The Simple Living Challenge: Everyone Drinks the Same Water

In one of the most famous and memorable scenes from the Bible, Moses parts the Red Sea (with divine help) to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  The Pharaoh’s army gives chase and is swallowed up by the waters as they crash back to their natural state.  If I were a soldier in Pharoh’s army, my thoughts would have gone like this:

  • These refugee slaves have no weapons nor fighting experience.  Capturing them will be a cinch.
  • Holy ****!  Did the Red Sea just open up for them?
  • I’m not going to follow them into *that* — are you kidding?  The sea could come back anytime, and in case you were wondering, my bronze breastplate does not double as a life preserver.
  • I wonder if I can sneak off before my fellow archers cut me down.
  • Well, everyone else is running onto the sea bed.  I guess I’ll take my chances.
  • <the sound of a thousand waterfalls>
  • …GLUB MRGHL…

But let’s say a few stragglers did manage to stay behind on dry land as they watched the rest of their army drown.  They’re separated from the Israelites by a sea of water.  Completely hopeless and demoralized, they had to trudge home with the fail story of a lifetime.

Fast forward a few thousand years.  Water is again dividing two groups of people, but now they are the rich and the poor.  The rich live in luxury, so much that drinking clean tap water is considered declasse.  The poor, on the other hand, are literally dying from lack of clean water.  The very same water that is not good enough for you and me, is out of reach for many of the world’s poor.  I wonder if Jesus walked the Earth today, instead of turning water into wine, he would be turning HFCS soft drinks into water for the poor to drink.

But perhaps we can take matters into our own hands.  For this upcoming season of Lent, let’s do our part to cross this clean-water divide.  The idea is very simple: Everyone Drinks the Same Water.  The rich socialite who doesn’t think twice about dropping $5 for a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon — he can drink the same water as the homeless earthquake survivor in Haiti.

How will we do this?  During Lent, those with access to clean tap water will step down their tastes and refrain from any other drinks.  And those without such access, well they need… wells.  So let’s help them build wells by saving the money we normally might have spent on other drinks.  In addition, let’s find sponsors to donate for each day we drink only water.  If you’d like to join us or even if you’re just curious, please visit our Simple Living Challenge signup page.  We’ll kick off the Challenge at sunrise on Tuesday, March 15.

This past Advent we ran the Just Giving Challenge, inviting you readers to give as much to the poor as you spent on Christmas gifts.  With our matching grant, we gave $12,100 to a variety of worthy causes.  Quite an inspirational way to reclaim Christmas.  I hope we can reclaim Easter in the same way, and make Lent a meaningful season for people on both sides of the clean-water sea.

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Eating Healthy for Less


I’m experiencing a tension between spending less and eating more healthy food. Last year, we changed our diet to eat organic. This means we spend a bit more $ on food than we did before. Also, we use raw sugar, honey, or 100% maple syrup instead of white sugar and artificial sweeteners. As a result of eating healthier, the pain that I felt in my hands and wrists – which I thought was caused only by keyboard usage – went away! White processed sugar can be an inflammatory agent to your joints. Our kids’ piano teacher experienced the same thing with arthritic pain. Also, not surprisingly, we have less plaque on our teeth. The average American consumes between 3 and 5 pounds of added sugar a week, adding up to 200+ pounds of added sugar a year per person.

Also, we now use whole wheat flour instead of white processed flour. White processed flour is just glucose; it’s stripped of the nutritious wheat bran and germ, leaving only the carbohydrate. The rise in American diabetes is probably due to the use of white processed flour. Many products say “Made With Whole Grains” on packages, but use dark brown colors and deceptive names; they actually have ordinary refined wheat flour as their main ingredient, since they are not required by law to disclose the percentage of whole grains versus refined grains. In fact, some processed flour has a harmful plastic called bromine. So we try to eat NO white flour products at all: pasta, bread, buns, muffins, croissants, pizza dough, almost all cereals, crackers, and flour tortillas. Instead, if we buy things from the store, we buy oatmeal, flax seed cereal, nuts, whole wheat pasta, and Ezekiel bread from Trader Joe’s. At Christmas we also bought a small electric mill that grinds whole grains into whole wheat flour. It was $250 but it saves us a little bit because we now make our own bread, pizza dough, and pie crust, which are delicious. (My pizza is pictured above, blueberry pie here…)

In general, I’m convinced that eating healthy will save us money in the long run, both individually and as a society. Our industrial food system is a long way from God’s good garden with fresh fruit galore. Anyone recommend good recipes that combine the values of eating healthy but spending less? Awhile back, I came across this on Huffington Post, and it had some decent recipes.