Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Fast food’s dangerous spread

Some may have heard the term, “you are what you eat.” For many, this means they are walking salt-shakers filled to the brim with grease and preservatives. In the documentary Super Size Me, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate only food from a fast food restaurant for 30 days to prove a point on an issue that faces college students on a daily basis. They should have taken a hint from his results, but it’s not likely. Though moviegoers were likely shocked to see Spurlock’s doctor’s diagnosis that he would die if he did not change his diet, they probably grabbed a burger on the way home. Many know the gruesome effect that the fast food industry’s products will have on health in the long run, but most simply don’t care or choose to ignore it. Americans continue to spend millions of dollars a year on the same establishments that feed them the poison causing their hospital bills. In his book Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser points out society’s dependence on fast food. “(It) is now served at restaurants and drive-through, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools and universities, on cruise ships, trains and airplanes…at gas stations and even at hospital cafeterias.” Schlosser points out that in the 1970s Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food per year. In the year 2000, that number had risen to more than $110 billion. “Americans now spend more money on fast food than they do on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars,” Schlosser says in his book. “They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music combined.” Though the amount of money spent on fast food is still significantly less than on grocery store food, a study by the agricultural publication Amber Waves points out that the amount of money spent on food from restaurants, including fast food places, is on the rise, while the amount spent on food purchased from grocery stores for home use is slowly decreasing. As obesity and cardiovascular problems run rampant, this shift in where money is spent in the United States should raise concern. Though fast food chains don’t kidnap people, their convenience and cheap prices lure many citizens who won’t stand up to the urge to splurge on a shake and instead try to eat a more healthy diet. Though buying food at the grocery store can seem more expensive in a single trip, it saves money in the long run. There are a wide variety of foods to choose from, and it allows for more health-friendly choices. Going shopping and cooking at home...

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Jesus before America
Sep30

Jesus before America

By Dennis Greeson “My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood. It’s to a King and a Kingdom.” So sings Derek Webb in a counter-culture anthem that challenges the mistake of exalting America above all else. This fervent nationalism is held by many, but it conflicts with everything Jesus stands for. The love of Christ for people of all nations and races, his unshakable love for people, is the model for all who follow him. Yet there has been a subtle arrogance woven into our faith that tells us we have the freedom to pick and choose who to love. Jesus died for Muslims, for communists, and for all who we have been convinced to hate. Countless numbers of my own friends, people I’ve cried for, would be scorned the moment they stepped off the plane into an American airport, let alone into an American church. Nationalism makes distinctions, sees borders and throws up barriers between people. We who claim to be following after Jesus have a call to be different, revolutionaries who love beyond man’s delineation. In 1994, my family and I found ourselves on an airplane bound for Asia. Just after my fifth birthday, my parents yielded to a call to give up their lives for foreign missions, and we moved to Bangladesh, a small country on India’s eastern border. I spent the next 13 years of my life amidst swollen cities and ripening rice patties, in three countries and countless houses. I watched my family step out across cultural and linguistic barriers, serving passionately a people they did not know with a love the world does not understand. Upon returning to the United States at the beginning of my freshman year of college, I discovered what my Asian experience had stolen from me. I had lost any ties to a country that I might have once had; America did not quite fit me. What I gained, however, was a sense of homelessness, which I count a blessing. Through Jesus we become adopted sons and daughters of God, born into his Kingdom. Therefore, at the deepest part of our identity, we are neither American nor Bolivian; we are neither Anglo nor African-American; we are neither Republican nor Democrat; we are, above all else, children of God. Nationalism is not wrong in itself. Commitment and submission to one’s country is important and even biblical. However, nationalism that eclipses our identity as people born into a Kingdom “not of this world” needs to be reconsidered (John 18:36). Paul told us not to be “conformed to...

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Pull the plug on life support for departed

She lay there in the bed: unsensing, expressionless, a human vegetable living on hospital tubes alone. At that point her existence was debatable. It wasn’t her—spirit gone, face swelled and soul lifted. My grandmother had passed away long before the fluids began leaking out of her swollen pores. Monitors said she was breathing and blood was pumping, but death had already consumed her gentle heartbeat. The Lord called her home. The doctor pulled the tubes. The warmth of her body left through the tips of her fingers as I stood holding her left hand and death claimed her in front of my eyes. There was a point in the week-long process of my grandmother’s hospitalization when our family came to the consensus that allowing her to remain on life-support was selfish and only yielded more suffering for her. Love is sometimes letting go. In many critical life and death situations, emotional attachments do not justify keeping people on assisted living. Circumstances will always differ, but generally speaking, it is unethical to keep the dead living through artificial nutrition and hydration for extended amounts of time. This issue has gained national attention. The 2005 Terri Schiavo case and the 1990 Nancy Cruzan case caused debates among family members over intentions and morality. The question remained over who was doing what was truly best for the patient. But after years of severe pysical inadequacy, who would want to remain alive? It is not easy to let go, but often necessary. Inner-family disputes over such matters need government judgement and an ethics council. One recent situation was in West Palm Beach, Fla. On Sept. 19, Karen Weber, 57, died after she was taken off feeding tubes on the request of her husband, Raymond Weber. Weber, who claimed his spouse would not want to live in a persistent vegetative state for an extended amount of time, fought in court against Karen’s mother, Martha Tatro, who believed her daughter was alert after her December stroke. But Karen was suffering from meningitis and had been unresponsive during the entire period. It took government intervention to allow Weber to relieve his wife from her immobile, earthly state. While it was difficult for him to pull the tube and know she would die, it was the best thing for her. There are exceptions to life-support cases, and treatment is not always humane and appropriate in each situation. Doctors and nurses must be conscious of the emotional needs of those affected, but family cannot allow someone to suffer after losing control of all bodily functions. Miracles do exist. People can regain their capabilities after accidents. But sustaining human...

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