THE SIN OF FLESH

No suburbanite could make the Manichean mistake. The American body is not evil! Indeed, there is only one sin of the flesh likely to arouse modern guilt feelings: the sin of the bulge. How the Psalmist could envy those whose eyes stood out with fatness is now hard to imagine. Ehud’s treatment of the king of Moab seems more understandable; what else can a fat man expect?

This widespread anxiety feels the pinch at this time of the year, for last summer’s wardrobe—in fact, any summer wardrobe—demands a more fashionable shape.

In the days when other fleshly sins were taken seriously, fasting and spiritual exercises were zealously practiced. Contemporary saints of physical culture urge similar drastic remedies. They rally the faithful with magazine homilies on eight-day diets. Photographs of their graceful deep-knee bends guide the struggles of those with less bounce and more ounces.

Such measures are for the stern. Others prefer the Ramadan plan: fast in the day and feast at night. But the ideal weightlifting scheme requires no exertion, permits gorging as usual, and gives astounding results in 10 days. It is, of course, a blend of chemistry and electronics. One smokes reducing cigarettes and eats reducing candy while relaxing the pounds away in a contour massage chair. To repeat the achievement, shut off the current and put on weight in the same chair!

With such electronic control of the flesh, guilt becomes nominal. Remaining tensions may be eased by a taste of religious TV, or dissipated on the new plug-in psychosomatic couch, where the soma is vibrated while the psyche is analyzed. Even the mortido drive is satisfied as one settles back in his own electric chair. The placidity of vibratory sedation is just this ...

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