33:6-9 as proof of Creation). Do we honestly think that these poems written by some ancient king or harpist have some magical truth just 'cause a group of people decided to stick them in the Bible? Can't we just believe that they are just that--poems--written by some people about the God they knew, based on what they knew? And don't get me started on the literally pornographic Song of Solomon. Just look up verse 4:11 for its historical sexual innuendos (hint: "feet" and "honey" meant something else back then). I'm not saying this is wrong. I'm not saying SoS shouldn't be in the Bible (although I do think it's a weird place for it, given our prudishness). I'm just saying that interpreting Paul's statement that "all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16) is very silly when you use Job 40 to defend the idea of sea monsters.

This concludes Part 1 of Nothing Wrong with Doubt. Knowing me, it will be quite a while until the second installment.