A String in the Harp: Welsh Tourism

Sometimes novels are more than just stories. Sometimes they double as travelogues, where the author was so completely immersed in the place they were living that the descriptions in the story act almost as an advertisement for that country or city. The very long and epic Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, set in India, is a bit like that, as is my current read, A String in the Harp, which is set in Wales.

Wales is a bit of a mystery to many Americans. Is it its own country? Is it part of England? What can you even do there? And so on. Thus has been my own view of Wales added with a vague notion that Merlin lived there or King Arthur, or someone from that legend.

A String in the Harp (at least halfway through) doesn’t have anything to do with Arthurian legend. It is a story about a broken family mourning the loss of their wife and mother. The younger kids and dad have fled to Wales where Dad can be immersed in his university work. The oldest, Jen, flies over on her high school Christmas break to spend a few weeks with them. Wales is alternately cold, windy, rainy, mucky harsh, and in glimpses for her, beautiful.

Written the the 1970s when author Nancy Bond was attending school there, the plot is very slow, but it’s almost like a day by day travelogue of what Jen and her siblings are experiencing being in this wild and lonely country.  In this country tour inside a story, readers learn a bit of the culture, history, language, and meet a few of the locals. Jen’s brother Peter finds a key on the beach and soon realizes that this key open a window into ancient Wales. Things really start taking off when his sisters realize that something very odd is going on. This adventure may be what they all need to become content with each other again. I’m excited to see where the story goes.

A String in the Harp is a great book to read with a hot drink on a rainy night.

 

Arc of a Scythe: Playing God

Thunderhead coverWhat happens when humans are in charge of dealing out death? The Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Shusterman takes on this question. In a world where humanity has conquered death and is ruled by a collective consciousness called the Thunderhead (think of our modern internet “Cloud” on steroids), utopia still has not been reached. It has been deemed necessary that people still die, keeping to the natural order of things. And so a Scythedom was formed, a collection of humans chosen to be the grim reapers of mankind. The second installment of the series, Thunderhead, digs deeper into questions surrounding Scythes, namely, the biggie: Are they playing God?

As a nearly all-seeing, all-knowing artificial intelligence, the Thunderhead, is far more godlike, but is not allowed to deal out death or bring about life. There is a separation between Thunderhead and Scythedom in this futuristic America, much like separation fo church and state in what the series refers to as the “Age of Mortality.” Despite that separation, the Thunderhead finds a way around its own rules to alter the course of human history.

Thunderhead is one of those books you know is going to be great and it’s going to end on a cliffhanger and so you don’t want to finish it until the next book in the series is out. I was on a deadline to finish reading Thunderhead before returning it to the library, and I did return it a day late, but left the last third to read when book three is out. Thankfully, Shusterman will likely have the next book out in short order, not like, ahem, me.

The Arc of a Scythe series isn’t so much a plot-driven story as it is a philosophical debate. What is mortality, really? What would life be like if we never died? What would bring us to a state in which we allocated our fellow humans to periodically execute certain numbers of mankind? Is our technology merely an advanced way of building our own god? The rules and organization of Shusterman’s world are built and defined well. It has some similarities to The Hunger Games series, but, thankfully, leaves out most of the angst and hints at a more satisfying ending.

Arc of a Scythe seems at first a simpler tale than other teen series, but it has layers and layers of ideas, themes and concepts all building on each other and as a reader, you just know there’s going to be some big reveal (or maybe just hope there will be) like in The Giver, that just turns everything on its head. I really like the highlighting of autonomous or charter regions in Thunderhead, as it reminds me of my time in China and their similar setup. The idea of a sort of “planned community” type of freedom intrigues me. So many good stories are based off of this idea, The Truman Show, The 13th Floor, The Giver, and so on, and it’s a relatable concept for today as we have so much “freedom” and simultaneously so many, many laws to follow.

I can’t wait to read book three of this series and also to finish Thunderhead, and I really hope the series will be more than a trilogy, but Shusterman’s writing and world are great, so I think I’ll be happy with it either way. And I have to also add, his book covers are outstanding.

The Best Dish in the World

Sometimes you try something for the first time, whether it’s a new experience, learning a new skill, or eating new foods, and you think: This is awesome, how did I ever exist without this thing in my life? This can happen when meeting people, too, but in this instance I am referring to food.

Being a Korean Drama fan, I’ve been into kimchi for awhile.  Kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage and radish dish that is a staple of Korea. It’s sort of like sauerkraut, but more flavorful and very spicy.

Anyway, the other day I realized that I’d never tried kimchi fried rice, which isn’t actually that hard to make. I had almost reached the bottom of a kimchi jar that was soon to expire and decided to go ahead and try to make it to use the rest of the kimchi up.

What can I say about kimchi fried rice?  It is like mac and cheese or pancakes. Kimchi fried rice is a dish you make when you want to be reminded of home. It’s a dish you’d share with family and close friends. It’s a communal dish around which people would talk, tell stories, shoot the breeze, and just be together. This dish makes the room a place where all secrets can be shared, all fears laid bare, and all wishes known, after which everyone is duly punished with good-ribbed joking. With kimchi fried rice, one can laugh until their stomach hurts, cry until their aren’t any tears left, and eat until you get sick–but that’s not recommended because leftovers can always be saved for breakfast.

Do I exaggerate? Can a cooked fermented dish really be so healing?  Kimchi friend rice is going to be a staple in my life. I’m determined and don’t know how I lived without it before. Keep in mind, I didn’t even follow the recipe properly: I didn’t add the red pepper paste (I can only handle so much spice), I added shredded carrots, I sadly had no bacon, and I’m pretty sure the fried egg on top was overcooked.  Oh, and I mixed in plain yogurt at the end like I do with most spicy food. Nonetheless, eating it felt like coming home and those nights when you and your family or friend pull out the board games and the beer and talk and eat and drink until dawn.

Here is a link to the recipe I used. It’s a great video and the cook is easy on the eyes, which is something all cooks should aspire to be.  I aspire to being an easy-on-the-eyes cook myself, though, I usually don’t have an audience while cooking. The key is finding the right apron, I think,  and mine’s rather plain, so I’ll have to work on that.

Book Review: The Blithedale Romance

Upon finishing this strange, voyeuristic tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the single, burning desire I had was to reread the first few chapters.  I did, and it was if a veil had been yanked away, so different was my perspective after knowing the whole story.

Hawthorne, known by most because they had to read The Scarlet Letter in high school, is one of those authors that I’ve really come to love through his short stories. He fits into this sort of gothic colonial genre along with Washington Irving of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow fame. They make America into this wild, untamed place of both delight and horror.

Hawthorne’s sort of like O. Henry, too.  Although his endings are not complete twists, there’s a sense of irony pervading everything. “The Birthmark” is my favorite short story of Hawthorne’s and is about a scientist who marries a beautiful woman who has a birthmark on her cheek. The scientist becomes obsessed with removing the birthmark, trying experiment after experiment, and for love of him, his wife suffers through it.  I won’t spoil the ending, but you can probably guess that it’s not happy.

The Blithedale Romance does indeed have romance in it as well as other themes and topics.  It deals a bit with the Transcendental movement of the time and the search for utopia–basically the idea that with enough brain power and ingenuity humans can make themselves and the earth perfect. I was surprised to find that Hawthorne himself took part in one of these commune schemes because he’s always seemed to be someone practical about the limits and foibles of human nature. Contrasted with this Walden Pond-ish scheme for getting back to nature, is the Spiritualist movement. Table turning, magicians, and veiled ladies were all the craze at the time as well, and the first clue we have that the narrator and main character, Miles Coverdale, is not very serious about “going to the woods and living deliberately” is that he attends a magician’s show featuring a veiled lady right at the beginning. Coverdale is a man in search of an epoch in his life, especially one that will give him a purpose.

As both a narrator and a character, I don’t really like Miles Coverdale, perhaps because I see some of the same annoying traits in myself. Coverdale is an observer, not a man of action, and he overthinks everything. The second clue that he’s not too serious about this striving for utopia is that he falls extremely ill the day they are to begin work and takes what feels like decades to recover, sitting and musing in his room, when it is clear he’d be a lot better off outside in the sun and getting exercise.

Now, he did surprise me by eventually doing the hard work (according to himself), but I was shocked by how affronted he is by his friend, Hollingsworth, who seems to be a genuine believer in being able to reform people. Coverdale believes Hollingsworth’s philanthropic desires and plans are leading him straight to the doorway to hell next to the gates of heaven in Pilgrim’s Progress.  As Coverdale tends to overdramatize everything and is not a very reliable narrator, I struggled to understand just what was so awful about Hollingsworth, a man of action who has purpose and a good heart. Now, the saying goes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I gather that’s what concerns our narrator, Coverdale. It is also no big revelation to find that Coverdale doesn’t really believe in the whole utopian idea like his friend does. Coverdale’s problem is that he doesn’t believe in anything and has no purpose to his life. He is pretty honest about that by the end of the book, along with his final revelation, which makes his issue with Hollingsworth clear.

I had to go back and reread the first few chapters, because I just plowed away into the book without knowing anything about the story. (I usually don’t read introductions or anything, because they often give away too much of the plot.) The happenings of the first 2-3 chapters, I was thinking, okay that’s nice, veiled lady, maybe a mystery? Scary story? And the farm. Something about the follies of hippie communes?  But The Blithedale Romance actually ended up being about romance, about the clash between men and women in the world, and that I didn’t expect.

The first character Coverdale scrutinizes in the book is a young woman with the stage name of Zenobia. She is necessarily beautiful, vivacious, and is a mover and shaker who appears to be somewhat the head of this group (not sure how many) of people who have come to live at Blithedale to farm and live off the land. Coverdale fancies a love triangle is being played out over the summer among Zenobia, Hollingsworth, and another woman. Our narrator plays at being detached when he’s anything but. Zenobia’s a bit theatrical and takes pride in living unconventionally for a woman at the time. She jokes about how at first the women will take care of the house duties and then move on to sharing the men’s work. She and Hollingsworth argue about her wish to begin or be a part of a women’s liberation movement (something with which Coverdale appears to agree and Hollingsworth disagree), and Coverdale is surprised when Zenobia gives into this philanthropist rather easily and meekly.

Underlying the plot is the theme of women just wanting to be loved aside from or despite age or beauty or riches. The story of the veiled lady that Zenobia orates for her comrades is a peek into her heart. With a mention of Eve near the beginning of the book, the thought of the Biblical curse that God put on women is present, specifically that they will always have a desire for their husband or a husband.  Zenobia is young, beautiful, single, rich, independent, and it’s ultimately not enough. And it’s not enough, because she’s a woman. It is a curse of womanhood, and we see this most clearly at the end of the story as we realize she and Coverdale share the same heartache, yet Coverdale with no purpose except maybe his poetry, is able to move on and be content in middle age.

Zenobia also delivers one of the greatest lines and I don’t want to make fun of it because her character means it in all seriousness, but it’s definitely a line you could use as a joke, too. Coverdale takes her hand and it’s as cold as ice. He says as much to her and she replies: “the extremities die first, they say.” I really got a kick out of that line for some reason–maybe it was the extreme drama from both her and Coverdale.

At the end of the book, Coverdale fancies Hollingsworth to be living in a state of perpetual defeat. All life and purpose seems to have left him. The readers are again made aware of the unreliable and fanciful nature of our narrator as he describes Hollingsworth’s woman as trying to keep Coverdale away from him. Is Hollingsworth truly defeated or has his life found a different purpose? It’s evident in a lot of ways that Coverdale isn’t just the poetic voyeur and analyzer that he pretends to be. I reread the beginning and then fully understood that he may know all of these people a lot better than his narration tells. That this carefully detached man ends up alone in middle age isn’t surprising, his grand ending confession aside. Coverdale reminds me a little bit of the narrator in Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, another character who can’t stop overanalyzing everything, and to his own detriment.

The Blithedale Romance will eventually require a second reading for me to really soak in everything going on in the story, and it’s the knowledge of that which really brings to light just what a master Nathaniel Hawthorne was at his craft. That subsequent readings of a work would make the story even better and richer is one of the ultimate goals in writing because you know your work has value that can be experienced again and again.  Now, of course, I need to put The Scarlet Letter on my list of classics that I’m either rereading or reading for the first time.

The Story of Saving

At first, I wanted to title this article, “The Story of Saving Money,” but then I realized that wasn’t quite accurate. Saving money is only the start of being a “saver.” Along with saving money, you save yourself worry, trouble, and stress. You can also save relationships and save time.

I don’t know if it’s the woman in me, but I’ve always been more of a spender than a saver. Part of my attitude probably has something to do with the fact that often when I do save, I end up having to spend the money right away on car repairs or other issues.

This year I wanted to try out Dave Ramsey’s savings plan and his every dollar app, because, as he says, I was finally “tired of being sick and tired.” Ramey’s plan begins with budgeting your monthly income to the last dollar and also reaching stepping stones he calls “baby steps.” The baby steps themselves are pretty simple, but it’s been the budgeting every dollar that’s given me some trouble. I’ve learned I’m someone who just likes to have a random amount of money not set aside for any particular use. On the one hand, that can be fine and good, on the other, the sum most often gets used for eating out or buying things I may want, but really don’t need–often, books.

Oh, let me tell you about books! I have bought so many books, thinking the story is going to be awesome and being terribly disappointed when the stories are duds. Using the library to borrow the books instead has been a struggle because I often don’t have time to read the books in the time I’ve checked them out. This can go the same for movies and even music. Often I wonder why I feel compelled to own these things, especially stories that I haven’t even read or seen yet. In using the every dollar app, I made myself really look over my books and saw that I had a whole stack of bought and borrowed books that I hadn’t even read yet.

I admit that like most, I’m not following Ramey’s savings plan to a T, but I am saving. Currently I am on baby step 2, paying off all consumer debt and plan to be done with that by the end of the year. As I watch my every dollar get spent, I’m become more and more conscious of impulse buys (Walgreens is a real trap for me for snacks, as is Kwik Trip). With elation, I realize that I have bought so many clothes over the past five years that I don’t need to buy anything in that regard for quite awhile. Instead of just buying things for my kitchen or office, I am planning out when to buy them and how to save the money. Because I now find Korean dramas more interesting than American ones, I gave up Netflix and watch on cheaper sites like Dramafever or Viki.

At first, this new mindfulness seemed like hard work. I’ve never had trouble paying bills or going over budget, especially as I’m single, but I never made a real effort to keep track of what I was spending on. Using every dollar was strange at first, because that generic lump sum of money was gone and I felt like I had no money. But I do now have money, just in a new category: savings. Part of this interesting financial planning stems from my desire to write more. I wanted to see if it was possible to work less, write more, and still have enough and even still save money. My dream, as most writers’ dream is that one day I can make a steady income from my writing, and I wanted to put more time and energy into striving to make that happen.

Only a couple of months in, I am already seeing the benefits of this lifestyle change. I am not as stressed and have plans if things go wrong. I am eating better and getting more sleep and exercise. Stores and their wares don’t compel me nearly as much and I am spending less without crying over it. My unread books are getting read. In the mornings I have more time to read the Bible, to cook breakfast, and to just enjoy the mornings. I am able to get out in the spring sunshine. I’ve written more in the past few weeks than I did all of last year and have been steadily working on revisions for TfD, season two as well as starting another story.

Along with thinking of saving and following Dave Ramsey, I’ve been watching some other savers on Youtube and they really have some creative ideas. It’s doubtful I will ever be as hardcore as them, but if you want to check out some fascinating perspectives on budgeting and saving money, try these channels: The Dave Ramsey Show, of course; his daughter’s channel, Rachel Cruze, who is very bubbly; Debt Free Dana, who has great tips on how families can save; Beat the Bush, an engineer who quit his job to be on Youtube; Stacey Flowers, also following the Ramey plan and shares great incites on finances but also personal stories that resonate; and, Prepper Princess, whose focus is on prepping and also saving for retirement.

Thinking about saving generally leads one to think about minimizing the stuff one owns and so, although I’d would never do it myself, I’ve been watching a lot of great stories on tiny houses. Many of the people who build and own them are artists and this is their work, some just want a change, and some really are trying to save and/or live minimally. The most upbeat channel I’ve found is Living Big in a Tiny House. The host, Bryce, visits tiny and unusually living spaces all over the world and finds the positive in even the strangest of designs. This could easily be a show on cable, but it’s on Youtube and it’s hard not to be infected with the enthusiasm these people have for mindful living.

The big statement that gets to me from Dave Ramsey is “the borrower is a slave to the lender,” which is a part or paraphrase of Proverbs 22:7: The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (NIV). Being in debt isn’t a healthy thing, and I think I first really started to consider that fact when I read Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, which tells the story of a family living in a debtor’s prison and what it does to them. For the dad, even when he’s able to get financially free, it’s like he’s still in prison. Thank God we don’t have debtors prisons today, but in our society we borrow, and borrow, and borrow without even a thought. Even if our debt can’t legally be passed onto our children, doesn’t it do something to our soul to just die leaving a debt? Someone, even if it is a heartless banker, lost out money because we didn’t pay them back. Shouldn’t we be striving for more?

Plan a Time

Well, it’s about 9:30pm at night and I totally forgot what I wanted to blog about today. It was a busy Thursday, full of work in the morning, cooking for a new mom in the afternoon, and Maundy Thursday church service and choir practice in the evening–are we really singing the Hallelujah Chorus for Easter in three days?!?

My house smells like Indian food, I’ve got Hallelujahs running through my head, and my soul is quietly contemplating my Savior’s death. How could someone love a person so much to die for them? Not only that, but to die for someone guilty when oneself is innocent? Forgiveness of sins, full and final and not free, but paid for by the only truly innocent man to walk this earth, who is simultaneously the God that created it all in the first place.

With all those thoughts, I realized I didn’t put it on my calendar: Blog post, this date, this time. This is the thing with writing. You don’t set aside time for it, it doesn’t happen. That being said, what I did with my normally free time today was more important than blogging. There’s a sweet, new baby in the world whose tired parent got a home-cooked meal tonight. I spent time worshipping and singing along with the fellow believers at my congregation, and I got to know some of them even better. Back at home, I washed a pile of dishes, sat down on the couch, and realized that although I couldn’t remember what it was I wanted to write about tonight, I still had something to say.

And the main thought in my head: Plan a time! Plan a time and/or date for what it is you want to do or it will surely get lost in the shuffle. We only have so many tomorrows. On the other hand, have fun throwing those same plans to the wind when something more important arises.

Tomorrow is Friday, the day that Christians mourn the death of Jesus, who was the only one who could save the world from sin. He took on our sins and gave us His holiness. Although we are sad it had to happen, we rejoice that did happen, because it means our salvation. And on Good Friday, I am planning times to worship, to sing, and, yes, to write.

Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History – Review

Not too long ago I wrote a post about vaccines, that I had started reading and researching about them and that the criticisms regarding vaccines were hitting home with me. Since then, I’ve been following the “anti-vaxx” movement and reading some of the articles, books, etc., that detail that side of the argument. I’ve also looked some into the “pro” side, as well, however, I don’t find that side quite as interesting, just because it is the default view everyone seems to have. It is the view that I used to have and I didn’t really care about the evidence that vaccines were safe and effective. I, like most people, just believed what I was told.

If you look into the anti-vaccine movement, the first thing you realize is that these people  were at some point pro-vaccine until something happened. Some they knew or they themselves, had a reaction that made them question just how safe vaccines are. Or they got the flu shot or another shot and got really sick with similar symptoms shortly after, prompting them to question how effective vaccines are. The second thing you realize is that legitimate or not, right or wrong or not, the anti-vaccine movement has an enormous amount of studies, examples, historical accounts, personal testimonies, and other such literature to back up their reasoning. At some point being pro-vaccine, I realized it was foolish of me to keep that stance when it wasn’t resting on any true knowledge I had and also foolish to think the other side had no validity when I had never fully researched or looked into their arguments. We fall into the same traps with many aspects of our lives, but vaccines are especially interesting.  For most on the pro-side the idea of even questioning vaccines seems ludicrous. As a Christian, I realized it is not the questioning that is ludicrous, but holding up vaccines, scientists, doctors, drug companies, government, and the like as equal to God. No, scratch that, we’ve placed them even higher, asserting that vaccines are so safe and effective, they must not even be questioned.

God himself welcomes us questioning and wrestling with Him. If it’s okay with God to test His scriptures and see if they are true, why not mortal man-made vaccines?  I tell you, I don’t think even Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propagandist, has anything on the pro-vaccine spell cast on the world. People will come up with the most bizarre rationalizations in order to never put any vaccine in a list of possible (only a possible cause!) causes of a negative health issue. Some of those rationalizations may include: it’s all genetics, the human race is simply deteriorating, the non-vaccinated are spreading more diseases. Let’s just take that last one. Think about it. You are not vaccinated for smallpox. Does that mean you have smallpox? Is this really a reasonable position to hold, or are we avoiding really looking at vaccines and how they work? Vaccines certainly are not responsible for every health malady in the world, but it’s truly odd they are rarely considered a cause, especially when a person just had a shot and then has a major health issue like a seizure or brain swelling. Actually, we do worse than not questioning, we are told these reactions to vaccines are “normal.” With more chronic health maladies, we easily jump to medications and drugs as possible causes, but never vaccines, even though they should be considered if we’re doing a thorough investigation. Even if you still end up agreeing vaccines are great, I think it’s a good practice to look into them to make sure you have the facts, and that includes taking a long, hard look at the massive evidence the anti-vaccine side has that vaccines are actually quite a problem.

If you’re looking for fact-based arguments, Dr. Suzanne Humphries is a good place to start. She’s a nephrologist who also used to be pro-vaccine until her patients mentioned they had kidney problems after getting the flu shot. Instead of blowing them off, she took their complaints seriously and was surprised by the hostility she received from her coworkers merely for considering vaccines a factor in this. The hostility was especially surprising to her, as she knew had she been questioning a medication they would all have said of course they should stop the medication, do more research, tests, etc. In essence, medications were allowed to be a cause of kidney issues, but not vaccines. Vaccines were safe and effective and had eradicated both smallpox and polio, never mind that the complaint was with the flu shot. So Humphries started to look into the history of the smallpox and polio vaccines, and she found that what we had all been told was far different than what actually happened.

Of all the people on the side of the anti-vaccine movement, I find Dr. Humphries to be the most persuasive. She has a practical air about her and has made it her life’s work to research health and vaccines. If you don’t like reading, she has hours and hours of her talks and speeches on vaccines, Vitamin C, and general health issues on Youtube.

Dissolving Illusions, by both Dr. Humphries and Roman Bystrianyk, another vaccine researcher, is a fairly quick read. It first lays out why they wrote the book and how they fell into researching vaccines. It then launches into the historical account of just how dirty everything used to be, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s. This is the basis for their case that it was public cleanliness in the environment, water, food, and health practices (the doctors washing their hands) that actually caused the massive impact to the disease death toll.  The graphs are certainly hard to argue with, a ski slope of falling death rates, and close to the bottom, only when fear of death of the disease was near non-existent, did vaccines enter into the picture. I would say for most of us, that fact was likely not mentioned at all in school.

They then go through vaccine after vaccine, starting with smallpox and show, with historical examples, just how unsafe and ineffective they actually are. One fascinating thing I learned was that the smallpox vaccine caused several hand, foot, and mouth outbreaks in both animals and people. What I learned with polio is that they changed the way polio was diagnosed after the vaccine was put into public use, thus falsely making it look like the vaccine lowered the polio rate. We still have polio, it’s just categorized as Guillain Barré syndrome and other diseases. I learned that physical therapy contributed largely to the restored health for those who did have immobile limbs. There was also some disturbing connections made theorizing that tonsillectomies and other medical procedures were the actual cause of the “outbreaks” in school children every year.  With measles I learned that good nutrition and sunlight are the best ways to fight it off, especially Vitamin A (it depletes your levels severely, causing blindness in some), Vitamin D and Vitamin C.

Dissolving Illusions makes a strong case that vaccines may be more harmful than helpful. It makes a strong case that cleanliness, good health, and nutrition are our best defenses against malady, better than any manmade medication. That is the positive.

The negative, is how much the book highlights the lies of both government entities and the medical professionals that invented, still invent, and to this day promote vaccines that they knew from day one were neither safe nor effective, especially compared with other, more natural options. It shows the reader their own ignorance. How many people puffing up their chests and declaring all vaccines should be mandatory know even a tenth of this information? How many people are aware that just like the vaccine lies started on day one, so did the anti-vaccine movement? In England the only thing that stopped forced smallpox vaccinations and jail time, was voting in politicians who believed in freedom of choice.

And the book barely touches on all of the massive reactions, side effects, and lifelong health struggles for the vaccine injured today. And we are arrogant enough to think that the non-vaccinated are spreading disease? What great mountain of evidence do we have for this, exactly? How many people even understand that you are injecting a disease into your body when getting a vaccine and that you are also vulnerable to that disease as well as being capable of passing on that disease while it’s going through your body and building antibodies? In addition, the book also talks about antibodies and lays out a case that this is no true measure of immunity or eradication. It also indicates that medicine and science still have a long way to go in fully understanding our immune systems and how disease affects them.

If the information in Dissolving Illusions is true, then it is truly staggering how much we have been lied to. It’s such a huge, incomprehensible lie, and whether it was made in malice, for profit, or just wishful thinking, the reason seems almost irrelevant. How do you even begin to reteach people the truth when everyone’s been so brainwashed by lies that only at a severe turning point or crisis will they even question vaccines? The good thing is, lies can’t last forever, because, well, they’re lies, and the truth eventually rears its head. Due to so, so many reactions and problems today from vaccines, people are waking up more and more every day. The anti-vaccine movement would be happy if we could simply actually properly study vaccines and make them truly safe and effective. The unsettling conclusion from Dissolving Illusions is that even that desire may be a pipe dream. The big question I have is, are vitamins the answer? Are cleanliness, good nutrition, and sunlight, the collective miracle pill we’ve all been looking for? How strange it would be if we were to find that we’ve been injecting ourselves with poison to ward off disease only to ignore that simply caring for ourselves and our bodies would give us the best health we could ever want or need, at least on this side of heaven?

In doing this reading into vaccines, I’m mostly on the “anti” side now. The last time I had to get a vaccine (the flu shot aside), I didn’t I had much of a choice at the time because I didn’t have a record to prove I already had the shot. I thought it would be no big deal to get an additional shot, and a few weeks later I was very, very sick. My immune system really felt like it had taken a severe blow in a way I’d never felt before, and it took a long time for me to fully recover. Now, I’m not saying it was definitely the vaccine, but it was a possibility often nagging at the back of my mind, so much so that much later I was eager to watch the documentary Vaxxed and find out more about this anti-vaccine movement and what they thought were the problems with vaccines.

My view on health is different today. I’m more careful of what I eat, what I drink, and more aware of how much sleep and sunlight I’m getting. Since vaccines ultimately cause inflammation in the body, I try to destress as much as possible, too, get outside, get walking and do other exercise when I can. The difference is, mindfulness. It takes few brain cells to get injected with the latest vaccine, or to pop the latest drug, but it takes dedication and persistence to truly be invested in one’s health. Parents instinctively know much of this, as they are tasked with nurturing and promoting the good health of their children. For us who are childless, we need to be parents of our own bodies and treat ourselves with care and nurturing, too. Even if vaccines were totally safe and effective, how could a quick injection possibly be the ultimate answer to health in a world where anything worth anything has to be fought and strived for? This question can also be applied to the numerous health remedies of the natural medicine industry, and even Dissolving Illusions‘ touting of Vitamins A, C, and D. We can’t just pop supplements, either, and think they are going to be as effective longterm as getting real sunlight and eating real fruits and vegetables.

I have to say the best thing about this book is finding how much there is to read and study. I also really appreciate the times I live in and the fact that our environment, food, and water are all so clean today. I appreciate the fact that we still have a choice in whether to get vaccines or not and pray they will never be forced on anyone again. As a Christian, I appreciate the fact that many of the loudest voices in this struggle for truth when it comes to vaccines are also Christians. Christianity teaches us that the truth isn’t some mysterious thing only for the authorities, or experts, or those in power. Truth is something that God wants everyone to know, even (and perhaps especially) lowly commoners.