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It’s a scary world we live in.

It’s scary because instead of learning how to help their neighbors and the satisfaction of manual labor, young adults are obsessing over money and fighting for top ranks in YouTube, the Kindle store, and on blogs.

It’s scary because Internet anonymity makes it easier than ever to blast other people with strong opinions  – and not have to listen to the other side, thereby learning to be more compassionate and less judgmental.

It’s scary because of how religion has become a stumbling block to people knowing their Creator…including most of the people who claim a relationship with God.

It’s scary because only a relative handful of wealthy Westerners regularly help poor people with food or money. An even smaller number actually spend at least part of their lives in the trenches with the poor.

It’s scary because young people think they know better than their elders, and refuse their wisdom.

It’s scary because so many things that have become part of mainstream culture and so considered “normal”, even “good”, actually yank people’s freedom away from them.

It’s scary because the U.S. military has decided to play God, filling the air we breathe with toxins in an attempt to modify the weather.

It’s scary because of the persistent, insidious double-standard between men and women that should have been abolished long ago.

It’s scary because people think you have to kill animals in order to get enough protein to be healthy.

It’s scary because the food and drug corporations care more about their bottom lines than about people’s health.

It’s scary because many people don’t know that sex trafficking actually exists in the United States.

It’s scary because many people don’t know that most bananas are often grown by slaves, and even more often by children as young as eight years old.

It’s scary because people regularly blame genetics, rather than diet and lifestyle, for their diseases.

This world is full of war, abuse, selfishness, indifference, injustice, and disease. But that’s not why I am frightened for our planet’s future. I am frightened because so many of the people who could fight for  justice – along with the rights of all animals, including “human” animals – do nothing.

They have the money. They have the resources. They could contact the right people.

But they are either tired, indifferent, or ignorant.

Thus, this blog

I have been all three on some level for much of my life – although not necessarily all at once. That was even after having developed a passion, as a young person, to help sexually abused women and the poor. Like most people who will read this article, the stress and pressures of the conventional, mainstream life got in my way.

No more. As I set up this blog, I am in late forties, and I am determined to pick up the cause that God planted in my heart so many years ago. The cause for health and freedom for all animals, including humanity.

My goal is threefold: first, to educate as many people as I can about the various kinds of human injustices, the many breeches to life and freedom that occur in our world thanks to the wealthy who continually vie for more money and power. Second, I hope to motivate my blog readers and YouTube viewers to take up the cause with me, to reach into their wallets and help charitable organizations to fight for human rights.

Third, yes, as a vegan, I hope to encourage some non-vegans to get on my side of the fence, to realize that animals deserve to be free just as much as humans do.

Your next steps

  1.  If you are not already vegan, consider joining the movement. Watch this video, and read this article and this one to learn why (and why there is no such thing as “humanely raised” meat).
  2. Subscribe to this blog by filling in the form at the top of the sidebar. I personally do not get your e-mail when you do thisit is only a way to subscribe to the blog’s feed and get updates automatically sent to your inbox.
  3. Share this article with everyone you know.

Thank you, and see you soon. 🙂

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Why Free-Range Eggs Aren’t Really Free

Are free-range chicken eggs ethical? Humane? Vegan, even?

My story about Penny the hen and her life as a laying hen in a battery cage is tragic, but not necessarily surprising to many people these days. There has been an increasing amount of education about the cruel conditions in which factory-farmed animals have to live, which has driven many omnivores to purchase animal products that come from more humanely raised animals. But is there really such a thing?

I’ll talk more generally about the myth of humane omnivorism in a future post. For now, let’s focus on pasture-raised chickens, featuring the story of Freta, the free-range laying hen. But first, let me get this problem out of the way…

The cage-free deception

You may be aware that the label “natural” means nothing when you see it on any kind of food. If you’ve done any research about the “organic” label, you will know that it does not mean what the general public have been told that it means.

Food companies play all kinds of shenanigans when it comes to trying to placate consumers in order to turn them into customers, and there is no exception with store-bought eggs.

“Cage-free” sounds like a much better choice than conventional eggs that come from battery hens, right? However, just like their caged sisters, cage-free hens have their beaks clipped off (this often causes lingering pain, remember?), are not fed a natural diet, and are just as subject to abuses by the farm workers as are conventional hens.

They may not live in cages, but the space allotted each individual bird is not much more than their caged cohorts. This means they do not have much room to move, and are susceptible to disease thanks to constant exposure to their own feces and urine. They also are forced to molt via temporary starvation, and lay more eggs than is natural and therefore get depleted in calcium – leading to fractured bones later in life – and also are at just a high a risk of experiencing prolapsed oviducts (when the channel where the egg comes out, also comes out of the hen’s body).

Finally, their lives are not any longer than caged hens, and they die just as cruelly as their factory-farmed cohorts.

What about the label “free-range?” Or “happy”? The only time you can know that an egg comes from a truly free-range chicken is when you go to the farm and see hens freely walking about with plenty of space per bird.

But is even this kind of situation truly ethical? Is it vegan to consume eggs from backyard chickens who are well-taken care of and have plenty of room to roam and forage from?

Let’s listen to the story of Freta, the free-range chicken, for some of the answers.

Freta’s story

I was born in an incubator, with no mother in sight. That made me sad. What made me even sadder was that as each of my brothers were born, they were taken out of the incubator, never to be seen again. This confused me, because I know that without those warm lights imitating the warmth of my would-be mother’s feathers, I would get very cold, very quickly. Were my brothers transferred to a different incubator for males? Or were they – ugh. I don’t even want to think about the alternative.

Despite not having a mother around, I had a pretty comfortable life for the next couple of weeks. The food wasn’t all that great, but I got my fill of it, plus I had a comfortable space to sleep and room to move around.

One day, the man who fed us and made sure we had enough water did something horrifying. He picked me up  and put me into a box with several other of my sisters! There went all our space. We tried to tell him we didn’t like what was happening, but he ignored us and shut the lid on the box. It would have been completely dark in the box if it hadn’t been for the airholes that let in a little bit of light.

I was scared. Where was the food and water? Why were we in here? Did we do something wrong, and were now being punished?

It got worse when the box got moved and tumbled about over the next couple of days. About halfway through the first day, we settled down and resigned ourselves to our fate, trying to sleep and not bump into each other the best we could.

Finally, I felt someone pick up the box, carry it somewhere, and set it down again. Slowly, the top of the box opened. A smiling woman peered down at us, talking to us in a high-pitched voice. Two other faces appeared, and one by one the three humans took us out and set us in a large cage inside some kind of building. We all immediately went for the grain that was spread around the cage, and the container of water.

That wasn’t too bad, except that over the next couple of weeks we grew and the cage grew more and more cramped. One day, the woman opened the cage. We were scared at first, but after a few minutes we were all walking around, clucking and exploring what we would come to know as our coop. The only thing is, there was no food in there. If we were going to eat, we would have to go out into the open field beyond.

And I thought I was scared before! My natural instinct is to be in a place that has a lot of trees where I can hide from my predators, but this area had no trees at all. Sure, it was full of nice, green grass and tasty weeds – as well sumptuous grasshoppers and other bugs – but it was much too open for my taste.

I soon learned, however, that if I didn’t want to starve to death I would have to go out into this open field to eat. Except during the winter when we were allowed to stay in the coop and eat grain, I always felt a little scared to be out on the pasture while I was living there. My fears were later justified when one day, a neighboring dog got over the fence into our field and killed two of my sisters.

Not too long after we arrived at that place, we began to lay eggs. The first time – and the second, third, fourth, maybe more – I realized I was going to lay an egg, I called for a rooster. I couldn’t wait to hatch my own baby chick! But the rooster never came. I had to lay my eggs anyway. I didn’t know at the time that a chick couldn’t form inside my egg without a rooster, and so I still looked forward to hatching out some babies.

How angry and shocked I was when the small humans came into the coop and took my first egg away! I scolded and scolded, but they wouldn’t listen. It wasn’t long before I realized that the humans were always going to take away my eggs and never let me hatch.

I discussed this fact with my sisters, and we complained about it together. But in the end, we all agreed there was nothing we could do. If we tried to go anywhere else, we might get killed by a big, bad creature out in the open pasture. And our coop was the only safe place to roost at night, since there were very few trees around.

Constantly stressed during the day when out feeding, angry and sad in the morning when my eggs are taken away. I once heard the woman call our eggs “free range.” I’m not sure what that means, but I do know this: I am anything but free.

Why pasture-raised chicken eggs are neither vegan nor “humane”

The story above should give you some insight as to why eggs from pasture-raised chickens are never vegan, no matter how well they are cared for. The following points clarify and add to the issues alluded to in Freta’s story.

#1. Breeding domesticated animals is not vegan.

Most people who have free-range laying hens purchased them from breeders. This is not vegan. It supports the continuation of animal exploitation.

#2. To use an animal for any purpose is akin to slavery.

I don’t care to use the words “abolition”, “murder” or “slavery” in relation to animals, because they are really specialized legal terms referring to the treatment of humans. However, when someone buys – or even rescues – a chicken for the purpose of eventually getting eggs from it, this is animal exploitation, which is analogous to human slavery.

No chicken in its right mind would give a human permission to take its eggs. Eggs are for propagating their species, not for feeding people.

#3. Chickens are rainforest animals.

Surprised? I was too when I first learned that about ten years ago. But yes, they are. As such, they instinctively dislike wide open spaces – even if the wide open space is a fenced-in suburban backyard. They need trees, and lots of them, in order to feel safe from predators.

Researchers have tested levels of the stress hormone cortisol in free-range chickens and discovered them to be higher than is healthy. Why? The hens must constantly be on their guard for predators because they don’t feel safe. They are not in their natural habitat.

How ethical or humane is it to raise animals outside of their natural habitat?

The incredible, deadable egg

No one who has studied nutrition will deny that eggs from free-range hens are a nutritious food. But what about the cholesterol in the yolks? If you’re like me, you’ve heard the controversies. One study will supposedly show that egg consumption is good for you. The next will show that it raises the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Who’s right?

In a study from a couple of years ago, scientists found that the more eggs people consumed per week, the greater the arterial plaque levels. (This plaque is what can lead to heart attacks and strokes.) They concluded that when it comes to heart disease, egg yolk consumption is nearly as deadly as smoking.

Of course, that study had its share of animal-eating critics. One of those stated that “it is extremely important to understand the differences between ‘association’ and ‘causation.’”

In other words, the egg study results associated higher risk of heart disease with egg consumption, rather than proving that egg consumption causes higher risk of heart disease.

Welcome to the world of studies. Do you know how many studies that have “proven” the health benefits of egg consumption based their conclusions on association rather than causation? All of them!

This is why it’s dangerous to take one study and say, “Look! This shows that X is healthful/Y is harmful.” Rather, the correct approach is to look at the range of studies done on a particular subject or testing a particular theory. This is called epidemiological research, and is much more accurate than examining individual studies by themselves.

Turns out, when you do that in the world of nutrition, animal product consumption – even occasional, and including eggs – has been strongly linked with a variety of diseases. A diet void of any animal products – including the supposedly healthy oily fish, such as salmon – has been strongly linked with all-around improved health and longevity.

So, how free are those free-range eggs?

Chickens forced to live in unnatural habitats, that usually come from breeders, and that essentially have their babies continually stolen from them to force them to continue to lay.

Oh, and did I mention that bird eggs come out of the same place that their feces does? Yum!

Free-range hens may have a lot healthier diet than their factory-farmed counterparts, and they may not suffer nearly as much disease or injuries. But they are not free animals. And as long as they are not freely giving their eggs, we are exploiting them. And that is not ethical, moral, or vegan.

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Is Tithing Really Biblical?

Is tithing really Biblical? Do Christians have to tithe in order to make God happy? Continuing my series about how Christianity puts people into bondage, I want to address yet another obligation that the institutional church puts on believers: the tithe.

Let’s start with a quick quiz. True or false: a follower of Jesus is obligated to live out the Old Testament Law. If you’ve been paying attention at your religious meetings – and have a leader who is not totally deceived – you should be able to immediately respond with a resounding, “No!”

The New Testament is filled with verses that declare we are no longer under the Law. Galatians 2:16: “…a man is not justified by works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ…”; 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law…”; 5:18: “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”

Of course, the institutional church cannot have people thinking these verses mean just what they say. No. The Galatians’ specific issue was with Jewish believers teaching that they, even though Greek, had to be circumcised. Therefore, although Paul speaks generally about the Law most of the time in that epistle, it must be about circumcision.

But if you will take your religious glasses, throw them on the floor, and jump up and down on them until they are smashed to a million pieces, then read this verse with just your regular eyes and the brain God gave you, you can clearly see that Paul is talking about the Law in general, and in its totality.

But Paul is not Jesus, and as much as we would like to think that everything he wrote came out of God’s mouth first…well, right now, let’s just say Paul was not Jesus. It is always good to confirm something a mere mortal says by looking at what Jesus did or said.

In Matthew 5:17, He says, “I have not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.” This is another horribly misunderstood verse, since it has been horribly misinterpreted for millenia. To interpret it correctly, you need to understand the meaning of one word in that verse: fulfill.

The Law was a list of obligations the Israelites were supposed to follow in order to live uprightly. Jesus said He fulfilled those obligations. What happens when someone fulfills an obligation for you? Let’s say you volunteer to help with dinner at the downtown soup kitchen on Thursday night. Let’s say that on Thursday morning, you wake up with a stomach bug. So you call your friend and ask if she will go to the soup kitchen that evening and work in your place. She happily agrees to do so, and does it. She fulfills your obligation.

What does that mean? Does that mean you still have to make up your service at the kitchen? Or do something for your friend in return?

Absolutely not! Since she fulfilled what had been your obligation, you no longer have to do anything about it. By coming to earth as a human being, Jesus fulfilled all the obligations that the Law had burdened us with. Every last one. That includes the obligation to tithe.

Let’s go a little deeper. Jesus did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. He did not give license for believers to murder, commit adultery, steal and be stingy. No! He did not destroy the Law, but He brought with Him a way to write the Law on our hearts (the Holy Spirit) so that as we draw close to Him we want to do what is right, which leads to the ability to walk more and more in love with each passing day.

Love! Ooo, let me park there for a moment. When Jesus was asked in Matthew 22, which was the greatest commandment, what was Jesus’ answer? To keep the Sabbath? To tithe? To not commit murder? No, He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, that love could only be expressed through following the Law, because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. But now, that love fills the hearts of everyone who desires to follow Jesus and have a relationship with the Father. And when we love, we will give.

Ancient tithing

In the Old Testament, God commanded that people bring before Him as an act of worship a tenth of their harvest and livestock. There could be several reasons for this, one of which being that God knows that giving people will find loving their neighbor much easier to do. Another reason is that when you give to someone, you are more likely to set your hearts upon them.

Again, with the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us today, we do not need to follow a religious rule in order to love God and our neighbor. In addition, if you go through the verses about tithing (there are fewer than you may have been led to believe!), you will see several where Father is instructing His children on where to EAT their tithe! That’s right – under the Law, the people didn’t just dump a tenth of their abundance in some storage shed somewhere and let it rot (or let the priests use it all). Apparently, God is not into wasting food. But He did want the tithe of the food the people had raised to be eaten in a way that was mindful of Him and His goodness (see Deuteronomy 12:17).

“What about Malachi?”

If you are like me, you have heard a thousand sermons – in my case, it was almost every Sunday morning for ten years, because the charismatic club that I belonged to always had a giving sermon before the regular sermon – preached about tithing from the book of Malachi. The gist of these sermons go, “If you do not tithe, you are robbing God and the devil will get you.”

First of all, keep in mind that when Malachi prophesied Jesus had not yet come to fulfill the Law. The Israelites then were required to tithe; we are under no such requirement today. Second, remember also what the Israelites tithed, and what ultimately happened to their tithes. They tithed food, and the tithers themselves eventually consumed it!

But you will never hear that preached from a modern-day religious institution. Rather, you will hear that you must tithe to your “local house” (of worship), and the leaders of that club will use it however they see fit – typically to pay the rent or mortgage and utility bills, and pay the institutional staff. The tithers themselves never see a dime of what they have given again.

“How much, and where, should I give?”

Believers who finally realize that they are not obligated to attend a Sunday morning club or submit to an institutional hierarchy inevitably start asking the question, “Where do I give now?”, and, “Do I still have to give ten percent?”

Let me address the second question first, as it seems to be the stickier issue. Knowing that you are not under the Law, you should know that you don’t have to give anything. On the other hand, as I stated earlier, giving people tend to be more loving because you can’t be generous and self-centered at the same time. In fact, I could even reasonably argue that anyone who is serious about growing to be more like Jesus will discipline themselves to give simply because of the effect the action has on the human heart.

But do you have to give every time you get paid, as some religious institutions teach? And does it always have to be money? What about the percent question? Generally speaking, believers who have opted to leave religious institutions (and there are many more than you are aware of) find themselves giving more than ten percent of their income. Remember, however, you don’t have to be religious about this, arbitrarily looking for individuals or organizations to give to every week or every month, and keeping track of every dollar you give.

In addition, there are some circumstances where giving ten percent of one’s income would not be the best option. What about a single mother of three who brings home $2,000 a month, and her basic bills come to $1,990 per month? To ask her to tithe on her income would be cruel, both to her and her children! She could go ahead and give the last ten dollars, or she might volunteer a few hours a week tutoring inner-city children or helping neighbors with their landscaping or gardening.

I once read a story in a personal finance book that, at the time, made me angry at first. I was still attending a Sunday morning club where I was beat over the head every week that not to tithe was to rob God and loose a hoard of demons over your life. But after getting over my anger, it made me think.

The author was a financial planner who had advised a client to stop tithing for a couple of years. The reason was that the client had on his heart to set up some sort of charitable fund, but he couldn’t set aside money for it and tithe to his local religious institution, too. The client took the planner’s advice, and a couple of years later had so much money in the fund that he was able to start giving out of it much more than he could tithe from his take-home pay.

It was a wake-up call for me, and I think probably the first time I questioned the obligation to tithe, although it would be years later before I finally stopped. The New Testament requirements on giving are simple: give according to what you have purposed in  your heart, and with a cheerful attitude (2 Corinthians 9:7).

The question of where to give is much simpler to address. Find a need, and fill it (Ephesians 4:28)! If you need a tax deduction, give to your favorite charities. If you don’t, buy groceries for a neighbor or friend who is struggling financially. Send money to a down-and-out relative (who you know will be responsible with it!).

My favorite thing about no longer tithing to an institution is that I no longer have to consult with my budget to see if I can afford to give to that organization I like that just sent me a request for funds in the mail, or to help a friend or family member who has a serious financial need. I feel like my money is going to much more needful places than paying utilities for a building, and giving has finally become the fulfilling activity that it is meant to be!

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Are seeds good or bad? Are the omega-6 essential fatty acids in seeds a heart attack waiting to happen?I’m talking here about the seeds that are harvested from flowers or fruits, such as sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, rather than grains which are the seeds of various grasses. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty, or should I say, crispy-crunchy.

A while back, I made a very brief visit into the Paleo world. While I was there, I heard a disturbing fact: seeds are high in the omega-6 fatty acids, and therefore should be avoided at all costs. I was disturbed because I had been eating seeds, mainly sunflower and pumpkin, for years because they are and inexpensive food compared to the nutrition and calories they provide. But heaven forbid I whack out the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in my body, so I obediently cut seeds out of my diet.

Even when I ditched the Paleo diet, the words of warning against seed consumption continued to nag at the back of my mind, and so I continued eating  other foods, such as nuts and raw milk, instead. Long story short, after doing this for a couple of years I discovered that my iron-deficiency anemia (which, by the way, I was diagnosed with after I’d been on a Paleo diet for several months) had become even worse. Throwing caution to the wind, I added seeds back into my diet, and what do you know? My iron levels went back up.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. First, let me elaborate on the popular idea that seeds are unhealthy. It’s not only the meat-eating Paleos that spread it, but also some parts of the vegan community as well, particularly the high-carb, low-fat part. For them, the emphasis is less on the omega-6 content and more on the fact that seeds are a fatty food, period, and are thus to be consumed in very small amounts, if at all.

What nobody is saying, however, is that when you soak seeds for at least twelve hours – eighteen is even better – the fat content is reduced by around 30%. In other words, a fourth cup of sunflower seeds, when soaked for 24 hours, no longer contains 17 grams of protein per serving, but a third less than that, something between 11 and 12 grams per serving. Of course, the calories come down a corresponding amount, as well.

Not only that, but much of the omega-6 fatty acid converts to omega-3 fatty acid. This all happens because when you soak a seed that long, it begins the germination process, and when a seed begins to germinate the fats break down into healthier substances and the proteins begin to break down into more digestible forms.

With the understanding that sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds are perfectly safe to eat when they have been soaked for at least twelve hours, and that a truly healthy diet is going to have no more than about 30% of its calories coming from any kind of fat, let’s look at five reasons to include these seeds in your diet.

First reason:

Soaked seeds are much healthier than whole grains for those of us who are sensitive to whole grains. They do not contain the digestive tract irritants found in the germ and bran of whole grains, and so don’t cause bloating and gas.

Second reason:

Seeds, even in their unsprouted form, are highly nutritious. Think about it: they contain everything needed to grow a large plant. A fourth cup of unsprouted raw sunflower seeds contains about 55% of the daily value of thiamin, 14% of B6, over 90% of vitamin E, over 20% of folate, almost 14% of iron for women and 30% for men, 32% of magnesium, 36% of manganese, and over 30% of zinc. Pumpkin seeds have twice as much iron, and more of both magnesium and manganese. It also contains 22% of vitamin K, a vitamin most often associated with greens. Sesame seeds have a similar nutritional profile as the other two seeds, but with much more calcium – a whopping 35% for a fourth cup. That’s more calcium than what you get in a cup of milk!

Now, keep in mind these numbers are for seeds that are in their raw, unsprouted form. It’s common knowledge that the process of soaking seeds increases the quantity of many of the vitamins, especially the B vitamins.

Third reason:

Eating seeds for your daily mineral supply is much cheaper, not to mention much easier, than eating enough greens to get your minerals. This is especially good news for raw food vegans, who generally do not consume grains. Strict low-fat raw food vegans rely solely on greens to obtain their minerals. That sounds like the natural and healthy way to go, but did you realize that this translates to ten to fifteen cups of raw dark, leafy greens every single day? Unless you have a huge garden, indoors and out, this kind of diet is beyond the average family’s budget. Not to mention the amount of time it takes to properly chew that amount of greens.

A fourth cup of sprouted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds is easily incorporated either into a salad or a smoothie, and soaked sesame seeds are good blended with bananas and/or mangos. They will only cost you something between fifteen and thirty cents per fourth cup of dry seeds, and take no extra time and energy to consume.

Fourth reason:

Seeds boast a healthy amino acid profile. Pumpkin seeds are especially high in amino acids. A mix of any of these three seeds every day, and you will get plenty of protein.

Fifth reason:

Seeds are easy to store. Greens need to be either refrigerated or frozen. Until you decide to soak and sprout them, seeds can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container. Even after you soak and sprout them, if you own a dehydrator you can always dehydrate them so that you can again store them at room temperature. I don’t recommend you do this for all the seeds you eat, however, because some nutrition will be lost during the dehydration process.

Bottom line: it’s time to stop being afraid of seeds because of their overall fat content, and specifically their omega-6 fatty acid content. Soak them for over twelve hours, and as long as you keep your daily total fat intake to below 30% of the calories you consume, they will serve as a healthy, nutritious, and economical part of your vegan diet.


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A HUGE Lie Of Christianity

If you’ve read this post and this post, you might be asking, “But didn’t the New Testament establish church hierarchy?”

Yet another religious lie that is keeping millions of people in bondage.

The Catholics use Matthew 16:18 to assert that Jesus founded the papacy with the disciple Peter. Protestants use Matthew 23:9 to assert that calling Catholic priests “father” is wrong. If I believed earthly human bodies were capable of rolling around in their graves, I would say that Matthew must be rolling around in his grave over those statements.

Because the truth is, both groups have it wrong.

Before I hit on these verses, however, I want to go back to the Old Testament, when the Israelites were supposed to be listening to God through His appointed prophets.

No, let’s go back even further, because I need to make a point here. On Mount Sinai, God invited the Israelites to go up on the mountain with Moses to hear His voice. But they were afraid God might kill them, and so insisted that He speak just to Moses, and that Moses deliver God’s message, which they promised to obey.

Consequently, the people did not learn to hear God for themselves. Because they did not learn it, they could not teach the skill to their children. God was forced to appoint men who would know His voice and be obedient to relay whatever message He gave them to speak. These men were the prophets, and while the Israelites sometimes heeded them, many times they did not – to their own hurt.

Because the people had refused to learn to hear God for themselves – which is what His will had been – their hearts eventually hardened even to the messages through the prophets. The result is stated in Judges 21:25. “In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

Even though God would raise up judges to get His people out of their troubles, that wasn’t enough for them. Finally, they demanded that the prophet Samuel ask God to appoint a king over them.

I made this point earlier, but it bears repeating: God wanted to be the Israelites’ ruler. The royal hierarchy that exists on earth today originated from man.

This is a direct contradiction to God’s original commandment to the human race: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living [animal] that moves upon the earth [emphasis mine][Genesis 1:28].” We are created to have dominion over the planet and its animals, not over each other! No  wonder Father was so upset when the Israelites asked for a king – they were praying for a life of bondage that He never intended or wished for them to have.

Our true Sovereign

Eventually the Romans conquered the Israelites and they no longer had their own king. But they still had their religious hierarchy in place. Jesus came, in part, to change that. How do I know? Look at Jeremiah 31:33-34: “…After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law within them, and on their hearts I will write it; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And they will no more teach each other his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know Me….”

Any Biblical scholar worth his or her salt will tell you that verse refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into believers’ hearts.

Then there is Ezekiel chapter 34, in which God declares His disgust for earthly shepherds and says that He will gather them together and feed them Himself. The word “feed” used in the passage means to teach and provide spiritual sustenance.

Jesus’ own teaching defied the hierarchy of the modern institutional church. It is another verse that is either ignored or misinterpreted by Christian club leaders, because to tell people what the verse actually means – or, just to read it as-is and let people take the meaning literally – would probably cost them their jobs. Here it is, finally returning to Matthew 23: “But you are not to be called teacher, for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. And you must not be called leaders, for you have one Leader, the Christ.”

In case that verse is not plain enough, or your eyes are still so crusted over with religious crap that you can’t read it right, let me help you. Humans are supposed to be on a level playing field with each other, especially in the Kingdom of God. If you belong to a club where certain people are labeled “teacher”, “father”, “leader”, or any name that denotes a particular kind of leader, THIS IS NOT THE WILL OF GOD!

“But what about…”

There are two protests I want to tackle in this section. The first one is, “But what about what Jesus said to Peter?” What about Catholicism’s favorite verse where Jesus called Peter a rock, and their second-favorite where Jesus told Peter to “Feed My lambs”? The first one is easy. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus uses a play on words, using two different Greek words that both translate into “rock” in English.

In all my years as a Catholic, this fact was never pointed out. Not one time. Instead, I was taught that both words were the same. And I was taught that Jesus was referring to Peter when He said, “…and on this rock I will build My church.”

Wrong again. Peter had just made a revelatory statement when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter’s reply was, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This truth was the “rock” on which Jesus was going to build His church, NOT Peter!

What about when Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep? Was He appointing Peter to take His place after He ascended into Heaven? You could take it that way, if you wanted to ignore all the other related Scriptures I have mentioned so far. But whenever you isolate one verse, you take it out of context and inevitably misinterpret it.

Jesus was revealing to Peter a gift He had given to him, not a position. Jesus was basically saying, “Peter, I want you to pass on to other people what I have been teaching you the past three years. Specifically, I want you to help them understand that which you received by revelation – that I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Nowhere in the New Testament do you see Jesus telling Peter to found an institution, or take some sort of leadership position. And nowhere in the New Testament do you see Him appointing anybody else to leadership positions. Take off your religious glasses and read what your Bible actually says. Yes, the Holy Spirit appointed people to do certain tasks. Yes, some of these men and women were called to preach and teach.

But these were not positions of leadership in an institution. They were gifts and responsibilities that were given to them in the context of community and relationships with other believers. Look at First Corinthians 12:28. “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administration, varieties of tongues.” Then, look at verse 31: “But earnestly desire the best gifts [emphasis mine].”

Are you paying attention? The list of things that God has appointed are not positions of leadership, or places in an institutional hierarchy. They are GIFTS. And what do you do with a gift your receive? Build a system around it and arbitrarily use it on a regular basis, whether it is truly needed or wanted or not? No! Ridiculous! You use a gift as the need for it arises.

The same is true of bishops, deacons and elders. They were abilities recognized by the Body of Christ at large. Believers respected people with such abilities because of the service they rendered to the community. They were not arbitrary positions in a hierarchy, system or institution.

And nobody back then was paying them a salary for using his or gift of pastor, teacher, administrator, bishop, and so on. Neither did they lord their gifts over people who did not have them. They remembered what Jesus had said, that they were all equals and had only One Teacher, Master and Leader.

Paul was a tentmaker, remember? And he worked his trade even while traveling around to preach the Gospel. HELLO!?

The New Testament only establishes church hierarchy in the minds of the power-hungry, greedy people.

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Is The 80-10-10 Diet REALLY Healthy?

Is the 80-10-10 diet really healthy? For those of you who might not have heard of this eating lifestyle, it is a mostly (or totally) raw vegan diet in which 80% of the calories come from carbohydrates in the form of fruit, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat. These proportions are derived from those that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables, most of which are about 80% carbohydrate, 10% fat, and 10% protein. People who follow the 80-10-10 diet will either eat all fruit, or will eat two large fruit-only meals per day, and then a large green salad in the evening. On this diet, only a handful of seeds or nuts is allowed per day, and oils, sweeteners, condiments, and spices are strictly forbidden. Of course, it is a vegan diet, so no animal products are included.

Now to the question of whether it is healthy. First, it is a vegan diet, so we must first address the question of whether a vegan diet is healthy. I’ve already answered that here. Short answer: yes, if you pay attention to your nutrition, veganism is a very healthy diet.

If you’re already convinced of the health benefits of a vegan diet, your main concern might have to do with all the consumption of fruit. Isn’t all that sugar bad for you? The answer to that can be complicated, but I’m going to make it simple: the naturally occurring sugar in fruit does not cause any harm to the body in and of itself. For most people, for the most part, most fruits do not cause unhealthy blood sugar level fluctuations, induce Candida overgrowth, or feed cancer cells.

What about the protein? Isn’t the diet a little low in protein? Advocates of low-protein diets point to human breastmilk to answer that question. Babies who are fed breastmilk receive only 7% of their calories from protein, and it is enough for them to grow and develop from a six-pound baby into a twenty-pound toddler. But then, these low-protein advocates need to be consistent and insist that an adult human diet must therefore be 54% fat, because that is how much fat is in breastmilk.

But rarely do you hear anyone recommending a diet that is both low in protein and high in fat. It’s either high in both protein and fat and low in carbs, or low in protein and fat and high in carbs. Like the 80-10-10 diet.

That said, many people do very well with those low amounts of protein and fat. You can find long-term 80-10-10-ers, of both the fruitarian type and the greens eaters type, who will swear by the diet. And if it works for them, I say, great! Keep it up! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The diet certainly has a lot going for it: it’s loaded with phytonutrients, is highly energizing thanks to the easily digestible source of carbs found in fruit, eliminates animal fats, is environmentally friendly, discourages the consumption of processed foods, and is delicious.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? So why even write a post about whether the 80-10-10 diet is healthy? Seems like the answer is clear, right? It is definitely healthy!

Well, it is…for some people. Maybe even for a lot of people, if more people would be willing to give it a try. But if you look around the Internet, it wouldn’t take you too long to find people saying that the 80-10-10 diet ended up deteriorating, rather than improving, their health.

Now, the truth is that some of these people may have followed the diet incorrectly. Because to get enough of the minerals you need if your main food is fruit, you have to consume a lot more calories than you are used to. Whereas you might get everything you need from a moderate-fat, moderate-protein raw food diet that allows for more nut and seed consumption by eating the standard 2,000 calories a day, you may have to double your caloric input, perhaps triple it, to get the same nutrition from fruit.

Yes, some people gain weight – and too much of it – doing so. Other people don’t.

The point I’m trying to make is that many people who try the 80-10-10 diet try to make it work within the 2,000-calorie-per-day regime. A few months to a year later, when their hair starts falling out in clumps, or they’ve developed several cavities, or they are constantly fatigued, they quit and blame the diet when it wasn’t the diet’s fault at all, it was that they did not consume enough fruit or greens to get the minerals their body needs.

If this is sounding like an expensive or difficult diet to make work, you’re right. But I’m not going into that now. What we’re looking at here is whether the 80-10-10 diet is healthy for everyone, and at this moment I want to point out that it may have ultimately been a very healthy diet for many people, but they either never try it or they do not consume enough fruit to make it work.

What about the rest of us? What about the people who followed all the rules of the diet and ate enough, and still failed to thrive? What about those of us who feel famished if we eat only carbs for 2/3 to 3/4 of the day? The answer is simple: we need more protein and fat in our diet. Not necessarily a lot more, but more than 10% of each, and a consequently less than 80% carbohydrates.

Douglas Graham, who wrote the 80-10-10 diet, along with the medical doctors who have authored books recommending high carb, low fat diets consisting of mainly cooked starches, will cry FOUL at my assertion. We are all biologically the same, they say, so we must all eat the macronutrients in the same ratios.

Been there, done that. I’ve tried low-fat, high-carb. I was always hungry and lethargic – yes, even when I was eating the supposedly healthy whole grains. Many others can give the same testimony. Why? Biochemical individuality. Some people are sensitive to the alkaloids in nightshade vegetables, while others can eat as many potatoes, eggplants, and tomatoes as they want. Some people can’t eat anything with any protein that slightly resembles gluten, let alone gluten itself, while others can consume several slices of bread a day without experiencing any negative effects from it.

In the same way, some people need more fat and protein to thrive than others. I believe that this is one of the main reasons that vegans go back to eating meat. They read a book that gives them the idea that the ideal vegan diet has to be low in both fat and protein, and when that doesn’t work for them they blame veganism instead of tweaking their macronutrient ratios. Does this mean that they should shoot for 50% or more of the calories from fat? No! They are not babies who need that much fat in order to grow quickly. But it does mean that they will feel much better if they jack up both their fat and protein consumption, up to 15-30% of their diet for each.

My husband and I do well on a diet with a fat content of around 30% and protein at 15-20%. This is about half the fat that the average raw food vegan consumes, and is what is considered within the range of healthy by most dieticians and other nutrition experts.

Most of our fat comes from soaked and/or sprouted seeds and almonds. Here’s my question: why are seeds and nuts, also being plant foods, not figured into the equation? Why not consider the fat and protein content of those foods, along with those of fruits and vegetables, and split the difference? For people who struggle to make the 80-10-10 diet work for them, I think we should.

While research does support the idea that a low-fat, high-carb vegan diet can eliminate such problems as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is no proof that it is THE perfect diet for everyone. There is also no evidence that plant-based fats cause health problems; quite the contrary, actually.

So, is the 80-10-10 diet really healthy? Sure it is…if your biochemical makeup thrives on that particular macronutrient ratio. If it doesn’t, feel free to tweak it until you find what makes YOU feel great.

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Vivisection, or animal experimentation, is obviously not vegan. As a matter of fact, the vegan movement started in large part to protest the cruel experiments being done on animals in the name of science. Back in the 1930’s, factory farms were only just coming on the scene.

However, many, if not most, people believe that experimenting on animals is essential to helping humans. They think that animal experimentation is necessary in order to discover what personal hygiene and cleaning products are safe, or that a cure for cancer will only emerge if we experiment with enough animals with a large enough variety of drugs.

If that’s what you think, you think wrong.

Personal hygiene products

The good news is, cosmetic companies by and large have stopped testing their products on animals because there are materials available today that can imitate human skin. I’m not saying all cosmetic companies are now cruelty-free, but that animal experimentation in that industry has gone down quite a bit.

What if that weren’t so? What if you wanted to prevent cruelty to animals, but every single company that manufactured makeup also practiced vivisection?

The answer is so, so clear, but one that goes against the double standard that the Western world has held for so long. The answer is for people to stop wearing makeup.

If you’re a woman and you think you’re ugly without makeup, you’ve been brainwashed. If you’re a transvestite…well, same thing. Actors on stage and on the screen? We could get used to pale faces.

How about shampoos, conditioners, body wash, hand soap, toothpaste, body lotion, etc., etc.?

Liquid castile soap, soap nuts, vegan bar soap, essential oils, coconut oil (or almond or whatever works for your skin). There is so much unnecessary clutter in people’s bathroom cabinets and cupboards in the name of beauty and hygiene. I quit using hair conditioners years ago, and discovered that my hair wasn’t that much more difficult to manage without it. Now that I rinse my hair in rain water every day, I only need to use soap on it twice a week. Anti-aging and exfoliating cleansers and lotions are a scam.

I could go on, but you get my drift. People are afraid of not looking perfectly clean (nobody notices), or not looking like they’re in their twenties (let’s start teaching our youth to respect their elders again), or not killing every single germ (you shouldn’t), and so they get spend ridiculous amounts of money every year on products that don’t give them anywhere near the return on their investment that the label claims.

Stop buying all those unnatural personal hygiene products, and no one in that industry will have a reason to continue with animal experimentation.

Household cleaners

Five items: liquid castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, and soap nuts. Orange oil to clean off sticky spots, maybe lemon and/or tea tree oil to add extra antiseptic power to vinegar or castile soap.

Again, no animal experimentation needed to invent new and better household cleaners.

Cures for disease

“But my mother died of breast cancer, and if they just try enough drugs on rats, they’ll find a cure so that nobody else’s mother will have to suffer it!”

I’m very sorry about your loss. But vivisection will never find the cure for any disease. Here are the three main reasons why:

#1: No matter what you’ve heard about pigs, monkeys or rats, there is no animal – not one, NOT A SINGLE, BLESSED ONE – that is similar enough in anatomy and physiology to a human being to justify transferring results from a non-human animal to a person.

According to authorities who used to work in animal research labs, what happens in these places is not science. Since animals don’t contract the same illnesses and diseases that humans do, the researchers have to artificially simulate the various conditions within the bodies of the animals. In effect, they experiment with drugs and surgeries on induced conditions, which is light years away from treating the real thing.

Vioxx, for example, was tested on numerous animals and found to have no toxic effects. But thousands of people have died, and tens of thousands more, have suffered from serious side effects, from the drug.

Unless you have ever had a rat for a pet, you probably are unaware that they develop tumors at the drop of a hat. Usually benign, but cancer is not uncommon. While pet mice are unlikely to develop tumors, they are nevertheless easily prone to them when subjected to certain substances.

So whenever you hear, “Such-and-such caused cancer in laboratory rats/mice,” you need to take it with a huge grain of salt.

#2: Along the same lines, today’s technology is much more accurate in helping human medical problems than experimenting on animals. For example, computer modeling is now so advanced that certain programs can accurately predict how a certain substance would react inside a human body. The various scans available – such as MRI’s – allow insight to the human body that we didn’t have thirty years ago.

#3: Lab animals live in extremely stressful environments – unless, of course, a pseudo-scientist is trying to determine the results of reducing stress in animals. Monkeys live in cages so small that they barely have room to turn around. Lab animals are not cuddled or petted. Guinea pigs are often left in cages when the cage is sent through very hot wash water.

Cats are paralyzed on purpose. Goats have their legs locked down. Rabbits have their necks placed into braces so that doctors can easily inject substances into their anuses and vaginas. Animals of all kinds are subjected to all kinds of surgeries, injections, and skin corruption.

Oh, and don’t forget: the fake scientists cut the vocal chords of the lab animals – including our beloved cats and dogs – so they don’t have to hear their painful cries! Do they use anethesia? Unlikely, since they don’t use anesthesia for even more severe cuts and wounds they inflict on the animals.

Any sentient being living under constant stress is going to be more vulnerable to developing conditions of ill health.

#4: Most cases of most diseases are preventable, and even “curable”, by lifestyle. If you eat a whole foods diet lavish in fruit and vegetables, and low in (or void of) animal products, you get some exercise several times a week, and avoid using or abusing any kind of drug (nicotine and alcohol are drugs, remember?), you reduce your risk of developing autoimmune, chronic, or degenerative diseases.

Dr. Terry Wahls – yes, a medical doctor – cured herself of multiple sclerosis by getting off processed foods and eating a nutrient-dense diet instead. Ruth Heidrich cured herself of stage four breast cancer which had metastasized by going on a nutrient-dense, whole foods vegan diet.

By the way, Ruth was in her late forties when she was diagnosed. Today, she is in her early eighties.

They are only two of dozens of stories I’ve heard over the past twenty or so years of people who healed themselves of various conditions by deciding to eat a natural diet.

Here’s another one from YouTube:

You can improve your chances of living long and healthy even more by reducing the stress in your life. Don’t put up with an abusive spouse, or a job that saps away all your dignity, self-worth, and energy. Get enough sleep. Don’t watch the news. Have one or two daily pampering rituals. And so on. You know.

Let me clarify: you and you alone are responsible for your health, not the government. Not your doctor. And for the most part, not your genes.

Therefore, every day animals are forced to live in substandard conditions and suffer all forms of cruelty for absolutely no reason at all.

Oh, and it gets better

But wait, there’s more! The National Institute of Health spends over $12 billion – that’s billion, with a B – every single year on vivisection. The NIH is a government organization, which means that your tax dollars support animal cruelty (without your permission, of course).

Instead of being used to educate people on the real reason for illness and disease, instead of being used to develop programs that help people learn how to improve their financial situation, your tax money is used, in part, to torture and kill innocent animals.

Conclusion and your next step

I hope that if, at the beginning of this article, you held to the mainstream way of thinking about vivisection, you have now changed your mind. If so, your next step is two-fold. First, take responsibility for your health. Becoming a whole-foods vegan will take you most of the way in that respect. Second, as much as possible avoid purchasing products made by companies who use animal experimentation. You can find such a list here.

Oh, one more thing – share this article with your friends!

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“I don’t want to go to church anymore!”

If you’ve even ever just thought these words, you need to read this article. But first, to really understand where I’m coming from, you should read this post first.

Ready? Great! Allow me to blow your mind. But first things first: it’s not that you don’t want to go to church anymore, but to a worship building, or religious fellowship hall. In the Bible, the Greek word from which we derive church is ecclesia. This does not denote any sort of building, but actually interprets to something like “the called-out ones.” The word “church” refers to a group of people, not to a building used for the purpose of worshiping God. Nor does it refer to a certain group of people who believe they are the “original” Church, derived from the first Pope, Saint Peter.

Since I brought up Catholicism, and was raised in that denomination, allow me to start there. My mother went to a Catholic elementary school when she was young. At that time, the students were told by the nuns in charge there that if you didn’t attend Mass every day, you would go to hell.

Then along came Vatican 2, a meeting of the Catholic Powers-That-Were in the 1960s, where they decided that maybe some of their rules had been a little strict. Children would no longer have eternal fire hung over them as a threat for not going to Mass every day, but you still were expected to attend Mass at least every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation.

Apparently, God had changed His mind about Temple worship. I once read something about how the Jehovah Witnesses change their theology every couple of decades, and therefore is indicative of the group being a cult. So since Catholics changed some of their theology…?

Hey, I’m just pointing out the (hopefully) obvious here. That maybe church leaders aren’t as infallible as the gullible masses have been conditioned to think they are.

If you’re getting pissed off at me, good. Now you’ll start thinking for yourself.

I left the Catholic institution in my twenties in favor of a non-denominational (come on, there is no such thing) charismatic Sunday morning club. There was a lot less ritual and fewer rules attached to it, but you were still expected to be there every Sunday morning, or your faith was in question. Those who opted to enjoy beautiful spring and summer Sunday mornings by taking their boats out on the local lake instead of “keeping the Sabbath” were inevitably blasted from the pulpit by the leader of that club.

I have lost count of how many times he declared that the people who attended Sunday night service were hungrier for God than the Sunday morning pew-warmers, and that those who attended Wednesday night were the “real” Christians.

Of course, those who attended only on Sunday morning never heard that. The pastor, like most charismatic club pastors, was very careful to be two-faced, even three-faced, for the sake of keeping his job.

Okay, enough denomination-pounding. Let’s get back to the life of Jesus, because that is what believers are supposed to try to emulate, right? Jesus was brought up in the religion of Judaism, and He attended the Temple. Therefore His followers are obligated to worship God in a building.

Or so we have been taught. The fact is, God chose salvation to come out of the people called the Israelites, not from the religion of Judaism. Remember: God did not create Judaism, people did. Jesus was born into Judaism, and as such participated in Jewish activities. Why, if God hates religion so?

For one thing, Jesus was perfect and a perfect child will obey His parents, if they are not asking anything immoral or unethical of Him. Second, think about this: would His fellow countrymen have received His teachings, His very friendship, if He had rebelled against the culture they held so dearly? Absolutely not! In addition, Father is very aware of our human imperfections and failings. Every day, He works on His children’s behalf, despite their self-deception, limited perception of reality, wrong beliefs, and general shortcomings.

This is why God even works inside Sunday morning clubs! Yes, I do accede the fact that God works in and through such groups of people. He focuses on their hearts, not on the traditions of man they follow.

You say you need Scriptural proof that Father does not obligate us to gather in a building once a week to worship Him. All right, fair enough. Let’s go back to the original commandment it comes from: “You shall keep holy the Sabbath.” All God told Moses was that one day a week the Israelites were not to do any work, instead get their hearts and minds focused on Him.

The Tabernacle, God’s idea and design, was to be a place where people could go to seek His face, as well as being a symbol of what our spiritual life would be like once Jesus was resurrected and back in heaven. People did not congregate either inside the Tabernacle or even around the outside of it on the Sabbath Day.

“But the Temple came from the Tabernacle, didn’t it?”

Let’s move back a little from there. Remember when the Israelites first asked for a king? It was because “everyone else” had a king, and they thought life would be easier if they had an imperfect flesh-and-blood person to follow, rather than an Invisible Being. God reluctantly – and sorrowfully – acquiesced to the people’s demand.

Read on from there in the Bible, and show me where God commanded a temple to be built. You won’t find it! Building the Temple was King David’s idea, not Father’s. King David saw that all the false gods around him had huge, beautiful, lavish structures built to their honor. Shouldn’t the Real God have one, too?

God allowed the building of the Temple, but He did not require it. Just as He acquiesced to the people’s desire for a human leader, He acquiesced to their desire to have a worship building.

I want you to get this:

The idea of worshipping in a permanent structure comes from heathen temple worship.

“What about Hebrews 10:25?”

Like many other verses in the Bible, Hebrews 10:25 has been grossly misinterpreted over the centuries. “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” is the first platitude that club-attending believers spout off when they run into a fellow believer who has left the club scene.

To them, I ask, “Where does the author say that he is talking about attending a weekly meeting?” The fact is, he is not. Rather, he is warning against isolationism. The writer was speaking to persecuted  believers, who were wondering whether it would be better for each to keep to him or herself so that their persecutors would have a harder time finding them. The writer was arguing in favor of the believers to continue meeting together in each other’s homes.

You can apply this meaning at another level, as well. It is said among the success guru crowd that you are the sum total of the five people you hang out with the most. If you therefore want to get closer to Jesus and get to know Him better, you need to hang around like-minded people. If you choose, instead, to hang out with immoral people, or people with low (or no) ethical standards, over time you will become more and more like them.

So, yes, do not forsake the assembling with other believers. Pray with your believing spouse. Meet a couple of believing friends at Starbucks. Have your believing neighbors over for dinner. And share life together, don’t turn it into a religious meeting!

More proof

In John 2:19, Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” What? Rebuild the Temple, which took decades to complete, in three days? Of course, that’s not what He meant. He was referring to Himself. The Tabernacle and the Temple were both a shadow of the ultimate place of worship: His body. Said another way, the Body of Christ.

Whoa now! Who is that Body? We, the believers, are! The Holy Spirit dwells within each of us, making each of us a kind of mini-temple. We can worship, talk to, or argue with (hey, a real believer does this early and often!) God whenever we want and wherever we are. We do not need a building to do all that. With that statement about raising up the Temple, Jesus eliminated the requirement for people to congregate in a building to worship Father.

As a matter of fact, Jesus eliminated a lot of Old Testament requirements. I will detail that in a few moments when I delve into Lie #3. For now, let me close with a final Scriptural proof that followers of Jesus are not obligated to attend a weekly worship service. It is not THE final proof, just the one I am choosing to end this chapter on, and one that institutional leaders either choose to ignore, or choose to grossly misinterpret lest they be forced to go out and do real work.

Paul says in Colossians 2:16, “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ [emphasis mine].”

Here is what I’ve heard from the pulpit about that verse: “Paul is talking about the religious practices of pagans.”

Yep, that’s about as far as it goes. And to anyone with half a brain, that is pure, 100% baloney.

Paul says those things are a “shadow of things to come”, their substance being “of Christ.” HELLO!? He

is not talking about paganism, he is talking about the requirements of the Law handed down by Moses.

Paul did not attend a Sunday morning club; he worshiped in the Temple so that he could “get in good” with his fellow Jews and hopefully see some of them brought to Christ. But he never, ever founded an institution. He understood what Jesus had said about raising up a new temple… and about the issue I am about to get into the next post on this vital issue of spiritual freedom.

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Today I want to talk about one of the favorite topics of healthy eaters in general, and raw vegans in particular. I want to talk about smoothies. The reason I want to talk about them is because I recently watched two videos by two different YouTubers who claimed that smoothies are not really all that healthy. They are not “whole foods.” Foods are meant to be consumed as nature offers them, so you should not blend them.

I want to first point out that both of these YouTubers consume grains and legumes. Cooked. They regularly consume foods in a form different from the way nature offers them.

That aside, they both do make one great point about smoothies: when you make smoothies, you are able to consume many more calories in a relatively short period of time than you could if the food was not blended. This might work if you’re an athlete who wants to get his or carbs in the form of fruit. But for non-athletes, this is a recipe for weight gain. Even if you do work out every day, heavy fruit smoothies might not work for you. The other YouTubers aren’t athletes per se, but they do bike quite a bit most every day as well as work out in a gym. Drinking huge fruit smoothies gave them digestive trouble and eventually began to sap their energy.

I can agree that drinking ten bananas and two mangos within a fifteen minute period probably isn’t the healthiest practice. If you’re going to eat only fruit for a meal, you should just eat it, not drink it, so that you don’t overtax your digestive system or make  your blood glucose skyrocket.

But does that mean smoothies have to be kicked out of the “whole food” category even if they consist of only whole food ingredients? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, a smoothie that contains more than just fruit and which provides a typical amount of calories you would eat at one sitting – generally between three and five hundred calories – and has not processed ingredients such as store-bought almond milk – could fall into the superfood category depending on what you put in it.

Let me give you five reasons to make smoothies a part of your daily, or at least weekly, menu plan.

#1: Blending seeds means that you will absorb the nutrition from seeds. I used to top my salads with sprouted sunflower seeds, thinking that they would be easy to chew up. But when day after day I noticed sunflower seeds coming out in the toilet in a completely undigested form, I realized I was wrong. Now I blend my sprouted sunflower seeds with fruit and greens to make a smoothie. I haven’t pooped out any whole seeds since!

Sesame seeds, even soaked, are particularly hard to chew. Again, I blend mine up in a smoothie.

#2: When you blend food, your body can much more easily absorb the nutrients. The exception is fruit, since the nutrients in fruit are easy for your body to absorb even if you’re lazy about chewing before you swallow. But when it comes to nuts, seeds, and greens, blending them breaks down the cell walls which makes the nutrients more available to your body.

#3: Green smoothies are a great way to help people who don’t love vegetables, especially kids, to eat their vegetables. Spinach is the best green to put into a smoothie, because it does not add much flavor to a smoothie and is not bitter. If you want to use kale or other more bitter greens, you need to add more fruit to mask the flavor.

#4: You can make a particular mix of foods more palatable. Because I’m approaching menopause, I want to make sure I get plenty of calcium. So part of my daily diet includes sesame seeds. Tahini doesn’t agree with my stomach because it’s made from unsoaked seeds, and besides it’s a lot cheaper just to eat the seeds. But they don’t taste that great, either. Into a smoothie they go!

And if you’re like me, you may have a picky eater who won’t eat the most nutritious nuts and seeds. What do I do? Make a smoothie that has enough banana and berries to cover up the flavor of the nuts and seeds I also put into it.

#5: Smoothies are a convenient breakfast for work. If you work outside your home and you have a hard time getting up early enough to take the time to eat breakfast, smoothies are a healthy alternative to protein bars – which are usually loaded with an unhealthy amount of sweetener, even if they are otherwise free of junk ingredients – and drive-thru breakfast sandwiches.

If you have five minutes, you can pour some water into a blender, add a couple of bananas and a cup of frozen berries, toss in a handful of cashews or almonds and a scoop of green powder supplement. Blend the ingredients thoroughly, pour into a jar or plastic cup with a straw, then rinse out your blender and you’re ready to go! You can either sip on it in the car while you’re in the middle of the daily traffic jam, or set it on your desk and sip on it while you get started with the day’s work.

Smoothies are not unhealthy. They are not a processed food, as long as you are not adding processed food ingredients to them. They are a whole foods food, but you have to figure out what kind of smoothie makes both your digestive system and your blood sugar happy.

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The True Cost Of An Egg

Eggs are considered a cheap source of protein and vitamin A. But are they really? They may not cost much in the grocery store compared to meat, but for the laying hens that produce the eggs in factory farms, the cost is sky-high. To illustrate, let’s hear the Penny the laying hen’s life story.

I hatched out of my egg under glaring lights, and within minutes I was roughly picked up, turned upside down, and put into a crate with a bunch of other female chicks. There we huddled together in fear, waiting, wondering where our mother could be.

While we waited, we could hear the creak of a conveyor belt, and the occasional horrific peep of terrified chicks along with a frightening sound of metal grinding against metal. We would find out later by older hens that this was the sound of the male chicks, our brothers, being ground up alive. They cannot lay eggs, so they are of no use to the people who run the farm.

A few days later, I was suddenly and unexpectedly snatched up from the crate where I was already wallowing in my and others’ excrement. The person held me uncomfortably tight, and I squirmed, fearing I was about to be choked to death.

I was not, but wished I had been a minute later. For instead of choking me, the person put a clippers to my beak – my tender beak, which did have nerves running through it – and clipped off almost half of it. I can’t describe to you the excruciating pain. Imagine someone taking a butcher knife and cutting off half of your nose, and you might be able to relate. I don’t know. I’m just a dumb, emotionless chicken and you’re the Almighty Human with the ability to reason and experience emotion. (Excuse me, being miserable makes me sarcastic.)

Anyway, I screeched for help, but of course, nobody came. The only beings who could possibly help were the ones whose sole job seemed to be hurting us. All of my sisters and cousins went through the same terrible experience, and our beaks hurt for over a month.

After I had grown some, the crate that I’d been sharing with the other female chicks – now starting to look more like hens – was placed onto a huge truck with many other crates. Then we heard a large roar, and all the crates lurched – and we along with them. For what seemed like hours, we bumped along in this giant room, falling into each other, getting bruised and scratched.

Finally, the bumping and noise stopped as the truck came to a stop. People began unloading the crates from it. I couldn’t help but get a little bit excited. Was I finally going to be let out of the crate? Were we going to be allowed to run around outside, chasing bugs and snacking on weeds? Even though I’d never done it before, it’s something that wouldn’t get out of my mind. The grain they fed us was okay, but I was already tired of it.

My excitement turned to dread when my crate was taken into a large barn, and I was unceremoniously dumped – along with all my crate mates – into a cage that was not much bigger than your average shipping box. The first thing I noticed was that the bottom of the cage was just wires, and therefore very uncomfortable.

The second thing I noticed was that there were too many birds in the cage. It was all right for now, but once we all became full-grown, we wouldn’t all fit there.

That didn’t worry me so much, because I figured the people would move some of us to other cages once we grew a bit bigger. But that never happened. Within a few months, the horror of it all hit me when I found I could no longer stretch out my wings, and my feet had begun to bleed because of having to move around on the wire that formed the floor of the cage.

In the meantime, I had begun to lay eggs. I was naturally very naïve at first, and when I felt the first egg coming to fullness inside me, I cried out for a rooster. None ever came. Still, when I laid the egg a day later, I wanted nothing more than to sit on it and see it turn into a chick. Even though there was apparently no rooster, I still had the desire to brood.

But to my dismay, the egg fell just out of reach below the cage, and it was soon taken away.
After a week of this happening, I resigned myself to the fact that there would never be any rooster, that I would never get to hatch out any of my own chicks. Day after day, I fought for food and water to support the eggs that kept coming out of my body.

Once in a while, my body and those of my cage mates seemed to become exhausted, because we would quit laying eggs most days. When that happened, the people would take all our food away and not give us any for two whole weeks! After that, we would go on a feeding frenzy to replenish our bodies, and we all would begin to lay more eggs.

A few weeks after I was placed in the cramped, uncomfortable, and stinky cage, the unthinkable happened. A toenail of one of my cage mates grew around one of the wires at the bottom – remember, we had no room to move by that time – and she could not move the few inches she needed to move in order to access the feeding machine. After a few days, she was dead of starvation.

The rest of us waited and waited for someone to come and remove the dead body. When a human finally did so, it was only after the body had begun to stink. And it was pulled out violently, its head banging against the door of the cage, and thrown into a garbage bag as if her life meant nothing.

It was then that I realized: my life meant nothing. None of the lives of the laying hens in that barn meant nothing. Not to the people, anyway. We were just tools to produce eggs, and once we could no longer produce eggs, we were nothing better than a piece of garbage.

Still, I went on eating, drinking, and laying eggs. There was nothing else to do. The space that I had for myself was less than the area of a letter-sized sheet of paper, and my body began to bruise on both sides because my cage mates and I were crammed so closely together.

I watched another cage mate die of either dehydration or starvation after getting caught in the wires of the cage. A couple of months later, I watched as yet another cage mate tried to lay an egg, and the tube that an egg travels through to come out of the body came out of the body with the egg! I understood how this could happen, as I had always experienced extreme discomfort when laying an egg. I would hear through the grapevine later that this was because we hens are bred to produce unnaturally large eggs, because of the greedy humans who insist on being able to purchase large eggs at low prices.

Anyway, after that poor hen’s oviduct came out, there was blood everywhere, and the hen was dead within hours. And for the next several days, I was terrified every time I needed to lay an egg.

The stench was unbearable – you can’t really get used to the constant smell of ammonia – and I was so tired and in such pain that I could no longer have compassion for my cage mates who were in worse shape than I. Before my egg-producing time was over, I saw several cage mates or laying hens in the cages around me die of starvation, dehydration, or ammonia inhalation. I envied them. They got to die relatively early in the game; I had to live through many more months of misery before I got relief.

Not that it was any kind of relief. After eighteen months, my time was up. I knew that because a person opened the door to our cage and reached toward me. I had become stuck the cage wires, and was for once happy. Somebody was going to get my feet free. But instead of careful untangling my feet and gently removing me from the cage, he yanked me out. Both my feet broke, and as he pulled me through the cage door with as much violence, I felt at least two or three of my ribs crack, as well.

And here I thought the beak clipping I’d received as a chick was painful.

Now, here I sit inside a giant room crammed with other old birds. I’m having trouble breathing; word is that we are slowly being killed by being forced to breathe carbon dioxide. I fight for oxygen, taking great gulps of air desperately, but all that does is make me feel dizzier and more suffocated.

Panic and terror rolls through the room. Our squawks die off as the last molecule of oxygen disappears down a not-really-lucky hen’s lung.

And I wish that this farm would have thrown me into a wood chipper, as is the manner of killing spent hens at other places. At least my death would have been instantaneous.

I’ll wait a minute for you to get a tissue. Or to take a few deep breaths. Because if you feel absolutely no shock, sorrow, horror, or guilt – not even a bit – after reading Penny’s story and seeing those photos, all I have to say is, you’re cold, man. You need a revelation on real love.

Assuming you’re a reasonable human being who has felt some emotion after that story, let me ask you this question: how cheap are factory-farmed eggs? To your wallet, they may not have much impact. But I would argue that to Penny, and to the millions of hens who have suffered and will suffer her same fate, their eggs are produced at a huge expense.


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Did Jesus Come To Bring Christianity?

Did Jesus come to bring Christianity? Is Christianity the “only true” religion, or the “best” religion?

If you call yourself a Christian, you might want to buckle your seat belts for this one. (And check out this post if you’re thinking this is an inappropriate topic for a blog about Veganism.)

While I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I do not call myself a Christian. There are two main reasons for this. First, the term was initially an insult given to believers by Greek non-believers. It means “little Christ”, and was intended to mock. I am not going to give myself a belittling label in the name of tradition.

Second, Jesus did not come to bring a new, better religion. Religion has nothing to do with worshiping God. It has nothing to do with loving Him or receiving His love. Instead, it is all about man trying to perform his way into God’s good graces. Religion is about following a set of rules and procedures in an attempt to placate an angry Higher Power, or to become perfect.

Jesus did not come to bring a religion. He actually worked His fanny off to do away with it (more on that later). He came, rather, to bring us back into relationship with our heavenly Father.

He came to bring abundant life: “I am come that they might have life, and that more abundantly.”

What is an abundant life? It is a life filled with purpose, peace, joy and love; a life where relationships are more important than things.

Jesus came to show us the Father. What do we see in the life of Jesus? In the woman with the issue of blood, the blind beggar, and His friend Lazarus, we see miraculous healings. In Zaccheus the tax collector and the woman at the well, we see restoration of broken hearts. In the woman caught in adultery and the paralyzed man lowered through the roof, we see forgiveness.

In His conversations with the Pharisees and His “Sermon On The Mount”, we see truth. Wherever Jesus goes, we see the full scope of human emotion, great patience, One who will stop for the one person of faith in favor of the great throng surrounding Him, and a deep yearning to be with people.

In His death and resurrection, we see the Father’s infinite love covering a multitude of generations – as well as sin.

Jesus came to bring everlasting life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Tell me: where do you find abundant life, miracles, restored lives, forgiveness, Ultimate Truth, eternal life? Where do we find all of that in religion, including the religion known as Christianity? The fact is, you find it nowhere. Religion brings rules and regulations. It brings biased interpretations, even misinterpretations, of Scripture. It brings obligations that are nowhere to be found in the Bible.

In essence, religion brings bondage. If ever someone is miraculously healed, has their broken heart restored, or receives forgiveness, it is because someone else reached out to them in relationship, and let Father’s love flow through them. It is despite religion, despite the confines of a meeting, not because of them, such things ever occur.

Jesus was anti-religion.

Don’t get mad at me or be shocked. Remember that religion is man’s way to God. And given a chance to screw something up, man will do it every time.

Yes, God brought the Law. But where do we see His commanding the Israelites to start the religion that we today call “Judaism”? Ever read a book on that religion? There are a gazillion and one rules to follow that God never gave to Moses.

This is why Jesus accused the Sadducees of loading “men with oppressive burdens hard to bear” (Luke 11:46). And we know how much the Pharisees loathed Jesus. This is because he saw through their righteous (religious) deeds, which they used to attempt to cover up their wicked hearts, and called them on the carpet for it.

Want to argue that Jesus was a Jew? Yes, He was brought up in the ways of the Law given to Moses. He worshipped in the Temple. But where do you see in the Gospels that Jesus practiced the man-made rules of Judaism?

Jesus neither came to validate Judaism, nor did He come to overthrow Judaism with the religion of Christianity. He came so that we might get back into relationship with our Father that we had lost thousands of years before.

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