Saturday, August 25, 2007


The Overcoming Life
is a collection of messages given by Watchman Nee in 1935. The key verse is Galatians 2:20: "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

The book concerns how believers can obtain God's full salvation – that is, more than salvation from sin and eternal life, but also salvation from the issues we have in this life, such as temper, pride, and other things we do that are not pleasing to God. Nee explains how we can overcome these things.

The main point is that we can't overcome on our own. Even if we are saved, we can't do anything to change by our own strength. Instead, we must have our flesh nature exchanged for Christ's nature. It is an issue of replacement versus improvement.

Again, we are crucified with Christ. To overcome with Christ's victory, we must admit that we are not able to change on our own, and we must stop trying to change ourselves. This, I think, is the hardest part. Most of us feel like we have to try, to strive, to be good people, even though every one of us keeps failing. Nee gives this kind of example: say you can pick up 100 pounds. There is a load that weighs 200 pounds. You know you can't pick it up. Why even try?

Nee focuses a lot on Luke 18:22, where Jesus tells the rich young ruler who has kept all the commandments "There is still one thing lacking" for salvation. Each person, Nee says, has "one thing lacking", and many more than one. These things that are lacking are the things that we are hung up on, things that God must do for us.

Necessary for living the overcoming life is surrender and belief. Nee's is a very hands-off approach to faith – let God do everything! At first, this seems a little too hands-off. But the more one thinks about it, the more one thinks, well, who better to do these things than God? How far has all our striving gotten us. Real victory though Christ isn't about teeth-clenched endurance. When God overcomes, it's amazing, and you know about it.


Friday, August 24, 2007


Watchman Nee (1903-1972) was a Chinese church leader. He spent the last twenty years of his life in prison, as Christians were (and continue to be) severely persecuted by the Communists in China. The Normal Christian Life was originally published in 1957 from a collection of Nee's spoken messages and magazine articles.

The Normal Christian Life is a Romans-centered exposition of what Christian living should be. The key verse of the entire work is Romans 6:6: "We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin."

This book is refreshingly well-reasoned, and Nee's explanations are simple and his illustrations are good and helpful. Nee brings a eternal perspective (and I like anything with an eternal perspective) to the work of Christ. He has a good theology of sin and the sin nature. He also has some interesting insights on baptism.

Nee deals with some basic yet fundamental and sometimes misunderstood concepts. Freedom from the sin nature, for example, is something a lot of Christians (including Lutherans, of whom I am the worst) neglect, don't understand, or refute.

A lot of Nee's message seems extreme. It certainly is, but the real question is, is it correct? I have never read any meaningful work on Christian living that was one hundred percent doctrinally correct. But most of what Nee has to say is sound, and more often than not, his principles are valid where his specific applications might not be.

This is a great book for Christians who are just getting by – those who are "truly saved and yet bound by sin," as Nee says. Nee's is a Christianity of deep and powerful faith. He takes almost for granted a level of faith that most Christians do not have or strive for.

One thing, and I include this as an interesting aside rather than a knock on Nee: when Nee discusses Romans 7:24 ("Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?") he uses as an example the old Roman tradition punishing murderers by binding the corpses of their victims to them hand to hand and foot to foot (Nee was not the first to use this illustration, nor was he the last). Well, this set off all my urban legend alarms. I did some research and found no evidence whatsoever that this ever happened. It certainly doesn't seem in line with Roman attitudes toward punishment, particularly of capital crimes.

But I do not wish this to be held against Nee that the good of his message should be overlooked. This is an excellent treatise on how Christianity "works". To those interested in the manifold fullness of Christian living, this book must be


Sunday, August 19, 2007

HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad

I picked up Heart of Darkness because I thought Apocalypse Now (not the Redux, which sucks) was a really good movie. As it turns out, there's little in common between the two. The story concerns Marlow, an Englishman, who takes a job ferrying ivory down a river in Africa. He becomes interested in Kurtz, another trader who has set himself up as a god over the tribes in this area.

Heart of Darkness, again, has been elevated to that divine status of "English literature." The same people who have promoted it thus have also attempted to explain away the novel's flagrant racism, although I don't know how that would be possible. How many English professors would be up a creek (you know which creek) if everybody suddenly figured out that authors like Conrad are overrated?

Like The Secret Sharer, Heart of Darkness is boring and difficult to read. Conrad is one of those who liked sentences the size of paragraphs and paragraphs that went on for a page or more. Often, given his penchant for changing topics mid-paragraph, I did not see why he used half the paragraph breaks he did. The boringness of the novel is compounded by the Marlow's rambling narrative. Certainly, this helps define the personality of the character, but it certainly doesn't help the book's readability.

Conrad presents the whole story as told as narrative by the main character after everything has taken place. Here, glaringly, Conrad's style doesn't work. "The moon had spread over everything a thin layer of silver – over the rank grass, over the mud, upon the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple, over the great river I could see through a somber gap glittering, glittering, as it flowed broadly by without a murmur." Obviously, people write like this, but nobody ever talked like this. You tell a story to an audience like this and every last one of them will be asleep.

Conrad's work is highly symbolic. Far be it from me to say he was not a talented writer. But I think he, as well as those who cling to his coattails, have missed this: you can go to far with symbolism, and most any other literary device, and absolutely kill the story. While Conrad was busy creating vividly-descriptive sentences and cathedrals of paragraphs, the story fell by the wayside, and nobody went back for it.

This is my problem. I don't want to see word pictures of nothing, no matter how lovely those pictures might be. Just tell me a story. If you can do both at once, so much the better. But if you're only going to have one, this is the wrong one to have.


Friday, August 17, 2007

THE SECRET SHARER by Joseph Conrad

First of all, this is hardly a novel, no matter what they might say; it's only 45 pages. Second, it must be noted that Joseph Conrad has been put in that category of amazing, deep and timeless English Literature. The introduction to the book calls it one of the six greatest short novels in the English language. So is it?

The story concerns a new ship's captain, who while on watch discovers a swimmer in the sea. This man has (inadvertently?) killed another man on his own ship, and jumped overboard after he was put under arrest. The captain, for some reason, considers this man his "double", and takes care of him, hides him, and helps him to escape.

There are, as those who bow down before the altar of literature observe, themes of self-knowledge and identity. This is well and good, but I think it's hardly as profound as it's made out to be. This seems to be one of those times where the intelligentsia has all jumped on the bandwagon of discovering profound revelation where it may or may not exist.

Conrad has a very wordy and heavily descriptive style. Sometimes this works well, as there are scenes vividly portrayed. More often, it drags the story down. The feeling the reader comes away with is "This story is slightly boring." But that, I think it at least in part due to the writing style of 100 years ago.

So is there something deep here? Or am I too stupid to see it? That may well be, because I certainly don't see it.

This book seems to fit with my long-held Deepness Theory. The Deepness Theory is this: when you see a piece of art or read a piece of writing, and you just don't see what's so great about it, or you don't understand it or what the big deal is, you have to have a reason why, particularly when others think highly of it. So you could say "it's boring" or "it sucks", but then you look uncultured to the others, all of whom apparently think it's the cat's pajamas. So then you say, "Oh, it's so deep! I can't even understand it!" So then pretty soon everybody's doing that. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes. I also think it's similar to the way we treat the theory of evolution, but that's a whole other discussion.

So I'll say it. The Secret Sharer was slightly boring, and I didn't think it was anywhere near as profound as the literature kings say.

Next, we will give Conrad one more chance with Heart of Darkness. The Secret Sharer, however, is NOT RECOMMENDED

Sunday, August 12, 2007


American Propaganda Abroad is former United States Information Agency (USIA) employee Fitzhugh Green's history of American propaganda from Benjamin Franklin to Ronald Reagan. The book also covers some of how USIA operated and what it did.

Green begins with a fascinating account of America's first public diplomats, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. He clearly idolizes them (and others, including Charles Z. Wick, USIA's head under Reagan). Green was notably less impressed with Jimmy Carter's handling of USIA.

The majority of American Propaganda Abroad is not particularly interesting, as Green seems to have been writing for an audience more familiar with the USIA, and as such has included little in the way of background information or introduction to his subjects. There are also little or no transitions between topics. Green includes a little of this and a little of that, seemingly as the mood strikes him.

Green's two fiction chapters, A Typical Overseas Post – Fiction and A Nation-Building Post – Fiction, are not introduced or explained. As such, the reader may wonder if these stories are fictional accounts of how these posts really are (which is the correct interpretation) or if Green is showing the reader fiction to illustrate that things never happen like this. As such, they can be confusing to the reader. Fiction writing is clearly not Green's forte – his narrative and dialogue are stilted.

As the USIA no longer exists, much of American Propaganda Abroad is no longer relevant. Those historical elements are; much of the rest is not. This is because Green at times is more concerned with singing the praises of an administration's approach to the USIA.

Green's recommendation that the United States continue to invest in public diplomacy certainly has not been heeded in recent years. As a result of this and other factors, anti-Americanism is up across the globe and America's image is relatively poor.

American Propaganda Abroad
contains some valuable information, but it is not a true history of the USIA, nor is it a full history of American propaganda. It also is not particularly objective.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

The HARRY POTTER series by J. K. Rowling

There are a few small spoilers here. If you have not read all the books and you plan to or if you for some reason don't want to know what happens, then just walk away.

I decline to deal with Harry Potter as a children's series. The hype and response to the Harry Potter books is such that we are now well beyond "Harry Potter is children's fantasy" and into "Where does Harry Potter fit in the pantheon of fantasy works?" And now, my thoughts on the individual books. These are by no means comprehensive reviews; rather, they consist of what jumped out at me.

This is a charming little book. It's quite obviously for kids. The Dursleys' treatment of Harry Potter is so over the top and so far beyond suspension of disbelief that it only flies in a kids' book. Not a lot actually happens, as most of the book is focused on introducing the school and the classes, which is okay. Harry Potter inadvertently saves the day by wandering around where he's not supposed to, and when you look back and consider how severely he set Voldemort back without even knowing what's going on, well, it makes you kind of wonder about Voldemort, doesn't it?

The book and the series are very engrossing, and they have good humor. Harry Potter is a pretty rash little kid, and he's not very likeable, although Ron and Hermione are both good characters. The knock against this book, nay, against this series, is that many things happen with exceptionally convenient timing. Also it was here that I began noticing some questionable comma use that pervades the series.

Harry Potter is more rash here, and less likable . Every other page, Harry Potter's getting ready to get kicked out of school. More characters are more over the top than ever – notably, the Dursleys, Malfoy, and Hagrid. The reason this doesn't really work in Azkaban is because Rowling is beginning to shift the series toward more adult themes and audiences.

There are some plot holes here. One concerns the pointless amount of time between events in the competition, which would never happen and which only serves to make the competition last the whole book. A second involves the feeble explanation for why Voldemort can't just go kill Harry Potter when he's with the Dursleys. Furthermore, it is astounding that everyone's favorite hippie Gandalf, Dumbledore, never knows what's going on in any of the books. You'd think he'd take a more active hand in actually running the school.

In this book, Harry Potter is more unlikable than ever. He's shady, deceitful and tricky, he's immature, he's prideful, and he throws tantrums. At this point, he's really starting to put a damper on an otherwise charming series. Snape, who is presented as the villain in all respects, is proven absolutely right in his accusations against Harry Potter.

Harry Potter's crush is underdeveloped here, and it's pretty lame. There are also some semicolon use issues. In spite of all this, Goblet of Fire is one of the better books in the series.


The first time I read this book, I thought it was the worst of the series, and way too long. The second time I read it, I thought it just might be the best. Here, we've made the full transition to adult novel.

Harry Potter's crush is much better developed, although the romance is extremely poor, and it consists of nothing but arguments.

Harry Potter himself is in full-blown tantrum mode. He's a pompous, prideful jerk, and he yells at absolutely everyone. He's not the slightest bit sympathetic. I know his parents were murdered when he was a baby and he was raised by jerks, but that's just not an excuse for lashing out at anything that moves. So because of this behavior, in spite of everybody and their mom telling him to learn occlumency, he decides he's not going to do it. As a direct result of this, Sirius dies, in no small part due to the fact that Harry Potter forgets he has the magic mirror because he's too busy running around throwing a tantrum and trying to save the day.

Everything in this book not named "Harry Potter" is excellent. This book has a frenetic tone and there are a million things going on. Rowling has created good supporting characters, and lots of them. She's done a good job of creating a world that feels populous.

One note: young witches and wizards seem to be habitual drug users, yet nobody cares. They have potions for everything. There are stress-relieving potions, sleep potions, love potions, et cetera. If you have any kind of problem, there's a potion for that. They'd all be potion addicts. Plus they'd all be fat because they always eat whatever they want every single day. They must have a magic carb-blocker potion.

This book is a throwback, with everybody mostly taking it easy around the school. Instead of any real plot, we've got low-key fill-in mysteries like "Who is the prince?" and "How did Voldemort go crazy in the first place?" Only at the end of the book do we get some excitement.

Fortunately for everyone, Harry Potter's tantrums are finally on the downswing. Unfortunately, we've got some story issues, mostly concerning his relationship with Ginny. The "monster within" is pretty stupid, and kind of creepy, like he's some kind of stalker. However, the kiss scene with him and Ginny is exceptionally well done. The problem with this whole relationship, though, is that Harry Potter's like for Ginny is out of nowhere, and Ginny herself has not been well developed throughout the series. That is, she receives character development, but unevenly, and much if it is done completely apart from any interaction with Harry Potter. And then at the end we have the lame Spider-Man movie breakup.

Other issues: Harry Potter is "pure in heart"? Really? And how in the world did Harry Potter get an "exceeds expectations" in potions? Dumbledore is cooking the gradebook. Also, there is absolutely no good reason why Harry Potter couldn't use truth serum on Slughorn, except that we would lose part of an already slim plot.

Finally, and this issue does not belong to Harry Potter alone, but to many fantasy worlds: how can you see with an invisibility cloak over your face? Your eyes wouldn't work if they were invisible. Yes, I know, it's a magic cloak. Maybe you can see through the plot holes.

I thought this was the worst book of the seven (when the last book is the worst, well, you've got trouble, my friend) and that it made quite a poor ending to the series. Here is why.

Books 5, 6, and 7 continually prove that Death Eaters are bumbling morons. The students always beat them. Harry Potter could have killed nearly all of them if he'd really wanted to. They're like a cross between Stormtroopers and Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. What a bunch of freaking losers.

I had long suspected that the charm in this series lay in the school. Hogwarts is a brilliant setting. Who doesn't want to go to a school and learn to make potions and do magic and have a good old time? This book confirms my suspicions. There's no school for most of the book, and there's no charm, either. The middle of the book is slow and boring, and the mysteries in this book aren't particularly interesting (more so even than book 6). And I was right about Snape all along. Ron's tantrum and abandonment of Harry Potter are completely out of character and bring nothing to the story.

Rowling made a big deal about how she was going to kill more characters. She starts by killing a character we haven't even had mentioned in any of the books, and moves on to killing scores of minor and irrelevant characters that we quite frankly don't care about. She also uses this forewarning as an opportunity to toy with the reader early on, but in a bad-sported way.
We've got deus ex machina out the yin-yang here. We've also got the belaboring of the pureblood/half-blood issue that has permeated this series like it was set in Germany in the 1930s. I guess Rowling's trying to make some kind of point on elitism or racism, but it just gets old.

Here is a glaring plot hole that irritated me thoroughly: Harry Potter is told that the Deathly Hallow cloak provides "constant and impenetrable concealment" (whether it actually does or not is irrelevant). How, then, does he immediately think his invisibility cloak is it when Moody could always see him while he was wearing it?

I believe that it is not the readers' place to second-guess the author about plot points. Who lives, who dies, who does what (so far as the actions are in character) are solely the business of the author. You can't rewrite their history. So I do not complain about what happened as much as I complain about the way it happened. After all this build-up, we get a thoroughly pedestrian ending, more or less by the numbers, with little real emotional punch. And we end the series with a poor, worthless "19 years later when everybody's grown up and had kids" epilogue that does nothing for any character and adds nothing to the story.

On the whole, the books are quite enjoyable. The dialogue tends to be quite good, as does the humor. If only Rowling, like so many fantasy writers before her, did not rely so heavily on magically convenient solutions to all their problems.

There are some themes in this series that I would like to discuss.

First, Harry Potter is a monument to "ends justify means" philosophy. That evil magic's pretty handy, isn't it, Harry Potter? And pretty lucky that Voldemort had the maturity level of an eight year old, huh?

I always feel that it's copout when a book focuses on death to this extent without getting into religion. When Rowling finally does get into some discussion of afterlife, all we get is "oh, they're in a better place." Poor.

Why does Harry Potter run around doing his own thing with no regard for anyone else? Because he didn't have a mommy? Or is it because he suffers from deeply-rooted inadequacy and low self-esteem? He needs counseling. He needs a psychiatrist. He was about one tantrum away from murdering some little kid in book 5. And he never shows any remorse for his tantrums, either. His behavior is just fine, because he's Harry Potter.

Will you die for Harry Potter? Everybody else is doing it. The books strongly support hero worship. First, we've got everybody blindly following Dumbledore, which really didn't ever seem like a good idea. Then we've got everybody blindly following Harry Potter, like he's Jesus, which also turned out to be a pretty bad idea. It's ridiculous that any adult didn't ever sit him down and make him explain what was going on. Who lets teenagers run around like secret agents?

Rowling is not adept at writing death scenes. This is particularly glaring given the number of deaths in this series. I understand we don't want to get into all the gory details for the kids' sakes, but we need a little more than the equivalent of "Character X died somehow. Harry Potter got real angry."

Those of us who read a lot of high fantasy are frustrated by the Harry Potter magic system, which is completely unexplained, and which has problems. Where does the magic come from? Do you need a wand to do magic or not? Harry Potter did magic inadvertently when he was little, but in book 5, nobody can do jack without a wand. It's inconsistent. Sometimes Rowling makes it sound like wands just help you channel your magic; other times, wands are like guns.

Harry Potter is the Devil
There has been a ridiculous lot made about how Harry Potter is evil, the devil, and will take your kids straight to hell. Why? Because it has magic. Magic, as a literary device, is not inherently good or evil, but reveals good and evil by its origins and the purposes for its use. If we throw out Harry Potter, we have to throw out The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. And that's just stupid.

But there is a legitimate gripe against Harry Potter. Here's why Harry Potter is bad (or could be, let's say): it teaches kids to disobey authority and to do their own thing. Sure, little kid, you know better than those adults do, so run amok. There's nothing but upside. This disregard for adults/authority, incidentally, is the same reason E.T. was banned in many countries.

Quidditch is flawed and kind of dumb. You've got a game that has seven players on a side, but you only need one of them. The seeker is the only one relevant to the outcome of the game. Everybody else is kind of doing his own thing, scoring points that ultimately don't matter. There's not even any crossover allowed. I think Rowling figured this out, and so she had to put an exception into book 4, where the seeker who caught the Snitch still lost the World Cup, which was pretty stupid, since they were only one goal away from being eligible for a tie score. Get rid of the seeker, and you've got a much more interesting game, although there'd be less to do for egomaniacal Harry Potter.

A lot of critics of the Harry Potter series have said that it's unoriginal. But writing, particularly fantasy writing, is like building with Legos. Everybody plays with the same Legos. There's nothing new under the sun. Once in a while somebody might show up with a new piece, but by and large, everybody's building with the same set. Most people build something close to the basic castle: elves, dwarves, wizards, dragons, and so on. But by constructing a thoroughly engrossing series, Rowling has built something pretty impressive, even if she does use most all the retread fantasy elements.

So where does Harry Potter fit in the pantheon of timeless fantasy? Well, I don't know that it does. Harry Potter certainly isn't great literature. Hogwarts is immensely charming and delightful to read about, but by the end of book 6, even that was getting old. We've got good characters, a great setting, and generally mediocre plotting. The setting can carry the story only so far, and when the characters got off and had to walk, it didn't turn out so well, and the drama didn't end up being very dramatic. However, Harry Potter ends up being somehow more than the sum of its parts, and as such is a wholly enjoyable series.


Friday, August 3, 2007


Lee Bueno-Aguer is not a nutritionist. Strike. She has been a television evangelist. Strike. She has been a soloist for Benny Hinn. Strike.

However, I have been trying lately to appreciate those with something to say who have personal experience but who do not have formal education in the area on which they write. In that spirit of magnanimity, I read FAST YOUR WAY TO HEALTH. So I will discuss briefly what may be seen by many as a flaky, fringe, unnecessary activity.

Fasting was certainly done habitually throughout history, and for many spiritual reasons: for repentance, for prayer, for deeper communion with God. Jesus certainly took it for granted that his disciples fasted:

"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
                 -Matthew 6:16-18

It's a "whenever," not an "if". Fasting also gets plenty of play in Acts and the Pauline epistles. Additionally, many great figures in the church wrote expounding the merits of fasting: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, etc.

Bueno-Aguer fixates on Mark 9:29, and it becomes her central verse for the spiritual power of fasting: "[Jesus] said to them, 'This kind (of demon) can come out only through prayer {and fasting}.'" The "and fasting" here is one of those lovely bits that is in some ancient manuscripts, but not all of them, and not in the predominant ones. I am in no way suggesting that this is not valid as scripture, because there is an abundance of corroboration elsewhere, but as a scholar I am beholden to point it out.

It is interesting to me that fasting is utterly neglected in the modern church. When are fasts done? When are fasts discussed? The 30 Hour Famine is the only thing that leaps to mind, and that's such a short time it hardly captures the spirit. A good place to start, perhaps, but we need to move well beyond that.

I myself have found fasting (I refer to my own experiences: at least 72 hours on water only) to be beneficial. It is helpful for self-mastery, for strengthening the will and increasing self-discipline. It also helps to put one in mind of those on earth who deal with hunger regularly, and not by choice.

Most interesting in this book is a claim I had not previously heard: that fasting can alleviate and even cure colds, as well as chronic, incurable, and even terminal diseases. Logically, it makes sense: the body spends a great deal of energy on almost constant digestion. When the digestive system is temporarily shut down, the body uses this energy for healing and to rid itself of accumulated toxins. Bueno-Aguer experienced this. Additionally, the book contains a large number of testimonials. This book does not have the scientific evidence to support these claims, but I am certainly open to these ideas.

FAST YOUR WAY TO HEALTH does a pretty fair job of debunking people's lame excuses not to fast. It also contains ways to go about fasting, suggestions for how to do it, and how to come off it and what one should ideally eat afterward.

In conclusion, Americans are absolute gluttons. The first time I really realized that was when I went to India. The second time was the first time I did a three-day fast. We eat too much, too often, and we eat absolute garbage. And we do not fast because we are mentally weak.

I have had enough of mental weakness. I am sick of it.

     For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
     But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
     So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
                -Romans 8:5-17

Christians, I think, need to rediscover fasting for a lot of reasons. To me, fasting is like the Levitical dietary law, which science has revealed is nutritionally quite strong. Is it not logical for God to ordain an activity that is both spiritually and physically beneficial?