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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Presque vu II

A 1998 Purdue University survey found that religious Americans were more likely to be overweight than their nonreligious peers. Baptists were the fattest, according to the study; Jews, Muslims and Buddhists were the least overweight, though the researchers attributed this to differences in income, ethnicity and marital status, not denomination.

Nevertheless, there has been a rash of Christian diet books published in recent years, with titles like:

  • The Maker’s Diet
  • What Would Jesus Eat?
  • Body by God
  • The Hallelujah Diet
  • Maker’s Diet
  • More of Jesus Less of Me
  • The Weigh Down Diet
  • Slim for Him
  • 3D: Diet, Discipline and Discipleship
  • Pray Your Weight Away
  • Angel Foods

There have been a number of reviews of the book, Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity by R. Marie Griffith, an associate professor of religion at Princeton. According to Griffith:

Protestant Christianity’s contemporary obsession with thinness should be seen as a logical outgrowth of the religion’s historic focus on the outer body as the primary sign of a person’s inner life.

Being thin can be interpreted as an outward sign of spiritual growth, which, I suppose is what leads some of its adherents to talk like this:

We take in God through our mouths, and expel the Serpent through our bowels. You see, food is a type of Christ, while bodily waste, or fecal matter, is a type of Satan. This is why we bless our food, and flush our waste down into the underworld.” (Reverend E. Dwayne Looper)


Zoe Williams in The Guardian writes an interesting article about Sophia Loren. And, in passing, tells how her spellchecker tries to alter the ‘correct’ spelling of nudity to untidy. I’m glad WordPress doesn’t do that.


NO2ID report that over 700,000 British schoolchildren have been fingerprinted without the prior consent, and sometimes even knowledge, of their parents.

As well as riding roughshod over the principle of consent, it appears that parents are left largely in the dark about which agencies in what circumstances will have access to their child’s information – not just data derived from their fingerprints, but all associated records.

British parents are encouraged to check out a new campaign site, LeaveThemKidsAlone, and cast a vote in the online poll at


Something to Read
Travis over at Zen Moon is a poet who hasn’t read a lot of fiction lately. In his own words, he says: In general, I normally do not go out looking to read fiction. But he has agreed, at my prompting, to read a novel and we’re looking for suggestions for him. We’ve had BS Johnson’s Albert Angelo suggested by Joel at Biroco, and personally I wondered if it should be Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude. But all other suggestions are invited. What do you think? Something contemporary or classic? Short or long (but not too long, we don’t want to frighten him off)? What would you give Travis to read? Think carefully, though, Travis is the kind of guy who is always going to come back and tell us what he thought about it.

12 Responses to “Presque vu II”

  1. Anna says:

    How about Anthony Burgess Earthly Powers? He’d appreciate another wordsmith. It’s irreverent, witty, thoughtful. He’s so good at dialogue. I just pulled it down from the shelf and have been unable to resist reading for an hour instead of doing useful things.

  2. gail says:

    It’s true, John. We have a lot of poor, fat Baptists over here.

  3. gail says:

    By the way, E. Dwayne Looper is one of the “Reverends” from Landover Baptist, which is a parody website. He isn’t real.

  4. john baker says:

    Thanks, Gail. I needed to know that. It was good being able to think that the guy was not right. But it’s even better to know that he’s not real.

  5. gail says:

    You’re welcome. It’s easy to get snookered by the Landmark site. They’re VERY good at what they do, very deadpan. Once you realize it’s all a joke, though, some of their stuff is hysterical.

  6. Julia says:

    Ha – Slim for Him. Love it

  7. john baker says:

    I’m with you, Julia. Titles like this crack me up because they reveal so much of that bizarre world of the mind which thought them up and visualized a kind of credibility for them.

  8. No one else has mentioned this so far, but it’s a comment that struck a match for me:

    “…over 700,000 British schoolchildren have been fingerprinted without the prior consent, and sometimes even knowledge, of their parents…”

    How on earth can such a thing happen? When did the currency of “being” get to hold such little value? When did we become mere imprints in the state’s eyes, as opposed to human beings with thoughts and feelings? When did our children become “human commodities” in the state’s eyes?

    Children need protection and the first port of call is their parents. They are what they are and continue to develop until adulthood, under the guidance of their parents or guardians.

    Opportunistic gaining of the finger print in those so young is just not on! It smacks of “Big Brother” – the George Orwell variety.

    In a land of free speech, we need to use this ability to strike back at the government, where their thoughts don’t match the “representation & of the populace” that we expect.

    Invasions of privacy lead to a dead end.

    I hope that this invasion of privacy and young peoples’ rights dies the death it deserves. Our children deserve far more than that. They deserve to be heard, and their fingerprints don’t count. They are innocent until proven guilty.

  9. A beautiful page that makes it fun to read here, only more so.



    jb says: Hi Jens. Thanks for the encouragement.

  10. mickey Sandkasten says:

    Very nice site. I have bookmark your site.

  11. Inga says:

    A beautiful page, thanks for the Infos 🙂 Greetz from Germany!


  12. Jason | Acai Berry says:

    I suppose the whole fingerprinting thing comes back down to whether or not you believe the data is worth anything to the Government outside of being able to prove who caused a crime.

    Personally… why care if you are fingerprinted? Perhaps that could be spun as a deterrent to those children to becoming crooks later?

    And if not… well, at least we know who did the crime! 🙂

    jb says: Interesting comment, Jason. But isn’t this kind of thing only one of a raft of measures, many of which amount to an invasion of the privacy of the individual. Personally . . . fight them all, because if you let them get away with a yard, they’ll be back later for a mile.