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Old 23rd April 2017, 09:59 PM
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The Irreverent Mr Black The Irreverent Mr Black is offline
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Default Fast Food? Surely An Oxymoron!

(Here's another chunk of the preliminary notes for that goddamned book)

Fast Food? Surely An Oxymoron!


This section covers part of my experience as a student minister.


It's pretty obvious that our principal, The Great Oz, wanted to do a bit of cult-style mind control on us poor little noodles. Much of The Pastor Factory was set up to make the students malleable, reducing resistance even at the risk of breaking the person.


A little checklisting via http://www.howcultswork.com/ gives positive results of varying strengths on the following items of cult mind control:
  • Deception – little things that weren't quite true, told with the intention of strengthening a student's resolve to stay, or getting rid of annoying individuality;
  • Information control – the sudden announcements during the last (finish 10PM) lecture, that “I almost forgot! You're needed to wait tables at the District Pastors' Meeting tomorrow, starting at quarter to six.”
  • Reporting Structure - “Yes, Pastor Fred!” The idea of treating a dyslexic, doddering twit who was reading his subject straight from the textbook (and even then not understanding it – Hi, Pastor Malaprop!) as a superior whose every word was beyond question, still irks me.
  • Time control – Early morning starts and late finishes for the first two days of the week, plus half Wednesday. Add assignment work, and throw in little extras like the breakfast waiter gig or weekend camps/retreats. Oh yeah, and you're supposed to keep up work at your own church. You won't be discovering any alternatives soon!
  • Guilt, Character Assassination and Breaking Sessions – In other extracts, I mention the exorcism stuff, and the time the Great Oz told an outright porkie about the derivation of the word “dude”, just to win an argument. The Great Oz's Helicopter Wife presaged some form of resistance-breaking, which went under the guise of a counselling technique, and was supposedly guaranteed to bring all participants to the point of tearful helplessness, but I got out before that nasty experience could apply.


There was yet another technique for weakening the individual, albeit disguised as a “spiritual awakening tool”: I refer to fasting; the practice of going without food for prolonged periods to induce an altered mental state.


I've been hungry before. I don't just mean craving a snack, but the sort of hungry that results when you're fifteen kays' walk from the nearest town, and anyhow you've only got twenty cents between you and the dog till next month. Never, never, never will I eat rabbit again: I cannot abide the smell of cooking bunny or the sight of the carcasses.


A hungry tum is its own advocate. Audible groans come from the belly. Sharp pangs remind you there's nothing in the tuckerbox.


And then the mind kicks in. Lowered blood sugar does a number on you.


US National Council Against Health Fraud: (http://www.ncahf.org/articles/e-i/fasting.html) has this to say:
Quote:
Physical Effects of Fasting: Except for the brain, which consumes more calories than any other organ and has a constant need for glucose whether one is asleep or awake, one's metabolic rate varies with physical activity and by day and nightime effects. The body's ongoing need for nutrition is met by stores in the cells and liver, circulating blood, and gastrointestinal contents. Fasting causes blood sugar to drop. This leads to a breakdown (catabolism) of muscle and other protein tissue for energy. During fasting, catabolism is a kind of "self-cannibalism" the by-products of which (ammonia and urea) lead to acidosis that produces weakness, fatigue, irritability, depression, depressed libido, and a sick feeling.
Fasting does not cleanse the system, but loads it with metabolic toxins while decreasing its ability to destroy and excrete these. Fasting leads to rapid loss of water, sodium, and potassium. This decreases blood volume which produces postural hypotension (low blood pressure when standing up), and fainting. Severe potassium depletion can cause a fatal heart rhythm disturbance. The body cannot differentiate between voluntary fasting and starvation and deaths have occurred even with medically supervised fasts and near-fasts. People who survive prolonged fasts (starvation) may suffer anemia, decreased immunity, osteoporosis, kidney damage, or liver damage. Depressed gastrointestinal or digestive functions may persist for weeks or months [v]. The worst thing about fasting is its destruction of lean and vital tissue needed for a healthy and active life. Fasting, like colonic irrigation, laxatives, sweat baths, and other naturopathic regimes are at best useless, and at worst, can be fatal. Fasting is particularly dangerous for children.
So, apart from all the physical system-shock, there's that first item, the brain. While gods exist only in the mind, a fully-functional brain is the enemy of god. Get ready for wooziness, a shutdown of higher-level reasoning, and the descent of an almost-palpable headache-bearing deadweight on the mind.

Combine the reduced reasoning capacity with the giddiness that hypoglycaemia brings, along with altered mood, and of course some “spiritual” feeling can be manufactured out of the symptoms. It's also a heck of a way to make your student indoctrination subjects a bit more suggestible.

We only did day and half-day fasts during my time at the Factory. The practice went through quite a surge of popularity in the wider AOG community at the time, and at least one of my family members supposedly underwent a forty-day fast, taking nothing but water and fruit juices.

I remember looking at a booklet on fasting, found in the Pastor Factory's tiny broom-closet-sized “library”. There was the usual magical-thinking suggestion about how such an expression of piety and self-humbling would dispose the Big Sky Fairy to look upon the fasting person with favour... (Hey, come on! How big and powerful is a god who can be manipulated with funny rituals like The Dodging Of Meals?)... but there was more.

Now, I can't lay hands on the pamphlet itself, but I found something similar on the site of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (http://www.ihopkc.org/about/fasting-guidelines-and-information/)

Quote:
The bowels/colon/large intestines: During a fast of three days or more, taking an herbal laxative (inquire at your local health store) or an enema before bedtime will help eliminate solid waste products; these can cause headaches and sluggishness if left in the body during a fast. This should be done early during the fast and then intermittently throughout the rest of the fast. The body begins detoxifying during a fast, depositing the toxins into the intestines. If you do not take a laxative or an enema, the toxins can hurt your intestines or reabsorb into your bloodstream, making you feel nauseous.
Yes, that's right. Up the bum! Even in the churches noted for their homophobia, a little butt-kinkiness holds sway.


So ends this instalment: Black is off to have some cheese and crackers before bed.
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Tell people the paint is wet, they have to touch it to be sure. - George Carlin


Last edited by The Irreverent Mr Black; 23rd April 2017 at 10:03 PM. Reason: formattery
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  #2  
Old 24th April 2017, 11:48 AM
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Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Default Re: Fast Food? Surely An Oxymoron!

Not so fast, Mr. Black.

I became interested in microbiol ecology of the G.I. tract some twenty years ago, when I was a founder member of the Sir Charles Gairdner/Queen Elizabeth II hospital ethics and research committee. My deepest regret is that I did not pursue my hunches at that time scientifically.

The basic problem was how to support patients who had been given a regime of reserve or "last resort" broad spectrum and powerful antibiotic treatments to cure persistent infections. because although they knocked out the pathogens, they also knocked out the commensal ["friendly"] organisms in the GI tract, causing malnutrition, and a whole host of other problems, including leaving the GI tract open to re-infection by pathogens. Mortality rates caused by GI perturbations where quite high. As my training is in environmental science, both the chief of medicine and the chief of surgery, being fairly conservative, did not support my notions, but the head of microbiology did, as did the head of nursing.

My instinct was to flood the depleted gut with Yakult and other milk products to restore the population of commensal bacteria. it was only partly effective, and nowadays faecal donation/ replacement is done. [ A lot of the friendly bugs get knocked out by stomach acid on the way down, introducing them via the arse is much more effective.

"Purging" is a hit and miss affair, especially without faecal transplants. Because purging [without replacement] has sometimes worked, it had the attention of the woo brigade, who understood the dynamics even less than the medical profession.

Fasting. This too has some empirical evidence for prolonging life, but it has to be done right. The lower food intake must be nutritionally balanced, to avoid things like anaemia.

As for the religious/mystical side of things, of course that is pure bullshit. The relationship between gut ecology and mood is a complex one, and we are only just beginning to understand the basics.

Please note this is NOT apologetic for any of the woo above. Cultists that advocate weird starvation diets, purging etc, are doing such things without theory, model, mechanism, or paying attention to the evidence.

As with most myths, there is some basis in fact, be it misinterpreted, ill-perceived or biased by pre-conceived ideas or beliefs.

There seems to be little doubt, when consulting the relevant scientific literature, that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics has led the the accelerated evolution of resistant species and strains of bacteria. Bacterial "sex" [or Horizontal Gene Transfer, HGT, sometimes called Lateral Gene Transfer, LGT] means that any evolutionary innovation [such as drug resistance] can spread widely and quickly in bacterial populations, closely related or not.

Prokaryotes [the bacteria archaea] have a different genome scheme to eukaryotes. Eukarotes rely on a monolithic genome structure, where non-mutation variation relies on eusexual recombination. In bacteria, we have the "stable core" and the "variable shell". The core is what defines the species and house-keeping type genes, most metabolism etc. The "variable shell", is the environment, not only the biological one [other organisms, plastid transfer between bugs, but the acquisition of the DNA of lysed [destroyed, broken] cells.

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Old 24th April 2017, 11:59 AM
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The Irreverent Mr Black The Irreverent Mr Black is offline
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Default Re: Fast Food? Surely An Oxymoron!

Selected cherries from Sir Pup, for I am a fa(e)cetious bastard:
Quote:
"Purging" is a hit and miss affair, especially without faecal transplants.
So, you have to be full of shit?

Quote:
As for the religious/mystical side of things, of course that is pure bullshit.
I agree, tangible shit is the only shit of any worth!
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Old 24th April 2017, 12:39 PM
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Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Default Re: Fast Food? Surely An Oxymoron!

The Irreverent Mr Black wrote:-
Quote:
So, you have to be full of shit?
Indeed!
But there is a serious side to this. As you know, prokarotes have been around for a while, at least three and a half billion years, probably plus some change. In that time, they have probably invented close to every evolutionary trick imaginable, including of course the Johnny-Come Latelies, we Eukaryotes.

But as I said above, it is quality rather than quantity which really matters. There are basically three requirements for communal/social living:-

1. Adhesion genes [as seen in bacterial films, and of course, in organisms like us].

2. Inter-cellular signalling genes. [In bacteria, the most famous of these are those responsible for quorum sensing. QS genes provide a "census" of the population, which you can appreciate, affects how pathogens behave. In makes no sense to start mischief on your host if your numbers are few, and the host's immune system strong, you will get obliterated. QS insures that you can mount your assault on the host when you have an overwhelming hoard. So if you only have a few members, you go "covert", and not awake the sleeping giant of the host's immune system. Makes sense?

3. The third thing you need, is anti-cheating mechanisms. If you are going to produce social goods that benefit the group, it is insane to allow freeloaders.

4. Programmed cell death. [As far as is known, bacteria don't have this trait, at least at detectable levels, and certainly not at levels that would allow prokaryotic grades of organisation that allow specialisation, organs etc that we see in the Eukaryota.

To achieve the complex origami of the eukaryotic grade of organisation, you need really hard selection to "bubble-sort" the timing of various growth events, and cell death events. Bacteria [given the right conditions] can achieve almost infinite populations as quickly and easily as horses shit. To grow a Eukaryota puts investment in an individual, and takes a lot of time. Therefore, why not have two cells lines? The somatic line clones itself [but with functional diversification into tissues and organs], and the germ line, where the really hard selection takes place. [Think trial and error, or a brute-force "password attack"].

[And of course, the divergence of somatic and gamete cell lines was probably an accident, that paid unexpected dividends].

But I digress. We are only beginning to understand how nervous system, immune system, and bacterial symbiots interact. Almost certainly, our gut ecology can [and often does] affect our moods and behaviour. There is ample evidence elsewhere of parasites and pathogens manipulating host behaviour for their own ends, and the opposite is true too, friendly symbiots can have postive behavioural and biological effects on their hosts. [because if their hosts survive, so do they].

Of course, it is not all that black and white. If a friendly host detects signs of severe illness, or approaching death, they can switch to pathogen mode. And of course, the reverse is true, pathogens can [very occasionally] work for the benefit of a host. For example, Pathogen/parasite "A" may attack an invading pathogen/parasite "B" to defend it's won "turf" inadvertently helping it's host. The possibilities/dynamics are complex and almost limitless really. Think of the gut not just as a food in one end shit out the other, and more like a miniature world, an ecology, and you are good to go!
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Last edited by Darwinsbulldog; 24th April 2017 at 12:42 PM. Reason: typos and shit
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Old 24th April 2017, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: Fast Food? Surely An Oxymoron!

Mr Black, humiliating as it be, I must here honestly declare an affinity with your fond reminiscences, albeit regrets. I feel sure you could have done otherwise yourself with your time back then. Capitalise, as you are doing with great creativity. Cheers.

In Christian discipleship of the Frank Houston Hillsong Northern New South Wales hippie habitat outreach theophany variation started by Les Hanson, I wasn't subject to any imposed fasting decretal but I dutifully imposed much pathological death to self, in accord with the exhortations under discipleship in this Christian community.

When I told my dad whom I miss that the bible says 'crucify the old man', he was justifiably mortified. Of course I didn't mean it literally as he construed it though he did construe I had become victim to a cult albeit this cult execrated anything laying alternative claim to spirituality as essentially cultic, which indeed it was, but satanic too, which claim was to be believed and one must needs be wise to, or become possessed yourself. The consequences for unbelief were ostracism now and damnation ultimately. The Unpardonable Sin. The Devil was really out to ensnare Christians as his greatest prize.

I did my fasting before I became this Jesus Freak. I won't say here how long I fasted for, on water, and air. Now you really want to know. Let's say, I have undergone the experience, though it is still a bit of a blur. I did the enemas.

If we seek to reduce subjective reality to some essence we can agree on, it is suffering, privation.

Thank fuck I didn't die.
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