It’s Time You People Confronted Your Obesophobia

The other day, I was reading an article on a so-called treatment for infant girls supposedly “threatened” by allegedly “malformed” genitalia due to a rare hormone “disorder.” This heterosexually privileged narrative, which hitherto has imperialistically “treated” these children in utero and allowed them to be born with “normal” female genitalia, is now being challenged by the brave vanguard of Tolerance by Any Means Necessary in America’s courageous Gay Community:

Each year in the United States, perhaps a few dozen pregnant women learn they are carrying a fetus at risk for a rare disorder known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The condition causes an accumulation of male hormones and can, in females, lead to genitals so masculinized that it can be difficult at birth to determine the baby’s gender.

A hormonal treatment to prevent ambiguous genitalia can now be offered to women who may be carrying such infants. It’s not without health risks, but to its critics those are of small consequence compared with this notable side effect: The treatment might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioral traits.

That such a treatment would ever be considered, even to prevent genital abnormalities, has outraged gay and lesbian groups, troubled some doctors and fueled bioethicists’ debate about the nature of human sexuality.

Yes, gay groups are outraged, outraged, that parents and doctors should treat baby girls so that their bodies develop “normally.” And who can blame them? I certainly don’t. Because, you see, I have a confession. I need to come out of the closet.

I am Jolly. I can’t help it. I was just born that way. And I am no longer ashamed!

I can’t remember when I first felt Jolly. Maybe it was when I was eating that second bowl of ice cream and watching The Flying Nun when I was eight. Maybe it was that tender coming-of-age moment when an older Jolly man brought Kentucky Fried Chicken to a beach party I was invited to at the age of 15 and I ate half the bucket. I don’t claim to understand everything about the complexities of this glorious and challenging appetite God has given me. All I know is, Jolly is the way God made me, and I have nothing to be ashamed of!


Not that oppressive Judeo-Christian Amerika hasn’t tried to fill me with shame for being a Person of Size. Growing up, I had to endure the cruelty of a culture that does nothing but heap contempt on Jolly Americans. From my youngest childhood — when kids at class used to call me “Shea Fat,” to girls snickering about “love handles” at the pool, to the obesophobic gibes of readers who think they are funny when they tell me I have my own gravitational field — I and my fellow Jollies have had to put up with the discrimination, the jokes, and the pain. O the pain! Insurance companies, modeling agencies, airlines, movie-theater seat designers — these and many more all treat we members of the Lardo/Giant/BrickHouse/Tubby community like second-class citizens.

I thought that, when I became Catholic, surely here in the bosom of the People of God I would find love, acceptance, and celebration of my Jolliness. But instead, I found a shocking replay of the denial and rejection I went through as a young fundamentalist. You see, when I was in college, I fell in with Evangelicals who told me that my appetites could be governed. I was young and impressionable and believed their inhuman religious mind control. They put me through a bizarre and sinister reparative therapy consisting of “eating less and exercising more.” For a time, I drank the Kool-Aid (actually, it was sugarless Crystal Lite) and found myself losing weight and getting to be what they call “healthy.” But something was missing, something fundamental about me was being denied.

That something, I discovered, was lots and lots of food and television. Eventually, my true, God-given nature reasserted itself and I embraced my Jolliness. I resolved never again to let fundamentalists tell me about what was healthy. I swore to reject oppressive temperanormativity. And most of all, I vowed to make sure that I and those like me would never again feel uncomfortable, and to punish anybody who did anything less than cheer for my desires. Realizing my old church was unworthy of me, but still feeling myself to be a deeply spiritual person, I chose to let myself become Catholic in the (mistaken) belief that the Church would realize my true value as a human being with much-needed gifts and graces to give to God and his kingdom.

But once I entered the Church, what a letdown! A bunch of fasting old men in Rome prattle on about the “sin of gluttony”? Lent? Fasting and abstinence on Friday? Fasting before Mass? The “virtue” of temperance? A Eucharist of tasteless unleavened bread in a tiny portion and a sip of cheap wine — when I’m starving? What is this, the Bronze Age? They even have the gall to tell me that my love of “over-eating” is a “disordered appetite.”


That’s why the article struck such a sensitive nerve. I know exactly how these opponents of hormone therapy for babies in utero feel! Some kids are born with a genetic propensity toward obesity. If they get “treatment” and avoid being obese, how do you think that makes me, an obese person, feel? God made me obese. I don’t have to change my appetites or “die to myself” in any way. I totally agree with this person:

The treatment is a step toward “engineering in the womb for sexual orientation,” said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University and an outspoken opponent of the treatment.

If you ask me, that’s the finest ethics money can buy. All medicine that makes me feel uncomfortable is “engineering,” especially medicine that supposedly “cooperates with nature” to “help” others overcome their appetites. Real medicine is about doing whatever it takes to make me feel comfortable about whatever it is I want to do. So is real journalism, such as the fine journalism of that piece, which never once consults with a single parent to see what they think about their children being born with malformed genitalia. It’s not the parents business to decide what’s “best” for this child. That is the job of professional experts and outraged victims of society.

So, say I, stick with expert ethicists and, most especially, with agenda-driven pressure groups in determining how to treat so-called abnormal conditions that might threaten our appetites. An appetite is an appetite is an appetite. And if there’s anything our culture holds sacred, it is the right, duty, and necessity of fulfilling our appetites no matter what. I am as God made me, and it is the duty of parents everywhere to let their “fat” kids be as God made them, lest I feel disrespected. Treatment of childhood conditions like malformed genitalia or obesity shows a lack of trust in God. Americans need to learn how to celebrate, not “treat” these things.

You read me right, America! You have to change your attitudes! You people can’t get by anymore with your patronizing “toleration” of me and whatever I happen to desire. You don’t get off with your polite smiles, your gracious offers of sugar-free Tab, and your wordless willingness to give me the whole seat on the bus. Tolerance is not enough. You must celebrate me and my appetites. I’m tired of standing in the back of the cafeteria line! Your children and religious practices need to celebrate me and the way God made me, if you are going to show you are serious! My Jesus tells me that children should be raised obese and, if they choose to, be allowed to give up Hershey bars, candy, video games, and “junk food” when they are adults and can make their own choices. Stifling their God-given appetites when they cannot even defend themselves from temperanormativity is child abuse!

Indeed, my Jesus calls me to be the Voice of the Face-full and to keep changing the Faith until it tastes just the way I want it to. That’s why, in addition to calling for a boycott on “obesity engineering” for children, I’m calling on all you closeted Jolly readers to join me in the struggle to bring the Church into the 21st century by finally throwing off the shackles of the Dark Ages and facing the need for re-visioning the Sacrament of the Eucharist to celebrate and embrace the gifts we Jollies bring to the Church! When will the Church realize that the gift of Jollity is not about shame-based nonsense like the “sin of gluttony,” but rather about the joyful appetite for wolfing down as much life as possible without regard for dry Dark Age pedantries about “natural law” and “the common good”? The Church’s views on food and eating may have made sense in an era when people were stupid and medieval and poor. But in this day and age, when we are smart and living now and have a lot of food, I can’t see why we need to practice outmoded notions like temperance. All that matters is love, and I love Ding Dongs.

Singing this new Church into being (beer mugs and turkey drumsticks in hand) will require serious changes in our conception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. When will the Church realize that a chocolate ├ęclair and Mountain Dew can validly express the love of God as He intended it in the Sacrament of the Eucharist just as well as bread and wine can? Why do a bunch of fasting old men in Rome get to tell me how I can and cannot love? My Jesus loves chocolate, and He says that I can love it when and how I like! Even on the altar of God! My Jesus says that Mountain Dew is good, and I can’t find a single word in the Bible or the Fathers of the Church where He says that you can’t celebrate the Eucharist with it.


Until the institutional Church finally catches up with me and my fellow Jolly Americans and allows us to celebrate the Eucharist according to our beautiful God-given appetites, I don’t see how it can possibly survive. The old men in Rome are clearly fighting a rearguard action against the Spirit, who is speaking through the people of God. For instance, polling results show that Americans are far more likely to eat hamburgers and Coke at meals than small disks of unleavened bread and a single sip of wine. So the sensus fidelium is obviously on my side.

But the spirit of progress also needs a good push from us to make sure that His will is done. That’s why, until all of you people are compelled to celebrate my appetites by offering your children in sacrifice to them through celebration of natural obesity, I see no future for America, either. Indeed, more than ever, we need the courage of prophetic souls like, well, me, fulfilling the word of the Lord as it is written in the prophet Isaiah: “Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness” (Is 55:2).

God said it. I believe it. That settles it. When will the institutional Church listen to the prophetic voice God is raising up in her midst? Until you people realize that obesity is my God-given gift and start applauding it, you will continue “being polite” and asking the impossible by telling me and my Jolly brethren that we need to practice temperance when we cannot help the way we are. And until you realize that we are what we freely choose to be, you will remain Christianist bigots who don’t let us exercise our freedom to do whatever we want with your overt approval and constant affirmation.

Christianity is a religion of love. Tolerance is not enough. You must love what I love, and you must love me for loving as I love! Or, as my God is my witness, you will one day face righteous judgment for your sinful thoughts and no piece of paper with “Bill of Rights” written on it will stop us.

Mark P. Shea


Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He was a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and is a former columnist for Crisis Magazine.

  • Sue Sims

    …for the damage to my computer while I was reading this. The tears of laughter dripped on to the keyboard, and I’m probably going to be faced with a huge bill for repairs.

  • Austin

    Very funny, I laughed out loud. In all seriousness, we cannot all look like models, and at times, it is difficult to be 20 lbs overweight and listen to self righteous, born again health nuts lecture us on the evils of obesity.

    I am reminded of the comedian who said: “First we had a war on poverty. Then we had a war on drugs. Now we have a war on obesity. I am getting combat fatigue from all these wars…”

  • Deal W. Hudson

    I enjoyed the spirit, but not the letter, of this post. I rarely meet people who suffer from genuine obesity who are “jolly.” I’m sure the beloved Chesterton would have benefited from dropping a bit of his poundage, as well as my own patron saint, the Dumb Ox (surely his girth contributed to his early death!) I consider genetic engineering as heinous as anyone but there’s no doubt the obesity problem among our nation’s children and teenagers is alarming and should be addressed at the local level by parents, teachers, schools physicians, and coaches. We are, after all, not angels but men, whose bodies and souls are united by the same form. Only by some form of Cartesian angelism can concern about that which drags down the body be dismissed as ungrounded fear.

  • Chris B

    “Person of Substance”.

  • Tom

    to see the number of young women who are grossly overweight and do not seem to care about their appearance.

  • Andy F.

    It appears to me that Mr. Hudson, though he may be genuinely concerned for our cause, has been influenced too much by obesophobes.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Not *quite* as celebratory of Jolly Pride as you should be, but you are coming along.

    As to Mr. Hudson, the day is coming when your temperanormative obesophobic bigotry will be crushed under the bootheel of Love. Expect no mercy when that day comes!!!

  • Andy

    All that matters is love, and I love Ding Dongs.

    One of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

  • Peter Freeman

    And yet wouldn’t most Jollies, in a public debate, uphold a mother’s right to terminate potentially overweight embryos…suggesting that it is more ethical to terminate than medicate. Think about how much pain you suffered as a Jolly. Doesn’t that reduce their quality of life worse than not being able to afford an upper-middle-class lifestyle for them? Wouldn’t Jollies, by their own ideology, have to admit that it is more irresponsible for skinny parents to bring another Jolly into the world when they are doomed to so much misery than it is for poor parents to bring a non-jolly baby into the world?

  • Rachel

    Peter Freeman,
    Actually, all joking aside, the main time that I’ve seen gays become pro-life is when it comes to the possibility of a “gay gene.” It’s a Catch-22; gays want to believe that homosexuality isn’t a choice, but they know that if it really is genetic, there’s a looming possibility of their being aborted out of existence.

    And now, to return to the levity: Ex-Jolly treatment is completely ineffective. After months of dieting, I’m supposedly cured of my jolliness, yet I still yearn for French fries!

  • Marty Helgesen

    “All that matters is love, and I love Ding Dongs.”

    So you admit you hate witches!

  • JC

    “Fatties of the world unite!”

    How dare you use that words, that derogatory term beginning with an “f” to describe the those who are Jolly! This just goes to prove that we need hate crime legislation, and as for you, you ought to go seek counseling for your bigotry! smilies/wink.gif

    Keep up the good work, Mr Shea.

  • Matthew Wade

    I can never experience this “jolly” of which you speak and its accompanying feelings of non-affirmation. However, if I agree to unite with your cause for more positive reinforcement from the general populace, what will you give me in return? That is to say, how can I ride in on the coattails of your glory? I would settle for a semi-popular blog with a living-wage level of advertising revenue. Maybe we should talk about this in private…you’ve got my e-mail. Chow! I mean, ciao!

  • Bill Daugherty

    A masterful coinage. Well done.

  • Nick

    One thousand, two thousand, or three thousand years from now we will all look back at pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, and other unhealthy activities and physical disorders as being so obviously evil that we will consider our present generation to be just as gullible as we consider our ancestors to be.

  • Leonard

    Soooooh! Funny and the innuendos are so fitting. I read recently that it is psychologically much harder to “lose weight”…than to “build muscle and burn fat.” The subconscious tendency to resist anything connected with a word like “loose” is supposedly much larger (no pun intended) than most of us realize. Thanks for the Jolly Good laugh! Jolly Good Indeed!

  • Tim J.

    Mark, your glorious manifatso was very inspiring, but did not address the struggles of those of us who, though born with a high metabolism and slight frame, yet feel – know – that inside we are really, really fat.

    For years I denied this internal reality, and accepted that – as people constantly reminded me – I should be “grateful” to be so naturally thin. But how unnatural it felt! In college I began to experiment with wearing baggy shirts and bulky sweaters… only when I was alone in my room, at first, but as I gained confidence, I began to wear oversized clothes all the time, and even took to stuffing them a bit to give me that “hefty” look I craved.

    After years of preparatory counseling (thanks Dr. Schmuckton!), I’m happy to announce that am now planning to have dozens of pounds of fat surgically grafted on to my body, and look forward to finally living as I know I was meant to live. This is risky – especially since many so-called “advanced” countries will not allow doctors to perform the procedure – but what matters is that I should be able to express any idea that enters my imagination in any way I want. I’m a little nervous about dating again, but I can’t wait to get my new driver’s license showing my new *officially state recognized* weight of 265 pounds!

  • Mark P. Shea

    Say it with me: “We’re out and we’re stout!”

  • Steve

    Years ago I saw Robin Williams do a routine in which he suggested that for Communion “we should serve Jack Daniels and beer nuts! If you do not see Jesus then, you never will!”

  • Brian Edward Miles

    Mark you mentioned the other day that you prayed to Chesterton as a personal hero even though he is not (yet) canonnized. I think this essay should be submitted as evidence that Chesterton is indeed interceding for the faithful in Heaven.

    I also pray for his intercession, but don’t write nearly that well.

    Hmmm, could it be that my obesophobia is inhibiting the efficacy of my prayers?

  • Kathleen

    This doesn’t work nearly so well as it should as a parody, given the existence of the “size acceptance movement” (

  • Mark P. Shea


    Yes. That’s exactly your problem. A lot of people suffer from repression of their own Jolliness because of their obesophobia. No doubt you are one of them. However, with enough abject groveling and denunciation of yourself and your loathsome bigotry, you can know the freedom and liberation of Temperanormative Shame.

  • Mark P. Shea


    Fat “acceptance” is for the weak and timid. I don’t want to be “accepted”–as though I have some disease. Jolliness is not a disease! It’s a God-given gift. Acceptance is not enough. You. MUST. approve! You. MUST. Celebrate! Or my God of Love is going to punish you for your sinful thoughts and opinions!

  • Barbara

    You know, it’s satirical and all but food morality seems to be the only morality that the left accepts anymore. Fornicate with all the animals you want, but don’t eat them unless they’re locally produced fair-trade, shade grown, organic…

  • rosmerta

    I’ll be happy to share! In fact, I think we need to start a bank, like a blood bank, for people who are Endomorphically Challenged. I would be the world’s Jolliest donor.

  • Jerrry English

    “Singing this new Church into being (beer mugs and turkey drumsticks in hand) will require serious changes in our conception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. When will the Church realize that a chocolate

  • Mark P. Shea


    Next you’ll be telling me that God says only a man and a woman are fit matter for the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Church needs to get with the times: the New York Times, to be precise. We’re here. We hate light beer! Deal with it! Keep your rosaries off our XXX hosiery!

  • Steve


  • J. Chase

    I particularly want to know when the military with cease it’s unrelenting discrimination against Jolly people. Just because I am not skinny doesn’t mean I don’t love my country.

  • Pauli

    Only by some form of Cartesian angelism can concern about that which drags down the body be dismissed as ungrounded fear.

    Wow, perfectly put, Mr. Hudson. No wonder you’re a writer.

  • Red Cardigan

    Mark, as someone who struggles with Jolliness I salute you!

    However, I belong to another oppressed group, as someone who is Vertically Challenged. I demand the right to change the oppressive definition of the word “tall” to include me! I wrote about it here:

    How many other people want to change the definition of tall? I think us new-Tall Jollies have a lot to complain about! smilies/smiley.gif

  • Pie Curious

    I think you underestimate the breadth of the Jolly experience. I know that there are many people like myself who would not identify as Jolly who have nonetheless experimented with the lifestyle. There’s no denying those heady college nights when I took comfort in the company of Papa John and Sam Adams. I consider it a rite of passage and know that I learned a lot about myself through it.

  • C.

    It seems Mark Shea would rather entertain than edify. Half the article can be seen as a parody of the gay pride movement. The other half actually inspires “fat pride”.

    What was the thought process here: because this vice admits parvity of matter, we can laugh off our solemn duty to combat it? Gluttony, one of the “7 deadlies”, is also the forerunner of impurity, and impurity of heart includes heterodoxy. Dante placed gluttons firmly in Hell; so does the Russian iconographic tradition of the “sin snake”. Let’s not get carried away with ourselves. Chesterton, who unlike Shea had a sense of humor about himself, never dared justified this sin, whether he committed it or not.

    I’ll put it bluntly. This article, were it not excusable as “satire”, would qualify as heresy. And it is not in fact intended as satire, but only excusable enough as to leave the author some wiggle room should anyone (perhaps his conscience) inquire too uncomfortably. He thoroughly enjoys the plaudits from the fat who take this seriously, but will deny being serious if pressed by someone more serious than him. In short he is unserious about this most serious matter of sin and orthodoxy, and prefers his own wit to the salvation of his reader. Gluttons may eat themselves to Hell, but the frivolous will laugh themselves there.

  • veritate

    I understand the spirit of this post and appreciate where you were trying to go.

    But the fact is that there *are*, in fact, people in this world who exercise frequently and eat very modestly and are still fat. Not Jolly. We’re fat.

    And yes, God *did* make us this way. In His infinite wisdom and love, He made our bodies such that even sticking to the prescribed calorie-per-day formulas, punishing ourselves mentally and physically, and seeking all forms of mortification from Jenny Craig counselors, we still find ourselves in the “obese” range of the almighty BMI scale. Forget that our blood pressure, cholesterol, resting heart rate, joints, muscles, strength, endurance, resistance to disease, and everything else is excellent; the diet industry and Hollywood tell us we have to conform to an unrealistic ideal, so we are labeled, as above, as “not caring” about how we look. It’s inferred – no – outright contended, as above, that we are gluttonous and slothful, based solely on how we look.

    Which often leads to hating the beautiful bodies God gave us. And we find ourselves denying the life He gave us to lead, until we somehow abuse ourselves to fit into a diagram on the doctor’s wall.

    In short, one should not equate fatness with gluttony. Slim people can be gluttonous; as ugly people can be lustful and poor people can be greedy. We are people, created in the image of God. Yes, even fat people are created in His image. We should encourage everyone – slim, fat, single, married, sick and healthy – to embrace the virtues and pray for the grace necessary to bear the crosses God has given us.

  • ratiocination

    I didn’t think Samuel Clemens was alive or converted to the Roman Catholic Church; I also hadn’t been made aware that he had changed pen-names from Twain to Shea. A genre of Catholic American satire is long overdue and is in many ways a fitting medium for response to the contemporary cultural confusion of disorder in which even the definition of what is definite has been obscured. Much gratitude to the author.

  • Mark P. Shea

    veritate: Far be it from me to make fun of those whom biology has dealt a difficult hand. Indeed, I would say the same to those who are same-sex attracted and trying to live by the grace of Christ. Such folk have nothing but my respect. My aim was at those declare themselves to be nothing but creatures of their appetites and, in particular, at those who demand that the rest of us worship at the altar of their appetites.

  • KyPerson

    Don’t forget the evil organizations like Weight Watchers. They would have us believe that they can cure Jolliness. There are even former Jollys like Marie Osmund and Valerie Bertinelli who boast of their ex-Jollydom and how they are now Normal. And how about doctors who perform the evil liposuction? All of them must be named and shamed and put out of business by any means necessary.

  • C.

    You did just what I predicted you would – you excused yourself as just kidding when challenged. Be honest with yourself and admit how much you love people “misunderstanding” you. Your encouragement of them in the combox is proof of it. You love the joke more than you love them. The whole thread is a riot about eating with abandon, not social criticism.

    It’s amazing how often your writing gets “misunderstood” – isn’t that a sign that you need to correct your ways? Or in your terminal pride do you think it makes you Christlike?

    It’s certainly clear that you like the attention of naysayers. So I’ll close with saying that this discussion has really been for Deal’s benefit, not yours.

  • Frank

    C, I think you’ve missed the point completely. The entire logic of Mark’s article depends on the fact that he (along with his target audience, and in fact the majority of people in our society) recognizes that unrestrained indulgence of our appetite for food is disordered in some way (even if not everyone would understand enough to classify it as a ‘vice’).

    No one could take this piece as an actual encouragement of gluttony unless they were totally oblivious of the rhetoric of gay pride. Mark encourages us to see the rhetoric of gay pride as equal in absurdity to the rhetoric of ‘obesophobia’. There is no ‘half good and half bad’ about this article – it’s all of a piece. It is only because even gay pride supporters are not so deluded as to be taken in by the obesophobia nonsense, that Mark has a chance of making headway with them. It is obvious that if he actually believed gluttony was acceptable, the whole point he was making against the ‘gay pride’ movement would collapse.

    Unfortunately, like any writer, Mark isn’t immune from being misunderstood. It seems rather rough to bring this back to moral fault on his part. There are words of Our Lord himself that we could blunderingly ‘misinterpret’ as supporting this vice or that vice.

    Mark, as someone living with both same-sex attraction and temptations to gluttony, I thank you for being (like Chesterton) totally serious and totally hilarious at the same time. You do great work for the Catholic Faith, and the salvation of souls. And your patient exposure of the errors of the gay rights movement contains much more genuine love and serious respect for the same-sex attracted than all the misguided talk about ‘affirmation’.

  • Donna

    Jolliness has been seen as a sign of wealth and well-being. It signified that a person had access to food and was not overworked. It was a particular status symbol for a man to have a Jolly wife – it meant that he was a great provider.
    (A remnant of this can be seen in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, in which the protagonist, dreaming of wealth, remarks that his wife would then look ” like a rich man’s wife/With a proper double chin..” )

    Even today, on the island of Mauritania, many young girls are sent off to be properly fattened up so as to be attractive to prospective husbands. This is, alas ! much less common than it was, as Western influence is destroying the native culture’s embrace of Jolliness.

    Artwork has celebrated female Jolliness in particular – from the Venus of Willendorf to the ladies of Reubens. But again, anti-Jolly prejudice has reared its ugly head, so that now it is more difficult to find positive images of the Jolly woman.

    Popular music has been an anti-Jolly stronghold for a long time. (The old song, “I Don’t Want Her, You Can Have Her, She’s Too Fat For Me” comes to mind.) Something of a breakthrough was made by the pioneering Sir-Mix-a-Lot, with his classic “Baby Got Back”, but he was still bound by his prejudice against large waistlines. (A similar flawed view informs the more recent song by Beyonces Knowles, “Bootylicious”. )
    Perhaps the finest examples of trangressive celebration of the Jolly in popular music are “Eat It”, and “Fat” by Mr. Alfred Yankovic. This genius, under the guise of parody, has managed to write paeans to the Jolly lifesytle. This is all the more remarkable as he himself does not seem to be Jolly, but a true artist can see beyong his or her own limitations.

  • Mark P. Shea


    You are straight, but not narrow. Well done.


    Clearly you are a scholar. Have you Bosworth’s “Jolly Dining in Pre-Modern Europe” which clearly demonstrates that the Agape was a massive festival of Jolliness before temperanormative reactionaries suppressed the appetites of the People of God and began to counsel “moderation”. Scholars now believe that the pericopes regarding fasting and abstinence in the Sermon on the Mount are the interpolations of the Skinny (S) redactor. This has all been proven by John Dominic Croissant.

  • trespinos

    Wow. That long a (ripping good) satirical riff and that many comments and not a single instance of the word that renders it sadly less humorous than it could be to me: diabetes.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Trespinos: I totally hear you. Diabetes is everywhere and everyone is at risk. The key is to practice *safe* gluttony. For instance, if we revived the noble Roman tradition of the vomitorium and taught our children to eat without shame and then give the food back to Mother Earth when they are done, we could see a beautiful paradise of health and happiness such as existed before the imposition of temperanormative patriarchal religion. Nuns who have explored Wicca, such as Sr. Ann O’Rexia, have demonstrated that neo-pagan forms of non-papolatrous Catholic praxis hold great promise in this regard. Just because some of us choose to digest our food doesn’t mean that those at risk for diabetes need to do the same. Practice safe gluttony if you feel you need to and live the rainbow of diversity.

  • B. F.

    Isaiah: “Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness” (Is 55:2). I don’t see this in any translation of the bible (I looked at several). And what I do find is only similar in that it mentions eating; but I do not agree with the writers interpretation of “fatness”. Mark if your article is intended to be sarcastic, then I am not seeing what may be obvious to you and other readers. I f you are serious, then I find this article somewhat problematic. Equating the love of a chocolate

  • Lindsay

    It is almost as appalling and unbecoming as when Jonathon Swift suggested that eating Irish babies would solve world hunger, but not quite.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Mmmmmmmmmm…. babies……

  • Admin

    Mark if your article is intended to be sarcastic, then I am not seeing what may be obvious to you and other readers. I f you are serious, then I find this article somewhat problematic. Equating the love of a chocolate

  • Donna

    Mr. Shea is quoting the King James Version, I believe. The Douay-Rhiems version reads similarly:
    ” Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which doth not satisfy you? Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good, and your soul shall be delighted in fatness. ”

    See ? Back then, even when Protestants and Catholics were at each others’ throats, they both still rejected the contemporary obsession with body type. It’s only when you get to 20th century translations that you start seeing substitutions like “abundance” creeping in !


    All kidding aside, I believe that Mark is using the shocking analogy of a ‘junk food Eucharist’ to make the point that same-sex ‘marriages’ would also be invalid parodies of a Sacrament- that of Matrimony.

  • Red Cardigan

    “…This has all been proven by John Dominic Croissant…”

    I can’t stop laughing.

    But seriously, Mark, John Dominic Croissant teaches that even wild dogs can be Jolly–so how much more so ought the People of God to be?

    Let us sing hymn number 58-wide from the Jolly Hymnal:

    Let there be pizza first
    And let it be passed to me,
    Let there be pizza first
    As pizza was meant to be,

    With gobs of mozzarella,
    Sausage, olives too
    Let us add pepperoni,
    And pour a Mountain Dew.

    Let there be pizza first
    Let’s add extra toppings, now
    Let there be pizza first
    Let’s make it a solemn vow:

    To take each pizza
    And eat each pizza
    Until our stomachs hurt!
    Let there be pizza, first,
    And then let’s all have dessert!

  • jim d

    abnormally silly, even morbidly so

  • Jason Hubbard

    Catholicism is a type of Christianity, which is built on the foundation of the fact that PEOPLE CAN CHANGE.

    Not that death-by-chocolate is a bad way to go, but it seems fairly selfish (considering that I can get more work out of a sturdy mule than I can get out of a fatted calf … though the calf /would/ taste better …)

    Reading a little bit of Muslim scripture, the general theme seems to be ‘what you are is what you are & there’s no way to change it.’ Christianity’s message is more like ‘Repent of “what you are” and let your future-choices honor Our Father.’

    And–when I became a Catholic–I learned the truth of the mantra ‘Nothing really matters.’ People who make fun of- or who are disgusted by-your jollyness are simply ‘the smith & the spoiler’ who ‘come to shape the blade with his instrument’ & ‘to destroy’ (last verse of Isaiah 54), or what Buddhists call Sansho Shima (the obstacles-&-demons that arise in response to the truth of your path)

  • Mark P. Shea

    If you’ve seen one Abrahamic religion, you’ve seen ’em all. Islam denies me the freedom to indulge my appetites as I please, while Christianity asserts that I am free when, in fact, I am as God made me and everybody else has to accept that since change or discipline for myself is not an option. Bottom line: anything that teaches that I have to do something besides what I want to do is wrong. Any religious tradition that threatens my indulgence of appetite is oppressive and un-american and should be punished by the courts for infringing my rights by thinking things that make me uncomfortable. That’s what separation of Church and State means to me and My Jesus.

  • Marthe L

    I have read Mr. Shea’s article two or three times now, and I still do not know how to take it. However, as a piece of humour, I personally find it offending. Making fun at somebody’s bodily shape, and/or passing judgement based on size, strikes me as not too charitable (in the sense of “loving your brother”). A few years ago, I read a very interesting book (and useful for me) about the excessive preoccupation with weight. Unfortunately for most readers here, it is in French… Written by a Quebec psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and entitled “

  • Al

    Is there a reason why “Catholic Christians”….most likely Cloistered Catholics hiding behind Momma’s skirt are unwilling to engage the culture…which is NOT what we are suppose to be doing by the way, cannot understand satire or sarcasm or humor? Grow up and quit being overly sensitive….honestly I must admit that I get very irritated sometimes on how “The Super-Catholics” so cloister themselves from the rest of the world that they have an inability to understand basic social communication concepts like satire and sarcasm…how can you possibly engage the culture as commanded by Jesus Christ…if you approach it as some kind of weird alien “Moon-Man” culture you are completely unaware of and worst take pride in being unaware of it?… Help people into the boat please…don’t row away from them…

  • Lu

    I’d rather use the term “adipophobia”, and I’ve even been using it for a while.

    I didn’t know you, a friend of mine showed “Toward a Jolly-Friendly Media”, a great article! Congrats!

  • Christopher Lake

    Everyone (within the Christian faith at least) who is offended by this essay, PLEASE read Al’s comment above this one. He is right and not just about Catholics– prior to returning to the Church, I was an evangelical Protestant for several years. Many, many, many Christians seem to have no understanding of satire, poetry, or *any* art that is more creative and thoughtful than the moronic pablum on prime-time television! This essay does not disrespect overweight people or the Eucharist. It is a piece of *satirical writing*. Symbols? Analogies? C’mon, people.

    If Christians are called by Christ to be as wise as serpents (and gentle as doves), why do so many of us not understand forms of artistic expression such as satire? St. Paul used it in his epistles…

  • Marthe L

    I am sorry, but as a person who has been the butt of what was considered as “good natured teasing” during my years in university, but upon further examination really was “sexual harassment” (In the late 50’s and early 60’s, I was one of very few young women registered for a Bachelor in Commerce degree..), I have remained very sensitive to sarcasm directed at one or the other particular group of people in general and one of the other physical attributes of such people in particular(and no, it was not about my size, but about me being a 15 year old girl). Therefore, sarcasm that target a particular group of people (those who do not fit the curent standards of body size) in order to make a point about another group remains offensive to me…

  • Marc

    …until the reply to Trespinos. That just nailed it.

    Also, it might say something about me that I spluttered at “mmmmm… babies…”

  • Gail F

    … that Jolliness was embraced by the Early Church, which is easily found in Scripture. Remember Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians? “… for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.”

    As you can clearly see, the early church was quickly perverted by Paul, who could not tolerate the People of God and their natural enthusiasm for Creation. It’s time to restore the Church to the way it was in the earliest days, don’t you agree?

  • Marianne

    Even though I

  • Mundabor

    As one of the oppressive thin men always ready to “judge” and “oppress” the worst cases of morbid obesity, I felt ashamed at seeing my iniquity exposed. As you righly wrote, the Church must move into the XXI century and abandon old supertitions like the idea of temperance. Nowadays science has triumphantly proved that everything is genetically pre-ordained and the very idea of “sin” a negation of this all-powerful truth.

    I am thinking about giving myself entirely to the cult of Nutella in solidarity. Celebrate jollity!


  • Kell Brigan

    How on earth did this person get a reputation as an intellectual? Here, he relies on hatred and bigoty to make some sort of bizarre semi-point about marriage, or…something, and in the process calls all fat people lazy gluttons. Regardless of whether or not Mr. Shea himself has an eating disorder, there is no evidence anywhere proving that fat people generally eat more or differently than thinner people. Fat people are casually maimed and murdered by gastro-intestinal mutilation (so-called “weight loss surgery”, has a 250% higher death rate than doing no harm and doesn’t even result in permanent weight loss in those people who survive it), not to mention this week’s latest death drug. And, Shea thinks it’s all funny. Last time I checked, part of not bearing false witness was not telling lies about other people, or maligning their character without PROOF. I am a fat person, and I am not a glutton, and Mr. Shea is a fool.

  • Kell Brigan

    From Shea’s response to a similar objection by veritate:
    “veritate: Far be it from me to make fun of those whom biology has dealt a difficult hand. Indeed, I would say the same to those who are same-sex attracted and trying to live by the grace of Christ.”

    So, he’s saying being a fat person is like being sexually disordered? Even though we’re NORMAL people who happen to have fat genes? Like I said, a fool.

    Anyone who’s interested in actually doing some research before tryig to impose their personally imagined, baseless opinions on the world, start with Bennett & Gurin’s “The Dieter’s Dilemma”, Paul Campos’ “The Obesity Myth”, Glenn Gaesser’s “Big Fat Lies”, Gina Kolata’s “Rethinking Thin”, Laura Schaffer’s “Losing It,” and the hundreds of studies references in those works.

  • Kell Brigan

    Again, here I come to spoil the “fun” with facts. 25% of Type II Diabetics are not now and have never been fat. 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% of people who are fat/overweight/obese/should be into gas chambers fat do not now and NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER WILL have diabetes. But, why bother actually learning anything when spreading lies is so much easier.

  • Kell Brigan

    That question’s for Christopher Lake. Maybe we should make jokes about how all nigger bucks want to rape white women, too, right. Hey, it’s just a joke. Calling people who are already passionately hated and harassed, denied access to employment and education and medical care and public transportation obsessive, lazy gluttons is just a joke, too, so what’s the big deal?

  • Kell Brigan

    “People…just because we are Catholic doesn’t mean satire and sarcasm is off the table”

    But HATE and LIES are.

  • Marthe L

    I am glad that somebody else among these commenters agrees with me – There certainly is a place in literature for satire, but Mr. Shea’s choice of “target” is regrettable, in my opinion as well as yours. Although making fun at a person, or a group of persons, can really hurt the people targeted and seems to me to a breach of the command to love your neighbour, no matter the original intention. (There are interesting arguments about intentions vs whether actions are sinful or not among the comments following another article on why Catholics don’t understand economics in another part of Inside Catholic. And thank you for the reading suggestions, I will look for some of them. It is unfortunate that my favorite book on the subject is in French, you might find it interesting.

  • Don L

    But what’s to become of dear Friar Tuck?

  • Aengus O’Shaughnessy

    *Wild, inarticulate laughter*. . . That’s so. . . *gasp*. . . hilarious. . . *tries to stop laughing, but fails miserably*. . .

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