At intermission, about half of the participants went to a back room to offer their prayers. A 29-year-old woman named Maria, who works as an art director for a major television channel, went to her parents to complain that some of her “dates” did not know what an art director was. “Some of the men are very removed from this culture, even though they live here,” she said. “I need a drink,” said one exhausted bachelor. He did not mean Kool-Aid.
In House of Prayer No. 2, the southern writer Mark Richard goes all Apostle on us:
New York may lag behind the rest of the country in the language of evangelical self-help, but when it comes to fitness obsession, surely few cities can touch us. Work out more rigorously, work out more gently; be proud of your body, be ashamed of your body. Whatever the message, New Yorkers have peddled it, consumed it, metabolized it and excreted it a thousand times over.
It’s surprising, then, that so few have thought to merge the discourse of God and the discourse of bod. Linking the two has a number of strategic advantages over the standard “look better in a bikini” sales pitch — most notably the chance for followers to outsource their motivation to a higher power.
It’s also an opportunity for the church to prove its value in something concrete — ounces and pounds — rather than the more intangible calculus of spiritual progress.