Kool-Aid Abstinence

This isn’t a thought about literal Kool-Aid, just to clear the industrial air…

Also, you will be offended by this post, if you get offended by anti-establishment, post-scientific, skeptical inquiries. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it (and comment!)…just getting my disclaimers out of the way.

The new flu shot is available.

I’m not getting it.

I would say, “Neither should you,” but I hate when people assume prescriptive tones over my personal decisions, so I’ll abstain from such language and simply inquire whether we’ve thought (and read) thoroughly about such a large step.

Well, the reality is that most of God’s image-bearers don’t really think that the welcoming of that tiny hollow spear into their shoulder and the subsequent hospitality offered to the accompanying chemicals are large steps at all. It’s just a flu shot. We get them…well, why do we get them?

I think we get them for these reasons:

1) We don’t want the inconvenience of the flu

2) We are afraid (because we’ve read the [narrow, unexplained] statistics) that we, or someone we love might die of the flu.

3) The CDC recommends it

4) It’s more or less the path of least resistance, culturally speaking

5) It’s pretty cheap, and you can get it at Walgreens. Sometimes Walgreens stores have a RedBox, too, so you can get a vaccine and a movie for pennies!

I don’t expect to convince anyone to change their actions concerning the flu shot. But I would like to decry some of the incredible occurrences surrounding this cultural phenomenon of (what I think is largely) convenience-mongering.

Why does Walgreens (and other places, but I feel like it’s most visibly Walgreens) advertise their flu shot on their marquee board? Maybe just so you know, maybe they are offering a service to the public – maybe Walgreens is transitioning into a non-profit tax category. But they also advertise cheap sodas and toilet paper on those marquee boards. And those aren’t services to the public – they’re products! So I would like to allege that the flu shot is simply another product, rubber-stamped by the government, being hungrily hawked by whoever can get a business license. Maybe Jiffy Lube should offer flu shots while you wait for your oil to get changed.

Speaking of government, I don’t know anyone at the CDC, and they don’t know me. They’re part of a larger system that has shown itself to rarely reflect the will of the people, and to almost always pander to industries looking to make a buck (or a few billion bucks).

Oh, and to be fair, I guess I’ll state what this year’s shot includes – it’s apparently a triple-vaccine, containing prevention for the un-swine-flu (H1N1) – the media and government have more or less admitted that they’re gearing up to freak out about that again this year – as well as two other strains of the flu virus. Says Dr. Thomas R. Frieden of the CDC, “This year we think that the three strains of influenza in the flu vaccine are going to be excellent matches with the flu that’s circulating.” (from this AP article) That sounds almost like wishful thinking!

And the media is totally enamored with the flu shot. Click here, and here, and here. But read cautiously, lest you too be caught in the APs and NPRs strange addictions to slanted reporting, emotional appeals, crimes against reason, and general irrelevance.

I could go on, but I won’t. Well, not much more. I have two final comments.

One – Bring on the flu! (And bring on chickenpox, too!) Influenza is essentially harmless to almost everyone, particularly those who choose to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s also a fantastic (and free) detox for your body – your digestive tract is essentially emptied, and you often sweat like you had paid to go to a sauna. When it’s over, you’re better off, with a new set of antibodies and a renewed body. Screw all this fear-mongering (a dirty marketing technique, if you ask me) about illness and death. Which leads me to my final thought…

Two – Why, as Christians, are we so afraid all the time? Particularly we’re afraid of illness and death, and that doesn’t make any sense to me. I won’t enter the slippery slope of inquiring about medical intervention and how much we ought to do in order to save a person’s life, I’ll just leave it at the wondering. Why are we so afraid of inconvenience? Why are we so afraid of pain (physical and otherwise)? Why are we so afraid of death?

…For this perishable body must put on the imperishable…

I’m finished.


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9 Responses to Kool-Aid Abstinence

  1. Lori Safstrom says:

    I waste so much time being afraid. Thanks for the reality check. Also, # 5 made me chuckle 🙂

  2. Timothy Owens says:

    So Nathan as extension of your musings on why we do things, perhaps we are afraid…I am sure you are not going to get a car seat for your new baby because you might be afraid of a possible car wreck and possible injury of your newborn. Many of us “older” folks were raised in an era of no car seats and we survived. Sure statistics show that people are killed more often in car wrecks when they are not in car seats/seat belts but for the believer, why are we afraid?
    By the way noting that flu is harmless for almost every one …yes except for the young infant who has “statistically” a higher risk of hospitalization and death (not that you live in fear) than the rest of us. One would think that of all the years to get the flu vaccine, that this might be the one since you have a new baby that is going to be born in the middle of the flu season!!! Studies have even shown that giving the flu shot to pregnant moms has caused them to produce antibodies to the flu which are passed through the placenta and they provide protection for as long as 6 months!! So if you’re not afraid of death or illness for yourself are you prepared for the same for those you have the ability to protect? Simply musing, there is very little distance from I don’t like the flu shot or the chickenpox shot to I don’t like any vaccines to I don’t believe in any medical intervention. It’s all God’s will any way.

    And then there is the question of why do “bad” things happen to “good” (God’s) people?

    Love you both, Tim

    PS Statistically the number one cause of death for child after the infant years is car wrecks. Expect to see you and Kate in an Amish carriage in a few years.

  3. Benwa says:

    1. I love kool-aid
    2. I am a flu survivor
    3. Walgreens is a hub for convenience eg. 1 hr. Photo
    4. I prefer CVS
    5. Monsanto owns flu shots

  4. An Amish carriage might be the honest follow-through for some of my musings, I’ll admit. But I’ll be honest about the fact that I’m not necessarily consistent or logically coherent in everything I think and do (then again, find me someone who is).
    But I think, Doc, that you articulated my question even better than I did.
    How much ought we to intervene? I mean, I always wonder about how we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the elderly in our country living for a few more years, while people starve around the world. But, as you ask, when it’s up to me to make the hard decision and either intervene or not intervene in a life-death situation (of course, isn’t EVERYTHING a life-death situation, we just don’t acknowledge it?), what will I do? I’m not sure. I would like to think I’d be consistent with my (albeit under-developed) philosophy/ideals and trust God to take care of things. But when do I draw the line? I mean, even homeopathic remedies such as green tea and herbal medicines are technically interventions.
    And that’s why I tried to not be too prescriptive here. I think the most prescription that I can give is that if we take actions dictated by fear and not by faith, then we have gone wrong, no matter what we choose (Romans 14:23, though slightly a different context, seems to address this: “Whatever is not of faith, is sin…”). So then we have to choose RIGHTLY – and RIGHTLY must mean something like choosing “in faith.”
    Specifics: I will definitely be employing a car seat. I will definitely not be getting the flu shot. I still see those two things as slightly different, since there is at least some controversy (question, conversation) surrounding the efficacy and safety of the flu shot, while maybe the only controversy I’ve heard about car seats is that they shouldn’t be manditory (and maybe the polyurethane in the foam in them…I’ve heard that might not be the healthiest chemical to add to our products). But still, your point remains. And, of course, the question remains.

  5. me. says:

    I love when you are so “controversial,” but the only reason you are controversial is because it’s not what “everyone” else thinks. Funny.

  6. Sarah says:

    Some are saying that elderberry extract is as, or more effective than the flu shot! Combine that with healthy eating and herbal immune system boosts and I’m not getting the flu shot either. I know people who have had the shot and said it made them sick for weeks, just as if they had the flu itself (technically they did!). But if I get the flu so be it, worse things could happen but I’d rather keep my body free of those shots.

  7. Katie says:

    I totally agree with everything in the above except the dogging on NPR! There is no such thing as objective journalism, but despite that I think they bring a lot of really important real-life things to the surface sans any propaganda and I appreciate that.

  8. You’re most definitely right in saying there is no such thing as objective journalism. But there is such thing as inanity, and I think that journalists are susceptible to such a syndrome – it being one for which there is no vaccine…

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