A hardline Hindu organisation, known for its opposition to “corrupting” Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow’s urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next 2 to 3 months but did not give a specific date for its commercial release.

The flavour is not yet known, but the RSS said the liquid produced by Hinduism’s revered holy cows is being mixed with products such as aloe vera and gooseberry to fight diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Hmmm, and what flavors will they come out with?  Dr. Hayer, Cow Zero, Utters-Up, Bovine Dew?

But really is this just another disguised attempt at using fundamentalist and religious fervor to conceal the true motive of capitalism?  Never mind throwing in the health benefits angle.  Who ever these guys are they are brilliant.  Combining hate for the West, religious idealism and health consciousness.  Wow, now that is a recipe for instant success.  One just has to get past the part about drinking cow urine…

We may scoff at such products.  But are our Jesus dolls, scripture mints(at least they are sugar free) and the latest Purpose Driven Life for Your Grandchildren installment any different.  We package things that sell.  What really is the difference between cow urine soda or the talking Jesus doll?  Don’t both use our religious sentiments to sell a products.  

And this is the one reason why christianity and capitalism should always walk away from each other and not beside each other, holding hands, walking into the sunset.  For if christianity and capitalism walk embracingly into the sunset, I fear that the darkness will be a night that we may not survive.  At least as we know it.  And maybe that is a good thing…

christiandollarstore_2040_153239173

I received my son’s school newsletter and it had the following compelling information…

Of course, who hasn’t felt better after tending their tomato plants or walking in the park? But a growing body of scientific studies suggests even passive contact, like glimpsing nature from the window of a speeding car or looking at a picture of nature, can be as therapeutic as physically being in the midst of it. The bottom line: Nature can provide nurture — for the young, old, healthy, and sick. It can nurture those in a car, a hospital, a dorm room, and even a prison.

The problem is that directed attention is a finite resource-everyone has expiereinced the fatigue of taking a test or a big project at work.  Attention restoration theory suggests that walks in nature and views of green space capture our involuntary attention, giving our directed attention a needed rest.  ” We advocate that children be given views of green space from the classroom,”  Dr. Faber Taylor said.  ” We’ve done research on children in public housing that shows the ones who have a green view perform better on a broad range of tasks.”  

Why does nature have this kind of power?

“We have two kinds of attention,” says Andrea Faber Taylor, an environmental psychologist and postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “Directed, attention, which we use when driving or doing our taxes, for example, is effortful and gets tired. When directed attention is fatigued, we feel trashed and it’s hard to make good decisions and to inhibit one’s impulses.

Faber Taylor says the best way to restore directed attention is by giving it a rest and relying on our second type of attention.

“Involuntary attention is what we use when we stop thinking in an effortful way, like when we watch a fire or meditate,” she says. “Looking at nature is soothing and undemanding of our attention. This uses our involuntary attention, enabling directed attention to rest and recover.”

If you are a typical Western evangelical you are likely experiencing Direct Attention Fatigue.  You have heard so many sermons, teachings, things to do and things not to do, ways of praying, ways of not praying.  If you are a faithful church goer that means you have heard on average of 52 sermons each year.  If you have been in the church for 20 years that means that you have heard approximately 1040 sermons (this does not include Sunday evening services, podcasts, books, tapes and the list goes on).  WE ARE TIRED, FATIGUED, THEOLOGICALLY STUFFED TO THE GILLS.  

What we need is some Attention Restoration.  

It appears that God also believes in the Attention Restoration Theory.  If you begin to look at the places where God interacts and reveals himself it consistently surrounded by nature themes.

-Walking with Adam and Eve in a garden

-Moses and 10 commandments given on top of a mountain

-Jesus baptism in the middle of a flowing river

-Transfiguration on top of hill

-Teaching moments with his disciples on a boat in the middle of a terrific storm, on a hillside sharing the beatitudes, 

Our churches need some green space.  Some park benches void of all calls to new methods, ways and the latest 40 day do this and everything will be better. Our brains need some rest and our eyes need to be re-engaged again.

We serve a God who says taste and see.  Not read and think.  

Dr. Faber Taylor notes that in adults, there is also evidence that a green view is beneficial.  “Most people recognize the pattern,” she notes.  “For so long we have ignored the effect our physical environments have on our ability to pay attention.”

If our physical environment does have a profound effect our our ability to pay attention what would this means for the architecture of our churches, bible schools and seminaries, even our homes?  Most evangelical churches and seminaries are closed, cold and windowless boxes.  (in fact now that I think of it, not one of the numerous churches I have attended had windows of any sort)  

What kind of “Green space” could be incorporated into our sacred spaces?

Wishing you and yours a most wonderful Christmas season.  May you welcome the Lord and discover Him anew.

This advent presentation is from the Mustard Seed Associates and is very moving.  My sister, Sherilee shared this with us last night on Christmas Eve.

From the Hieberts to all our friends and family.  Merry Christmas!

There is a great discussion going on at sensual jesus.  Be sure to check it out.  It is providing some great discussion and fodder for thought in terms of certaintude, belief and what, at the deepest level, we want from God.

Certain to push out your boundaries.

6a00d8341bffb053ef00e5538d2f128834-500wi

Does this fit your mental image of what Adam and Eve looked like?  When I first saw this painting by Fernando Botero it messed with me.  Of course that is not what Adam and Eve looked like!  My mental image is one of a slender and beautiful Eve with dirty blond locks of hair flowing over her shoulders in perfect placement to cover over her bountiful bosoms. Standing beside her is Adam, self assured in his nakedness although conspicuously always pictured behind a waist high hedge (must of been lots of those hedge in Eden).

This is what this painting stirs in me.  What does this evoke in terms of my view of the human body?  And my own body(since mine bears a much better resemblance to this Adam, than the usual GQ models of typical Eden scenes)?  How does an Adam and Eve created like this affect my view of what it means to be human?   Why is Eve wearing a mullet?(ok this one is sarcasm)  How does this picture view how I would view the love between Adam and Eve?  These are just a few beginning thoughts.  But my point is…

This is what art does.  Art exposes, reveals and refreshes.

1. Art exposes our mental images

Every idea and thought we have is also associated with a mental image.  Art, especially good art, exposes those mental images and gives our mind the option of something different.  Art gets us to see something that we haven’t seen before.  Or maybe we have seen it before, but with the anchor of repression we block and ignore certain images because of what they do to us.  Some images frighten us, some pieces of art invoke feelings or emotions that we dare not acknowledge being there.

I feel this is the reason why Mel Gibson’s movie the Passion was so successful.  What this movie did was challenge our  sanitized images and versions of the crucifixion and exposed our current images as the comfortable Easter/nice little bunny season holiday that it has morphed into.  Now, although the violent monolithic picture of the cross was IMHO a little too focused on the blood and gore, it did cause me to think and to re-imagine some of my images.

2. Art exposes how static our thinking has become.

Left to ourselves we will have the tendency to hold onto those images that secure and validate our past history and current culture themes.   We cling to the images that agree with our history.  When we encounter an image that transcends our past and sends us into a trajectory that causes us to consider our own past actions and thoughts as being incorrect or incomplete, we initially want to reject that image.  

In addition to our own personal history we also have to deal with our current culture matrix.  What happens when we see an image that runs counter cultural to the mainstream culture that we are swimming in?  We can either reject the image or we can accept the reality that our image has become frozen by time and culture.  

Of course this is normal.  Remember that childhood friend that  you grew up with and have now lost contact?  When you imagine them, you don’t imagine them as they are now, but as they were when you interacted with them in grade 3.  (This to me is the reason why Facebook as a social networking frame works so well, we all want up to date pictures and images to associate with our past memories)  Deep down we all want new pictures and images.  I believe this is part of the creative God image within us all.  I also believe we have fallen out of rhythm with this creative tendency within us and instead now want to go back to the static photo album of who God has been in the past.  We must move past the scrapbook snapshots of who God was and step into the nowness of a God who lives in real time.

3. Art refreshes our barriers

To deny that we have barriers is deny our own humanity.  To be ‘full human’ is not to deny the existence of those barriers but to acknowledge that they exist and that they affect our lives.  These mental obstacles and images have a direct correlation to our lives.  

A perfect example was when my wife and I went to go visit a living Nativity.  There was a huge crowd.  Lots of people, animals, Roman Guards, Villagers etc. In the midst of it, Toree lost track of our little girl Charlotte and had the typical fear response.  Me in my, “nothing bad will happen” ideal, said to her(in the most loving and caring way of course), “Come on who is going to steal a little girl in the middle of a Nativity scene.”  The scene of love, birth and nativity had in my mind made the place a safe place, which of course, by its very nature of strangers was not.

To be fully human is not to deny the existence of those barriers but to acknowledge that they exist and affect our lives.  Art, if we allow it, can be the light that shines and helps identity our presuppositions and assumption.

What if…

One image that has become sterile and anti-septic to our souls is the picture of Christmas.  Baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manager. Silent night, Hark the Herald Angels Singing, etc, etc.  This season is filled with images.  I would like to suggest an alternative image of this picture in my next post.

Since I am a new owner of a Mac, I can join the chorus of PC haters.  This video combines two of my favorite things the Matrix and Window bugs.  I can truly attest that I do not miss the dreaded blue screen, the endless hourglass moments and constant freezing screens.

Enjoy!  And go buy a Mac.

So it has been a little over a month since I have gotten rid of my AT&T data plan for my cell phone.  Here is my update on what my life has been like since its departure.

There are times that I have nothing to do and I am forced to do the absolutely frightening thing and sit in stilllessness with myself.  No emails to check, no drudgereport to peruse.  Only myself, plain ole me.

I wonder if as a people we don’t really like ourselves.  I mean, ever moment we are trying to get away from ourselves.  We constantly are wanting distractions by means of music, movies, tv, email and books. Seriously, If I treated my wife like I treat myself, she would have divorced me years ago.  Maybe the pertinent question is, have we divorced ourselves?  Have I divorced myself?

There is much encouragement to spend a “date night” with your spouse, to encourage conversation, engagement and time for relational growth together.  But can I ask, when was the last time you took 30 minutes of silence and solitude and listened to the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are running through your head.  

So the disconnection I now feel in regards to my phone has been a reawakening of how much I fill my extra time with technological noise.  There were times when I am waiting for my haircut where I am actually fidgeting with my phone like a crack addict, hoping for something to pop across the screen to entertain, to sooth the pain of the silence.  When the silence becomes too overwhelming I crack and pull out a game of Solitaire, again filling my mind with some sort of noise.

How much time do you spend alone with your thoughts, please take the informal poll below, I would find the results interesting?

I encourage you, take a walk and unpack the clog of thoughts.  Heck, even take yourself on a date… you deserve it.