As someone who is “big-boned”, I’ve been struck by the wave of recent reality television shows that revolve around heavy people. There is the one that is truly inspiring, The Biggest Loser, as well as many others that seem to be a bit more exploitative, e.g. Dance Your Ass Off and More to Love. Either way, I love to watch them all, bowl of ice cream in hand.
This Spring, ABC is looking to continue the trend with a new reality television show revolving around America’s “fattest” city, Huntington W.VA. The show, entitled “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” will follow British Celeb Chef Jamie Oliver, AKA the Naked Chef, as he seeks to get an entire town to stop eating deep-fried food and switch to more organic foods. (The most popular restaurant in Huntington is the Hillbilly Hotdog where they serve a fifteen pound hamburger).
A number of news agencies have picked up the story because evidently the town, which was initially thrilled with the idea, is not as excited as they once were with the diet plan… And I can totally relate. Surprise, Surprise, many of the local town bureaucrats, parents, and teenagers don’t like being told that they are overweight and have failed as a community. The good citizens claim that the show will give their town a negative image, and not only affect tourism but people’s desire to move to Huntington W.VA. While that all may be true, I think Alex Witchell of the NYT nails the real reason for pushback when he writes, “The reason the world is still waiting for the Messiah is that most people don’t actually want one, no matter how many fresh fruits and vegetables he’s carrying.”
Witchell’s statement leads to two very interesting observations in light of the human condition and its interaction with the real Messiah, Jesus Christ. The first is that the human problem is not ignorance, at least not fundamentally. We know what we should be doing, the problem is that no one is doing it. In fact, we are incapable of doing it, and we hate being reminded about it (Romans 7). Second, nobody wants a messiah: ignorance, in this sense, is bliss. We don’t want our shortcomings and failures pointed out. We would rather live in denial. We like the idea that everything is just fine and we are free to bask in the warm caress of the Hillbilly Hotdog or whatever your version of that is.
Unlike Jamie Christ, Jesus Christ doesn’t beckon us to clean up and get fit. He doesn’t put us on a new, more effective diet plan, thank God. Instead, his cross unravels our denial, not only demonstrating the intractability of our failures, but dying for and forgiving them. I don’t know about you, but I’ll eat to that!