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Four Questions to Ask Before Diving Into a Crunchy Trend

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My wife and I tend to be pretty healthy people. With my background in healthcare, and her background in being analytical, we’ve spent a lot of time examining health trends and learning about the ways that food interacts with our bodies. When our daughter Evie started having seizures, the healthy food practices that we were already trying to put in place for ourselves, were further cemented with the dietary needs that she developed. In short, we’re crunchy. We tend to eat a more organic based diet, high on protein, vegetables and fruits, low on grains, legumes and sugars.

The communities that we’re part of, tend to be made up of Christians who are concerned about their health, and don’t want to eat the standard low-fat American diet. They’ve turned to alternate diets and more simplistic and traditional ways of feeding their families. Yet in these communities, we’re so strongly based around bucking the system, that we’re very susceptible to one thing: Blindly following health trends or practices that have nothing to do with keeping our bodies and minds strong, but instead subvert our faith and relationship with God.

Currently Trending: Smudging

“Mystics say the Native American practice of smudging, or purifying a room with the smoke of sacred herbs, can help clear negative energy from a space.” “If you’re feeling stuck, negative, sluggish, or even downright depressed, it may be due to some stagnant energy in your field.” “Smudging can help combat this negativity, clear the energy in your field, and help you start anew.”

Let’s break down the the promises behind the practice of smudging: 1). Something is wrong and it needs to be fixed. 2). The cause of what is wrong is most likely bad energy in your, “energy field.” 3). The best way to deal with that bad energy is combat it by burning herbs.

Getting rid of negative or sluggish feelings sounds great, losing a depressed attitude sounds even better. Burning herbs to combat negative energy? That sounds more like new age spiritualism.

godnotgod
There is no power in smoke and air- moving smoke throughout your house does the same for you as the smoke coming off a bonfire- nothing. Isaiah 44 14-17 talks about the folly of this type of idolatry:

“He cuts down cedars, […] He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire […] and the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’”

The ultimate promise of the practice of smudging is that it has the power to fix your problems. The ultimate lie is that turning to a spiritual practice instead of turning to God, can result in your freedom, when only God has the power to save. It is only through Christ that we can have the peace of God which “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:4-7). Jesus is the One who came to heal. (Matthew 11:28) and God the Father is the source of peace which is available only through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). The process of the Christian should look like:

1). Something is wrong and needs to be fixed. 2). The cause of what is wrong is our sinful and fallen nature on this earth. 3). The best way to deal with our sinful and fallen nature is to call on God in prayer and supplication and find our rest in Him.

No herbal smoke, no burned incense, no cleared negative energy will bring you the peace and joy that is found in Jesus Christ. So how do we discern what health practices are legitimate and acceptable for a Christian?

Ask Four Questions, Read the Word and Pray

Is this practice based off of science or spirituality?

This can be a fine line, but it’s often helpful to start examining a practice by asking if it’s based off of science or spirituality. Yoga is based off spirituality. Eating fresh organic produce is based off of science of the body and what we know about the way our bodies work. If the practice is based off of spirituality, then ask yourself if it can be redeemed.

Can it be redeemed?

For our earlier example, the answer is yes. Yoga, as exercise, as a stretch to strengthen and grow your body, is totally acceptable for the Christian, as long as it has no ties to the spiritual transcendence that Eastern yoga promises. From our earlier example of smudging, smoke has been known to clear the air of 98% bacteria, using it to make your house smell nice and clean up stay bacteria might be a good idea.

What does it accomplish?

Does the practice draw me closer to God? Does it strengthen my body to do His work? Does it help me in my witness to others? Will it make me more devoted to Christ? Will it help me to be filled with the holy spirit? Will it distract me from the spiritual disciplines that are the daily life of a Christian? Will it help me grow in the fruits of the holy spirit? These are the sounding board questions for our daily lives.

What’s your motivator?

What is that deep promise that this practice tells you? Are you motivated by fear? What does this practice accomplish for you that is not being accomplished by reading your bible, investing deeply in prayer and trusting Christ?

Crunchy Lifestyles are Not the Ultimate Goal

It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons, or become a warrior for natural birth, non-GMO lifestyles or gluten free living. However, the fact is that for the Christian, being crunchy isn’t the goal. The goal is glorifying God, trusting Jesus, making disciples (not crunchy disciples), loving our neighbors, and ministering to those in need. Go do these things, and enjoy the life that God has given you.

I always love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below with your take on crunchy trends!

Spotify is (almost) Saving Humanity

I’m listening to classical music. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to be exact. It’s beautiful, engaging music. Rising, cresting, falling; painting pictures in my mind as I work. Somewhere between the swirling of the fall leaves and the start of the winter snow, I’m interrupted.

“Rock on with AC/DC, Def Leppard and other rock classics!” A guitar starts a mad rift of chords, electric and bass. The voice over guy yells, “Relive your past or experience something new on Spotify!”

I’m listening to classical music. Classical! Hit me with a Beethoven commercial or a Bach soundbite. What are the chances that I’m going to actually grab my mouse, switch genres, and start jamming to some, Let There be Rock?

The chances aren’t good, and that’s why Spotify announced last year that they were going to start targeting advertising in late 2014. After all, targeted ads are proven to increase revenue and click-throughs. But it hasn’t happened just yet, and with all the commotion about Taylor Swift pulling her music, and artists complaining they’re not getting paid what they’re worth, I’m glad. Spotify is doing something right, even if it’s just temporary mistake.

Take a look at your Facebook page. It’s the ultimate targeted experience. You’ve surrounded yourself with people who have the same views, same likes, same dislikes and same beliefs as yourself. Few of you actually have friends who have different views, and even if you do, they don’t show up in your news feed that often. Look at the ads that are displayed in your feed as well. They’re tailored to what you like, and it increases the likelihood that you’ll click one of those ads and ch-ching! Someone, somewhere, made some money. Unless it’s one of those Christian singles ads, that nobody clicks- Just because you’re a Christian and single, doesn’t mean you’re looking for “Hot Christian Singles in Your Area!”

Even I recognize my Facebook page as a narrow section of my world view. I have few friends with diverse viewpoints, and the people that are volatile are hidden from my feed because they cause too many fights. I can’t keep up with their nonsense during the busy day. I’m in a few groups that post things that are contrary to my worldview, but I’ve hidden most of the members on those groups as well, just to give myself a little bit of peace when I scroll through my feed. Even though I support most members of these groups, it’s hard to see dozens of posts a day that I can’t agree with. I’m wrong by hiding these posts- hiding these people- but Facebook allows me to do it, and they profit from the way that most people want to function in their social life.

See, real life doesn’t work this way. I can’t just go outside of my house, go to a meeting, work or the store without experiencing people with different views. I can’t just hide and ignore those people, even if it would make my life more convenient.

On a micro level, targeted advertising still exists apart from the Internet. For example, I’m more likely to see salsa next to chips, and a food billboard next to an exit, but there isn’t a practical way to “hide homeless man” or “remove People Magazine from your checkout lane.” As we become more reliant on digital technology, we will start seeing more targeted advertising affecting us outside of the net, and this is a bad thing for you and me, because it closes us off from the reality that we’re not the most important people in the world.

Even this article, which you found through Google or through Facebook or through Twitter, is brought to you by targeted preference, and that’s just a little bit scary, because it’s part of the way that your lifestyle has already been picked for you.

I don’t get the luxury of missing the screaming electrics of AC/DC because I don’t like it. I don’t get to skip the Bach commercial either. I’m subject to whatever the advertiser puts out there, and because of that, I’m more likely, even if it’s just a small chance, to broaden my horizons. I’m more likely to try something new. The Internet shrinks with targeted advertising, and removes what people call the spice of life: diversity. Spotify may not be the best company, but right now, I don’t think it’s too far of a shot to say that they’re saving humanity by preserving diversity.

10 Reasons to Move to Ireland Again

I’ve never written an article expecting a huge amount of traffic to hit my blog. It always comes as a surprise to me when I meet up with someone who reads what I’ve written online. I start telling a story, and they laugh and state, “Oh, I read about that on your website!” When an article does catch on, you’re subject to thousands of opinions and thousands of eyes. That’s what happened with an article that I wrote six years ago at 18.

10 Reasons to Move to Ireland has been one of the most read articles on my website and even today, I’ll receive comments like the one below:

“The very first reason is something to be worried about: the strong Catholic influence that exist in Éire. […] In my opinion it’s a country that should put religion aside to ponder about pro-choice abortion, voluntary euthanasia and gay marriage.”

Comments like these are the reason why I feel the need to revisit the post, and explain my malformed, 18-year-old logic.

9). The Irish are friendly. If Ireland is known for one thing it’s the fact that everyone is considered a neighbor. Fitting in wouldn’t be any problem at all.

I got this wrong. So did the all the travel sites that I researched about Ireland while writing this article. Maybe the Irish are are friendly, or maybe I got my friendliness from my dad’s side of the family- Lithuania! Maybe the Irish are just sensitive and touchy when people disagree with them. Either way, over the last six years, I’ve received so many volatile comments from Irish names, that I’ve not approved most of them.

7). The death rate in Ireland is the lowest in the whole UK and it is positive to note that no tourists have ever been killed there.

Teenage ignorance and poor phrasing doesn’t help when you’re writing an article that goes viral. Northern Ireland is part of the British Isles, while the rest of Ireland is not. That isn’t to say that the people living in the Republic of Ireland are British. That would be a huge mistake. They are Irish and you’d better not forget it.

2). The Irish aren’t afraid of demanding freedom. Look at the old IRA fighting for Ireland against the English. Even though they were considered terrorists they still stood up for what was right.

My 1/8th Irish doesn’t allow me much of a right to speak much about the IRA. There were horrible things that took place between the Protestants, Catholics, British and Irish. Brits kicked in doors, shooting families and even pets. IRA fighters seemed to try to avoid civilian loss by calling ahead, before blowing up buildings. Even so, hundreds of innocent civilians were killed. On both sides of the fence, Northern Ireland and Southern, there is deep hurt and a lot of bitterness.

1). Ireland is one of the only countries in the world that has kept abortion illegal.

This was the most contested points in the original article,”Isn’t this a reason not to move to Ireland?” I understand that this is because many of my commenters are pro-choice, a view much different than mine. Just the numbers astonish me, though they do little to show the evil that abortion is. Since 1973, the United States has preformed over 54 Million abortions. It would take you four and a half years to count to 54 million. In that time, another four million abortions would happen. Yet in Ireland, only four thousand abortions would happen in that time. If you are pro-choice, please take the time to read a site like Abort73. It’s important.

When I thought about writing this article, I assumed that getting it on paper would reveal huge changes to me. That wasn’t exactly true. Even though I expounded on the points that I made, I still find most of them to be accurate to who I am. That’s comforting, even if it means that I don’t know that much about Ireland. Someday, I’ll visit the land of the green, and then I’ll be an expert!