Flesh and Spirit

What is the relationship between bodily health and spirituality? Traditionally, Christendom has taught a sort of mind/body duality. The spirit or mind is the provenance of the church, and the body of the physicians. But is this scriptural? Is that dichotomy good for us? I contend that it is neither scriptural nor healthy.

Most of Christendom teaches that humans are composed of two natures, the mortal body and the immortal soul. It is believed that the soul is the the essence of a person, and the body is only a corruptible vessel which will be left behind at death. This belief is problematic for several reasons, the most important of which is that it is unscriptural. Bible writers have been very clear about the nature of the human soul.

Humans are souls:

And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.

Genesis 2:3 (NWT 1984 edition)

Animals are souls:

Now Jehovah God was forming from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call it, each living soul, that was its name.

Genesis 2:19 (NWT 1984 edition)

The soul can die:

Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so also the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

Ezekiel 18:4 (NWT)

We do not have souls, we are souls, body and mind. The soul is not separate from our bodies. The belief that the body is just a corruptible vessel for the soul has led many to the idea that mind and body work separately. There is the idea that what one thinks and feels cannot matter to the health of the body, and that the health of the body cannot affect one’s mind or heart. On some level, I think many people would acknowledge that that is false. But we often seem to behave as if it is true.

On a spiritual level, the fact that we are souls has deep significance. The inextricable intertwining of mind and body means that everything we think, everything we do, and everything we put in our bodies has not only physical, but also spiritual significance. The Bible writers understood that deeply. That is why Paul wrote what is quoted above in the opening image:

…let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

As the word “defilement” is not one that gets used very often nowadays, let’s define it. Websters dictionary lists several meanings. These are the ones that we are concerned with: “to corrupt the purity or perfection of, to make physically unclean especially with something unpleasant or contaminating, and to violate the sanctity of.” So defilements of flesh and spirit are practices that make our bodies and/or our minds dirty, impure.

Defilement of the flesh and spirit is condemned in the Bible because, as the apostle Paul said, the body is a sort of temple. It houses the holy spirit which we receive from God:

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit within you, which you have from God? Also, you do not belong to yourselves, for you were bought with a price. By all means, glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

Obviously, then, what we do with our bodies matters to God. It also matters to our own physical and spiritual well-being. This is why the scriptures specifically prohibit practices such as gluttony and drunkenness that pollute the mind and body.

For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty.

Proverbs 23:21

drunkards…will not inherit God’s Kingdom.

1 Corinthians 6:10
Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova on Pexels.com

What is it about the excessive consumption of food and alcohol that would defile not only the flesh, but also the spirit? Most of us understand that gluttony can lead to dangerous health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. We also understand that alcoholism can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and health problems related to malnutrition. But what do these things do to our minds?

First of all, the health problems caused by gluttony and alcoholism certainly affect the brain, the seat of the mind. The blood sugar swings caused by diabetes, for example, affect mood. The father of one of my childhood friends had diabetes, and his mood swings affected his whole family. During a blood sugar crash, he would scream and lash out at everyone around him. This was devastating not only to his family members, but to himself as well. He was not at heart an aggressive man. But his health problem affected his mind in a way, much to his own dismay, that would cause him to violate the Bible principles of love, mildness, kindness, and peace. This man could not have prevented his diabetes, as it was type 1 and began in childhood. But type 2 diabetes, the type caused by, among other things, gluttony, can be prevented and causes many of the same distressing symptoms.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Alcoholism and other types of substance abuse can cause similar problems with blood sugar swings. In advanced cases, it also causes severe nutrient deficiencies. These nutrient deficiencies adversely affect the mind and emotions. Anxiety and depression are often a consequence. And along with those at times comes aggression. Addiction to alcohol changes personalities. When the acquisition and consumption of alcohol or drugs becomes the number one passion, all other concerns take a back seat including God, family, and sometimes even work. Selfishness begins to reign, even in those whose nature was otherwise before the addiction set in. It’s tragic.

So far I’ve described two very common practices which defile mind and body and which are summarily condemned in the Bible. Almost no one would dispute that these practices are harmful. But are there other practices that could have similar effects and which we might overlook?

As anyone who has read much of this blog knows, I was harmed by benzodiazepines. I think it may be that some are still under the impression that prescription drugs can only harm people if they are abused. This is absolutely not true. Most of the people who have been harmed by prescription psychiatric drugs were taking them as prescribed. I have met very few who had actually been abusing. If you read my story, you will see that the horrors I survived as a result of proper benzodiazepine use were extreme. They defiled my body and mind in ways that can’t even be imagined by those who have never had my experience. I completely lost my ability to care for others because I had no mental or physical energy for anything other than survival. Worst of all, I lost my connection to my God.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

So the question is, was it scripturally wrong for me to follow my doctor’s advice and take those pills? I don’t know. I didn’t know then what I know now. But I would never put another psychiatric medication in my mouth again after all I have experienced and learned. It defiled me, and we as Christians are instructed to cleanse ourselves from such influences. For that reason, it is excruciating for me to see so many of my Christian brothers and sisters fall into the same trap. I don’t judge them. How could I? They are probably as ignorant as I was when I took my first pill. But that is why I write.

Having Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), another subject on which I have written extensively, has also changed the way I view the counsel at 2 Corinthians 7:1. MCS is not allergies, as some seem to assume. It is the inability of the body to deal with toxic chemicals, even at what many people would consider very low concentrations. For many, MCS begins with one big toxic exposure, such as having to live in a moldy or otherwise sick building. For others, the symptoms of MCS build gradually from lower level exposures. People with MCS tend to get sick from exposures to things like new building materials, plastics, formaldehyde, vehicle exhaust, pesticides, and the chemicals and artificial fragrances found in nearly all cleaning and personal care products. As you might imagine, this can feel like living in a minefield.

As I described in Behind the Mask, my reactions to toxic chemicals have affected me in ways that were not only distressing, but extremely damaging physically and mentally. I developed chronic inflammation in my lungs and sinuses which eventually led to pneumonia. It also affected my mood, causing anxiety, depression, and anger. The exposures affected my mind to the degree that I would sometimes be unable to think or hardly even to speak. That is profound. It is much more difficult to display the “fruitage of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22) when the mind is being bombarded by mood and cognition altering toxic chemicals.

We live in an increasingly toxic world and for that reason it is impossible to avoid all toxic exposures. But in spite of that, there is much we can do to make our own persons, homes, and vehicles safer for ourselves and others. Indeed, I believe that, based on 2 Corinthians 7:1, it may be our Christian responsibility to do so. And yet, this is a subject that rarely if ever is discussed at religious services or in religious publications, and because of that, again, I do not judge those Christians who live in ignorance of these problems or who simply feel overwhelmed with their scale. But I hope that by bringing these things to light, more people will wake up to the dangers of practices such as excessive use of toxic yard, household, and personal care products which can defile flesh and spirit.

I have given four examples of common practices that can hurt and defile us both physically and spiritually. What are the larger implications? How many more common practices might fall into the same category? What does this tell us about the corporations and institutions that promote and sell such defiling products? What does it tell us about our own bodily health and spirituality? And how might God feel about these practices? Those are questions I will discuss in future posts.


Fear is the Real Killer

man wearing face mask

Photo by Korhan Erdol on Pexels.com

I have experienced absolute terror. The fear went on for many months in varying degrees of severity. It wrecked my body and my mind.  What could possibly have been so fearsome?

I felt so sick that I thought I might die. But what turned out to be far more damaging than that sickness was the extreme fear. Because of my fear, I was unable to sleep.  Because I was unable sleep, I became sicker.  Because I became sicker, my fear became unbearable. Because my fear became unbearable, I lost even more sleep.  I began to have horrific panic attacks and became obsessed with the idea of slitting my throat with a kitchen knife.

Do you see? Fear is the real killer.

This so-called pandemic (panic epidemic?) has me worried, not because I think Covid-19 will kill me or my family, but because the news media is deliberately spreading panic and fear.  It is affecting my kids, and it breaks my heart.

Fear creates enormous stress. And stress, when chronic, can be very damaging. We don’t know if that damage is reversible. (1)  Therefore, it makes sense to try very hard to make an accurate assessment of risk so that we will be motivated to take effective action in order to increase our level of safety, and at the same time,  not give in to undue or prolonged fear.

Our creator knows that fear hurts our bodies, our minds, and our hearts. Therefore, he inspired Bible writers to record many reminders for us not to fear, but to have courage. Here is just one:

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you. I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness.” – Isaiah 41:10

God is telling us that our reason for courage is not because there is nothing dangerous out there, but because we can have his help just by asking for it in faith. He doesn’t want us to live in fear, but to rely on him.  He has even given us a reason not to fear death itself:

“…the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out…” – John 5:28

“He will swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces…” – Isaiah 25:8

For most people, death is not the end.  It is the beginning. What comes after will be beyond our imagining:

“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”- 1 Corinthians 2:9

So do not fear what you are being told to fear. (Isaiah 8:12) Take reasonable precautions and rely on God for strength.

Further reading:

Why does God Allow Suffering?

What the Bible Says about Anxiety

What is the “Sign of the Last Days,” or “End Times”?


(1) Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: Understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators  , European Journal of Pharmacology, volume 583, issues 2-3, 7 April 2008, pages 174-185.

Lisa Ling Got it Exactly Right About Benzos

I just finished watching Lisa Ling’s report on CNN about the dangers of benzodiazepine withdrawal.  I was shocked at the accuracy of the report.  For years, people like me who were suffering from the severe effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal were ignored and made to feel crazy.  We knew stopping the drugs was making us sick, and that the sickness was lasting much, much longer than we were told withdrawal symptoms should last.  But because doctors are taught so very little in medical school about how to prescribe benzodiazepines and about the possible side effects and withdrawal symptoms, they usually dismiss patient claims that benzodiazepine withdrawal has caused long-lasting and severe harm.

In her report, Lisa Ling interviewed a woman who was harmed badly by a doctor-approved, too-short taper from Klonopin.  After being reinstated on benzodiazepines with a prescription for liquid Valium, she sought help from strangers on the internet to find out how to escape the benzo trap.  That may sound like a radically stupid idea, but because this woman had not received the right type of help from her doctor, she felt she had no other choice.  Fortunately for her, she received some advice from people on a support forum called Benzo Buddies that actually helped her to taper safely from her medication.  I had a very similar experience, and I will always be grateful for the support and knowledge I received from fellow sufferers.

Sadly, there are too many who were not able to find help before it was too late.  In her report, Lisa Ling interviewed a couple who had lost their son to suicide after he experienced severe withdrawal symptoms, first from Klonopin, and later from Alprazolam.   Understandably, the couple is devastated about their loss, and furious that doctors are not knowledgeable enough to prevent this sort of tragedy.

If you have not already, please check out Lisa Ling’s excellent report:


One Man’s Escape From the Madness of Conventional Modern Life

For most people, modern life is slavery, plain and simple.  Many people battle noisy, smelly, traffic each day to get to jobs that they, at best, can tolerate, and at worst, hate.  This they do so that they can pay mortgages, car payments, daycare, insurance, medical bills, credit card bills, and on and on.  And nearly all of us are disconnected by our lifestyles from the life-giving earth.  Some seem to thrive under this type of slavery and disconnection from the natural world.  Or they think they do.  Others of us feel the wrongness of it deeply.

That is why I was fascinated and moved by Dan Price’s story.  I can identify with whatever impulse sent him to live in the woods of Idaho, first in a teepee and tents, and later in little dwellings that he built for himself.  Because he has no bills to pay other than what it costs to feed himself, he is able to live entirely off of savings as well as, I assume, royalties for his writing and art.  He lives in very close connection with the natural world, is not forced to leave his home to go to a job he doesn’t like, and has the freedom to explore the world.

Many people would cringe at the idea of living so simply and so close to nature.  Wild animals, bugs, weather, isolation…all of this might drive them as nuts as a conventional life drives me.  But when I watched this video, it gave me a deep feeling of rightness and a longing to one day be freer and closer to the earth.

The Horrors of Benzos – an Updated Version


In the summer of 2008, I was battling the increasingly severe symptoms of asthma. At the time, I thought I had a lung infection that would just not go away. I now realize that I was experiencing the symptoms of environmental illness. I had become highly sensitized to the chemicals I was coming in contact with on a daily basis.

Not realizing the cause of my increasingly poor health, I bought a laundry detergent that was to change my life. Yes, I know that sounds melodramatic, but it’s completely accurate. This detergent is advertised as an “eco-friendly” brand, and as I was somewhat aware of the environmental issues surrounding the products we use, I bought it. As soon as I opened the bottle I realized that I might have made a mistake. The fragrance emanating therefrom was overpowering. But I powered on and washed all my family’s clothes in the smelly stuff. Soon, our whole house was enveloped in a chemical cloud, and my lungs were beginning to fill will fluid. By the time I realized that there might be a connection between my symptoms and my detergent, it was too late. I had developed pneumonia.

I called my Naturopath and asked for some supplements for pneumonia. The dose of the herb and vitamin combo she recommended was quite large, but I complied thinking it was the only way to kill the infection. I’m a very small person with a very sensitive system. The dose of vitamin A and Zinc that apparently cures the average person poisoned me. I began to feel extremely thirsty all the time. I could not get enough water, ever. I began to urinate enormous amounts of liquid every twenty minutes or less. I got myself in even deeper when I decided to treat the poisoning by trying to sweat it out, speeding up the process of dehydration already begun.

After about three days, I felt like I was going to die, so it was off to the hospital. There it was found that I had sweated and peed away all of my electrolytes. I was basically peeing out exactly what I had put in, pure water. I received IV fluids and was sent home.

That is when the real mayhem began. I believe now that the IV solution given to me was pure saline as opposed to Ringers solution, so it had no potassium. So the only electrolyte that got replaced by the rehydration therapy was sodium. I’m sure I was in desperate need of potassium. Severe potassium deficiency can cause panic attacks and insomnia, which is exactly what began happening to me as soon as I returned home from the hospital.

Terrified and clueless about what could be causing this, I went back to the hospital, where they diagnosed me with anxiety and sent my home with my first benzodiazepine, Ativan. They prescribed enough for about 5 days. I was so relieved to finally be able to sleep and to calm down that I decided to go to my doctor and get some more magic pills. She wanted to give me some Ambien, but I had heard scary things about Ambien, so strangely enough, I asked for Alprazolam (Xanax), not realizing that Ambien (a “non-benzodiazepine” or “z-drug”) and Xanax are both potentially very dangerous drugs. I was prescribed 1 milligram, much more than the paltry .25 mgs of Ativan I had been prescribed at first. One milligram; it seemed like such a small dose. I wouldn’t find out until much later that one milligram of Xanax is roughly equivalent to 20 mgs of Valium, one of the original and very much maligned benzodiazepines.

Xanax hits you like a Mack truck. As soon as it kicked in, I felt very dizzy and could no longer walk. All I could do was get in the bed and pass out. The next morning I was very tired and weak, but happy; so happy! I couldn’t understand why I’d had any reservations at all about taking sleeping pills! Everything seemed good and calm and mellow. Nothing was wrong. The world suddenly seemed like a much safer and nicer place to be. Unfortunately, this state was not to last very long.

I believe it was between 3 and 5 days later when I had my first real panic attack, not like those wimpy ones I’d taken the pills for in the first place. This was white-hot terror. It began with a hot flash and ended with me rocking back and forth in utter horror, tears running down my face, finally deciding to take my “sleeping pill” at 5:00 PM because my “condition” had returned and I “needed it”. It follows, of course, that I would need more medication if I was going to have to use the pills for more than just going to sleep. My doctor prescribed two more milligrams to be taken “as needed”.

As it turned out, the more pills I took, the more I needed. Eventually I was cutting them in half and spreading my daily dose of 3 milligrams throughout the day to avoid inter-dose withdrawal and the dreaded panic attacks. Three weeks after my original dose of Xanax, I realized that the pills were making me very, very ill. For the first time in my life, I felt suicidal. I was terrified. I stopped taking my pills, expecting a few nights of insomnia and then a gradual return to health. That is not what happened. What followed cannot even be imagined by a person who has never experienced it.

My memory of the first few weeks after I stopped taking Xanax is very hazy, like the memory of a really bad nightmare. For the first couple of nights I stayed at a friend’s house because I knew things were likely to be difficult, and I did not want to subject my three boys to what I knew I had to go through. I threw up all night long. Every morsel of food that I managed to swallow came up within a few minutes of it going down. My skin felt like I had been dipped in a vat of boiling hot oil, like I was being cooked from the inside out. My heart rate was usually between 110 and 140 bpm. I had convulsions, seizures, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions and severe depersonalization and de-realization (feeling as if I was a different person and that nothing was real). I went 2 weeks without any sleep at all and became very, very suicidal. I had to be watched 24/7. My perception of time and space was distorted. I was angry. I had no positive emotions whatsoever for many, many weeks.

Acute withdrawal lasted for about a month. After that, my symptoms were somewhat less severe, though still miserable. I was always in enormous amounts of pain. The pain in my chest was so bad that it felt like I’d broken some ribs. In fact, I became convinced I had done so somehow, so I insisted on getting X-rays, which showed nothing. Due to the fact that my immune system had basically collapsed, the pneumonia I had only partially treated came raging back much worse than it had been before. I had to take antibiotics. Killing the infection caused me to cough so hard that I dislocated my ribs repeatedly.

Sleep returned gradually, first 2 hours, then 4, then 6 and 7. I had to sleep propped up with many pillows because of chest and shoulder pain, and because my rapid heart rate made me more uncomfortable and anxious when I was flat on my back. Every night I had to tell myself these words “you’ve slept through worse, you can do it.” And most nights it helped.

One year after my Xanax cold turkey, I was feeling much better, though not completely back to myself. I was left with lingering breathing problems and severe muscular tension. My ability to handle stress was greatly diminished. But I had survived and I was functioning relatively normally. I was immensely proud of myself for enduring and healing from such a horrific experience, and I thought I was much wiser for it. If somebody had told me at that time that 4 years later I would put another benzodiazepine in my mouth, I would not have believed them.

Incredibly, about 4 years later I actually did take another benzo after being hospitalized for insomnia-induced depression. But this time I was a bit wiser. Not a lot, mind you, just a bit. I at least was aware that I would need to taper off of it and must not go cold turkey if I valued my life.

The beginning of my taper was horrific. The first few unwisely large cuts had made me incredibly ill. I always felt like I had swallowed battery acid. I was on fire from my mouth all the way to my stomach. I was not sleeping again. I was in all sorts of mental and physical agony. I again experienced the utter horror of derealization and depersonalization. I was so dizzy and exhausted from insomnia that I couldn’t drive. I was bedbound for weeks.

That began to change after I wisely took some advice I received on a withdrawal support forum and spread my dose out a little. I also slowed my pace, holding my dose whenever the cuts became too difficult to handle. I gradually began to become marginally functional. As I got lower and lower in dose, I began to feel more and more stable.

By the end of the taper, which took an incredible two years, I was much healthier and almost completely functional. It’s been about 7 years since that time. Unfortunately, I cannot report that I’m back to normal. I’m mostly happy and functional, but I am much more prone to insomnia, anxiety and depression. I am much less resilient and more susceptible to life stress than before I ever took a benzo. I don’t know if this will ever change.

Here is what people need to understand: out of control benzo withdrawal can have severe, lasting consequences. Neither of my withdrawals were handled properly by my doctors. The first was an extremely dangerous cold turkey, and the second started out very badly because of the foolish advice of my doctor, who wanted me to complete my taper in two months. If I had listened to him, I would have been almost as sick as I was with the first withdrawal. Fortunately, I wised up in time to save myself any more agony and found a prescriber at a mental health facility who was willing to allow me to taper at my own pace.

Learning to taper is not effortless. It takes skill and knowledge. If anyone reading this needs to taper off of a benzodiazepine, I recommend carefully reading the Ashton Manual, which can be downloaded for free from the internet. From it you will learn the basics of what benzodiazepines are, what they do in the body, and how you can safely taper from them. Then present this manual to your prescribing physician. If he/she is not willing to help you taper safely, which unfortunately is incredibly common, find another doctor. It could mean your sanity or even your life.

Anxiety in a Nutshell

I’ve never been comfortable with the anxiety label.  We seem to excuse someone for feeling fear or anxiety in situations of extreme stress or danger such as war or imprisonment.  But when anxiety is an ongoing part of life, it is pathologized, stigmatized, and medicated.

Why?  Seriously.  It’s not as if our society is all roses and daisy fields.  It’s sick, shut down, demoralized, and often cruel.  For someone who is born sensitive with a  desire to live honestly and authentically, this world can be a torment.  That’s not pathology, it’s a normal reaction to a sick situation.  That is what Daniel Mackler tries to convey in this video.  His words are the story of my life.

Not wearing any perfume?


My raw throat is closing, my heart racing, and my head fuzzy from the fumes emanating from my dear friend.  She knows I’m very sensitive to chemicals.

“I stopped wearing perfume a long time ago after I found out that it makes some people sick,” she says.

What do I say?

What I’m thinking is this:

The fragrance in your laundry products is just as toxic as any perfume you would spray on.  In fact it can be even more problematic because there is no way to control the amount of fragrance that ends up on your clothes and it is very difficult to ever get it to wash out.  All of your clothes and linens are now drenched in it, so there is no way for you to decide to be “fragrance free” for a day so you can come visit me without making me ill.  The companies that sell laundry products have been progressively ramping up the amounts of fragrance in their products because they know that it is not how well the product works that sells it, but how it smells.  As a result, the products we have now are far more toxic and irritating than they were in the past.  But this has gone practically unnoticed by people like you because you have become so accustomed to living in a cloud of chemical fumes that your sense of smell has become dulled.  So you can’t tell that at this very moment your clothes are outgassing enormous amounts of the sick-making fragrance that you think you are not wearing.  And now I’m sick.

What I say is: “Oh well, everything makes me sick now.  Don’t worry about it.”

Because I love my friend.

But the truth is that my friend is putting herself at risk.  Just because she does not have obvious symptoms as soon as she smells laundry detergent or other chemicals does not mean they are not affecting her.  She has chronic health problems that could very well be related to the toxic personal care and cleaning products that she uses, but she will never be able to discern that this is the case unless she purges her home of all toxic chemicals so that she knows how it feels to breathe clean air.

So how loving is it of me to avoid telling the truth?  I avoid it to keep the peace.  But meanwhile my friends suffer and I suffer.  So here it is.  The truth:

Laundry detergent and fabric softener is not harmless.  Neither is anything else that has chemical fragrance added to it.  You may not have sprayed perfume on this morning, but that lotion on your hands is pungent.  And your hairspray even more so.  Your fabric softener-impregnated clothes compete with your lotion and your hairspray to create a toxic soup that makes me choke.   And it’s terrible for you too.  Now you know.

Next comes the inevitable question: then what can I use?   Everything has fragrance.  Well no, not everything.  Most things.  Yes, it’s hard at first to switch to a more natural and non-toxic lifestyle, but it can be done.  And once you’ve got your routine down, it becomes second nature.  Following are some links to guides on how to choose healthier products:

Environmental Working Group’s consumer guides:  consumer guides

Debra Lynn Dadd’s list:  Debra’s list

Wellness Mama’s tips and recipes for a non-toxic home:  Wellness Mama




Linking MCS and Autism

Whenever I hear that a friend is having a new baby, I’m happy for them. But I also cringe, knowing that the baby will probably be exposed to large amounts of toxicants in things like new paint and carpet in the nursery, scented laundry and personal care products, and cleaning chemicals. Here are some good, practical suggestions on how to reduce your baby’s chemical exposures and prevent illness.

John Molot


Young women need to listen to the canaries

I’m in my 60s now, ten years into my second marriage, and my wife and I have six children between us. We are at a stage in life when our children are having babies and our friends and relatives of the same age are also becoming grandparents.  When we hear the exciting news – that we’re expecting a new grandchild – the combined feeling of joy and excitement is hard to describe, which helps to suppress the unspeakable worry; that the baby might be born with less than good health. And we have good reason for concern, because developmental disorders now affect one in six children.

Conditions like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect almost 2% of children, which is 8 times higher than in the 90’s. Look at the following graph. What’s going on?


Some people blame the increase in ASD…

View original post 1,438 more words

Can We?


It is a horrible fact that we can read in the daily paper, without interrupting our breakfast, numerical reckonings of death and destruction that ought to break our hearts or scare us out of our wits.  This brings us to an entirely practical question: Can we–and if we can, how can we–make actual in our minds the sometimes urgent things we say we know?  This obviously can not be accomplished by a technological breakthrough, nor can it be accomplished by a big thought.  Perhaps it cannot be accomplished at all. – Wendell Berry, The Jefferson Lecture

So can we?  Who really can wrap their heads around the collective and massive agony of a planet gone mad?  And even if we could, would we be capable of the herculean effort that it would require to correct the situation?  Do we even know how?  And even if we did, how many people would care enough?

And is it even up to us?  The Bible says that it isn’t:

I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. – Jeremiah 10:23

So what does God really expect of us?  Do we just stand by and watch as the world goes up in smoke?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.  The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22: 36-40

So, although God promises to step in and handle the things that we cannot fix on our own, he has always expected people to show love.  Most of what destroys and hurts people and other living beings is behavior that is the opposite of love.  We can, as Gandhi so famously said, “be the change” we wish to see in the world as we wait patiently for God’s intervention.

Why are we unable to stop the destruction?

Will Man Ruin the Earth Beyond Repair?

Simplicity of Wellness