Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity / Edition 1

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Overview

"Fat People Don't Go to Heaven!" screamed a headline in the tabloid Globe in November 2000. The story recounted the success of the Weigh Down Workshop, the nation's leading Christian diet corporation and the subject of extensive press coverage from Larry King Live to the New Yorker. In the United States today, hundreds of thousands of people are making diet a religious duty by enrolling in Christian diet programs and reading books like What Would Jesus Eat? and Fit for God. Far ranging in its implications and rich with the stories of real people, Born Again Bodies launches a provocative yet sensitive investigation into Christian fitness and diet culture. Looking closely both at the roots of this movement and at its present-day incarnations, R. Marie Griffith vividly analyzes Christianity's intricate role in America's obsession with the body, diet, and fitness.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This wide-ranging examination of body obsession and American religion reads like two separate but excellent books. The first half explores phrenology and New Thought, considering sects and writers prominent during the 19th and early 20th centuries and documenting their attempts to control their bodies in an effort to achieve physical and spiritual perfection. Griffith offers fascinating analyses of the writing and work of dozens of both famous and completely unknown practitioners. For example, Mary Baker Eddy receives ample treatment, then, as an added bonus, Griffith introduces Hattie Harlow, an ordinary woman whose unpublished accounts of her own phrenological initiatives yield insight into the ways Eddy's movement seeped into the popular imagination. The second half of the book is an ethnography of contemporary Christian approaches to weight loss in America. Griffith continues with her fine analyses of books and movements-most notably Gwen Shamblin's Weigh Down-and also includes excerpts from her interviews with authors of Christian weight loss books and participants in Christian diet programs. While Griffith's attitude toward the subjects of the first half of her book is that of a dispassionate academic, she is critical of the perspectives of contemporary Christian weight loss gurus, pointing out their insistence upon seeing fatness in psychological rather than historical, racial or socioeconomic terms. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520242401
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/2004
  • Series: California Studies in Food and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 337
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

R. Marie Griffith is Associate Professor of Religion at Princeton University and author of God's Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission (California, 1997).

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Table of Contents

Introduction : perilous body gospels 1
1 Gluttons for regimen : Anglo-Protestant culture and the reorientation of appetite 23
2 Sculptors of our own exterior : new thought physiques 69
3 Minding the body : divergent paths of new thought perfectionism 110
4 Pray the weight away : shaping devotional fitness culture 160
5 "Don't eat that" : denial, indulgence, and exclusion in Christian diet culture 206
Epilogue : bodies in crisis? 239
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