Saturday, January 5, 2008

Food and Drink

(I will probably be writing quite a bit about this topic, it is on my mind a lot at the moment. 'Word of Wisdom' will just have to be it's own label).

I saw it first hand last year during a camping trip with my lover's family, this issue of health, principles, and forbidden substances. There together, sharing meals and evenings were my lover's parents, fully active true believing members of The Church, and then his siblings who have left the church, most of whom are vegan/vegetarian. Those apostate siblings with their whole grains, fruits, veggies, meatless bacon strips... and their fair-trade organic coffees and beers. My true believing parent-in-laws with their bacon, eggs, white bread and (caffein-free) soda pops.

Many people I know who have become vegan/vegetarian did so for reasons beyond mere health. There are principles involved, such as environmental and animal cruelty issues. Likewise, most Mormon's I know, while recognizing that following the Word of Wisdom is healthy, follow it for reasons beyond just health. There are principles involved, primarily the principle of obedience to the prophet's counsel.

I had my first alcoholic drink in my life last year. Not too long after that I was reading a book by Dr Andrew Weil and came across this passage: "Alcohol is the strongest and most toxic of all the common psychoactive substances. It is a 'hard' drug, harder than heroin, cocaine, LSD, and all the other illegal drugs. Our culture promotes and encourages the use of alcohol and gives the false impression that it is not as dangerous as the disapproved drugs." The good doctor then goes on to say that he is not a non-drinker, that very occasionally he has a beer, or a Japanese Sake, or "a sip of something stronger..." And he didn't specify why. Perhaps the taste? The camaraderie of a drink with a friend? Tradition? Ceremony?

I think about these sort of things a lot as I am making changes in my life for my health, and as I move from being less concerned with obedience for obedience's sake toward being more concerned and involved in environmental and social issues. It feels ironic, switching out one set of prohibitions for another.

So, I am vastly curious about your thoughts and experiences with this. Please. Share.


(chandelle) said...

well, as to the first part of your post, i understand entirely. that was and remains a major struggle for me with others.

when i was pregnant with willow, i had terrible all-day nausea and vomiting for the entire pregnancy. i had a hard time gaining weight and i was just...miserable. in my first pregnancy, a midwife suggested that i try caffeine. it worked like a miracle. in my first pregnancy, i drank tons of dr. pepper. in my second pregnancy, i was a bit more health-conscious and didn't want all those sugars and chemicals in my body. so before a meal i would drink half a glass or so of tea. it would calm my stomach enough that i had a desire to eat in the first place AND was able to keep my food down. FWIW, i'd discussed it with my bishop and told him that my conscience was clear - i felt that my use of tea was medicinal and i was clearly using it only for that purpose. he cleared me.

a week after that conversation, we went out to dinner with my BIL and his wife. i ordered tea before dinner. she jumped all over me. i told her that it helped me to eat and that it was the caffeine that did so. she sat before me with a plate of food piled high with conventional meat and with a huge glass of root beer next to her and told me that JS knew that WoW was for our health and that what i was doing was bad for my baby. she asked me if i'd been to the temple lately and if my bishop knew i was unworthy. we bickered for a few minutes and then she seemed to let it go. but she went home and wrote me a 5-page email about how terrible i was for drinking half a glass of iced tea before my dinner so i could keep a meal down. she told me that if i was valiant in my obedience, the lord would make it possible for me to be healthy without having the break the WoW.

i struggled with thi issue constantly in the church. when we went vegan, my MIL went on and on about how god had put animals here for us to eat and how it was an imperative to do so. she all but told us that we were breaking a commandment for eliminating meat from our diet. she picked out scriptures and counsel from "prophets" about how bad it was for us to be vegetarian. she took it really personally, for some reason, and i don't think she's ever gotten over it.

when we visit my in-laws, we bring tons of food with us. we cannot eat ANYTHING there. EVERYTHING is white flour, white sugar, full of dairy and based around meat. EVERYTHING. there is not a single thing in that house to be found that is not processed and full of chemicals and additives and animal products. even their carrots are cooked in beef broth. even their bread has milk in it, amongst plenty of other unpronounceable ingredients. and i asked myself, all the time, are YOU following the WoW? do you think this is what JS meant for you to be consuming, all this sugar and processed food and meat in every meal, as the base of every meal? it made no sense to me and was endlessly frustrating to me that, somehow, it seemed like we were really doing something wrong, something to be frowned upon, by caring about our diets, when that seems to be what the directive of the WoW is.

ok, obviously i have a lot to say on this topic and i'm sorry i've run on so much. i don't mean to send a message about our superiority, even though it sounds that way. you know from my blogs that we have SO far to go and we fall back into destructive patterns far more than i like to admit. but the WoW was always a particularly sensitive issue to me. it seems like some things are held hard and fast, like alcohol and tobacco, while others, like meat, grains, enough sleep, and so on, go without mention, or with a quick, defensive "well, THAT'S up for interpretation!" too often it seemed like doctrines were held up as excuses to pillage and abuse. like, we don't have to worry about what happens to animals on factory farms because god gave us the animals for food. and we don't have to worry about the environment because when jesus returns everything will be renewed. that shit gets to me every time - the lack of consideration, the apathy, using religion as an excuse to be gluttonous.

on the alcohol thing, and everything else, too, for the most part - i'm for moderation now, in terms of health. i think people can eat meat and dairy and be healthy, and people can drink and indulge in unhealthy practices, and basically survive it without showing much wear for it. if you're only referring to health, i think moderation is the key. but for me, there is so much more at stake than health, like the issues you mentioned with the environment and ethics. so i choose to forgo meat and dairy entirely, and that's just one part of a much larger ideology that includes, also, limiting my general consumption, using public transportation, avoiding sweatshop products, buying organic, and so on. all issues that i consider just as important as most traditionally religious issues, if not more so, because these are truly issues of ethics.

blah blah blah. sorry to vomit my brain all over your blog. :)

G said...

aw shucks, chandelle... feel free to mind vomit all over my blog. it's a pleasure! :)

wow, that was quite the incident with your in-laws, I would have hated that! But I am afraid that that sort of behavior is encouraged with the strict "right way/wrong way... tell everyone about the right way" mentality that seems to permeate the church. Another way to put it, it seems to make judgmental attitudes very easy.

From what I have read about the history of the Word of Wisdom, it seems almost by chance that the focus is what it is today, instead of being on meat and whole grains. Lorenzo Snow wanted the WOW to focus more on abstinence from meat... But Heber J. Grant was adamant about coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol. And a lot of it seemed politically connected to the prohibition era reforms.

I could have the best of both worlds by abstaining from it all.... but yet...

mr. pink's mom said...

"But Heber J. Grant was adamant about coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol. And a lot of it seemed politically connected to the prohibition era reforms."

i have opinions about the WOW and those of you who know me, know i follow my own rules.

and i really don't think members of the church are much different then me either.

anyways, i have no desire to be negative about the church. i'm just saying that i think the way it's practiced now is political.

G said...

"and i really don't think members of the church are much different then me either."

I'd like to hope so... perhaps it is only that the more strident members are also the more vocal.

nowadays I think the WOW makes for good PR; most people think of Mormon's as those people who don't drink or smoke (and maybe have multiple wives... ) A while back a classmate suggested we go get some coffee, then immediately said "oh wait, your mormon, huh?"

people may make jokes about it... but I do think that sobriety and health consciousness are good things to be known by.

mr. pink's mom said...

"people may make jokes about it... but I do think that sobriety and health consciousness are good things to be known by."

I hope you didn't think I was being flippant.

i really don't think people are better than me because the "obey" the WOW by abstaining from Chai tea in the morning while eating processed starchy shit piled high on top of their meat.

that totally sounds judgemental, huh? oh well. but the reality is folks pick and choose what and how they obey commandments all the time.

if they didnt', we'd have no need for church, doctrine or rules. no?

mr. pink's mom said...

allrighty then... i'm feeling( and sounding) kinda bitchy as I sip my morning chai with lemon.


G said...

Bitch away, babe... I'm sipping my black tea with bavarian wild berry right now...

"that totally sounds judgmental, huh?"

naw... it sounds more like you don't pay much mind to how people may judge you (they perhaps thinking they are better than you). that's a good thing.

I didn't think you were being flippant, I was referring to the general idea that many non-mormons have about Mormon's not drinking coffee/alcohol/etc... did you see that "Friends" episode where Jennifer Anniston's character is pregnant and trying to decide how to explain to her date why she's not having a drink (without letting on that she is pregnant)? Her options were that she was a recovering alcoholic, or that she was Mormon. It was a joke. But (IMO) it was relatively good PR for the church. "Mormon's are a sober people."

Well, now I am a Mormon who is usually sober. but sometimes not.

that was an interesting statement you made about picking and choosing how to obey the commandments (and that being the purpose of the church, rules, etc)... could you write more about this?

mr. pink's mom said...

i may or may not believe that the lds church is the only true and living church on the face of the earth but i still think it's just a vehicle for getting folks back to God. and even the best and finest of vehicles are subject to quirks. often, by the operator.

if we all had charity and lived as god would have us live, there would be no need for the church or religion.

chruch is community, it's where you are supposed to learn how to be charitable, how to be like god. its a structure designed to keep us "clean" (in the street sense)

yeah, I get frustrated by the opinions of the assholes at work who think anyone not just like them (politically, socially, ect) is just not as good. but then I remember, that the church that I belong to doesn't teach that kind of behavior-it's the individual twisting the "gospel" to suit his prejudice.

everyone does this with everything.

holy shitballs, did any of that make sense? did I even answer the question?

mr. pink's mom said...

you know, I can be articulate but not this time.

also, i don't openly drink tea in front of the bishop or YW's pres. i don't talk about it either. i don't really want any flak from the bishop because in his mind and handbook, i'm violating the law, but should it come up, i would admit to it and move on.

but...i will on a glorious spring sundays, work on my permaculture project out front.

G said...

do you ever wonder if you would be released from your calling (or worse) if you had to "admit to it and move on." ?

Lessie said...

Don't have anything intelligent to add right now, just enjoying the comments. I think Mr. pink's mom is on to something with this idea of the Church being a community. It's just that most of the individuals I know liked an exclusive community better than an inclusive one (that I stopped believing some of the stuff too). However, I also think she has another point about people picking and choosing how to live the commandments. They just aren't always aware that they are interpreting them in a limited fashion.

And is a shitball the same thing as a turd :-)?

(chandelle) said...

hm, i thought i was the only one who used the word "shitballs." it's so silly, it's usually one i reserve for private moments (by which i do not mean sex). :)

G said...

oh boy, this thread is deteriorating fast! ;)

G said...

lessie, that reminds me of our conversation the other day, talking about UU.

(not shitballs... that other topic - church as community)

and that community can be powerful, until you start to feel like you are no longer a part of it. then it can be devestating.

I think that is what is most sad about the "all or nothing" mentality that many members have. what do you do when you are not "all" anymore?

mr. pink's mom said...

i can't explain the "shitballs" thing. i got it from niel and i think it's funny.

G said...

personally, I like "shitbucket"
and i got that one from Secret Life of Bees.

(you put your shitballs in the shitbucket, okay?)

okay, time to do something productive...

mr. pink's mom said...

"until you start to feel like you are no longer a part of it. then it can be devestating. "

and every one of us reading this has felt like that quote above at one time or another. this is where I like to say it was "operator error"

i felt like "those people in the church" (and like terms) were ok to use because I was_____ and feeling a certain way so I had a justified reasons to pull away, segregate myself from the community and in turn I made so I wasn't a part of :their" community

Note: i am not saying this is the case for everyone-i'm speaking personally.

the reality is, that there are more people like me and "us" than we give credit for and when I use terms like "those people","in the church" i'm actually including you G, you lessie, you anonymous lurker who refuses to post on this thread. and that's just not fair.because you too are a part of the church, despite your activity level.

so back th the asshole majority. the only reason they have the majority voice is because they are more comfortable in speaking.

if we spoke more, we'd find (as we have seen in the blogs) that they are not always right and we have a duty to hip check their asses, i mean, offer up a different perspective so it's not just their community, it becomes our community, the way, i believe god wants it to be.

Lessie said...

Shitballs and shit buckets. I'm going to have to remember those. It will add variety to my limited cuss word vocabulary (aka asshole). Now I have something else to call people that piss me off.

LOL chandelle!

mr. pink's mom said...

I think that is what is most sad about the "all or nothing" mentality that many members have. what do you do when you are not "all" anymore?

that's just it g, many members may have that mentality and when you don't speak up, it will remain that way.

and don't be fooled. nobody is "all"

charity also has to work the other way. recognizing that we are all assholes plays a big part in the change of heart.

mr. pink's mom said...

it becomes our community, the way, i believe god wants it to be.

ok, my use of commas is pitiful here. please don't judge me by my poor grammar.


Lessie said...

The thing for me, though, is that I had a lot invested in the asshole majority (and yes, I'm aware that I can be an asshole too). Church became painful for me and there was not a lot of room for vulnerability. I would have been baring a large part of me, opening up a very intimate place for people had I said something. And I didn't feel safe (or brave either) enough to risk the stomping of my vulnerability.

G said...

mr pinks mom... that reminds me of something I read that Brian Chapman wrote in a Sunstone article, "the church would be less true without you"

implying that the sense of community is what makes the church true...

oh, here is the quote: "there would be something less true about the church if we were not to partipate in it... we are responsibel for the church being true, a sense of joint ownership."

(Sunstone, march 2007 pg 53)

but i guess that brings me back to my question up there somewhere... do you think you would be released from your calling (or worse) if the bishop or YW pres knew you drank green tea?

in other words, you interpret the commandments your own way... but what if that was to get you removed in one way or another from the 'community'?
(I dont ask that to be mean, or contentous... I ask because that sense of no longer being 'fit' to hold a calling is something I am trying myself to work through)

mr. pink's mom said...

do you think you would be released from your calling (or worse) if the bishop or YW pres knew you drank green tea?

no. i know i have been called of god on this one. no doubts there. i think my yw's pres would understand and the bishop...i don't know. if he told me to quit, i might just do it and chalk it up to faith.

mr. pink's mom said...

"in other words, you interpret the commandments your own way"

this is where discretion and moderation are useful. it's also important that I do what I believe is necessary to keep me worthy to hold my calling

keep in mind, that i interpret other commandments just the way they were intended ( i just can't think of any right now)

mr. pink's mom said...
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mr. pink's mom said...
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G said...

hehehehe... you can't think of any commandments that you obey 'the right way'?

mr. pink's mom said...


what is the right way?

thinking about this issue has reminded me that your relationship with god has nothing to do with anyone (except that you do right by them)

how you read your scriptures, how you pray, how you sit in GD class has nothing to to with anyone except God and you. and if you are not feeling edified by it, it's time to try something different because the prescription aint working.

Also,i've stopped worrying about "how" i do something and i'm more concerned with the "doing" part.

for example, if I don't read my scriptures for 3 weeks but in the 4th week spend 2 days pouring over them, devouring them, feeling edified, feeling the spirit and receiving the truth that I was searching for... well don't you think that has a little more sustaining power than fulfilling some duty to read 10 minutes a day?

the same is true for so many "commandments" we forget that we are in a relationship with God and becoming like him isn't about saying "i did this today and that yesterday" it's about a daily struggle to find within your self the better part and using the religion to accomplish that.

i do like what you said about the members of the Church being known for the things they abstain from. I agree with you and I like the words of the WOW but ultimately, I would prefer that I( and the rest of my co religionists) am remembered for how I lived my life, how I did things to better the lives of others, rather than the fact that I didn't drink alcohol and went to church on sunday.

(chandelle) said...

MPM, your personal theology reminds me so much of mine when i was a member. i could have written what you just said, more or less word for word, back then. i agree with you entirely, it goes without saying. and i really think that many people feel this way in the church, whether they are open about it or not.

G said...

mpm (oh, that is so much easier to write!) (short for 'miles per minute'?)

I am reading a cheesy little dime store fiction right now (wouldn't have picked it up except my aunt recommended it, and she usually has good recommendations)... anyways, it is titled "God on a Harley", and in it God kinda makes apologies for how things went down, with the commandments and all, he explains that the way it happened wasn't what he had in mind... but he knows better now.

funny concept. and sort of thought provoking (for a dime store novel)

but that is kind of what your comment reminded me of... the 'right way' is what helps us feel closer to God. end of story. (well, not sure if that will be the end of 'God on a Harley'... we'll see. you know what I mean.)

have you read the "read your scriptures, eat your brussel sprouts" post over at The Cultural Hall?

mr. pink's mom said...

funny you should ask...i did this morning and i think that helped me wiht this one.

i apologize for monopolizing your thread but i am working through things too and it's been a while since i've voiced my opinion on the blogs.

speaking of...chandelle, did you contact maleah clinic?

(chandelle) said...

actually, this is really cool. a very good friend of mine is a student midwife and as it happens she is required to do a certain number of gynecological exams during her training. she can do lab work and everything. so she's going to do my exam for me, for free. benefits to both of us. :)

i AM going to call them to see what other services they have. it would be so good to know that we can go there for problems we can't take care of at home, like the many broken bones i see in isaiah's future.