Ken Ferraro’s called me fat and I’ll not take that from a sedentary position.

Well, OK, maybe not me personally, but it’s definitely guilt by association.

Kenneth Ferraro is a professor of sociology and psychological sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. His study found that fat has faith preferences. Of the 3,600 people he studied, he found that Southern Baptists are heaviest, with Jews, Muslims and Buddhists less likely to be overweight.*

If you read my column often, you know I fall in the heavier group.

I know what you’re thinking. “This is the second week in a row in which he’s mentioned dieting.”

The dieting stuff all started with the Air Force fitness test I took last month during my weekend with the Air National Guard.

The test consisted of three minutes of step aerobics, push-ups, sit-ups. After that, they measure how far you can stretch and how far a tape measure goes around your stomach.

I think it was that last thing that really got me. Twisting around my stomach at just a smidge over a yard, I knew I’d been busted.

I scored 67% — which is a marginal fail. But adding insult to injury, the test gave me age equivalents. Apparently, I have the stomach of a 60 year old and the aerobic stamina of a 72 year old.

The test only showed what I’ve known for years; namely that I’m a fat man stuck inside a thin shell. With a higher metabolism that most, the fat guy’s had a tough time showing himself, but as the years have caught up with me, that fat guy is finding he is seeping through my aging wrinkles.

The truth is that overcoming any weakness begins with naming the demon.

Stories about Jesus’ encounter with demons dot the pages of the Christian Gospels. On one such occasion, Jesus encountered a man so possessed of demons that he had to live in a graveyard because the people wanted nothing to do with him.

When Jesus asked the demon for his name, he demon replied that his name was “Legion, for we are many.”

That’s really the truth about the demons we fight. They rarely take just one form. My demon was diet, but it also has many other forms.

For instance, my diet demon most often takes the form of a lustfulness for food. I guess that’s what gluttony really is – a lust or a covetousness for more. I’ve always joked about it; telling people at the church potluck that I needed to be in the front of the food line so I could lead the blessing, but truthfully, I wanted to be first. The “me first” demon probably has some ancestors with my parents who come from dustbowl parents who truly worried about me getting enough food.

Another form my demon likes to take is fear – fear of my own mortality. Dieting, exercise and eating right are all about controlling mortality and in facing my mortality, I’m compelled to name “poor eating” as the thing I do most often to shorten my mortality. Facing how complicit we can be in our own death is a demon most of us would like to exorcise.

Then, even as I begin to exercise and build a new shape, the diet demon can morph into one of self-worship as it pronounces judgment on those less successful– much like the saying that says “There’s no more ardent anti-smoker than the ex-smoker.”

Finally, as nice as it would be for someone to come along and exorcise the fat from me, kind of like a spiritual liposuction, I have to be willing to not only do the spiritual work, but I’ve got to do the sweat work. Which reminds, me, it’s time for a swim. Someone told me demons don’t like water.