Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Things People Think But Don't Say #1: Exercise

Tom Wolfe has a perceptive passage in his latest book, I Am Charlotte Simmons, where he talks about college weight-rooms packed with young men packing muscles on their sweaty bodies. I read that awhile ago and have thought some on the nature of weight-lifting. We're all so domesticized these days; most of us have no war to fight, no enemy to slay, and so we slay the mirror, we conquer the weight-bench, we pound the treadmill. We men still yell in the heat of exertion, but it is no longer accompanied by a sword-thrust. It signals, anticlimactically, a biceps curl. Woo-hoooo. Not exactly "FREEEEDOOOOMMMMMM" from dying lips.

And why all this sweaty fuss? Well, let's just cut to the chase: it's about appearance. Yes, even for Christians, it's often tied to one's image. Now, I would certainly not say that any attention to one's appearance is wrong; far from it. The Bible actually seems to support carrying oneself with dignity before men and God. Also, we need exercise. And it's good to be strong and fit--you live longer if you are, chances are. All that said, we all know pride is wrong, and so we who are especially body-conscious need to check our motives and stuff like that. But what is most interesting in this brief discussion is this: working out is like make-up for guys. We don't put on mascara, but we do put on biceps, or big shoulders, or rounded calves. Is that weird to anyone else?


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