The Voices of the Vaccine Debate and How They Affect You

The Voices of the Vaccine Debate and How They Affect You

The Goal

Every time I sit down to write on this topic, I am keenly aware of the voices on both sides of this issue.

My goal in writing on this topic is not to convince you whether or not you should or should not vaccinate your child, or yourself.

My goal is to provide information that you may not be aware of in regards to vaccine issues so as to encourage a dialogue around keeping vaccine choice a viable option for parents, and adults, without fear of retribution.

This post is part of a series I have been doing on vaccines. You can read my previous posts here and here. If you have a sincere desire to understand the entirety of this issue, I would strongly encourage you to review those blog posts. The main question of each of the posts is the same: Will you be allowed to have the freedom to decide whether you, or your child should receive a vaccine?

The Problem of “Science” In This Debate

I have been working for weeks reviewing scientific studies on vaccine related topics. However, the problem I have found is that each side of this debate has their own view of the studies that have been done, which they either choose to propagate or decimate. You can find a plethora of blogs and social media sites of each side “disqualifying” what the other side has said.

This issue is incredibly divisive and contentious – think of the divide between political parties right now, or any hot button social issue. The same is true on this issue.

It would be difficult to dissuade either side, unless both sides agreed to the parameters of study to look at vaccinated versus un-vaccinated children. (There actually have been studies done, but they are disputed, of course.) It is said that such a study would be unethical – to vaccinate some and not vaccinate others. However, I am wondering if there is now a large enough sample size where it could be done since there are many parents who have voluntarily decided not to vaccinate. Perhaps that is worth considering in the future.

At the time of this writing, there has never been a safety study done on the current CDC immunization schedule, which includes 72 doses for children. That number is expected to increase as more vaccines hit the market.

We have gone from:

1983: 24 doses of 7 vaccines by age 18

2017: 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18 (2020 72 doses)

Currently 1 out of 6 children now have a developmental disability. Source: CDC  (Also see my first post on this topic here.)

 

Although we hear that that ‘the science is settled”, there are many who would question the accuracy of that statement. And honestly, can science ever be “settled”? What if new information becomes available? What if new methods are developed? Would not “science” have to change as information changes?

It would be so helpful to many folks who have legitimate questions and concerns on vaccines to have an opportunity to watch a formal debate between these two viewpoints. One where each could make their case, evidence could be presented, and rebuttals given.

Unfortunately, that has not yet happened. As you will hear from the interviews below, the main voices on the pro-vaccine side have not been willing to publicly debate the vaccine-choice side.

My Attempt At Bringing A “Debate”

Because there has been no formal debate, I have decided to approach this in a different way than what I originally intended in regards to reviewing studies.

 In this blog post I will be bringing to you some of the main speakers in the vaccine “cultural narrative” for you to review for yourself, while they “debate/converse”.

 To begin with, let me quickly identify a few of the many voices in this dialogue that will be highlighted.

Pro Vaccine Advocates

First, certainly the most obvious pro-vaccine “advocate” is the CDC. This is where you will always be directed to find the information that “proves” that vaccines are safe and effective. It also probably carries the most name recognition as an “expert” source in the minds of most people.

 (Because I am already concerned about the length of this post, I will not delve into it now, however I will be doing a future post on the revolving door at the CDC of past pharmaceutical company employees and pharmaceutical lobbyists.)

 Next, two of the leading pro-vaccine doctors who are considered “experts in their fields” are Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Peter Hotez.

 Paul A. Offit, MD, is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

 Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., is president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also Professor of Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics.

 Dr. Offit is a firm believer in vaccines and has said “each person can theoretically respond to 10,000 vaccines at one time.”

 I have no doubt that these men both sincerely care about the health of children and believe in the efficacy and safety of vaccines.

 Simply for the purpose of this post, I would like to share some information that I think is important when considering any bias these men might have.

 CBS reports of Dr. Offit’s a possible conflicts of interest. Click here to read the article “How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders?

 

“Offit holds in a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children’s Hospital, funded by Merck.” He is also the inventor of the Rotavirus vaccine, a vaccine listed on the CDC schedule for all children to receive.

And this on Dr. Hotez:

 

 “Today, Hotez is 49 and chairman of the department of microbiology, immunology and tropical medicine at George Washington University. He has received $52 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and conduct clinical trials in Brazil for his hookworm vaccine.”

 

Now let me clear. I am not inferring that just because they may of “conflicts of interest” that should nullify their voices. I am just pointing that these ties should be considered, as it may affect their views.

Vaccine Choice Advocates:

Probably the biggest name in this arena would be Robert Kennedy Jr., and his organization: The Children’s Health Defense, whose mission is “to end the epidemic of children’s chronic health conditions by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures, hold those responsible accountable, and establish safeguards so this never happens again.”

 This organization covers much more than vaccines, but vaccines are the only area I am familiar with, and that I am addressing in this article.

 The other prominent vaccine choice advocate would be Del Bigtree. Mr. Bigtree is primarily known as an investigative journalist and film producer. Most notably he received an Emmy award for his work on the show “The Doctors”.  He was also the producer of the movie “Vaxxed: “From Cover-Up to Catastrophe”. It was after producing Vaxxed, that he started devoting his efforts into researching vaccine safety. He is also the founder of Informed Consent Action Network https://www.icandecide.org/

 Although these two men hold vastly different views on this subject compared to Paul Offit and Peter Hotez, they are also very sincere in their efforts to keep children healthy.

In Their Own Words

In preparing to write an article, my goal is to always find sources of the people themselves that I am discussing, actually speaking in their own words so that you can make judgments for yourself.

 In perusing through the vast array of articles and videos, I narrowed it down to these three for this “debate.”

 Please remember, there is no way to understand this controversy in a two-minute sound bite video. If you would like to fully understand the issue, this is going to take an investment of time. I will say that if you do watch all of these, you will have a very comprehensive view and a greater understanding of this issue than the majority of people around you.

The Voices

The first “voice” in this debate is the movie, Vaxxed II The People’s Truth. I am starting with this resource because I think it shows poignantly why there is even a vaccine debate being discussed. I do wish to make a few brief comments here on the first VAXXED movie; “Vaxxed: From Cover-up To Catastrophe”. The focus of the movie was to show how the CDC covered up statistical findings that the MMR vaccine had caused autism at a higher rate in black children. William Thompson, a lead researcher on the study, was at the center of the story. Your can read his remarks here.

Additional statements of Thompson’s:

“Oh my God, I did not believe that we did what we did, but we did. It’s all there… This is the lowest point in my career, that I went along with that paper. I have great shame now when I meet families of kids with autism, because I have been part of the problem. “We’ve missed ten years of research because the CDC is so paralyzed right now by anything related to autism. They’re not doing what they should be doing because they’re afraid to look for things that might be associated.”

 

“I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

 

“The authors of the study decided not to disclose to the public that African American boys under two were more susceptible to developing autism or autism-like symptoms from the MMR vaccine.

 

“The remaining four coauthors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room and reviewed and went through all the hard copy documents that we thought we should discard and put them in a huge garbage can. However because I thought it was illegal and would violate La Jolla and DOJ requests, I kept hard copies in my office and retained all associated computer files. I believe that we intentionally withheld controversial findings from the final draft of the pediatrics paper.”

So that is the story behind the first Vaxxed movie.

 “Vaxxed II The People’s Truth” tells the real life stories of parents who were not “anti-vaccine”. However their lives changed forever, often hours or days, after their children became injured after receiving a vaccine. This is the story of what thousands of parents deal with every day. Regardless of whether one feels they are correct or not in what happened to their children, their stories should not be lightly dismissed.

 This movie portrays why there is a vaccine hesitancy global movement, and why having a choice is important. It is crucial that you not skip past this movie. If you were only going to watch one of the videos in this post, this is the one that will provide you with the best understanding of the issue.

It is important to note that the U.S. government does acknowledge that vaccines can cause injury and that is why it established the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program  – See video here.

The Conversational Debates

“The next set of voices come from 2 segments of the show “The High Wire’ with Del Bigtree.

I will say upfront that I am only familiar with Del Bigtree in regards to his work specifically with vaccines.

Because Dr. Offit and Dr. Hotez will not debate publicly on the vaccine issue, Del tries to have some type of “conversation” with each of them in these two videos, with two popular social media figures, Joe Rogan and Zdogg.

Please keep in mind that a formal debate would obviously look very different than what we see here, with detailed arguments, evidence and rebuttals given in a professional and tempered forum. This is just one “show” responding to another “show”.  Although, I appreciate Del’s zeal for his subject matter Del is very animated. He is very passionate and very expressive in his interviews. This can be refreshing and engaging – because sometimes you are shaking your head right along with him in what you are hearing – however I think sometimes it can take away from the seriousness of what is being discussed. I also think he gets a little too animated when talking about the measles. Although I agree that it is not the death sentence it is made out to be, certainly it can be serious in some cases.

All this to say, this does at least allow for some dialogue – understanding that it is an oversimplification of the “science”.

Joe Rogan Podcast

Here is the interview with Dr. Peter Hotez and Joe Rogan.  Joe has the number one podcast in the world.

It is interesting to note that later in this interview Dr. Hotez says that doctors like himself are at a disadvantage of getting their message out, which, as Del will also expand on, seems rather contradictory as he is sitting in front of the microphone of the number one podcast in the world. The other comment I would like to note on Dr. Hotez’s statement is that both he and Dr. Offit enjoy the great benefit of being well received by mainstream media. As anyone who has ever raised a question regarding vaccine safety knows, the reality is that you are quickly labeled as a quack, a fraud and excoriated for spreading misinformation. Just google the names Robert Kennedy or Del Bigtree and you will quickly see how they are portrayed.

Dr. Hotez once said this about parents who questioned vaccine safety, “They are a hate group who hates their families and hates their children.

What about all those people in the movie above? Do they hate their children if they decided not to vaccinate any more of their children? I think we have to have space for each other in this conversation – respecting each other. People can disagree without being disagreeable.

I know this is a long video, but it does an excellent job of covering many of the main issues, and it actually moves pretty quickly. I think this is an informative podcast for both sides of this issue.

ZDogg and Paul Offit

Next is Zdoggs interview with Paul Offit. Zdogg (Zubin Damania) is an American physician, assistant professor, comedian, internet personality, and musician.

If you watch nothing else in this video, please check out the time frame from 19:40-26:30. If this is truly how a vaccine gets voted on, no matter what your view of vaccines, we should all be seriously concerned.

Honest Questions

So, what about all the injuries to the children you witnessed in the movie?

Is Paul Offit correct? Can a person theoretically receive 10,000 vaccines at a time?

If even our government acknowledges that vaccines can, in some cases, cause injury and thus set up the NVIC program, and the Supreme court stated, “… vaccines have “unavoidable, adverse side effects”, should we be allowed to take that information into consideration when deciding whether we choose to receive a vaccine or not? See info here.

The listing of all adverse effects for each vaccine can be found at this fda.gov site here.

Can vaccines cause injury or illness in some children?  Yes, it states the injuries on the package insert and because of that we have the National Vaccine Injury Court.

So, who should get to make the decision for your child, or for you, to receive a vaccine?

What happens if you don’t get vaccinated? Will you be disallowed to travel? Go to school? Go to work?

I am hesitant to post this video for fear that some one will say I believe in a conspiracy theory about Bill Gates. That is not the case. I know there is a great deal of controversy surrounding some of the things he is involved with but I have no personal first-hand knowledge nor the experience to debate those issues, so I do not wish to engage on the topic. However, with all the financial resources Mr. Gates has, he certainly has enormous influence on which direction public policy will go. Thus it is important to know his involvement in this conversation.

Again, in his own words – except for the fact that the last sentence was edited out before being posted on the Internet. I am assuming it was taken out because of all the controversy surrounding his involvement with the digital ID 2020. (Please note that June 10th date is the day I uploaded it, not the day Bill Gates gave his talk.)

Will vaccine choice freedom end up being decided by “The Golden Rule”? Whoever has the most gold, rules?

Final Thoughts

In researching this for so many years, I would have to concur that the science is not settled. Therefore, I will make a prediction that this debate is going to be fought in the “cultural narrative” that goes out in movies, social media, podcasts and advertising. My guess is that at some point here in the near future we are probably going to see a multi-million dollar marketing campaign for getting all “caught up” on any missed vaccinations – and we will see some of the most amazingly well crafted commercials that will make us want to rush to the doctor as soon as possible and get all our shots, because if we don’t, we may be at risk for losing our jobs or not having our kids be allowed to go to school.

This will further divide people on this issue, and therefore I also predict, it will ultimately end up before the highest court in the land. This is especially true in regards to religious freedom. (See my last post here.)

This video with Constitutional lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, tells us that the constitution allows the government to forcibly vaccinate each one of us.

“You have no right not to be vaccinated.”

So what happens then?

I don’t know.

But when we get there, if you have read everything in this series, you will have a much better understanding, than probably even the Supreme Court justices, of how we got there.

 #beinformed #vaccinechoice #withoutretribution

How Will This Information Change You?

How Will This Information Change You?

Do You Know Who Those Above Names Belong To?

For several weeks I have been back to researching some questions in keeping up with the vaccine conversation.   As I discussed in my previous vaccine post, the issue of vaccine choice will continue to be a heated topic, especially now in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic.

I had set out to compile more studies on vaccine safety data. In doing so, I ran across information about Stanley Plotkin. Some of you may have already heard of him. Dr. Plotkin is considered the Godfather of Vaccines. And for good reason. I could not convey in words what this video communicates so clearly.

Click on photo to watch. Please do not skip watching this video, as it is crucial to understating the importance and influence this man has.

Clearly Dr. Plotkin has established himself as one of the most accomplished scientists in the area of vaccinology.

So, How did I come across him?

As I was looking at more data on vaccine safety studies, the issue of aborted babies used for vaccines continually came up.   I had known for many years that aborted babies had been used in several vaccines, to some degree. It wasn’t until last week that I began to see the picture a little differently.

In digging into a little more research on this topic, I came across a deposition Dr. Plotkin gave which was intended to be used in a Michigan court case, Matheson V. Schmidt. This case involved Lori Matheson and her ex-husband Michael Schmitt. At issue was the right to decide if their 2-year-old daughter should be vaccinated. Matheson had two objections. First, she did not want their daughter, Faith, to receive her vaccines because she was concerned about an autoimmune disease that runs in her family and how a vaccine might negatively affect Faith. Secondly, she had claimed a religious exemption for vaccines because of the use of aborted fetuses.

I give the background of this case only for the purposes of explaining why Stanley Plotkin was being deposed.

He was asked to testify as an expert witness on vaccines by Dr. Paul Offit, who is also known as an expert in his knowledge on vaccines.

Dr. Plotkin’s Testimony

As it turned out, after being deposed for over 9 hours, Dr. Plotkin recused himself from the case, so the judge never heard his testimony.

After watching these videos you will have some insight as to why he decided to recuse himself.

Please do not skip past these videos or fast-forward through them, every word is important. If you are concerned about any edits being made, or Plotkin taken out of context, you can click here for the full deposition. Click on the photo below to start listening to him describe the contents of vaccines and the use of aborted babies in vaccines and vaccine research:

In this video, Dr. Plotkin talks about his research using orphans and the medically handicapped in experimental vaccines:

A Few Comments

First, I do not wish to make any character assumptions about Dr. Plotkin. My main objective was for people to hear him in his own words and to know the ideology from which he works from, since his products affect millions of people. However, I do think it is important to remember Dr. Paul Offit’s words from the above video:

“He (Dr. Plotkin) has trained a generation of scientists, including myself, to think like he thinks.”

Secondly, I would like to briefly address Dr. Plotkin’s comments regarding the Catholic Church, only because he specifically brings it up.  He seems, to some degree, imply that the Catholic Church accepts the use of vaccines that contain aborted babies. I am not Catholic, but I think that his comments may be a bit of an ”overstatement” of the Catholic Church’s position. In it’s letter on this subject (click here to read), the Catholic Church gives “passive material cooperation,” for getting vaccines, but to “make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems” ….” as is up to the faithful and citizens of upright conscience (fathers of families, doctors, etc.) to oppose, even by making an objection of conscience, the ever more widespread attacks against life and the “culture of death” which underlies them  (vaccines).”

That said, the letter does seem to suggest that it is “permissible” to use vaccines with aborted babies when there is no other choice. It states: “However, if the latter are exposed to considerable dangers to their health, vaccines with moral problems pertaining to them may also be used on a temporary basis.”

I am not sure what is meant by a “temporary basis”, as we are now 15 years past the date of that letter; henceforth I would like to make an appeal not only to all my Catholic friends, but my friends of ALL denominations of the church, to consider, indeed, the “culture of death” in which we find ourselves. And what our participation is with that culture.

Plotkin’s Vaccine Study

The Rubella vaccine alone used 76 (The number Plotkin gave in his deposition) aborted babies for research  – again that is for just one vaccine.

“The rubella virus clinically named RA273 (R=Rubella, A=Abortus, 27=27th fetus, 3=3rd tissue explant) was then cultivated on the WI-38 aborted fetal cell line.”

A later research paper by Stanley Plotkin would reveal that 40 more babies were aborted after RA273 was successfully isolated, with virus strains taken from 34 of them.

See Study here:

**********

The MRC-5 cell line was developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14 week aborted baby.

As I sat down to write this post, after reading a plethora of articles and studies, my primary thought was,”What ethic are we anchored in?”

I was reminded of the videos that came out in 2015 showing how Planned Parenthood was selling fetal parts from abortions for medical research.

Please note: My intent here is NOT to talk about the legality of abortion, Planned Parenthood or anything surrounding these tapes. My motivation for putting them in this post is simply to show where we are at in regards to our collective consciousness.  Our willingness to accept aborted baby cells in our vaccines plays a role in what we accept as a culture.

This is an excerpt from a note I wrote to members of my family back in 2015 in regards to the videos below:

“If you have not seen these videos, but you think you can imagine what is in them-you cannot. You need to watch them. We cannot turn away from the reality of what is happening in our culture.”

Click on each photo to watch what the conscience of our culture has become. Please do not pass by these without watching. These videos segments are very short – between 36 seconds to a little over 1 minute.

What is utterly stunning here is how she is clearly enjoying lunch in the midst of this conversation:

All 12 videos in this series can be found at here at the Center for Medical Progress.

What is the moral ethic we are anchored in? Is it simply that the end justifies the means? Do we not see how decisions made out of expediency will only continue to slide us further into “the culture of death?”

And for those that decide that they cannot in good conscience receive this vaccine due to their religious convictions, does the government have the right to overrule that conviction?

These are questions for all of us.

I know that each one of us would affirm the noble cause of trying to find ways to eradicate disease. However, I think we simultaneously need to ask ourselves, “At what cost?”

The Use of New Fetal Tissue Continues

As I implied above, there has not been a “temporary use” of vaccines. And not only has there not been a temporary use, there has been a continued new production:

Walvax-2

“We obtained 9 fetuses through rigorous screening based on carefully specified inclusion criteria (see Methods section). The Walvax-2 strain of cells met all of these criteria and proved to be the best cell line following careful evaluation. Therefore it was used for establishing a human diploid cell strain.”

“Superduper”

“The PER.C6 cell line is a superduper and commercial available manufacturing system that can be used to produce a variety of biopharmaceutical products, including vaccines..”(Link Here)

“The PER.C6 cell line is derived from human embryonic retinal cells, originally from the retinal tissue of an 18 week old fetus aborted in 1985…”

Potential Adverse Health Consequences of Using Aborted Human Cell Lines for Vaccine Production.

Dr. Theresa Deisher, a graduate with honors and distinction from Stanford University, and obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University, concluded in this study that “vaccines manufactured in human fetal cell lines contain unacceptably high levels of fetal DNA fragment contaminants.”

To read more about Dr. Deisher’s extensive professional background and her testimony on Conscious Rights, click here.

I have addressed the concerns of vaccine safety in a previous post, found here, and will be reviewing additional studies in an upcoming post.

Current Vaccine Ingredients

Here is a link to the Vaccine Excipient Summary  from the CDC which lists all ingredients.

You will find MRC-5 or WI-38 which contains RA27/3, Human Serum Albumin in the following vaccines:

  • Adenovirus
  • DTaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel)
  • DTaP-IPV (Quadracel)
  • Hep A (Havrix)
  • Hep A (Vaqta)
  • Hep A/Hep B (Twinrix)
  • MMR (MMR-II)
  • MMRV (ProQuad)
  • Rabies (Imovax)
  • Varicella (Varivax)
  • Zoster (Shingles – Zostavax).

There are so many issues that need to be addressed that are, for the moment, beyond the scope of this post.

However, there are a few thoughts that I would like to add, before bringing this to a close, for now.

The mother of the aborted baby (WI-38), whose cells have been used to create vaccines, was never informed of what happened to her baby. There was no “Informed Consent.” That may very well be true of the mother of RA27/3, and who knows how many others.

This from Slate:

“After the abortion, her 8-inch-long, female fetus was taken without her knowledge and its lungs dissected at the famous Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The tiny purplish organs were packed on ice and flown to the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, where a biologist named Leonard Hayflick cut them into innumerable pieces the size of match heads.”

What is interesting to note, and sad, in the above article from Slate, is that the focus was not so much that the baby had been “chopped up”, but rather, the lack of compensation given to the mother, while the pharmaceutical companies made billions.

Why is all this of particular relevance now?

Certainly this should have always been of importance to us, but honestly many people may not be fully aware of this information.

Now however, in addition to all the ethical issues, we may be facing the potential of legal challenges. I would like to point out that over the last few years, 5 states have eliminated religious exemptions (See here ). It is predicted more will continue to do so in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic.

This video recently went viral due to constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s comments. Though some write off his comments, there are many others who feel very much like he does. He affirms that the U.S. government has the constitutional authority to mandate vaccines. “You have NO right NOT to be vaccinated.”

Click on photo to view. It is about 1 minute in length.

“Don’t Worry, It’s All Good.” Really?

In my researching, I came across an article that stated:

“So let’s look back at what is the story of fetal tissue used in the development of vaccines and why it is not something to worry about.”

It is my sincere hope that that is not where you find yourself after reading through this post.

I can only speak from my Christian perspective. From what the story is that I have just looked back at and examined, my assessment would be just the opposite.

That is, unless we decide do something with what is before us. What will you do with this information? Has it changed you?

Additional Reading

I am going to leave it here for now. I hope to have a post out next week that reviews other safety concerns of vaccines. If you have not read my first post on this subject, I would strongly encourage you to review it so that you have a better understanding of this entire conversation. Click Here. Update: Here

We need to give serious attention to evaluating ways to accomplish the goal of health and safe immunity from disease that does not bring unnecessary harm to our bodies, and more importantly, to our souls.

Is God Sexist?

Is God Sexist?

If you are a woman reading this, I believe there is a pretty good chance that this question has run through your mind at some point in your life.

It was not until I was almost 30 before I had ever picked up a bible. Being new in the faith, and a busy mom there were many different issues I focused my attention on, but it wasn’t until my own daughters hit their early teens that I started delving into the topic of “God’s view of Women,” more deeply.

For me, at least for awhile, there were scripture passages that I had just put on the back burner, but I knew my daughters; I knew some of them were really going to have some serious difficulties with those tough passages we women all know – the ones that especially non-Christian women say prevent them from ever believing in the God of the bible.

And honestly, if not read in full cultural context, it is totally understandable why many women would feel that way. In addition, societally, within the church, this has not always been lived out well.

My goal in every post is to provide readers valuable and insightful resources on a topic. I thought these two recent podcast episodes with Dr. Jo Vitale, addressed this issue with breadth and depth.

Dr. Jo Vitale is Dean of Studies at the Zacharias Institute and an itinerant speaker for RZIM. Prior to joining the US team, Jo was a speaker for RZIM Europe, where she also served in teaching and pastoral roles at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.

During her time in Oxford, Jo graduated with a theology MA, an MSt in Biblical interpretation, and a DPhil (PhD) in theology, each from the University of Oxford. Interested in the questions surrounding sexism and the Bible, Jo wrote her doctoral dissertation on women in the Old Testament.

Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker and the president/co-founder of Authentic Intimacy – a ministry devoted to reclaiming God’s design for sexuality. She earned her college degree at Wheaton College, an MA in psychology from Biola University, and an MS and a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology. Juli is the author of ten books, and host of the weekly podcast “Java with Juli.”

Here is the interview on “Javi with Juli”:

Here is the interview on “Ask Away”:

 

Both “Ask Away” and “Java with Juli” are two of my favorite podcasts as they deal extensively with the cultural topics of our time.

You can read about Juli’s book “Rethinking Sexuality” by clicking on the photo:

Another outstanding voice in this area is Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing. Amy is a senior vice president with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Joint Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. She leads a team of pioneering apologist-evangelists and speaks around the world on how the Christian faith answers the deepest questions of life. Follow her Instagram here.

Dandelions: Weed, Flower, Herb or…Coffee Alternative?

Dandelions: Weed, Flower, Herb or…Coffee Alternative?

I remember when we first moved to the home where we currently live. Every spring, our acre front lawn is covered in this bright yellow…weed? flower? herb?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

One of my sons, who loves the look of a “perfect lawn”, has always despised the copious amounts of dandelions spread across the lawn.  He would align himself with Merriam Webster’s definition of a dandelion as a weed:

“A plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth.”

I, on the other hand, have come to enjoy the cheeriness of this bright yellow flower that covers the expanse, especially after the multitude of grey, dim late winter days that have stretched on for so long.

Since we have never used any type of chemicals on our grass, I have often pondered the question in my mind, “Surely there must be someone who would be interested in harvesting all these organic dandelions?”

Although, I have not set out on a venture to find a buyer for all these prolific flowers that grace our lawn, I have come to find out about how beneficial the dandelion can be – thus classifying it as an herb.

Years ago, I was having what I would term gall bladder pain. There is a bit of a long story here, but the bottom line is that I found out I was very sensitive to erythritol, a sugar substitute I was using, and that was causing the pain. However, in the process of researching how the gall bladder works and natural ways to keep it, and the liver, cleaned out, dandelion tea predominantly came out in the list of recommendations.

Click on this article to read more:

It was the desire for a healthy gall bladder that started me drinking dandelion tea, but what kept me drinking it was that I was also trying to reduce my coffee intake, especially decaf at night. And to my surprise – and delight – roasted dandelion tea embodies a similar flavor to coffee!

“Roasted dandelion root has a satisfying coffee taste and is herbal so there’s no stimulating caffeine,”

Katie Wells from “Wellness Mama” talks about this topic here, where she shares that dandelion root tea is her favorite coffee substitute due to its earthy taste.

She also shares a recipe for Iced Lime and Dandelion Tea. I think I’ll check this one out soon, as well!

For those of you who are interested in making you own dandelion tea, which I think I will try this spring, you can check out this video.

My favorite brand of dandelion tea brand is Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root. If you are local, I usually buy it at Kroger, otherwise I order it through Amazon.

I try not to use dairy, although I absolutely LOVE half-and-half!  Thanks to fellow forti-fy’r mom, Heather, I have found the delight of Nut Pods! It is half the calories of my beloved half-and half and has a great taste. It comes in original, hazelnut or vanilla flavors.

Although I typically just have the tea with a bit of the nut pod creamer, when I am looking for a “sweet treat”, I also add a cinnamon stick and a bit of honey – or a few drops of stevia – and just a pinch of pink Himalayan salt. It is a perfect late afternoon or evening “yum” – and every sip gives health to your body!

So, although my son would still classify a dandelion as a weed, my definition of a dandelion would definitely include a life-giving herb with a cheery disposition!

Since I am talking “Tea” today, I just wanted to share some absolutely lovely drawings I saw this week by fellow forti-fy’r, Mica Garbarino. Every time Mica shares her artwork on Facebook, I am amazed at her creativity and talent –   oh how I wish I could draw like this!

Seep up your favorite flavor of tea and enjoy these drawings!

Aren’t these just so delightful?! Thank you Mica, for forti-fy’ing the space around you with beauty!

A few days ago, I posted this quote from N.T. Wright, in the Forti-fy’rs Facebook group:

“We have in the New Testament a vision of new creation. ⁣⁣⁣Paul says if anyone is in Christ, then there is new creation. ⁣⁣

Ephesians 2:10 We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ⁣⁣

The word for “workmanship” there in the original Greek is “poiema”. It is the word, which we get the word poem. We are, if you like, God’s ARTWORK, God’s POEM, God’s SONG, God’s SYMPHONY.⁣⁣

“We as human beings are to be the people through whom God’s fresh ordering of the world can take place. Paul does not mean we were made for just good moral works, that we should just do some good deeds here and there in order to earn favor, or indeed, we should just behave ourselves

He means we should also be creative.

We should be people of new creation, able to do new things – to write new books, to sing new songs, to plant new gardens, to do new building, to teach new things – that we should be people of new creation. That is the most amazing vision.”

“Really, if Christians knew what they were about, they should be people who are out there making the world COME ALIVE. Making new things happen, and opening new possibilities.”

Well, I think Tim Mackie and Jon Collins’s workmanship in developing “The Bible Project” displays all of what N.T. Wright describes above!

The duo’s combined creativity of Jon’s storytelling and Tim’s bible knowledge – and their awe and excitement for God’s word – delivers a very engaging and innovative medium for demonstrating biblical insights.

Tim and Jon note that the bible can be “confusing and intimidating for the average reader, and their goal was to create short animated videos to help the reader understand the structure and the themes of the bible.” And they accomplish just that – for viewers of all ages. I was so struck by the simplicity of their work, yet the breadth of material these videos cover.

They have produced videos for EVERY BOOK OF THE BIBLE!

They have also created a Series that showcase different Biblical books from Genesis to Acts, Themes that trace key biblical themes from their first appearance through the entire narrative of the Bible, and Key biblical words in both Hebrew and Greek to gain a better understanding of biblical language. Click on any of the photos below to get a sample of these innovative expressions filled with rich insights.

This is a terrific resource to use with your kids. The younger ones will enjoy watching the stories, and the older ones will be able to easily pick up on all the main themes. 

So head on over to the Bible Project and watch how the bible unfolds as a “unified story that leads directly to Jesus.”

(Please note: I know that there is no bible study resource that will not conflict with the finer points of someone’s theology,

however I think for a broad overview of biblical themes, this is a valuable resource.)