Now is the time when many of us are deciding where to go on summer vacation. Ads are playing on television and the Internet espousing attractions around the world. Here’s one destination you may not have considered: St. Joseph, Missouri.
Famous as the starting point of the Pony Express and the dying place of Jesse James, the town now has a new claim to fame: a McDonalds restaurant will open there this summer. Why is that news? Because it will offer all-you-can-eat fries.
They’re not the only culinary option in today’s news. The co-founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream were arrested this week at the U.S. Capitol. Not for making a product with too many calories, but for taking part in a protest intended to make sure “power in this country is returned to the people.”
There’s even more gastronomic news: Time magazine has notified us that “Hillary Clinton carries Ninja Squirrel hot sauce everywhere.” The presidential candidate says she has been eating chilies regularly since 1992. They do have significant health benefits: the Time article tells us that chilies “are absolutely crammed with nutrients,” including folic acid and vitamins A, E, and C. A 2015 study showed that adults in China who ate spicy food regularly had a fourteen percent decrease in mortality.
Not so with french fries, unfortunately. According to The Washington Post, a new study links fast food consumption to potentially harmful industrial chemicals called “phthalates.” These chemicals contribute to diabetes, allergic diseases in children, high blood pressure, and cancer.
“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” That’s French for “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,” an assertion made in 1826 by physician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. This is true of more than physical nutrition: “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV).
The Taliban killed at least twenty-eight and wounded more than 300 in the Afghan capital of Kabul this week. As philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy notes, militant Islamic fundamentalism is “actually Islamo-fascism,” a totalitarian ideology that has infected millions of Muslims worldwide. What they think, they become.
Conversely, Henri Nouwen calls us to celebrate our freedom as the children of God: “When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom. Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be.”
Who you are is determined by whose you are. Think about the fact that “you belong to God” (1 John 4:4, NLT). See yourself as God sees you—someone worth the death of his Son. Embrace the fact that the Lord of the universe loves no one more than he loves you.
And “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Note: for more on character and grace, please see my latest website article, “Lonely at the Top.”