miserable

As I watch the snow falling gently to the ground for the umpteenth time this winter, today’s USA Today tells me I should feel miserable. In fact, of all 35 districts of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, we of the Ohio District should feel the most miserable. Why? Because our district contains three of the most miserable states, according to a Gallup-Healthways survey. Ohio, at number 5, has the 13th lowest life-expectancy (77.8 years), Kentucky has the 6th lowest life expectancy (76 years), and West Virginia, ranked the most miserable state for the 5th year in a row, comes in with a life expectancy of 75.4 years (tied for 2nd lowest). But wait, there’s more! 30.9% of Ohio residents are obese (8th highest), 30.6% of Kentucky residents are obese (9th highest), and 34.4% of West Virginia residents are too fat for their own good (tied for 2nd place). Still not feeling it? Ohio’s median income is $46,829 (17th lowest), Kentucky’s is $41,724 (5th lowest), and West Virginia’s median income is $40,196 (3rd lowest).

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bling

Expensive jewelry, titles, name recognition, awards, upscale brands, prestigious zip codes – having these things excites a lot of people, according to pop singer Lorde. When you have these, you live large. But she craves “a different kind of buzz.” As I read the New Testament, Christians are to crave an altogether different kind of buzz, too. Paul describes it well enough in his letter to the Philippians: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

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road-blur2

Sorry to disappoint, but the “blurred lines” to which I am referring are not the ones in the popular song. They are the blurred lines that I’ve discovered, thanks to reading Dr Sam Parnia’s fascinating book, Erasing Death. Research and modern life-saving techniques reveal that death is not a specific moment, as most of us think, but rather, a process. The event that begins the death process is a cardiac arrest. For whatever reason, when the heart stops pumping blood, cell deterioration begins almost immediately because the cells have been deprived of oxygen and cannot rid themselves of carbon dioxide. What science has learned is that by lowering the body temperature, cell activity slows, and accordingly, so does the need for oxygen. Chemicals that lower the body’s temperature can be introduced to slow the death processes, the fault can be repaired, the body re-warmed, and the heart restarted. The line between life and death has been blurred.

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