Some Body to Love

BYU President Merrill J. Bateman reminded students a couple weeks ago that their bodies are temples and ought to be treated as such. This is important advice, because many students treat their bodies not like temples but like sugar refineries or waste-treatment plants or petting zoos.

When I was a student at President Bateman’s university, I exercised regularly and attempted to stay in relatively good health. Now, such ideas mystify me; I cannot recall how or why I ever felt that way. My current goal is to see how fat I can get. I view it as a science project. This is ironic, since the most interest I ever showed in science when I was at BYU was in finding reasons not to go to Biology 100 (which, in a bit of even deeper irony, I had to take twice, having failed it the first time due to my poor attendance).

Issues of health and obesity have been in the news lately after a New York man sued several fast food chains because he was fat. I saw a picture of this guy, whose name is Caesar Barber, and he sort of has a point: He is very, very fat. If his case goes to trial and there is any dispute over whether or not he is fat, I will gladly testify on his behalf.

But the issue is probably not one of fatness, but of whose fault the fatness is. Barber sued McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken — coincidentally, the four chains with the most money — saying they are to blame for his being the biggest, fattest man in the world.

(The following is an actual quote, which you can read for yourself at

“For years, I ate fast food because it was efficient and cheap,” he said on CNN in August, his salty breath barely escaping the confines of his huge, floppy jowls. “I had no idea I could be damaging my health.”

That’s right: He had NO IDEA fast food might be bad for him. Which means he ought to be suing his parents or the public school system, too, because in addition to being the biggest, fattest man in the world, he is also apparently the stupidest.

Speaking of food and health and whatnot, the LDS Church’s Missionary Training Center had to evacuate 1,200 of its trainees Wednesday night because there was a gas leak. No one suffered any lasting effects and everyone was back in class the next morning after what was probably the most thrilling night they will ever have at the MTC. (“Dude, we got EVACUATED! We were out until MIDNIGHT!”)

If you, like me, spent the first part of your missionary experience at the Provo facility, then you know which jokes I’m going to make about there being too much “gas” at the Missionary Training Center. The flatulence level there is legendary. My MTC companion had some sort of intestinal disorder that, coupled with the carbohydrate-rich MTC food, caused him to emit the flatulations of the damned. They were like shrapnel, filling every cubic inch of the room immediately upon being launched, yellowing the eyes and singeing the neckties of anyone present.

Which brings us back to President Bateman’s remarks on treating our bodies right. “When we understand that the body is a temple, we will not deface it,” he said in his devotional address on Sept. 10. “We will understand the importance of modest dress. We will understand the incongruity of individuals stripping to the waist and painting their faces and bodies at football games.”

Unless President Bateman has seen women doing this, or men doing it not at football games but at church functions, I’m not sure what he means by “incongruity.” He can’t be saying there’s no excuse for going shirtless in public or for painting one’s face, because most water-related sports require toplessness and pretty much all stage acting requires makeup. I guess it doesn’t apply to me anyway, since I’m not a BYU student and I don’t take off my shirt in public or paint my face at all. My body is not the sort of temple you’d want to see half-exposed or painted blue, not even in the interest of science.

The two paragraphs about the MTC were not published in The Daily Herald due to the vulgar nature of their content. (The fact that "flatulations" isn't really a word was not a factor, as far as I know.) I suppose this is not surprising; farts are not generally a topic fit for a newspaper. At least I didn't say "fart," though.