Session Five

A Common Interest in Healthy Lives

“Why Risk Getting Shots if Plenty of Other People Refuse to be Immunized?”

Personal health—healthy eating, exercise, and proper medical care—are considered valued aspects of life for many Americans. Indeed, those with good health and an exercise regiment are likely to be designated “winners,” as opposed to the unhealthy, the obese, and those with limited access to suitable health care. Can we feel solidarity with those who struggle with poverty- related health issues? Such solidarity might carry over worldwide health issues. We feel good about reaching out charitably in times of suffering, yet too easily forget the difficult, ongoing work of worldwide health care. This chapter offers a fresh look at the world’s health challenges.

Fast Food and Health

This video offers a starting point for discussion of the impact of fast food consumption on health and personal lifestyle.

Key Issues

  • Obesity is on the rise among teenagers, while parents fret concerning the role of television and Internet advertising on the habits of their children young and old. The pace of life for everyone has steadily increased over the last several decades, fragmenting work schedules and decreasing the time for families desiring to eat together.
  • The fast food diet—whether from the burger and fries combo with a sugared soft drink, the fried chicken dinner, or the overstuffed burrito—tends to be deep fried, high in fat and sodium, and high in sugar.

Questions for Discussion

  1. The visual montage of fast food advertising portrays the cultural messages being sent about health, belonging and the good life.  Do you pay attention to fast food advertising?  What thoughts or feelings do they provoke?  Are you informed, entertained, irritated or indifferent?
  2. Researchers’ findings are cited regarding the effects of fast food consumption on obesity, Type 2 diabetes, organ damage and depression. Are these health effects matters of public policy regulation, personal responsibility, or a combination of the two?

World Health Challenges and Global Compassion

Sociologist Robert Bellah discusses with Donald W. Shriver, Jr. the relationship between global health issues and our attitudes as Americans toward the rest of the world.

Questions for Discussion

  1. According to Bellah, our attitudes toward assisting other countries can be clouded by cultural elitism, an assumed superiority.  Our educational system can assist in overcoming such narrowness, yet the church can help, too.  Using global music in worship shows that Christians identify with the world at large.  How else might local congregations embrace a respect for other cultures?
  2. Donald Shriver refers to a Christian attitude which says, “The Bible says love my neighbor.  That means charity begins at home.”  Bellah responds by citing the  Good Samaritan, a despised foreigner demonstrates love of a neighbor who is radically different.  How might our U.S. health care system or U.S. international aid policy be reformed to reflect love of neighbor?
  3. Worldwide health challenges require a “global civic society,” Bellah asserts, which is not a global state, but a “web of covenants with each other across national borders.”  How might short-term mission trips, so popular with many congregations, be better used to reflect covenantal loyalty across borders?

    Faithful Citizen: Living Responsibly in a Global Society

    A six-part study guide designed for use in congregational development. The guide includes in-depth discussion of global issues effecting our faith and our response to the world as well as questions for discussion and where to look for more resources.


    Purchase the PDF Companion Study Guide

    $8.00/session or $40.00 for all six sessions

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