Blood Work and Politics – post election thoughts about certitude

loving my blood

I wouldn’t normally share my blood test with you, but it’s the perfect illustration of why I’m becoming more concerned with post election pontificating than I was with pre-election vilifying and empty promises.  I received the results back from my blood test the day after the election and, as you can see, I’m grateful to be healthy.

What, you might ask, do I eat in order to enjoy the right levels of fat in my blood for optimal heart health? Most days begin with 4 slices of low sodium bacon and two eggs friend in butter or coconut oil, with perhaps a bit of sun dried tomato on top of them.  Sometime during the day I’ll have a full fat, plain yogurt smoothie, with berries and a bit of pomegranate juice thrown in.  Usually there’s some spinach as well, a few carrots, and some meat for supper, either grass fed beef, or fish, or chicken.  For dessert I’ll saute some apples and pecans in butter and toss in some Cinnamon.  There’s coffee too, and wine.  You won’t find any bread, flour, sugary sodas or cakes in the house – just healthy meats, veggies, some fruit, and full fat diary.  Good fats, mostly.  Very low carb.  It’s. That. Simple.   If you’d like to learn more, visit here.

Of course, none of this makes sense according the American Heart Association.  (Of course, I’m also not a doctor, so please remember that I’m only using the health talk as an illustration, not as medical advice.)  This group says I should consume low fat diary, take skin off my lean cut of chicken, avoid bacon altogether (!!!), and eat grains as long as they’re whole wheat.  Sodas?  “Cut back” is what the heart people say, while the others relegate soda to the realm of Satan.

Here’s the funny thing.  There are doctors on both sides of this argument, and both of them have studies and statistics to back up their recommendations.  So here I am, full of bacon, steak, eggs, and nearly void of bread, crackers, brownies, needing to decide where to put my food priorities.  AHA or the Paleo way?  Then my blood work comes back and it’s “game over” as far as decision making goes.   The Heart Association people might be on to something.  I’m surely not ready to say they’ve missed the point.  They’re system might work.  But my system IS working, at least for me.

There were two different views of America offered throughout the campaign, and like all the doctors advocating different views of heart health, both sides wanted the same thing – they want an America that’s productive, creative, safe, where people can pursue their dreams.  Both sides believe that their ways will bring about fiscal health.  Both sides believe in their way, because their way worked for them.

And that’s why we need to give each other grace just now… rather than shouting that the end of America has begun and unfriending people who voted differently than us.   We hold our political beliefs because of conviction yes, but can we surely realize that no single party represents the heart of Christ perfectly?  I don’t remember the Prince of Peace advocating for unrestricted access to assault rifles.  Nor would he favor late term abortion, or at the very least, any abortion of convenience.  I don’t know that he’d be cheering unilateral drone strikes by executive order.  Nor would he be too pleased with the notion that the super wealthy get exemption from some laws by virtue of their wealth and power.  So neither party represents Jesus perfectly.  When, then, we say that our vote is theological, while that may be true, it’s theologically selective.

1. If you’re adopted… you might place a huge value on pro-life politics, and vote that way.

2. If you run a small business… you might place a huge value on freedom to structure your business however you like, and pay your employees as much as you like or as little as the market will bear.

3. If you’re an auto worker… you might place a huge value on the government’s intervention to help stave off the loss of your company and your job.  That would seem charitable to you, and you’d vote accordingly.

4. If you love Jesus, and you’re gay, and you’ve prayed, counseled, and sought deliverance, before finally coming to a sense that perhaps this is actually the way you are, you’ll vote for those who view you charitably.

I could go on, but perhaps you get the point? I eat the way I do because it works. You can challenge me, tell me I’m wrong, tell me I’ll die early – even point to studies.  I’ll smile, and, because of the chart above, have another slice of bacon.

I won’t go into the details of every concern I have about Obama or Romney, Gay Marriage or legalized Weed.   If I did, I’d run the risk of helping you miss the point, because the point isn’t what I think.  The point is that in this big complex world, each of us who follow Christ must seek to make God’s good reign visible in lots of ways, including being good citizens and voting.  That one disciple votes one way, and another disciple votes another doesn’t inherently mean the other is deviant, blind, stupid, or hard hearted.  It may simply mean that their faith in Christ has different issues on the front burner than yours, having been shaped by their own collision of faith and life experience.  So I say, with Mitt Romney, let’s pray for our leader, give him grace, and work together to make our nation a place of safety, blessing, and opportunity.

Whether we like bacon or not.



About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Sue Morris

    Having put on a few extra pounds as I am now in my 60′s, I have followed a diet very similar to yours, Richard. In just 2 months I lost 20 pounds effortlessly, eating great food! I eat mostly grass fed beef, free range chicken, eggs, greens, nuts, and protein drinks with almond milk – and yes, nitrate-free bacon too! Never hungry, feel much better. No flour, sugar, bread, pasta for this girl. I think this is the way we were meant to eat. I am “simplifying” my life too, simplicity is the way to true contentment. Enjoyed your comments on the election, I sometimes get frustrated with all that is going on, but know that God is in control and His plan is unfolding before us – we just need to place all our trust in Him and have patience to see the story unfold.

  • Graham C

    I vote for bacon. I split my ticket though with homemade bread or the Puglian bread from TJs. I have felt these past few days post election have been more contentious and vitriolic (if that’s a word) than I remember from past elections. I wonder why that is? Airing of grievences on social media? The issues this election cycle were more controversial? The figures of Obama and Romney were more divisive? I’ve heard plain ol’ mean stuff from both liberal and conservative so I don’t think it can be contributed to losing (or winning).

  • sp

    “That one disciple votes one way, and another disciple votes another doesn’t inherently mean the other is deviant, blind, stupid, or hard hearted.” (blog, above)

    Quite honestly, I have a hard time believing that…which is my problem, and it only hurts me. That said, in the end, I do believe this, and this gives me comfort, and directs my ultimate response to it all (after many gyrations):

    “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Rom 13:1

    That is a pretty clear message. It’s very necessary for me to remember too. thank you Richard

    • Ryan Hofer

      How do you apply Romans 13:1 to the American Revolution, the Arab Spring, Syria, and anti-war demonstrations? Beyond saying that God permits everything to exist (by definition), how does a verse like that help us choose democratic authorities that are established by voting?

  • Ursus Americanus

    On the question of paleo versus AHA, the evidence is strong: paleo is better for essentially everyone. The AHA and gov’t recommendations including the food pyramid, advocating low-fat foods, and the notion of balancing calories in versus calories burned are responsible for the premature deaths of millions of Americans via obesity and insulin-related diseases. I recommend exploring the work of Gary Taubes, starting with this lecture on YouTube:
    Alternatively, he’s written for the NYT (in 2002):
    And he has a couple books on the subject as well.

    (There are others besides Taubes who have challenged the AHA view, but he makes the argument best, in my opinion.)

    As described in the above links, the explanation for why the AHA and the gov’t and hundreds of doctors and nutritional epidemiologists have advocated low-fat diets, etc, for half a century without good supporting evidence is fascinating, in my opinion. I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll hint that it makes a lot of sense from a Christian perspective.

    Anticipating another response, yes, some people are more tolerant of carbs than others. But practically nobody is harmed by the paleo diet. So the notion that the appropriate diet is a personal choice is morally problematic (ie, telling someone that the AHA diet may be right for them could lead them to obesity and premature death).

    I mention all of the above because rather than illustrating the point of your blog post, the diet example undermines it. Sure, just because two people disagree politically, it does not mean that one is “deviant, blind, stupid, or hard hearted.” But it is worth considering that they might be. ;)

    • Richard Dahlstrom

      …and if, like the evidence linking lung cancer to smoking, the data were universal and unequivocal, I’d agree with you. But for every Gaury Taubes, there’s a studu like this:, and for every advocate of a single payer health care system, or a cap and trade carbon offset program, there’s someone available to readily quote an Austrian free market economist. Both think they’re right. They’re not both right, of course, but both think they’re right… which is my point.

      • sp

        is this not the road to universalism? To think ones self (in this instance, the “one” being the Church) as so enlightened as to “see all sides” in such a way that causes one to accept all truths as relatively equal or virtuous? Bacon / sans-bacon…Taubes / AHA…left / right…all is well…neither is right…or wrong. Bacon works for me: fine. Not for you: ok. It’s all good.


        Or…in the case of this blog…it does not seem to argue the virtue of seeing both sides as equal as much as, perhaps, irrelevant non-essential and beside-the-point. But…is it? Are such issues, largely, beside-the-point? Unrelated? Non-essential?

        If not — then there real virtue to taking a “n0 comment” view on such things, as a Church body? There are certainly risks either way. I’m just not sure that the risk or “virtue” of taking the 5th on any particular issue is the way forward for the Church.

        • Ryan Hofer

          I think most people today choose a kind of soft universalism; if there really is choice and context in the world, then I can say “good for me, and not the same for you.” That’s a defensible assertion. If those distinctions are illusions, we are left without comprehensible meaning in the world. (If there is one Right Way for everyone, why isn’t everyone doing it?) Hyperbolizing either end of the universalism/fatalism spectrum becomes nebulous for me, but I think culturally the US has moved towards more tolerance of individual lifestyle choices, whether it be diet, social policies, or church. Maybe people still prefer thinking they’re right, but also I think people have bracketed spirituality as one aspect of living together, much to the chagrin of conservatives who claim authority based on being closer to the Universal Truth via Revelation.

  • reneeg

    Pastor Richard — I’ve read some very amusing comments and posts throughout social media over the past weeks, and I must say your blog post is very refreshing. The comparison with Paleo is awesome. My husband tried several different diets to control his chronic heart burn, and paleo was the only one that offered him relief. (Both his brother and dad, who have not experimented with diets, take daily meds to control their heartburn.) Despite having read up carefully on the diet, we’re still sometimes concerned about the long-term impact of eating paleo. But the fact is that right now, he’s not dependent on any prescriptions. I definitely see the analogy to politics.

    sp — Either “the other side” has a good, well-argued/researched point, or it doesn’t. Quite frequently it does. Acknowledging that fact doesn’t make me a universalist; it’s just the honest, most objective thing to do. Unfortunately, I don’t personally have the time to research in great detail the many facets of political opinion, diet, theology, etc… at some point, I have to decide what I’d like to be an “expert” in and then just acknowledge the best-effort everyone else is putting into their own topics of interest. Some things are non-negotiable: Jesus is risen, and smoking causes cancer. But I don’t believe it’s a slippery slope to be discerning and picky about what goes on that list. Many of the comments and emails I’ve read over the past weeks concerning the election have been either fatalist or ironically self-righteous in nature. I think this blog post succinctly addresses this (quite odd) phenomenon.