Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Food For Thought

I have railed on and on about the amount of emphasis these days on food. I spend quite a bit of time . . . a lot of time . . . OK, too much time, on Facebook and there are days when posts seem to be about nothing but food. Food appears to be getting, among the general population, almost as much airplay as sex, and among my friends, much much more.

It cracks me up, really, how broad the spectrum is when it comes to food sensibilities. I see posts encouraging me to eat vegan or paleo or all organic or via the teachings of Weston A. Price. I hear rants about GMOs and am fed (pun intended) an endless supply of articles on just how toxic my food supply really is and that, at some point and likely when I least expect it, my insides will rupture and my nose will turn green (they don't actually say that, but one day they might).

I am told that I need to be eating more butter or coconut oil or certain berries, most which I can neither pronounce nor spell. I am to avoid dairy . . . no, eat dairy . . . so long as it is straight from the cow. I am to avoid gluten and sugar and potatoes and corn and rice, unless it is brown, and then only in small quantities due to arsenic and carbs. I am not supposed to have anything processed, which means I am to work my patootie off making all my food from scratch. I can't make a comment about a headache or an allergy without somebody having the ideal diet solution.

On the other hand, everywhere I turn I see photos of food. And not just basic foods, straight from the earth, those ones they say I am to eat. I see photos of cooked dishes that usually include cool whip and mayo and bags of hash-browned potatoes. It is like an endless church potluck parading itself across my Facebook page.

I really get so tired of it all. I get tired of people telling me what I should and shouldn't eat. I get tired of being preached at and reminded over and over again that if I don't eat X, then Y will happen or if I do eat A, then B is sure to befall me, ruin my life, and bring shame on my family.

I remember being a teenager and longing for the day that I could just eat what I wanted to eat and when I was hungry and not eat when I didn't feel like it. For somebody with a food and weight obsession, that sort of freedom was absolutely unheard of. The truth is, I don't want to think about food. I spent way too many years thinking about nothing BUT food. I know what it is like to be enslaved by an obsession with what I put in my mouth. But for years I have enjoyed freedom and I don't ever want to go back.

So excuse me if I do not jump on your nutritional bandwagon or take part in your food porn. I have more important things to do with my time and my mental and emotional energy, not to mention my dollars. It isn't that I am ignorant or uninformed, it is that I have chosen that food would have a much smaller place in my life so that the more important things have room to grow.

Miley Musings

I think we are just plain schizo. Really. A few nights ago cute little Hannah Montana rocked the country, and maybe the world, with her trashy romp on stage with Robin Thicke at MTV's Video Music Awards ceremony.

No, I didn't watch the video, but I saw plenty of photos. Sure, it was inappropriate. Sure, it was sleazy. Sure, it was outside the boundaries that even the vast majority of our hypersexualized culture deems acceptable behavior. But so far, it seems to be Miley that is getting all the pushback, all the criticism, and all the shame.

Miley Cyrus is 20 years old. Not old enough to buy alcohol in her own country, not old enough to even rent a car. It could be another 5 years before her prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain that makes judgment calls and perceives possible consequences to actions, is even fully developed. In many ways, she really is still a kid, albeit a rather sophisticated one.

I am in no way saying that she should not be held accountable for her actions. Yes, she should know better. But what I am saying is that she did not act in a vacuum.  The photos I saw show her on stage with a man. A man, not a boy. A man who is 36 years-old and MARRIED. Now HE should know better.

Somebody choreographed those moves. Somebody directed that show. There are likely hundreds of somebodies out there who are also partially responsible for that performance and, more than likely, all of them are older and should be wiser and more mature than Miley herself.

What do we expect in a world where sex rules and sex sells? Where little girls' bathing suits can come with push-up bras and young women can expect a boob job to be the ultimate present for high school graduation? Where the majority of songs and television shows and movies paint a hook-up culture as the norm? Where I cannot even find a dress at Target for my teenage daughter that will cover more than half her thigh (another blog post altogether)?

I couldn't help but notice how Miley actually, in her teeny, weeny nude colored bikini or bra-and-panties get-up (same difference) strangely resembled a naked, plastic baby doll, an object that is often cast off and thrown away, and wondered if that was by accident at all.

Why are we so shocked when a girl who has grown up as the center of attention, who never had anything resembling a normal childhood, who will never be able to handle the pressure and expectations our culture puts on her . . . why are we so shocked when she crosses the line of human decency? And why do we lay the blame so heavily on her narrow shoulders?

A few years ago my daughter suffered from abdominal pain and nausea. She had a low grade fever. She was definitely not herself. Sure, she complained of the symptoms, but they were not her problem. Her appendix was. No masking the pain would have remedied the situation. In fact, doing so would have eventually killed her. The symptoms were a sign that something deeper and more serious was at hand.

My heart breaks for Miley and it breaks for all the young women who have believed all the sick, sick lies that our culture throws at them. Miley isn't the problem. Miley is the symptom of a much deeper, more pervasive problem. A problem that treats sex as king and young women as objects.

I think it is time to fight back. And maybe, if we reach out to her with compassion and concern instead of disgust and horror . . . maybe one day Miley will join us.

Monday, August 5, 2013

No Defense

Recently, I read about the idea that you cannot assess the character of someone while you are in the process of defending them. This has got me thinking about defensiveness overall and how it affects us.

Several years ago I took the Sonship Training Course and in it was an exercise where you were supposed to try to go one week without defending yourself. Being the lax student that I am, I didn't even attempt to go there. In fact, I wasn't even sure that it was a worthy goal. I didn't quite get what defensiveness had to do with it. I had a lot to learn.

Fast forward 20 years and I am starting to get it. Defensiveness short circuits the learning process. It balks at self-assessment. It can be indicative of a heart that is not teachable. It loses sight of the gospel.

So what am I to do when faced with an accusation that attacks my actions or my character?

Rather than defending myself I can stop and ask if there is any truth in what was said. This can be horribly painful, but it is necessary. If indeed, the accusation is wholly untrue, then I can explain myself, if necessary, and move on with a clear conscience before both God and man. How the accuser responds is between them and God.

I think most people defend themselves because the accusation is seen as an attack on their character and nobody wants to have their flaws, failures, and sins served up on a platter. But this is where the grace of God comes in. The very essence of sanctification, of growing to be more like Christ, involves humbling ourselves before God as He exposes and transforms every nook and cranny of our lives.

So, in effect, an accusation that might have even a small element of truth in it, is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow and praise God for His faithfulness to me and His grace that covers all my sins. For the sake of my relationship with God and with my neighbor, I need to have an open and teachable heart that knows the grace of God is the best defense.