- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2000

Low-fat gospel

"I found love on daytime television, in the person of a man who's on a quest to change lives, just as his life once was changed. Was it Billy Graham, you might well guess, or a preacher on local-access television? Maybe the pope?
"The man was Richard Simmons… .
"A talk show came on [television], offering diversion by way of spectacle: several seriously obese people, lamenting the physical and emotional trauma of their condition.
"Though the host wore a look of extreme concern on his face, the individuals on the stage were presented more as curiosities than as human beings… . But there on TV … Richard Simmons didn't stare or shrink from them. He hugged them, he cried with them, and then he wiped their tears away.
"Richard Simmons is making us look bad.
"By loving the [ostensibly] unlovable, by sharing their pain in order to help them out of it, Simmons imitates the love of Jesus Christ in a way that even his followers often fail to do."
Jenny Staff Johnson, writing on "Good News for the Fat," in the fall issue of Re:Generation Quarterly

Impetus from above

"In the current campaign, an unprecedented number of presidential candidates, including the Democratic front-runner and most of the Republican hopefuls, have been startlingly explicit about their religious faith… .
"Something is odd, though, about the timing of these politicians' godly testimonials: They come at a perhaps historically pivotal moment, when in most places the political influence of religious conservatives seems to be waning… .
"Part of the impetus may have come from above from the movement's national leaders.
" 'While I'm not suggesting that we all become Amish or move to Idaho, I do think that we have to look at what we can do to separate ourselves from this hostile culture," such as resorting to home schooling or leaving televisions unplugged, counseled Paul M. Weyrich, the longtime activist, in a letter last February to conservative leaders. 'Politics has failed,' he wrote, because it's no match for 'the MTV culture.' "
Burt Solomon, writing on "Where's the Flock?" in the Jan. 22 issue of National Journal

Joint resource

"The evolutionary contest is a zero-sum game, with the victors winning at the expense of the losers… .
"The union of a man and woman can be fragile; evolutionary logic reveals why. Consider the movie 'It Could Happen to You,' featuring a policeman played by Nicolas Cage, his wife played by Rosie Perez, and a waitress played by Bridget Fonda. In the movie, when Cage goes to pay for his breakfast at a cafe, he realizes that he does not have any cash to leave a tip. Instead, he offers Bridget Fonda half of his lottery ticket as the tip, in the unlikely event that he wins.
"But win he does, and being an honorable man, Cage lives up to his promise and gives half of the multimillion-dollar jackpot to Fonda. Cage's wife, however, is furious, for she wants to keep the entire sum. Their conflict over the jackpot leads to their divorce, and by the end of the movie, Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda have fallen in love.
"This movie points out a pervasive source of strife between husband and wife: conflict over the use of jointly held resources. In real-life situations, such conflicts abound, and from an evolutionary perspective, spending decisions that are good for one partner might not be good for the other. This is especially true if there are genetic kin on the scene, where joint resources funneled to the woman's family take away from those spent on the man's family."
David M. Buss, from his new book, "The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex"

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