Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Context of the Word of Wisdom

Joseph Smith was a man who asked questions. Really important questions. He prayed the most important ones of all.

It really started with a single question, then grew because he was willing to act.

Along the way it was, "What do we do about this stinky, awful tobacco juice spit staining the floor and irritating Emma at church leadership meetings?" Or something like that.

Thank heaven for Emma. Without her we may not have had what came next, a concise statement we Mormons refer to as God's Law of Health.

[Perhaps we'd still have meetings of the Church's First Presidency and twelve apostles enveloped in clouds of tobacco smoke and producing dark green spit in abundance. LOL. Really? No, I don't really think so. But I think Emma's frustration was heaven-inspired, and the answer heaven-sent.]

I'm quoting from a talk along these lines I heard on The Mormon Channel - Legacy series. It features church historians Chad Horton and William Slaughter as interviewed by Nathan Wright, as they discuss their book Joseph Smith's America: His Life and Times:
. . . . One of the important things to learn from the life of Joseph Smith, is to question, to ask. Not question in a negative sense, but to say, "Heavenly Father, what is right, what is the answer?"
. . . There were health movements at the time [of Joseph Smith], that's another exciting thing [about the time he lived in]. The question came to him, "Joseph, what about this?"and [he] went to Heavenly Father saying "I have just the person to ask."
Almost every section of the D&C comes as an answer to a question. At this time there were a lot of different ideas as to what would prompt good health, what were some of things you needed to do. And there were a lot of ideas out there, that other people had received [as] revelation as well as Joseph. There's very little in Section 89 that somebody at the time did not believe.
What is amazing about [Section 89] is there were a lot of ideas out there that were really kind of screwy. The fact that Joseph in this revelation was able to pull out the things that science now can prove and find true, we see literal fulfillment of the revelation, as opposed to the many prevalent fads that were not included in his revelation.
What I love about the Word of Wisdom is that it's tempered , gentle advice, in a world of many fads, shrill voices and quirky ideas. Heavenly Father comes back with an answer that is calm, reassuring and not strident.
I love nutritarian eating for the same reasons. I find it tempered, gentle and effective, in a world of  fads, shrillness and quirkiness in eating and health.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Missing Child Report and My Motivation

My son Mark has been missing for about nine years now. I'm going to relate some of the lies that killed him.

To be perfectly honest, Mark committed suicide. He suffered from ulcerative colitis (UC) for eight plus years.  Was diagnosed with it just a week before leaving on a two year mission for the LDS church to Arizona.  He had his colon removed about three years previous to his suicide, had been told numerous times it didn't matter what he ate, his ulcerative colitis (UC) was not caused by food and there was no treatment related to eating different.

There's a lot of layers here. It's not that there's any one specific cause. But there are real correlations.

The UC started when he took a course of treatment with the drug Accutane. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis about four months after he started that. He was, at that point, about a week away from leaving. The first gastroenterologist he saw said there was no known correlation with Accutane. So did every following one, including the surgeon who performed the colectomy.

Years later we found that the bowels are the major source of the body's wonderful resource of endorphins, which relates to how many UC sufferers struggle with long term severe depression, and have an unusually high rate of suicide.

He struggled with UC on his mission, and was offered the opportunity to go home with an honorable release more than once because of it.  Mark who was a dedicated, gifted teacher and who loved his mission said "I'll go home in a body bag before I'll leave my mission early!"

It was embarrassing to bleed from the bowels, to have to use the bathroom at odd and irritating moments, to be treated by a doctor who was an idiot (at least the one who, knowing he was a missionary, told him that although there was no known cause and no effective treatment, he should take up smoking to relieve the symptoms).

Mark was made a zone leader after being out six months. His warm, gifted friend and first mission president recognized real gifts and potential, and encouraged him to develop.

A new mission president entered the picture after a year. No doubt a great man but not quite so sensitive, he referred in a missionary meeting to Elder Higbee's trial of bleeding from the bowels, causing great embarrassment to the said Elder Higbee. We have no doubt the mission president was referring to Mark's dedication in the face of trials. Mark took offense instead of being complimented.

Then in the week leading up to his release, Mark as a zone leader was going to a meeting, and passed two sister missionaries going to the same meeting, with a long walk ahead of them in the super hot weather typical of Arizona. He got out, invited them to drive, and he and his companion stood on the rear bumper while the sisters drove cautiously to the meeting (to ride together in the car would have violated mission rules - and so did riding on the bumper).  Mark received an honorable release but left with hard feelings towards his Mission President.

When Mark got home, he was told by our good friend and stake president to write and apologize to his mission president. He never did. He was also advised to cut off his newly developing goatee. He had a hard time with that one too.

I think he just lost faith and hope, because of all the challenges.

There were other challenges from his mission and its aftermath, too personal to relate here. But about a year after he came home, he was a wreck, spiritually, physically and emotionally. He finally got involved in some powerful and effective therapy, then bailed saying he'd continue later. He didn't.

He first attempted suicide after he was home about two years, then became habituated to the attempt,  trying and threatening dozens of times before he succeeded. Mostly we weren't aware or involved. We found out because we were blessed after the fact to have a sweet and open relationship with a girl he could have married, who rescued him from suicide many times before it happened. They spent hours parked outside the Salt Lake Temple without his being able to bring himself to step onto the grounds, with him weeping, perhaps over lost opportunities, innocence and hope. The addictions he developed to caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other things no doubt played their role in all this.

A law firm reviewed his case for potential remedies against the makers of Accutane. There's now lots of proof of this causing both UC and suicide, but the case was too complex for them to pursue.

There was a note Mark wrote late in his mission that miraculously appeared years later, outlining inspired thoughts he taught to the missionaries in his zone. And his voice that came into his mother's mind when she read this, that said "Mom, this is who I really am."

I'm just scratching the surface here. There are so many issues, so many precious truths discovered. No doubt mistaken impressions, lies we're unaware of in ourselves, and total holes mixed in, plus so many things we just don't understand.

But we are aware of many missed opportunities.

Among the many things we missed, and he missed, was the opportunity to learn about how healthy eating could have cured his UC. We also could have avoided or cured his cystic acne through nutritarian eating instead of using a deadly prescription drug. The possibility that this one thing could have turned either of these around, motivates us.

Above all, we miss Mark.

But one thing we don't miss is the joy of being his parents. We rejoice in what we have experienced, knowing he is our precious son, we will be reunited with him as a family in the  not too distant future, and in which our grief is swallowed up.

Perhaps not as soon united as we would have been, had we not changed the way we eat. Fine with us, if the Lord deems we have a use here. The reunion will be the sweeter for being delayed.

The best part is the atonement, by which we know that good always wins in the end.

Meanwhile, there's a battle to wage.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tender Mercies

I hear a crying baby right now, and I love it.

Maybe love is too strong a word here. I love laughter better. But I love the energy of that baby's cry, and the trust implied in that she knows her mother will respond. Otherwise, why cry?

I also love it that I don't have to do anything, and her mother will respond. I've had my turn, after all.

The baby is a miracle, and so is her mother. The mother is married to my son, and that he is married to such a wonderful person and has two babies of his own is completely miraculous.

Tonight we'll let them know they have to move out by 3 1/2 months from this date. Doesn't matter if it's sooner. Extenuating circumstances may extend the deadline. But they will have to prepare, and be better at being self sufficient as a result.

I trust they'll rise to the occasion. Who knows, maybe they'll even learn to rely on miracles as we've had to raising a family together.

Miracles are a kind of tender mercy. Other kinds are spiritual impressions, gifts of understanding, patience and spiritual gifts.

Right now I'm especially grateful for the miracle, spiritual impressions, gifts of understanding, patience and spiritual gifts that are mine, associated with finding, marrying and raising a family with an incredible woman.

She's discouraged right now, and been crying. I know it's partly related to our son moving out, why it's necessary to tell him now, and the sadness and circumstance of missing children, gone for various reasons.

Me, I'm happy about the long view. Knowing that this life is not the end is a tremendous blessing when it comes to dealing with stubborn hearts, especially my own. I trust we'll be able to gather with our children who are willing around us in that great beyond-the-veil day, and we'll rejoice in the blessings, justice and goodness of such an incredible plan.

And I know she's happy about that too. But the immediacy of a mother's love, and the regrets for apparent short-term setbacks, are part of who she is. And she's a total package. I'm even happy about her tears, and that she cares so much.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Words of Wisdom, Part 2: The Healing Process

I love to learn from history, from other's experience and from wise people. That way I get the most gain with the least pain. It's why I love to read and learn from Dr. Fuhrman.

But that’s not my usual style. For me, and most people I know, change is hard. Growth is uncertain. Simple, positive outcomes are the stuff of dreams. I learn most often the hard way, through tough, bitter experience, with raw dirt, so to speak, being forced into open wounds in my soul. Real pain, spiritual and physical, seems to have the most impact as my teacher. And I'm not alone in this.

Isn’t it amazing how slowly we learn some things?

My mother’s personal history tells of her grandfather, a loving, loud, cigar and pipe smoking man who wept with pride when he heard his sons singing together. My great grandmother always kept a pot of coffee on the stove. They work and lived on their farm near a small Utah town.

Mormons? You betcha. And for their day and time, pretty normal.

In about 1875, five years after my great grandfather was born, the prophet Brigham Young gave a talk where he admonished the bishops of the church for not better living the Word of Wisdom. He said while most of ‘em lived a good part of it, none lived all of it.

So the most faithful people, in general, were still catching on. A health principle that saved many thousands of lives because of its ban on tobacco, was revealed as truth, spiritual principle and finally as a commandment, but it took time.

It finally came into its own, and was general practice among most Mormons, in the late 1800’s and beyond. It was still many years before the medical community or population in general acknowledged any of its worth. General compliance with the Word of Wisdom was a gradual process, necessary because hearts and habits change slowly.

Brigham Young in his later years taught a principle that was essential in the Word of Wisdom finally took hold. He said that as young people were taught to emphasize this, it would become the major blessing that was intended. And so it did.

So when I slip up and eat too much meat, cheese, whole grains, potatoes, sugar, oils, etc., I don’t feel bad. I feel determined. I know what’s right, for me, my health, and my direction is up.

I’m doing better and better over time, as I grow in my understanding and make this more fully effective in my life (here’s one good reason for being a member of Dr. Fuhrman’s web site). There’s so much to learn, so many habits, traditions and cultural dispositions to overcome.

And too much to gain to do anything else.

It’s the ultimate motivation here. Truth heals.

The Book of Mormon tells of a magnificent healing miracle, where the resurrected Savior says to bring anyone who is “lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner.” It then records “He did heal them every one” (3 Nephi 17:7, 9).

I think the nutritarian paradigm is truth, and a healing “miracle.” Nutrients per calorie equals good health. Simple, profound, powerful and far reaching in its effect.

I believe that same God who created us, made this world, gives us life and breath, abilities and free will, and is the ultimate source of all truth, wants us to learn truth and be healed.

I find no conflict between nutritarian eating and the Word of Wisdom. I quote from last part, the lesser known, non-tea/coffee/alcohol/tobacco part:

10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures if knowledge, even hidden treasures . . . .

Oh my goodness, I think I’ve found hidden treasure here!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Words of Wisdom, part 1 - Truth Supports Truth

I had a sense, a  hope really, that someday I'd understand more of what certain scriptures meant. Not that it was ever a total blank. But I really thought I had much more to learn. This is a story about finding out what "more" means.

Truth is the ultimate cure for everything. This applies to all sickness, all sadness, all problems. Truth reigns supreme. We all spend our entire lives in pursuit of it, in one way or another.And nutritarian eating is a slice of truth, appears to me.

“Eat meat sparingly… and fruits and vegetables in season.”

These words are the scripture I'm referring to I believe it's modern revelation, revealed by a prophet of God.The words, written in 1832, are part of the health code of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – the Mormons.

My church. I’m a happy member, trying my best to live right.

Dietary codes are part of religious lore. Kosher eating is familiar to many, as are the Muslim restrictions from eating pork and drinking alcohol.

We call our dietary code “The Word of Wisdom.” The major expression in our lives is avoiding alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, coffee and tea. This and other things set us apart (ok, makes us weird) enough that we don’t go generally looking for more weirdness. In fact, we generally abhor more weirdness than our religious beliefs call for. But I could write many books about the difference my religious beliefs make in my life. Others certainly have.

Perhaps for these and other cultural reasons, few of us are vegetarians. Fewer are vegans. Almost none of us are nutritarians.

Yet I find nutritarian eating to be completely in line with my personal expression of faith and belief.We Mormons have this “expansion clause” part of our religion. It’s a commandment to seek and do good things, as an organization and as individuals. It runs like this:

". . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, we seek after these things."

Let’s see. Longer life, better health. Definite virtue there.

How about evidence based (like how Dr. Fuhrman backs his stuff up with solid research citations and powerful real-world experience, not just his opinions). Good report there.

Then there’s this one: The nutritarian eating plan just plain tastes good. Lovely.

The major principle is, there is order in the Lord’s Kingdom. The Priesthood leads the church, from the Prophet (the whole church) to the Deacon’s Quorum President (local group of 12 year old boys). In other words, when you find a personal “pearl of great price” (and as for me, I do mean nutritarian eating and healing), you don’t presume to blab to every living creature in every possible setting, and complain that if the church were really about truth everyone would do this.

For that to generally apply would lead to total weirdness.

And although there are those that think I'm weird, I have every right and even a duty to seek health by every means possible.

I thank heaven for the truths of balance, order and personal revelation.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Little Bit About Spiritual Knowledge

I have a testimony. To us active, believing, mostly practicing Mormons, that means a conviction of truth, absolute truth, regarding important things.

I believe, I know and I think are all involved here. And I think it makes sense. Anyone can have a different opinion. But to understand my views you'd have to walk in my shoes.

It's OK if you don't understand or agree. But I've got my experience, my life and my logic that all come together on this. I'm glad to say I know it's true.

I've seen miracles. I've learned to feel after truth. I've come to love the "whisperings" of the spirit, the still small voice that we also call a feeling. There is a difference between this and a biological or emotional feeling. Most often it doesn't come with words, but occasionally it does.

When I first heard that "voice" I was 9 years old. My father had challenged me to read the Book of  Mormon when I was 8, backed up with a $50 reward (a  huge amount to an eight year old those 55 years ago)

I read a particular verse after struggling through a few dozen pages, and the feeling/voice/whispering passed through me. It was a combined mental/emotional/physical thing, indescribable really, but I knew I had never had that kind of experience before. Doesn't matter which verse specifically. Don't exactly remember.

But I said to myself at the time, "I wonder if that's it?" The Spirit of Truth, some call it. I thought about it long, and concluded that's what it was.

It felt/tasted/impressed me as good. That was my decision, and that decision was similarly confirmed the with the same kind of impression. It's come the same-but-not-identical way, thousands of times, as I read, pray, listen and ponder over Truth.

It's become one of my favorite things about life. And when my sister stole the $50 from its hiding place, and no one made her give it back, I was actually left with something far more precious that can never be stolen (but it could be lost).

And I've long since forgiven my sister. Except for sometimes when I forget I've forgiven her. Then I experience a dulling sense of the gift of knowledge and understanding.

I love the gospel, my family, my wife and my Savior. These things are the greatest blessings of my life. Whatever I'm here for is still in process, I can tell because I'm still here, and I'm grateful for the many miracles that have made it so.

And it took many miracles to make it to here and now.