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Friday, May 29, 2015

The Galli Report ~ Friday, May 29, 2015

The Galli Report newsletter
  Friday, May 29, 2015    

Ancient Dieting News Flash
Last week I noted an article that said exercise does not make a decisive difference in losing weight. This week I found an article on a recent study that takes it a step further:
The findings suggest that promoting diet and exercise alone may not be enough to slow the growth in obesity, Gallup and Healthways write in their analysis. Poor sense of purpose, financial struggle, or a lack of supportive relationships may also contribute to the rise in obesity and need to be addressed.
This topic lends itself to jest, but obesity is a national crisis, contributing to spiraling health costs and premature death for millions. I admit to mocking Rick Warren's Daniel's Diet as something not worthy of a pastor's precious time. I still argue that a pastor better spends his time elsewhere—especially in preaching and teaching—but helping others (and ourselves) maintain a healthy weight is a social issue that Christians should engage, and one the church has unique resources to meet.
One issue we cannot ignore is this: we live in a culture abundant with food. Human beings, being the weak lot that we are, find it hard-to-impossible to resist temptation of the flesh if they are confronted with it 24/7/365. Obesity is more than a health issue, but a spiritual one as well. This is not a new insight. The sixth-century desert monk Saint John Climacus went so far as to say, "The belly is the cause of all human shipwreck" and "Gluttony is the prince of the passions." Not sure I agree with that theologically, but it's not far from the reality of daily living for many of us.
The Old Diversity
Like most people of most ages and societies, we like to think ours is a unique time and place in history. One reality some of us are proud of, and others disturbed by, is the racial, ethnic, religious, and lifestyle diversity that characterizes America: we think that's a modern phenomenon. Yes, to some degree, but Charles Murray thinks otherwise:
America was founded on British political and legal traditions that remain the bedrock of the American system to this day. But even at the time of the Founding, Americans were as culturally diverse as they are today.
One does not have to be convinced by his whole argument to recognize that first, we have experienced other periods of radical diversity in our history, and second, there is likely wisdom to mine in how we navigated those periods.
Good Mental Health News
After reading so many reports in recent years about the rise of this or that mental-health problem among young people, we now hear that "The rate of severe mental illness among children and adolescents has dropped substantially in the past generation . . . in an analysis that defies public perceptions of trends in youngsters' mental health." Read more here.
Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament
A careful reader of the New Testament soon recognizes how often the writers seem to take liberty with Old Testament verses, translating and commenting on them in a way that seemingly distorts the original meaning to make a point about Jesus. Why does Matthew, for example, quote Isaiah, saying "a virgin shall conceive" when the original says "a young woman" (who, in that original context, is already married)? This has been a problem for many modern biblical scholars, but was not much of one for the church's earliest theologians. To understand why, read this week's long read by Scot McKnight.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor, Christianity Today

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