I had lunch today with an old friend. In the two and a half years since
we last saw one another, he had lost 50 pounds and I had lost 35. What's
interesting is that we were both more interested in feeling good than in
looking good. We both had arrived at our slimmer bodies primarily
through exercise, and both still loved to eat good food.
The encounter reaffirms my belief that the gym is the new church, or
at least a big part of it. While most traditional churches are shunning
gays and lesbians, and while many are throwing rocks at Islam and even
other sects of Christianity, when exclusion and fundraising seems to be
eclipsing love and charity, young people are turning to less overtly
spiritual group activites, including group fitness, to find a genuine
connecting with something beyond their day to day concerns. Spiritual
life is not dead in America, and it hasn't all taken a turn toward the
fundamentalist. It is simply in many new and unconventional places,
where one must look closely to recognize it.