Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spiritual Growth: You Are What You Eat

In this month's PLPT Guest Post, Professor/Pastor Lawrence Ware helps us to become aware of what we take into our spirits, and how it affects us.

 A prerequisite of growth is the digestion of food—or, to speak ebonically, “If you wanna grow, you gotta eat.” Put another way: you are what you eat.

This is not exactly a novel idea. From the beginning of time, all living beings have been aware of the necessity of eating food. Yet, for some strange reason, many consider their spiritual selves of less importance than their physical bodies.

Let me explain.

We digest many ideas and messages that are detrimental to our spiritual growth. We think they have no impact but, slowly, these images impact us in very negative ways.  Consider the following: what makes a woman beautiful to a man? The image that is conjured in the mind of many women is that of a slender, toned woman with flowing hair. Ask a man, and the answer varies. Some like tall, others like short; yet, studies show that all are not as attracted to the woman that the media tells us is beautiful. However, anorexia and bulimia are at all time highs. Bing eating and subsequent fasting has gotten out of control and the plastic surgery industry is as popular as ever.

The images we see impact us.

It is important that we critically reflect upon the ideas and images that come to us. We do not need the latest, greatest gadget. We do not need (truly need) a new pair of shoes. Fashion is great, but we need not identify ourselves too closely with the clothes on our backs. Advertisement and the consumer culture have impacted us so greatly that we now identify ourselves with the kind of computer that we use. Ask a person if they are a PC or a Mac and you will get an impassioned response. What have we become? What has the media turned us into?

It is time to wake up. No more sleep walking through life. No more passive consumerism. No more debt and overspending. No more trying to live up to ideals that are unhealthy. Life is not the acquisition of stuff or the size of dress you wear. We need to eschew the negative and start focusing on the positive.

It is time to start judging for ourselves what makes us happy and whole. I suspect you will find that what you need you already have, and who you want to become is already within. 

Lawrence Ware is lecturing professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and Pastor of Christian Education at Prospect Church. He writes for Tikkun and Religion Dispatchers all while living in Oklahoma City with his wife and sons.


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