The Rest of the Parable

A few days ago I winkled my Facebook password out of its keeper so that I could advertise a particular blog post in a place where it would be seen by a set of people who might find it amusing.  While I was logged in I thought I might have a look around to see what I’ve been missing.

It’s really too bad that the third item in my news feed was a little poster (or a meme, I think it’s called) that read, “Not going to church because there are hypocrites there is like not going to the gym because there are fat people there.”

Oh.  How self-righteous, how mean, how cold-hearted.   Simplistic, too, and flawed, and proof positive that amateurs should never try to make up metaphors all by themselves.  Further, a tiny bit disingenuous, don’t you think? When I was in the classroom I heard this sort of thing from kindergartners all the time. “It’s not my fault, Teacher!  All I did was stretch out my foot; I didn’t know he would trip over it.”

If you like the fat-people-in-the-gym = hypocrites-in-church metaphor, though, let’s take it a little further.  Let’s explore only one of many possible entirely hypothetical situations that could fit here.

A family had a lifetime membership to a gym.  The father and mother met and courted there and when they married and had children they brought them to the gym also, enrolling them as junior members, placing them first in the child care facility and then, as they grew older, into the daily junior fitness class.  It seemed odd to the parents that the Director of Children’s Fitness was on the heavy side, actually downright obese, but they knew that everyone in the gym was working to become fit and so they resolved to be patient and tolerant.  Even when the overweight Director of Children’s Fitness took a personal dislike to one of the children, although this worried the parents to the point that they seriously discussed exercising elsewhere, they concluded that they believed this to be the gym with the best fitness philosophy and so they resolved to focus on the overall fitness philosophy rather than on the individual gym personnel.

One day as the parents worked out in the weight room they happened to look over at the glassed in children’s room and see the overweight Director repeatedly throwing one of their children to the floor and body-slamming him with his big, fat body.  The parents rushed over and banged on the window and yelled but the Director ignored them.  They ran to the office and asked the Manager for help, and he sat tightly wedged into his chair at his desk and agreed that the Director shouldn’t be doing that. In desperation they picked up the red emergency phone, the direct line to the Regional Manager (another heavy man) and he said that he was really sorry but that he didn’t actually have jurisdiction in the children’s class and it was too far for him to walk over there anyway.

Finally the frantic parents gathered up all of their children and fled.  As they raced out the door they heard the staff and the other members talking amongst themselves. “That’s okay, let them go, they were clearly just waiting for an excuse to quit. The gym will be better off without them. We don’t want members who are not fully committed to fitness and health.”


Not a very likely scenario at all, is it?  But possible I suppose.  I have kids, so it was the first thing that sprang to mind. This story is ridiculous in the extreme, but if it did ever happen, would the parents be to blame, or the fat people?  Or possibly the institution that hired the fat people? Or the gym personnel who did not care enough to look into it? What about the gym members who snickered as the injured family fled?  Let’s leave the gym scenario so I don’t have to keep saying the word ‘fat.’  Is it nice for church members to make up and distribute funny posters mocking people who may have been hurt and driven away?  You never really know why they left, do you?  Is making a poster like that inviting them to return, or telling them that they were weak and stupid for leaving? Is it meant to be a clever way of saying ‘Good Riddance?’

Sorry!  But I believe that in my very first post I promised you the occasional rant.

So there it was.

See you soon,



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