Links to Think

Links to Think: 13.03.11

March 11, 2013


The Grace to Do Nothing: On Social Justice in the Neighborhood – This article addresses some of the questions swirling through my mind, and maybe one day I’ll get them out of my head and more clearly in writing and in living. As a Church, we’re trying to hard “to do,” instead of just being and being with:

“After listening for a while, I felt prompted to say “maybe the best thing we can do is do nothing.” I then revealed a bit about my own mistakes in trying to go out and find “justice/mercy projects” in the neighborhood. I’ve had to learn gradually that by trying to find the “next project to do” I lead people into the following mistakes:

  • We end up turning people into an object, a project, which takes a lot of effort and resources, and ends up making us feel better about ourselves but actually ends up (because we come as visitors with resources to apply) promoting the existing structures that may have been the cause of the injustice itself.
  • We end up “colonizing” people: making people do things or accepting our help out of a power position that does not change the person, context itself, but imposes our will on them. Some mercy has been given, some respite from suffering has occurred and this is a good thing as long as it does not colonize. But often, in the end, nothing really happens in terms of justice. Things stay the same.

So, opposed to looking for projects, I offered that maybe what we are supposed to do is the opposite: Do (emphasis on :”do”) nothing.  Instead, our main task is to be “with” people in and around our lives long enough, years maybe, to listen and become friends, partners in life, sufficient to offer who we are and what we have become in Christ in exchange for their friendship and their support and who they are. These relationships should be characterized  by

  • Long term presence within everyday life. Being with people at same place same time each week, hanging out in same places, working alongside them, raising children in the park, sharing resources over long periods of time
  • Listening, helping and receiving help just as you would any other friend.
  • Developing a mutual vulnerability
  • Developing trust.”

Gluten Sensitivity: What Does It Really Mean? – As someone who has seen some changes take place in my body by adopting a mostly gluten free diet, I found this article by Scientific American interesting. (I’ve emphasized the fifth paragraph in this selection, which gives some bearing into why gluten sensitivities seem to be on the rise.

When patients without celiac disease exhibit symptoms that improve with a gluten-free diet, they are often categorized as “gluten-sensitive.” These symptoms may range from abdominal pain to bloating to fatigue.

“So what is causing gluten sensitivity? Some recent research suggests the issue still lies with the immune system. However, instead of the adaptive portion being to blame, the innate immune system is thought to be the culprit.[3,4]

If the adaptive immune system is a tailor who designs custom jackets, the innate immune system uses one-size-fits-all ponchos. Instead of making antibodies that recognize specific invaders, cells of the innate immune system have receptors known as TLRs that recognize broad patterns present on a variety of invaders. Then, the TLRs trigger a quick inflammatory response.”

Data from another study published in December suggest that a family of proteins in wheat may be to blame.[3] The proteins, amalyse-trypsin inhibitors, or ATIs, activated one type of TLR and caused an innate immune response in human immune cells and in live mice.[3]

Interestingly, the ATI content in wheat has dramatically increased in recent years.[3] ATI proteins naturally protect wheat from pests. As wheat is bred to be increasingly pest-resistant, ATI content also increases.[3] An increase in ATIs might explain what appears to be a growing amount of gluten-sensitive people.

While we’ve made some progress towards better understanding what may cause “gluten sensitivity,” many questions remain. In the meantime, for those whose doctors recommend a diet sans gluten, there will be plenty of food to choose from, as the gluten-free market continues to boom.”


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  • Susanna March 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    We really need to get together before Daniel and I move! I would love to hear more about your thoughts on social justice. It’s something that we’ve really wanted to grow in and understand better.

    • Keren March 12, 2013 at 12:29 am

      We’d love to! We may be going out of town in the very near future, and once we get that nailed down I’ll touch base. It’s been a while since we’ve connected in person–I know so much has changed for both of us!

  • Abby March 11, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Your thoughts on the Grace to do Nothing: On Social Justice in the Neighborhood is very interesting. I had never thought about doing nothing even though I know how it is to become the subject of a project, something that happened a couple of years ago. My friendship with this person was never real and eventually collapsed, which was a deep disappointment at the time. I think you learn with experience and time when one should do something or just be a friend who listens or who is there when needed.

    • Keren March 12, 2013 at 12:36 am

      Obviously, the title “do nothing,” is only part of the picture; obviously the article is not promoting being lazy or reclusive. Sorry about your experience. 🙁

      Really, most of us will only be able to invest in just a handful (or two or three handfuls) of deep friendships over the course of adulthood. But when we see people as “projects” and ourselves as “saviors,” we tend to try to take on more than we can handle, and in the end the “people projects” are the ones who get burned as we burn out. Granted, there are ways to establish such relationships online in ways that are different and allow us to have more relationships (though perhaps not with such depth), but still, there is a very thin line to tread.

      This article really makes me think!