Physician, heal thyself: Nutritional iatrogenesis

During the recent search for my father, I stayed with one of his close friends.  This friend intimated to me one of the rare confidences that my father ever made to anyone: he was deeply conflicted about his own inability as a physician to heal my mother as she was dying of cancer in 1977.  As a doctor, he should have been able to do something.  Thirty-six years later, my father has disappeared and we suspect that his Alzheimer’s disease had something to do with it.  Both my parents were physicians.  Neither were healthier as a result of their knowledge and experience as physicians.  Dr. Peter Attia speaks of this same dilemma when he discovered that he had insulin resistance, despite his following the standard dietary advice provided by the medical community.

When will the medical community realize that the advice that they’ve given to eat whole grains in order to have sufficient fiber and to reduce red meat and saturated fat, that this advice is ineffective?  Forty years of this and we have a epidemic of diabetes and obesity.  It is iatrogenic nutritional advice.  The low-carb option is out there, and there are some exceptional physicians who recommend it including Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, a Type 1 diabetic who has healed himself of the detrimental effects of uncontrolled blood sugar; and Dr. Peter Attia, who has successfully reversed the effects of metabolic syndrome.  These are the men that I respect because they have put into practice their advice and have been able themselves to experience good health.

Physicians like my parents, who die from ignorance and lack of suitable treatments, I still love and tolerate but I wish they would have an open mind.  Above all, I just wish that their advice wasn’t killing their patients along with themselves.


Good Stewardship and the Imitation of God

Good Stewardship and the Imitation of God

Dr. Peter W. Dunn,

February 5, 2006, FATEB

Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV)

In John’s Gospel Jesus says that he has seen him has seen the Father (John 14.9).  Thus, we can say that one aspect of the mission of Jesus is to reveal the nature of the Father to us.  In Matthew’s Gospel, he says (Matt 11.27) that no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Thus, one very clear aspect of the Parables of the Kingdom is that Jesus is trying to reveal to Jewish people of his time what God is really like.   And there was then as there are today many misimpressions about God’s character.  In looking at the parables of the Kingdom, I would like to focus on the issue of God’s generosity, to complete a two part series on giving.  In the first sermon, which I gave Friday, January 27, I spoke about how we as evangelical Christians often view giving in terms of the law of tithing instead of as a charismatic gift of the Spirit.  I would like to continue this teaching of giving because I believe that when God pours out his Spirit into our hearts and our hearts overflow in generosity to others, we are actually becoming imitators of God.  Jesus does tell us that we must be perfect, even as our heavenly Father is perfect.  And Paul calls us to be imitators of God (Eph 5.1).  So I would like to study God’s generosity so as to be a better imitator of that generosity.

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The Charismatic Gift of Giving or the Law of Tithing? Which?

The Charismatic Gift of Giving or the Law of Tithing?  Which?

FATEB – 27 January 2006  Dr. Peter W. Dunn

Acts 2.41-47

Acts 4.32-5.11

Romans 12.6-8

Introduction:  Having taught the books of Acts several times at FATEB, I have read several exegesis papers on the Acts 2.41-47 and Acts 4.32-37.  There was even at least one sermon here in chapel on one of these passages.  What has struck me is that in every case Fatebian exegetes and preachers have placed the emphasis so squarely upon the imperative:  this is what we must do if we wish truly to be the community of God.  When I have taught Matthew 5.20, where Jesus says that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, we will surely not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, I have told my students that the problem with our righteousness as evangelicals is that our righteousness too often IS the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.  Because our righteousness is the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we see the actions of the earliest disciples, adhering to the apostle’s teaching, joining for the breaking of bread, the holding of all things in common, as prescriptions—things that God requires of us as Christians in order for us to be a good community of faith.  Since the absence of these qualities in our community continually besets us, we are forced to preach sermons and write exegesis papers making law out of passages which do not come to us in the form of a law, but as a description of true Christian community as it was experienced in the nascent church.  At least the Pharisees had the excuse that their tradition was based upon the Torah, which really is in the form of a law.

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While helping the poor, remember to be human

[Originally posted here: While helping the poor, remember to be human]

Steve Hays recently wrote a post analyzing Peter Singer’s (the infamous advocate for infanticide) arguments about poverty. To briefly sum it up: Singer argues on a strictly utilitarian principle that every dollar earned beyond what someone absolutely needs should be given to the poor. No doubt, even if we haven’t read Singer’s arguments, many readers of this blog will have heard this logic expressed by a well-intentioned person at some point in their travels.

Now, Steve already replied along some lines, focusing partly on biblical principles and partly on ones of common sense, that would problematise Singer’s argument. But I wanted to suggest another possible line of response.

Stuart Brown (M.D.) and Christopher Vaughan have written a book about the function of play in the life of human beings (with some mention of its presence in other species as well), arguing about how important it is for human flourishing. They even spend time showing that some business managers have recognized this fact of human nature and have incorporated it into their businesses in some way or another, to good benefit for productivity.

These facts about human nature, then, would seem to suggest another problem with Singer’s position. For, if as all business-people know, “time is money”, by Singer’s logic, we should never spend any time playing. Yet, Brown and Vaughan have shown that play is necessary and beneficial for psychological flourishing and for productivity. The unavoidable conclusion from their work is that, in some sense, human beings need to spend some of their resources on play, rather than only charity, to be the best people they can be. Thus, Singer’s logic will inadvertently, if obeyed, lead to people being less helpful for the poor than they would be if they behaved more like human beings, and less like machines for helping the poor.

And in case the true darkness of such a Singerian ethically pure world escapes anyone, consider what Brown and Vaughan say:

The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.

If that seems to be a big claim, consider what the world would be like without play. It’s not just an absence of games or sports. Life without play is a life without books, without movies, without art, music, jokes, dramatic stories. Imagine a world with no flirting, no day-dreaming, no comedy, no irony. Such a world would be a pretty grim place to live.

Polar bear searches in vain for ice

The Toronto Star reports that residents of Shamattawa, Manitoba, sighted a polar bear on the edge of town far south of the tree line.  We have learned from Dr. David Suzuki that the bear was apparently confused and wandering.  The famous zoologist stated to the Righteous Investor: “He seems to have been dismayed because of the lack of ice up north, and is searching too far to the south for unmelted ice upon which the species typically hunts for seals.  Then, as he wandered south, the intense Manitoba summer began to give him heat-induced insomnia and insanity.  Over-heated polar bears are dangerous animals and we warn people not to approach the bear and try to pet it.”

This is alarming news, just as many in Canada who drive hybrid vehicles were becoming smug about their reduced carbon footprint.  While it is true that children and others concerned about the environment throughout the world have become sensitized to the plight of the polar bear which often drowns in the Arctic ocean due to the scarcity of ice–the story of Nanooky, the young lost bear far south of his home, is a parable of the dangers of driving cars and turning on electric lamps equipped with the deadly incandescent light bulb–the root causes of global warming.  Suzuki said further, “It is time that people woke up and did something about their personal carbon footprint.  I recommend turning off your lights at night between 8:00 and 8:30; in addition, it could have immense benefits if every 5 minutes people held their breath for 30 seconds.  It is not that long, and most people, even the very young and the elderly, can achieve such a goal with practice.  But imagine the reduction of carbon emissions if a significant percentage of the world’s 6 billion people held their breath for 10% of the time!  It could end up saving the life of a young polar bear like Nanooky.”

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which is emitted by cars, electric lights and human beings.  It is toxic to the environment, especially to polar bears.  This is because it traps heat near the surface of the planet like an overcharged electric blanket.  After the polar bears become extinct, humans will be next.  But that would actually be good thing, as then the number of carbon emissions would be greatly reduced and the planet will begin to heal.  But we at the Righteous Investor only regret that the polar bears will probably become extinct first.