Living Large

World’s Most Obese People

When it comes to global obesity there is one constant – the more money a nation has the more weight its people gain.  And there is no place on earth where this is more true than in the Persian Gulf.  The world’s dependence on foreign oil and resulting cash influx have allowed people here to go from being skin-and-bones to belt-busting.  Western dollars have eliminated the past hardier lifestyle  and replaced it with physical inactivity, fast-food, and air conditioning.  Now the people of the desert don’t even work up a sweat as they sit in cool luxury and chow down on Kentucky Fried Chicken, New York Fries, and Seattle Starbucks ice cappuccinos.  The result?  Five of the world’s ten fattest countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates) are Gulf States.  But the heavyweight champion is Kuwait.  It can be tough to notice the bulge under their traditional robes, however, according to the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) – the average Kuwaiti now weighs in at 176 lbs,  38 lbs. above the world average of 138 lbs. per person.  The new weight normal in this region has led to a wealth of health problems, particularly diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), one out of five of Kuwait citizens now have the disease.  And the most common surgery performed with oil money?  Stomach stapling.  As one observer writes, “The doctors in this region are having a ball. They’ve become the richest physicians in the world.”  The bottom line?  We’re not the only ones paying the price at the pump!
Jack Schaap

With an orange jail jumpsuit and leg shackles replacing the suit and tie he wore as Pastor of the world’s largest Sunday School, fifty-four-year-old Rev. Jack Schaap pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court in Chicago to charges of having had three sexual encounters across state lines with a sixteen-year-old minor when she was a student in the church’s private school.  The incidents occurred in June and July of 2012.   (The pastor so far has refused to identify the individual who provided transportation for the girl to the illicit rendevous spots.) In return for the guilty plea, the U.S. District Attorney is recommending to the judge that Schaap be sentenced to a minimum term of ten years in federal prison and upon his release be registered as a sex offender.  If the case had gone to trial (with the self-taken video evidence then having to be shown in the courtroom) the minster would have been looking at a life sentence along with a quarter-of-a-million dollar fine.  Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, 2013. Until then, Schaap remains in county jail.   In the meantime, the mega-church has begun to lay-off employees due to a downturn in giving.  This past week one-quarter of the ministry’s staff  received their two-week notice.  About seven years ago, the congregation built a new auditorium and currently carries a $16,000,000 mortgage with the bank.

Comment – I have been to the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, a number of times and on three occasions stayed in the homes of some of their members.  I found them to be a warm, wonderful people, with a real heart for God.  Let us pray that this citadel of old-time fundamentalism will be able to weather the storms they are currently going through and come out even stronger on the other side.  This is not the people’s fault.