Choose your own path to follow

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You have only one life to live in this time and in this space.
What you say and do is what counts in the life we face.
Trials of our heart and tests of our will we must face along the path we chose.
We must be true to ourselves and reap our rewards as well as pay our dues.
We are responsible for our own lives and those lives we have influenced along the way.
Life as short as it is we must make the most of each moment and always seize the day.
Follow the golden rule and treat others with kindness and respect the rights of others.
Regardless of ones race, religion and nationality we all are spiritual sisters and brothers.
Cast off your fear and embrace the truth that is within your heart as well as your mind.
Open your eyes to the world that is around you and you might be surprised what you may find.
Awaken from the deep sleep your mind and heart is in to live life to the fullest everyday.
Be who you truly are and walk a path of understanding and embrace the truth in every way.
Choose your own path to follow and be the person you want to be.
Know thyself and be true to your feelings and let your mind be free.

ok, enough babbling for now
Peace, Raymond Barbier

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Glenn Beck and Mormonism: when criticism equals attacks and hatred

Where’s the love?

I thought that we were to heed the media, pop-cultural, political vox de jour and tone down the vitriol.

Yet, when I recently posted Is Glenn Beck a Mormon-new-age guru? at my Examiner site the emotive sentiments were scattered far and wide: from being referred to as hateful and someone who attacks to actually stating that I am helping satan.
By the way, in case you did not know: if you cannot logically and fact-fully argue against someone, you simply say that they are attacking and being hateful. This moves the discourse from one of facts to one of emotions. Now, when someone is experiencing an emotion what sort of facts will prevail. After all, emotions are real/tangible sensations whilst facts are abstract concepts. Thus, you can do a drive by comment, say “hateful” and “attack,” pat yourself on the back for telling’em and move on.

Quite a few comments were logically and theologically erroneous. All seemed to agree that all religions, including Mormonism (which is, so they say, Christian) are valid and that we should not disparage it. Yet, all seemed to agree that Christianity, proper, is false and we should disparage it.

Following are the comments and my responses (as of Jan. 24, 2011 AD). Whilst within the confines of a predetermined number of characters allowed for comments I still hope that, that which follows will provide some examples of how to respond to such sentiments:

mormon.jpg

Mother Becker wrote:
Mariano, this is a horribly written article. If you’ve written 1500 essays, its amazing that you haven’t mastered the semicolon.
That said, I hate Glen Beck, too. He’s crazy, and dangerous. And I’m a Latter Day Saint.

I wrote:
Those of us for whom English is a second language and suffer from dyslexia-like symptoms prefer empathy to ridicule but I realize that some people do not have much more with which to work.
And I do not share your point of view in that I do not hate Glenn Beck (“Glenn” is spelled with a double “n,” by the way) or anyone at all.

ryanwin wrote:
Mariano, instead of looking for the bad in others, you should look at similarities, thereby accentuating the good. Glenn Beck isn’t perfect, but he is a force for good. As for Mormons, I know plenty of ’em, and they are good God fearing people. They simply have a different interpretation of the Bible than you do. It is Satan’s goal to divide and conquer, and you are helping him.

I wrote:
Why are you looking for the bad in me? You see, you are contradicting yourself by writing to me in order to tell me that I am doing wrong.
Moreover, why should I look for similarities? It is the supposed but not real similarities between Mormonism and Christianity that have people confused about both. I can accentuating the good qualities of Mormonism (such as mentioning their great stereotypical families) while pointing out their theological errors.
Moreover, they most certainly do not “simply have a different interpretation of the Bible” but hold to un-, non- and anti-biblical doctrines. For example, believing that they can become gods is not a “different interpretation.” It is no interpretation at all.
It is fascinating to know that even though Beck is the one that believes that he can become a god and you look for the bad in me: I am the one who is personally helping satan.

Anonymous wrote:
your approach towards mormonism is condescending and uniformed. Im not even LDS, but I know for a fact that socially, theologically, and in every other way they are christian. And more christian than most christians I might add.
As for your back-handed attack on Glenn Beck,; you clearly don’t know the man! He is LDS, not new age. He may quote them because they may have said something they agree with. The fact that I read the koran and quoted it in an english essay doesn’t mean I’m muslim, or even pro-muslim! But I realize, as Christ would want me to realize, that there is good in every faith, truth in every book, and joy in every heart. Sometimes its hard to find, but its there, and we MUST find it if our world is to become better and more peaceful.

I wrote:
If Mormons are Christian why did Joseph Smith say that he asked God which church to join and God told him, “join none of them, for they were all wrong…all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt…He again forbade me to join with any of them…” (Pearl of Great Price – Joseph Smith – History – 2:18-20).
If my “approach towards mormonism is condescending and uniformed” why do you not refute anything I stated? Smith who was first to draw a permanent distinction between Mormonism and Christianity. That Mormons’ PR campaigns has made those who do not know their history/theology refer to them as Christians is another story.
Read the quotes again: he is stating that these things are true, they are true of him and you and he is prescribing them.
What makes you think that Christ would want you to realize that there is good in every faith, truth in every book, and joy in every heart? His message was 100% opposite of that, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
We should not become more peaceful by pretending that things that are not true are true and that there are similarities in substance where there are merely similarities in terminology. We should become more peaceful by recognizing our free will, the free will of others to believe as they please and our free will to discuss.

Anonymous wrote:
You know for a fact that LDS are theologically sound? Have you asked them if there is salvation for non-LDS Christians? Unfortunately they dodn’t even follow their own theology. For example, the Book of Mormon states there is only one God, he always was and will always be God. Yet one of the “Statements of faith” is the following: “As man now is God once was, and as God now is man may become”
Believing God was a man and that a human can be a God goes against even what they view as “The most correct book”.

Book of Mormon.jpg

Anonymous wrote:
Now let’s critique the religious beliefs of all the other political commentators. All in the interest of fairness and equal time, of course.

I did not respond to these two anons as the first was responding to another comment and the second was employing the tactic of; “I cannot deal with the facts and so hey! Look over there! Smoke and mirrors with a side of red herring!”

Tracy Hall Jr wrote:
Glenn Beck is not an official spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor does he pretend to be one. Nor, for that matter, neither am I.
By attacking Mormonism on the basis of Beck’s beliefs, Mariano employs the logical fallacy of the “straw man.”
Apparently he has not heard, or chooses to ignore, the call of evangelical Christian leader Richard J. Mouw to refrain from bearing false witness against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2004/11/We-Have-Sinned-Agai
To learn what Mormons actually believe, go to the pure source. Why drink downstream from the anti-Mormon feedlot?
Try something creative, original, and “out of the box.” Try actually reading “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ!”
http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng
For succint and accurate information about our faith, I also recommend:
mormon.org
Tracy Hall Jr
[email deleted]

In the next comment Tracy elucidated, “Sorry about the double negative. I should have written ‘For that matter, neither am I.’”

I wrote:
I am afraid that your logical fallacy detector has misfired. If my premise could be written as the following syllogism:
1) Glenn Beck is a Mormon.
2) Glenn Beck holds to erroneous beliefs.
3) Therefore, Mormonism is false.
Then you may have a point but you must consider the context which was asking if and pointing out that Glenn Beck is speaking out as a Mormon-new-age guru.
I have read lots of Mormon literature and have had discussions with Mormon missionaries in my home for months at a time. It was Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, who, according to your emotive terminology, “attacked” Christianity by claiming that when he asked God which church to join, God Himself told him, “that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’ He again forbade me to join with any of them…” (Pearl of Great Price – Joseph Smith – History – 2:18-20).
If I am bearing false witness may God help me repent. But then, why were you unable to provide even one single example of my doing so?

joseph smith_0.jpg

Chad wrote:
Congrats on one thing, you’ve come up with the poorest researched and written article of the year. On the bright side, it’s only January and there’s plenty of time for other senseless and slanderous dribble to be written in the upcoming months.

I wrote:
Those of us for whom English is a second language and suffer from dyslexia-like symptoms prefer empathy to ridicule but I realize that some people do not have much more with which to work.
If your “logic” is that something must be false if it is presented via a poorly worded argument then you are simply mistaken. Noting that you have nothing to offer in the way of refutation but merely wanted to besmirch and run; I big you farewell.

Johnnylingo62 wrote:
I think Glenn Beck uses various religious sources, some not Christ-based, to show that there is “good and truth” in most regions of the world, and in many dispensations of time.
As a world traveler, I try to see “common good” that is the basis for most religions. The Mormons believe that there is good in all religions. They say, “bring your truths with you and explore what we have, and you may find that we can improve each other.”
If there is a living prophet in the Mormon church, shouldn’t you be just a little curious what he is saying to this generation?
Unfortunately, Mariano seems to confine truth to only be found up until the end of 70AD. But who is the prophet that Amos says God will surely reveal his intentions to His prophet before he does anything on the earth (Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets”.)
Glenn Beck does not promote himself to be a prophet, but I’m sure he believes there is a prophet on the earth today, as do I. His name is Thomas S. Monson.

I wrote:
If it is true that “Mormons believe that there is good in all religions” why did their founder, Joseph Smith, claim that God Himself told him the following about Christian churches, “I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’ He again forbade me to join with any of them…” (Pearl of Great Price – Joseph Smith – History – 2:18-20)
The very premise of their religion is not that “we can improve each other” but that Christianity is an abomination and that Mormonism is the restored version.
How can truth be confined up until the end of 70AD? We are learning new things all of the time. Yet, divine revelation between God and humanity as a whole has been revealed and any latter day revelation must be judged according to it.
If there is a living prophet in the Mormon church, we should heed his words; no question about it. Yet, that is a big “If.” It is big enough to distinguish between truth and heresy. The Bible is monotheistic, the Book of Mormon and other Mormon publications are monotheistic but the “living prophets” tell us that we can all become gods through their religion. Thus, they are not “living prophets” but false prophets.

As you can see in Jeff Durbin debates two Mormon missionaries; this really is the bottom line to many, if not in some ultimate sense all, Mormons: the living prophet de jour said it, it must be true, we will not question it, case closed.

Crowned wrote:
Clearly, Mariano is on the pro-Jesus side of spirituality. I like that about him. Are Mormons saved? If their faith is in the person of Jesus and his accomplishments through his death and resurrection, then yes. Are they Christians? No. Christians uphold traditional Christian beliefs and hold the Bible to be their only rule for faith and practice (tho’ admittedly their practice falls short). Like the gnostics of long ago Joseph Smith thought to ride on the coattails of Jesus’ fame, put his own spin on it, and gather a following. He did. It worked. Beck is doing the same thing methinks. Looking to ‘save’ the world from the evil liberals and invoking his version of spirituality to justify his efforts. Scary stuff indeed.

I wrote:
Actually, we are pretty much directly on the same wave length.

jn3792 wrote:
It takes no talent to create a definition of Christianity with the intent to exclude a particular group. It is really all semantics anyway. You can play around with words all you want, but one thing is clear – Jesus Christ, as Savior, Redeemer and Son of God, is at the very center of Mormon theology. Period.
I also disagree with the idea of Joseph Smith “riding the coattails of Jesus’ fame’. When Joseph Smith was shot to death by a mob, he left behind very few earthly possessions. Additionally, the Mormon Church is perhaps the only Christian church on earth that doesn’t have a professional, paid clergy. 99.9% of the ecclesiastical leaders of the Mormon church receive no compensation.

I wrote:
Joseph Smith concocted “a definition of Christianity” under the name of Mormonism and/or LDS, “with the intent to exclude a particular group” (just read Pearl of Great Price – Joseph Smith – History – 2:18-20).
Mormonism plays around with words since and they got you to think that “Jesus Christ, as Savior, Redeemer and Son of God, is at the very center of Mormon theology. Period.” Yet, go beyond the words, “Jesus,” “Christ” and “Jesus Christ” and actually look at how the Bible defines those words, that person and look at how Mormonism defines those words, that person: they are completely different in nature, mission and person. It is like saying, that anyone in the world named “Chuck Palmire” are the same person because all of their names are “Chuck Palmire.”
Also, do not forget to mention “When Joseph Smith was shot to death by a mob” he was not innocently stating, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” but rather, he was blowing people’s brains out. So, indeed, in that sense you are quite right; he was not “riding the coattails of Jesus” in any way.

Anonymous wrote:
Wow, hateful! Why attack someone’s faith when that person is simply saying, we all can do better than this; now is the time!
I don’t have to know much about Grinbank to understand that his hatred of Mormonism has muddled his perception of a simple call to be a better human, no matter what path we are taking.

I wrote:
Please reconsider, you call me hateful and say that I am attacking but then, your comment is meant to tell me that I am wrong for telling someone else that they are wrong but if that is so then you are wrong for telling me that I am wrong and thus, you are being hateful and attacking me.
You may state “no matter what path we are taking” but Jesus disagrees with you in stating, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

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Algae, A health food, possible fuel source?

100_0063 Algae, A health food, possible fuel source? The many possibilities for algae are yet discovered. A DHA supplement from algal oil had been used in a research project by Kaiser Permanente and have found 1000 mg of algal oil can reduce triglycerides more effectively than a fish oil supplement.

Excerpt from dha-in-mind.com

“DHA alone can lower triglycerides, says study

07/02/2007 – A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that the American Heart Association’s recommended cardio protective dose of omega-3 fatty acids can lower triglycerides in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) – whether the lipids come in the form of DHA combined with EPA or just DHA alone.

The study, conducted through Kaiser Permanente Colorado, involved 116 patients with coronary artery disease and triglycerides greater than 200 mg/dL, approximately 90 percent of whom were on statin drugs.  The groups of participants were supplemented DHA alone, or DHA combined with EPA.“

For Full Article Visit :http://www.dha-in-mind.com/omega-3%20dha%20in%20the%20news.aspx?newsid372=9&DHA-alone-can-lower-triglycerides-says-study

Several Energy companies and government agencies have been studying the possibilities of making Algae fuel.

Excerpt from Wikipedia

Algae fuel is an alternative to fossil fuel and uses algae as its source of natural deposits. Several companies and government agencies are funding efforts to reduce capital and operating costs and make algae fuel production commercially viable.[1] The production of biofuels from algae does not reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), because any CO2 taken out of the atmosphere by the algae is returned when the biofuels are burned. They do however potentially reduce the introduction of new CO2 by displacing fossil hydrocarbon fuels.

High oil prices, competing demands between foods and other biofuel sources, and the world food crisis, have ignited interest in algaculture (farming algae) for making vegetable oil, biodiesel, bioethanol, biogasoline, biomethanol, biobutanol and other biofuels, using land that is not suitable for agriculture.”

For full Wikipedia article visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel

So what other wonders will algae have in store for us in the future? Algae is being used as fertilizer, a nutrient source and for pollution control already. It is a very useful and versatile plant and I expect many more uses will be discovered in the near future.

 

Well Enough of my babling for now.
Peace to all
Raymond Barbier

Roman Catholic Confession Confusion

The Roman Catholic practice of confession entails the confession itself, the granting of absolution and prescription of penance. Venial sins may be confessed privately to God but mortal sins must be confessed to a priest.

Some of the texts used to uphold this practice are:

Matthew 16:19, Jesus told Peter, “whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in heaven.”

John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

James 5:16 “Confess your sins to one another.”

Early Roman Catholic translations appear to be responsible for the divergence between what is found practiced within the Bible on the one hand and what is Roman Catholic practice on the other. These early translations rendered the word repent as do penance in texts such as the following:

Luke 13:3, “I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In both cases the Greek word metanoeo, which is to repent (to think differently or reconsider, to turn) was translated as do penance, which is praying repetitive prayers, giving alms or any number of such works.

Consider the Old Testament pattern of confession as exampled by King David who wrote, “I confessed my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgression to the LORD; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
He confesses the grievous sins of adultery and murder directly to God. In the Old Testament, which contains the minutia of which the law consists we find no laws pertaining to confession to the priesthood.

Let us now consider the New Testament,

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20:23).

The Council of Trent placed an anathema upon anyone that did not believe that this verse gives to the Church “the power of forgiving and retaining sins in the sacrament of Penance.”
Yet, note that in v. 21 Jesus says, “As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.”
The Apostles were being sent out to preach the Gospel of forgiveness/salvation. Such activities are in large part recorded for us in the book of Acts wherein we do not find even one single instance of confession to a priest, disciple or Apostle.
Since God alone can forgive sin (Mark 2:7) the function of believers is merely to reiterate what God states in His word: if you accept the gospel you are forgiven and you do not then you are not.

In writing to “My brothers” the “afflicted” the “cheerful” the “sick” and “the elders of the church,” James states “Confess your paraptoma to one another” (James 5:12-16).
Not to priest but to one another.
He employs the term paraptoma as opposed to hamartia as is used in 1st John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all hamartia.”

Generally we may think of paraptoma as faults and hamartia as damnatory sins.
We may confess (share?) our paraptoma with our fellow believers and may confess our hamartia directly to God.
What if we think of paraptoma as being venial sins and hamartia as mortal sins? We would find that the Roman Catholic doctrine is the reverse of the New Testament model. The New Testament model is confession of venial sins to other believers and mortal sins directly to God. But the Roman Catholic model is confession of mortal sins to other believers (or ordained priests) and venial sins directly to God.

Roman Catholic - Confession.jpg

When Jesus was specifically asked how to pray He stated:

When you pray say: Our Father in heaven…forgive us our hamartia, for we also forgive everyone who is ophei-lo [owe, is under obligation, to fail in duty, is indebted] to us (Luke 11:1-4).

The New Testament teaches us to whom we go in order to confess:

Matthew 6:9, 12, Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven…forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.

Hebrews 4:14¬-16, Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Roman Catholicism claims that confession/penance has been practiced as a norm in Christianity from the very beginning as evidenced by the writings of the early Church Fathers and the continual teaching of the Church. However, it is imperative to recognize that the facts of the matter are that Catholic apologists will take the modern-day Catholic doctrinal definition of confession/penance and then read this particular definition into the writings of the early Church Fathers while ignoring the fact that “the Church” has often changed the way that confession/penance is practiced.
This is a very important point to keep in mind when Catholic apologists provide you with plenteous quotations from the early Church Fathers who refer to confession, and even confession to a priest. It is important to recognize that they are redefining what those very same early Church Fathers meant by the term “confession.” In the early church confession was not that which is practiced today by Roman Catholicism. The practice of the early church was known as exomologesis and was not private confession to a priest but public confession with penance that could last for decades. This was practiced from circa the 2nd century to the 16th century.

The only New Testament examples of confession to a particular person were those who came to John to be baptized and this was because John requested confession as a proof of repentance.

But what of confession to an ordained priest? Peter, whom Roman Catholics consider the first pope, wrote “to the elect sojourners” (1st Peter 1:1) and stated “you also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood…But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (2:5, 9). The elect sojourners, the believers are all priests.

But let us grant that the Roman Catholic model of confession to an ordained priest is correct. We still have a very clear problem in that the penance, the work, that is typically prescribed is un-biblical.

This is for at least two reasons:
1) The prescription entails repetitive prayer.
2) The prescribed repetitive prayers entail p prayers to Mary and various saints.

Again, when Jesus was specifically asked about how we should pray He stated, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7).

buddhism, baha'i, roman catholic, muslim, islam, prayer beads, rosary.jpg

In the entirety of the Bible there are only two kids of prayer:
1) Prayer to God.
2) Prayer to false gods.
There is nothing else.

Therefore, the Roman Catholic model of confession is not found in the Old Testament, not found in the New Testament, not found in the early church and violates various statements made about confession and prayer found within the Bible.

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Glenn Beck’s E4 Experiences: is he the Oprah Winfrey of the right?

Worldview Weekend’s Brannon S. Howse posted an interesting article about the ongoing spiritualism of both Glenn Beck and Oprah Winfrey.

Recently, he stated that the reason that he became a Mormon is that he saw how great Mormon families are. He actually and specifically stated that in order to get that sort of family he was willing to, and this is a direct quote, “drink the Kool-Aid.”
In other words, his Mormonism is not about theology, not about whether it lines up with the Bible, nothing of the sort.
Also, since according to Mormonism Beck is, or will be, a god; it is no wonder that he is pushing the concept of “Yes I AM! Yes I Can!”

Now, I used to think that Glenn Beck either really knows what he is doing/saying or he has no clue. Yet, with the advent of his book, with Keith Ablow, titled The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life it is crystal clear that his theology is utterly un-, non-, and anti-, biblical. And while we knew this due to his being a Mormon, we now learn that he has concocted an universalistic new age-like syncretistic spirituality and is selling it, to Christians mind you, in the name of a generic “g,” “o,” “d” (and the question to ask him, as a Mormon, is, “Which one of yours inumberable gods?”).

glenn beck, mormon.jpg

For background and details, see Brannon S. Howse, Glenn Beck and Oprah Winfrey Launch New Age Programming for 2011

And listen to some of the radio shows in which he, at least, mentions the issue:
Episode-18063
Episode-18054
Episode-18045
Episode-18027

For background on Mormonism, Glenn Beck and Oprah Winfrey, see:
Mormonism

Glenn Beck – politics and theology, Mormonism and Christianity
Glenn Beck and Mormonism

“The Secret” Revealed and Actually Applied
Oprah Winfrey Believes That God is Jealous of Her
Oprah Winfrey – Priestess of Spirituality and Preacher of Strict Exclusivism,
part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6

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Day 7: THE END TO A BEGINNING

Yesterday, September 30, was the official last day of the Hunger Challenge.  I appreciate all the blog and Facebook comments…Yes, I am living proof that you can teach an old dog new ‘techno tricks.’  Your thoughts and words were truly motivating and inspired me to work through the hunger pangs, and the umpteen bowls of oatmeal.  I know the challenge was no easy task for my Hunger Challenge Buddies, too.  Kudos to Attilio D’Agostino from ALIVE Magazine, Rachel Storch, State Rep of 64th District, and Jeff Smith State Senator from the 4th  District to sticking to their guns.

I am done with the 7-day challenge, but I was—and continue to be—reminded of people who don’t have an end, who have to survive on meager amounts of food stamps.  I did get a call yesterday from a gentleman who works at a drug/convenience store, not to diminish any of the intention of the challenge, but to tell me that there are people who use food stamps to buy ‘snacks, soda, and crappy stuff’  (his words not mine).  I guess he meant processed food items.   I will take his word for it.  My response to him and you is that ‘they’ may not know any better, which has been the case with many of our clients.  Before they met our Dietitian Josh, some of our clients were ‘super-sizing’ at a fast food restaurants, looking for relatively inexpensive meals to fill the belly. Nutrition was not a priority… COST was the important factor.   Turns out that many ‘cheap’ items are just not good for you.   Should the items you can buy with food stamps be tightened?   Only someone more knowledgeable than I can have an opinion.  Having a nutrition discussion with food stamp recipients?  Ideally but highly unlikely.   At Food Outreach, our clients can rely on us to provide them with vital nutrition knowledge to get the best value if they also have food stamps.  For those clients that do and those that don’t, we encourage to order more expensive items from us even though these items are free.  That way when they use the stamps, they can get more food for their food stamp ‘dollar.’

One of the drawbacks of taking the challenge for only 7 days is that I wasn’t able to buy in bulk, or be able to shop around for more bargains…took the bus the first day and it was a 2-hour trip.  You could be surprised …as I was…to learn that some of ALDIs prices are comparable to Trader Joe’s.  One of the strategies of ALDIs is to have one size for many items.  This cuts down on their cost, which I don’t dispute, but it left me with fewer size options to choose from.  Consequently, I have food left over, so I guess I ate for less.  Another thing about the challenge is that I had pretty easy access to a nearby ALDIs…only one bus transfer, but some people only have access to ‘mini-marts’ (for lack of a better term,) or convenience stores which are notorious for having higher prices.   So, people get less with any money or food stamps they have, and are truly paying for ‘convenience’ ? 

 As with anything, there is learning.  I learned never to bite off more than you can chew, which should be a life strategy too.  But we are obsessed with eating ‘large.’  Portion size is out of control.  I am amazed how hard it is to be a member of the ‘clean plate club’ at some restaurants.  And I am reminded of all the ‘wasted’ food out there, from a meal made at home to a food festival in the heart of the city.  Like I said before, take a peek in a trash can, and you’ll see what I mean.  I will make it a point to listen to my body and hunger urges, and not just ‘Eat to Eat.’  Cutting down on the volume of food I order, forgoing appetizers when maybe an entrée would do just fine.   You can see that I talk about eating out since I am culinary-challenged.

That reminds me… another lesson I have learned is that I need some cooking lessons.  Thinking back, I probably could have gotten ‘better deals’ on items that I had to cook rather then buying for convenience, which was my modus operandi before and during the challenge.  For example, buying frozen chicken breasts instead of a whole, fresh chicken, cooking it and cutting it up—imagine.

This was an exercise in willpower.  I could have easily cheated on the challenge, and who would know? Well, I would know… and this was a personal mission for me.   I wanted to better understand the food limitations facing our clients, and show how powerful our services can be for people battling life-threatening illness.

And lastly, I have a renewed appreciation for the hungry (eligible to be a Food Outreach client or not).  People can be hungry because of no fault of their own.  So, today I begin again with my eyes wide open to the impact that food can have on socialization, health, attitude, and overall quality of life.  Hunger Action Month may be ‘officially’ over, but the need is still there.  I have one final request for you:  commit yourself to helping put an end to hunger.  Donate your time, your services, your dollars… whatever you can do to help those in need.