I Hope There Won't Be Diets In Heaven
Published: September 15, 2011
When it comes to the body, I confess I have a love-hate relationship with mine.
As a child, it seemed the body was something to battle. For one thing, the second word I uttered, right after momma, was “diet,” and I was constantly on one.
But I wasn’t alone. There were also my mother, my aunts, my sister and my female cousins.
We all clung to some impossible ideal about our figures while proclaiming the next diet would surely work—and we would no longer be fat.
Well, except for cousin Joanie, whom we all loved but also hated. You see, Joanie could eat anything, including brownies, ice cream and pizza, and still maintain her gorgeous shape.
The rest of us, meanwhile, were guzzling diet drinks, munching on rice cakes and studying diets in women’s magazines. The covers sported seriously skeletal models side by side with blurbs touting recipes for fattening goodies like the ultimate chocolate-fudge cake.
I think about the body whenever I recite the Apostles’ Creed in which Catholics proclaim our belief in the “resurrection of the body.”
I always find myself wondering what my resurrected body might look like. I mean, I don’t want to be disrespectful or anything, but I’m certainly hoping I won’t have to be dieting in heaven, assuming I get there, that is.
You see, the struggle with weight borders on the eternal in my family. My sweet little aunt, who recently turned 90, still claims she needs to slim down.
In fact, she may be a few pounds over the ideal mark, but who cares? I mean, she’s in good health, and it’s not like she plans to compete in the Miss America pageant, for heaven’s sake!
As for me, I have finally reached the point where I’m not endeavoring to get any skinnier. I fully accept that I will never wear a size 8, and this doesn’t keep me up at night.
Still, I have to laugh when I run into folks who immediately inquire whether I’ve lost weight. The hidden message I hear is this: “You looked fat last time I saw you.”
There isn’t much in the Bible about the resurrected body, but I take heart in the fact that when Jesus showed up after the Resurrection on the road to Emmaus, his friends didn’t recognize him.
I take this to mean that the body we get in heaven will look quite different than the one we currently have.
I dearly love food, so I also find it comforting that Catholics don’t envision the afterlife as populated by ghosts drifting about aimlessly. I mean, disembodied spirits are fine in scary movies, but they can’t chow down on lasagna.
It is surely telling that the Resurrected Christ made sure his friends knew he was not a disembodied spirit: “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).
He also ate with them, and although it was humble, the meal of broiled fish and honeycomb sounds good to me.
At another point, Jesus described heaven as a wedding feast, which is also encouraging. I mean, all the wedding receptions I’ve ever attended have featured quite an elaborate spread of delectable foods and wines.
When I think about the resurrected body, I also find myself pondering hell because, let’s face it: Not everyone will get to heaven.
Dante envisioned the various parts of hell in “The Inferno,” and his descriptions are horrific indeed, but if I were to tweak things a bit, I would add a level especially tailored for dieters.
This would house people who made getting thin the be-all and end-all of their lives to the exclusion of everything else including loving God and serving neighbor.
These people would spend eternity yammering on about the Atkins plan, the South Beach diet and a host of other get-thin-quick schemes.
Meanwhile, they’d be staring at a banquet of sumptuous foods, including pizza, ice cream, pasta—and yes, chocolate-fudge cake—just beyond their reach, forever and ever.
As for heaven, I envision a fabulous feast going non-stop, with no one ever saying, “I can’t have that because I’m dieting.”
There would be a blessed absence of balance-beam scales, sugar substitutes and fat-free desserts.
No one would discuss calories, carbohydrates or fat grams. And no one would ever utter the dreaded remark: “You look good! Have you lost weight?”
Lorraine Murray’s latest books are “Death of a Liturgist,” a fun-filled mystery set in Decatur, and “The Abbess of Andalusia,” a more serious work about Flannery O’Connor. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for signed copies of any of her books. Artwork for the column is by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com).