To make the packaging that contains the cereal you and I both ate for breakfast this morning, requires 7X more energy than the whole box of cereal provides to the ‘eater’ (and given the amount of sugar in todays cereals, it’s even more depressing). I ate Fruitful Shredded Wheat this morning.

The irony is the primary purpose of the packaging for cereal has very little to do with ‘packaging’, it has everything to do with marketing. If freshness was the issue, the packaging would be alot simplier and require much less energy to produce.

Are we happy or comfortable with the kind of eating and culture that requires that kind of energy input to energy output ratio?

Does anyone think that kind of ratio is sustainable?


It felt like Christmas a few weeks back: I got a free book in the mail. I got ‘the Naked Gospel: the truth you may never hear in church’ by Andrew Farley. My hopes were immediately high as the cover art and design are pretty slick. It has a plastic cover on which is imprinted a picture of a leaf, with the title printed over the leaf (presumably the same kind of leaf that was the substance of the first fashion statement, with the table of contents printed on the paper cover. Slick design, but perhaps a little heavy on the usuage of resources just to achieve a look. I think the title along is enough to catch the interest of a potential reader.

The book opens with the author describing his spiritual guilt complex. If he didn’t share the gospel with someone verbally every day he couldn’t sleep at night, often he says he’d have to go out into the dead of night just to find some unsuspecting stranger on which he would relieve his guilt. His premise seems to be that many in the church are consumed with spiritual guilt because of an emphasis on legalism.

If I’m honest, I can understand where he’s coming from, but I just don’t see it. If anything, as a church, we are more marked by the lack of adherence to anything that makes any sort of noticable impression on our day to day lives. This is the theme of another book that is currently out right now by another reasonably well known author: Recovering Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.

I’m not sure I disagree with anything that Andrew Farley is saying in ‘the Naked Gospel’. In a time where the church finds itself in the midst of some heady discussions in terms of it’s orthodoxy and orthopraxy, it feels a little dangerous to say your reader (I’m sure the average age of the reader of this book is in the 25-35 range) we’re all off the hook when it comes to the 10 commandments and the other OT laws. What might be read and understood through this is that we can live anyway we want as long as ‘we love Jesus’. When what I think Farley is attempting to say is something like: if we are authentically loving Christ and entering into the New Covenant, becoming less so that he will become more, our lives will be marked by a wholeness and holiness that embodies the OT and the requirements of the Old Covenant, as opposed to being whole and holy because of the OT and the requirements of the Old Covenant.

I think this book could be a great resource for people who struggle with guilt and shame due to a legalism they can’t live up to and need to hear the message of grace in a new way. In which case however, they ought to read this book with someone who can help them dialogue with the material and come to grips with what it means in their own life.

For more info go to the Naked Gospel website.

Doesn’t need much comment does it?

But it does beg the question of what constitutes ‘a better world’?

I’m still in school and a long way from being finished. As part of my research I’ve spent a little bit of time looking at some of Mastercard’s commercials, particularly the ones from their ‘Priceless’ campaigns. They seem to encapsulate our propencity to think that happiness, satisfaction, joy and pleasure can be bought.

The first one was aired in 1997 during the Major League Baseball World Series and was an instant hit.

It’s a fascinating commercial and if I’m honest a bit heartwarming.

The intended message is obvious: use your Mastercard for everything and real conversations with your son are priceless.

But there are a number of unitended messages in this commercial also:

1) That when you buy just the right combination of items, presumably with your MasterCard, priceless moments will happen. In the case of this commercial: 2 Baseball tickets + 2 hot dogs + 2 popcorns + 2 sodas + 1 autographed baseball = 1 conversation with your 11 year old son. Total cost = $123 for something that is priceless. Does ‘priceless’ mean it can’t be bought? In which case $123 is pretty cheap or does ‘priceless’ mean it has no price? In which case $123 is rather costly.

2) That real conversations with your kids don’t happen naturally, spontaneously, and organically. These days, sadly, this is actually quite true.

3) Real conversations happen at baseball games. Can you imagine the real conversation between an 11 year old and his dad at a baseball game?
Son: Dad, why do they adjust their crotch and scratch so much?
Dad: Baseball pants don’t allow for a lot of airflow son.
Son: Dad, what’s all that brown stuff they’re spitting on the ground?
Dad: It’s chewing tobacco son, and if you chew, when you get to be my age the doctor will have to cut out your tongue.
Son: Why do they keep showing pictures of women in the crowd on the Jumbotron Dad?
Dad: Because baseball is a really slow and boring game to watch and all the men in the audience need something to keep them occupied son.
Ok, fine, I’m not a baseball fan, but it seems to me that this commercial lowers the bar significantly on what real conversation is. I’m doubting the father has a ‘real conversation’ about sex and love, about faith and Jesus, about what he’d like to do when he grows up (other than be a baseball player and make lots of money), or what kind of person he would like to be known for being while at a baseball game.

4) Phillies fans are capable of conversation. I’m pretty sure this commercial shows the father and son at a Phillies game and from the reaction of the father and son when the player hits the ball, they are fans. I wasn’t aware that Phillies fans, known for throwing D batteries at players from other teams and for vomiting intentionally on other team’s fans, were capable of real conversation, especially while at a game. Ok, maybe this last one is a low blow, but it’s common knowledge that Philadelphia fans can be obscene in the name of supporting their teams.

The bottom line is this ad implies that anything can be bought and that real conversation with your kids isn’t a regular thing. These two things sadly are more true than they should be and are core reasons for significant cultural problems.

On the way home from a short holiday we stopped in Bristol for lunch. We went to some deli and weren’t exactly blown away, but it wasn’t horrible.

What made it really interesting was the bag they gave us to carry our lunch outside of the deli. See the picture below.

In case you can’t read it the bag says ‘Bins get hungry too, please feed them.’ Right next to a recycling logo.

Maybe I’m being really picky, but this bag presents very contrasting messages. England has a garbage, litter or rubbish problem. People just have little problem littering where ever they feel like. It’s very frustrating, really depressing and frankly shocking to see someone be so cavalier as to through junk mail on the side walk or finish their McDonalds and just throw the wrapper on the sidewalk/pavement. So I’m sure the message on the bag is telling people to throw their garbage/rubbish in the bin and not on the ground, sidewalk or pavement.

But how do you put that message right next to a recycling symbol on a bag that can clearly be reused and recycled? Is the recycling logo on this bag there just because it’s culturally acceptable to have a recycling logo on things that can be recycled so that it gives the business giving out the bags environmental cache?

This bag is a good reminder to me that I must work towards consistency in terms of my use and consumption. I must work harder to reduce the amount that I consume, to reuse what I do use and recycle everything that can’t be reused and to constantly ask myself it is something I need to begin with.

It’s also a good reminder to me to be consistent in the beliefs that I hold to be true and that I project. I can not believe something and act on it only when it’s convenient, which is the message of the bag that says ‘Recycle if you’re really committed, but otherwise just bin it.’

And in the meantime, I won’t be frequenting a resturant/deli that passively encourages people to throw away things that can be reused and recycled.

Found these online and think they are amazing in their simplicity.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here…in part because I’ve been pretty busy with reading for school and haven’t come across anything that has got me too fired up. Then I was watching the CNN world report that they show here in the UK and saw a story that just made me shake my head in dismay.

President Obama held a press release yesterday announcing the he is opening areas on most of the east coast of the United States, areas north of Alaska and possibly part of the coast of the coast of Florida for off-shore drilling and gas drilling. This move is mystifying on a host of levels.
1) The environmental impact. I won’t say much more on this, as people will either agree or disagree on this one…you either get it or you don’t…and sadly if you’re an evangelical Christian (like I am) in North America the odds are you don’t get it because a passion for God’s creation and environmental concern clash with your theology of blessing as you rock your Chevy Suburban on it’s 1.5 mile drive to the supermarket.
2) The article states up front this is a play to get bi-partisan support for other environmental legislation before the mid-term elections in November. Yet the reaction from Republicans is predictable, Obama didn’t go far enough. The only thing that will make most Republicans happy is unlimited access to Prudhoe Bay.
3) He campaigned against new off shore drilling!!!
4) And perhaps most significantly is, he wants to open access to drilling where there is little oil and that is recognized by most experts. If there was substantial oil and gas there wouldn’t they have been begging for access already? Peep the video from CNNfor confirmation on this one. It’s an interview with Boone Pickens, former British Petroleum big wig.

I know politics is a tough game President Obama, but no thanks. The price isn’t worth it on this one.