Saturday, 17 January 2009

The fat Jesus

As a result of taking some time out to be with others who read, think and do theology and church my reading list is growing. Coming across Lisa Isherwood's name following a morning prayer at the Women in Ministries I also learnt more about some of her work including the book Fat Jesus.
There's a link here to a good review in the Times HE supplement by Rachel Muers about it which says:

Isherwood presents a theological critique of what she perceives as a theological as well as a political and a social problem – the troubled relationship of women with food and their bodies, and society’s problem (it seems) with fat women. The fat body, Isherwood suggests, is read as the insufficiently controlled body, the “sinful” body, the body that is too material to be spiritual, the body that fails every test. Against this perception of the fat body she offers the image of the Fat Jesus – the Jesus in whose body boundaries are broken down, and fears of one’s own body and others’ bodies are overcome.
There's also further information here and an extracts from the blurb on Amazon about it:
A fascinating cultural history of our complex relationship with food, consumption and body image.
From Eve's apple to female saints nourished by the Eucharist alone, to the recent phenomenon of evangelical `Slim For Him' programmes that encourage women to lose physically and gain spiritually, the ways in which women relate to food, particularly in a religious context, are many and fascinating. In this engaging and accessible book, the author explores their complex connections and paradoxical messages, in which women are at once nurturers and temptresses, visionaries and hysterics, controllers of the meal table and excessive consumers.
Lisa Isherwood traces the links between beauty, slenderness and the Judeo-Christian God to ask why is there no fat Jesus and considers new ways of imagining desire, wholeness and self esteem in light of a Christian tradition that values asceticism and restraint. Drawing on case study material she also looks at the issue of eating disorders and their spiritual dimension, and the twin problems of obesity and over-consumption.
Clearly accessible for general readers, as well as those with a particular interest in theology, sociology of religion and gender studies, this book provides a fascinating cultural history of the complex ways in which food, women and religion interrelate.About the AuthorProfessor Lisa Isherwood is Professor of Feminist Liberation Theologies at the University of Winchester and is founder editor of the Feminist Theology journal. She has written/edited 14 books, including The Power of Erotic Celibacy, Liberating Christ and Patriarchs, Prophets and Other Villains.
So it looks as if I'm going to have to try and read this one alongside Raj Patel's Stuffed and Starved which I've also not agot around to buying yet. You can read a review here. The title seems also to have given birth to a blog - or maybe it's the other way around - it makes for salutory reading.