Friday, October 17, 2008

Maté, Kava, Coca-Cola and LDS Missionaries

When missionaries go out on their mission they are encouraged to respect the cultures of the people to whom they are called. Missionaries face many social situations where they are offered food and drink. A few drinks that they will encounter are maté, kava, and coca-cola. As to their being acceptable drinks that comply with the Word of Wisdom is subject to debate.

A doctrine that they have been taught and lived all their lives is the Word of Wisdom. Many Mormons debate whether these other substances mentioned above violate the intent of the Word of Wisdom since they are not clearly stated as being against it. I want to explore both sides and what people have to say either way.

In section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants the chapter heading states, " Use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks proscribed. The revelation says:
3 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the bweak and the weakest of all csaints, who are or can be called saints.
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of aevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of bconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
5 That inasmuch as any man adrinketh bwine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, apure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7 And, again, astrong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
This scriptural guidance was given in 1833 and wasn't enforced until the 1920s. Since that time it has come to refer to illegal drugs, tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol and has been codified into the temple recommend questions. When a LDS leader asks a member if they are living the Word of Wisdom that is the general expectation. So in the minds of most LDS if you refrain from using these substances then you are complying with the counsel given by Joseph Smith. LDS do take prescribed drugs when medically necessary. Other substances that are not mentioned have been left to the discretion of the individual member to decide. Since they are not mentioned straight out most LDS do whatever they feel like about using them. There are a few ultra-righteous who would disagree but they would be in the minority. There is little research to substantiate this argument one way or the other.

I don't really have an answer to whether you should or should not drink these beverages. There are conflicting guidelines and statements. Maybe they are intentional or maybe they are there so we can have our free will. I do know some former leaders have spoken out against them. I haven't heard anything in about twenty years though.

Most LDS would tell you that not one single prophet has spoken out against colas or other harmful substances. Unfortunately they have selective memories or are not good researchers. Many have told me to my face if I tell them otherwise that we only care what the living Prophet says and he hasn't said anything.

Harold B. Lee said the same thing. In the Teachings of Harold B. Lee we read:

Only the prophet speaks for the Church. All over the Church you're being asked this: "What does the Church think about this or that?" Have you ever heard anybody ask that question? "What does the Church think about the civil rights legislation?" "What do they think about the war?" "What do they think about drinking Coca-Cola or Sanka coffee?" Did you ever hear that? "What do they think about the Democratic Party or ticket or the Republican ticket?" Did you ever hear that? "How should we vote in this forthcoming election?" Now, with most all of those questions, if you answer them, you're going to be in trouble. Most all of them. Now, it's the smart man that will say, "There's only one man in this church that speaks for the Church, and I'm not that one man."

I think nothing could get you into deep water quicker than to answer people on these things, when they say, "What does the Church think?" and you want to be smart, so you try to answer what the Church's policy is. Well, you're not the one to make the policies for the Church. You just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He said, "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Well now, as teachers of our youth, you're not supposed to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On that subject you're expected to be an expert. You're expected to know your subject. You're expected to have a testimony. And in that you'll have great strength. If the President of the Church has not declared the position of the Church, then you shouldn't go shopping for the answer.
Spencer W. Kimball disagreed. In the Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball we read:

Wisdom goes beyond the letter of the law. Generally when we speak of the Word of Wisdom, we are talking about tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor, and all of the fringe things even though they might be detrimental are not included in the technical interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would. However, they are not included in the Word of Wisdom in its technical application. I quote from a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, "But the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by the drinking or eating of anything that contained a habit-forming drug." With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this at but I personally do not put them in the class as with the tea and coffee because the Lord specifically mentioned them [the hot drinks]….

I might say also that strychnine and sleeping pills and opium and heroin are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and yet I would discourage them with all my power.

Regarding the eating of meat, the Church leaves that also to the discretion of the individual. What would be required by one person might be too much for another. It would seem to me that a man engaged in very heavy, physical manual labor would require more meat than one sitting at a desk.

If one's physical condition required an extra supply of meat, I would not worry about the breaking of the Word of Wisdom, in that matter especially, if this was on doctor's orders or if they felt that this was the thing to do.
Joseph Fielding Smith in Answers to Gospel Questions Volume 5 responded to this question: "Question: "Please enlighten me in relation to the use of cola drinks ." Answer: "I was definitely informed by a chemist that the cola drinks are just as harmful as tea or coffee, and his advice was to leave all such substances alone."

John A. Widtsoe in his book the Word of Wisdom writes:

Other Stimulating Beverages. The drug caffeine is found in many other plants than tea and coffee, such as yerba, mate, Cola nuts, guarana paste and yonpon tea. Decoctions of these and similar plants are often used where found for their stimulating effects and for commercial purposes the world over. They do not bear the names coffee and tea but have the same effect, because they usually contain the same poisonous drugs.

Caffeine is separated in large quantities from the coffee bean, to make decaffeinated coffee on the one hand, and caffeine-rich soft drinks on the other. Stimulating substances of this class are also made synthetically and given fancy names. Whenever a drink is advertised to "give you a lift," the "lift" is likely to be caused by the drug which it contains. Such soft drinks are decidedly harmful and habit-forming, even though sold by the millions. Such caffeine-containing drinks, offered by every soda fountain and most eating places, and consumed in large quantities, should be known and avoided. There is an added danger from the association of the caffeine with the syrup of the drink, for then one is apt to take much more caffeine than one would do if taking tea or coffee. Often the amount of caffeine in a portion of these drinks is larger than in a cup of strong coffee. The caffeine habit is soon developed, difficult to overcome, and body and mind are injured. Many unnecessary failures in life may be traced to the caffeine-habit as acquired elsewhere than by the use of coffee or tea.

Cocoa and Chocolate. The most common of the substances similar to caffeine widely distributed in nature and largely used by man, are the products of the cocoa bean-chocolate and cocoa. The United States consumes about 40 percent of the world's production of cocoa beans, which with other cocoa and chocolate importations amounted in 1936 to 631,883,818 pounds, with a value in the raw state of $33,000,803. The cocoa bean contains about 50 percent of fat and varying amounts up to 3 percent of the substance theobromine, a near relative of caffeine. Cocoa is usually the ground cocoa bean from which some of the fat has been expressed. Chocolate consists of ground cocoa bean from which the fat has not been removed, mixed with white sugar, starch and flavorings. The percentage of theobromine is therefore somewhat smaller than in the bean itself. Theobromine acts upon the body, especially upon the kidneys, very much as does caffeine. While it does not have as strong an effect upon the central nervous system, it is more irritating to the kidneys. Chocolate also contains considerable fat which has food value, but which sometimes is a combination too rich for weak digestions. Chocolate contains less theobromine than cocoa, and chocolate candy still less. However, the accompanying concentrated sugary preparations used excessively, are a menace to human health. (see chapter 12) The chocolate habit, which is related to the caffeine habit, is a matter of common observation, and should be controlled. The wise person tries to emancipate himself from the use of every habit-begetting drug.

None of these men were a prophet at the time of their statements. So we would have to dig for more authoritative statements. I fell on a couple recently. I will quote a couple of statements that confuse this whole matter further but preface a definite statement by a prophet.

In the April 1922 General Conference, Samuel O. Bennion said:

I heard President Grant say, recently, that he would consider it a favor to him, if men and women would abstain from the use of tea and coffee, tobacco, liquor, and coca-cola; that they would have power given them to establish themselves in the faith, and save themselves from debt, sickness, and disease. And he read from the revelations, that the destroying angel would pass them by; and he is a prophet of God.
Winslow Farr Smith also speaking at the same conference said about Heber J. Grant's stand on coke:

If we could only heed that admonition of our president to leave those things alone that come from the outside, that are a curse to us-I refer to those things decried in the Word of Wisdom-and could the money that we send away from home for tea, coffee, tobacco, liquors and coco-cola be applied to the establishment of industrial institutions, and in the carrying on of the work of the Lord, and if we were to live this holy law, then the peoples of the earth would have to look up in admiration to the people of God.

My brethren and sisters, this gospel is for you and me. It is a reality, a genuine thing, and not a passing fancy. Those who keep every one of the commandments of our Father and live near to Him, and do the things that He has laid down for them, are happy. All others receive joy in a direct ratio to the effort they put forth.

There are those who will say but these men are not apostles and only mission presidents speaking at conference. They aren't even as strong as the Kimball and Smith quotes. I would concede that point, however, in the closing session President Heber J. Grant agreed with them by speaking for himself:

The head of the health department, Dr. Beatty, has requested me to say to the Latter-day Saints that there are more injurious ingredients in coca-cola than there are in coffee, and particularly when some of the good people say: "Give me the double shot." I say to the Latter-day Saints, and it is my right to say it-because you have sung, since this conference started (whether you meant it or not, I am not saying)-

"We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet,

To guide us in these latter days; We thank Thee for sending the gospel

To lighten our minds with its rays; We thank Thee for every blessing

Bestowed by Thy bounteous hand; We feel it a pleasure to serve Thee,

And love to obey Thy command."

Now, if you mean it-I am not going to give any command, but I will ask it as a personal, individual favor to me, to let coca-cola alone. There are plenty of other things you can get at the soda fountains without drinking that which is injurious. The Lord does not want you to use any drug that creates an appetite for itself.

In the 1950s another LDS president David O. McKay gave a talk wherein he condemned the drinking of cola beverages as breaking the Word of Wisdom. In 1975 an official publication of the Church stated: "The leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs" (CR, Apr. 1975, p. 102).

A blog post shows some refutation of the belief that it is condemned by church leaders including David O. McKay (See Coffee A Lot of Upside).

However many LDS members and Church leaders including missionaries and mission presidents as well as a few general authorities still drink colas. One of the contentions about drinking cola beverages is that there is just as much caffeine in them as in coffee or tea. Also members tell me that it is hypocritical to refrain from coffee and teas and drink the other substances. Many times some uber righteous missionaries decide to abstain from colas on their mission. I don't fault them since it is an individual matter and I did the same thing.

When I was a recent convert to the LDS Church my missionaries encouraged me to give up my habit of drinking one or two liters of Pepsi every day. Even though it was hard I did it and continued the practice most of my life. Sometimes I slip off the wagon and sneak a Pepsi or Cherry Coke but mostly I drink caffeine free diet Pepsi or Coke (when desperate). So I have probably had twenty or thirty verboten (forbidden) drinks in thirty years.

Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Edition wrote:

Three types of things are prohibited to man by the Word of Wisdom - tobacco, strong drinks, and hot drinks. By strong drinks is meant alcoholic beverages; hot drinks, according to the Prophet's own statement, mean tea and coffee. Accordingly the negative side of the Word of Wisdom is a command to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor.

Abstinence from these four things has been accepted by the Church as a measuring rod to determine in part the personal worthiness of church members. When decisions are made relative to the granting of temple recommends or approving brethren for church positions or ordinations, inquiry is made relative to these four items.

Obviously the standard of judgment must be uniform throughout the Church, and local officers are not at liberty to add other items to this list. However, there are many other substances which have a harmful effect on the human body, though such particular things are not specifically prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. Certainly the partaking of cola drinks, though not included within the measuring standard here set out, is in violation of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. Harmful drugs of any sort are in a like category.

Some unstable people become cranks with reference to this law of health. It should be understood that the Word of Wisdom is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the Word of Wisdom.
I feel a great deal of guilt every time I imbibe and know that I have been a naughty boy. When I refuse a cola many times people ask me why and I tell them I do it for health or religious reasons that I am trying not to be a hypocrite. Lately I tell them I am diabetic and have high blood pressure and it could kill me. Then they ask me if I eat chocolate then smugly tell me there is more caffeine in chocolate then even colas. They then they tell me a spouse, uncle, brother, father or cousin had the condition and drank too many soda pops and ate too many candy bars. Then I say it is mostly a genetic predisposition and my doctor says you might have gotten it anyway. I finally agree even though I don't eat many candy bars it must have been those thousands of soda pops I drank my whole life.

In some places of the world mission presidents encourage their missionaries to drink Coke or bottled water and other beverages that have caffeine or drugs since the water supplies may contain impurities or parasites. In most places in the world missionaries are assigned to relatively safe areas to minimize these dangers. In the majority of places there is little danger so missionaries can follow the dictates of their conscience in imbibing whatever they choose. I have known missionaries who insist a cola will never pass their lips and I have known missionaries who delight in drinking Dr. Pepper all the time insisting they wouldn't doubt the mission president drinks the stuff. Personally I don't find much difference in the taste between Pepsi and Pepsi Free other than the small caffeine buzz.

The topic of the Word of Wisdom has been covered ad infinitum on the various LDS blogs. There is not much agreement on the topic. The LDS authorities as a general rule only talk about the topic in general terms reaffirming the ban on the substances of illegal drugs, coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco. Other substances seem to be left at the discretion of the individual.

A couple interesting beverages that directly relate to missionaries are kava and maté.

When I was working in Hawaii I came across a cultural practice among the Polynesians including many hapa haoles (half white Hawaiians) where they go to parties and drink ava or kava with other islanders. There aren't too many full-blooded Hawaiians left. Kava can be purchased in most health food stores and is readily available and legal.

I was told about kava parties by a white professor who worked at BYU-Hawaii most of his adult life about the practice when I was a new faculty member. He told me usually a beautiful young woman between eighteen and twenty-one serves the mostly male guests. In really big groups sometimes a group of young women come and dance and then act as servers. It is kind of like a tailgate party with men watching native dancers and talking and socializing. Throughout the islands from Samoa to Tonga to Fiji there are intricate ritual bowls that these men drink from while being served food and drink by young native beauties. For the most part the men don't do much but talk and get a small buzz but on occasion a relationship has been known to develop among one of the guests and the server.

There were a few excommunications when I worked at BYU-Hawaii. We averaged at least one or two a year in the almost three years I was there including one former stake presidency member and a couple of U-H football players who both fornicated with girls at a party. I even found out that Johnathan Nepela who received a special statue for his missionary endeavors but was sadly ex-ed for succumbing to the charms of a young woman (See George Q. Cannon's Journals and Excerpts from Joseph F. Smith's private journal, 1854-1856, BYU-Hawaii Archives). He did eventually come back as did many men who had similar problems.

They are the exceptions rather than the rule but there are a lot of incidents. Most men just consider it a time to socialize and bond with their friends. You could probably argue that the proximity to the women was the catalyst rather than the mild buzz from kava. I drank kava once and it was like drinking dirty water. I didn't get anything from it other than it was in a wooden bowl with brownish green herbs floating in it. You would have to drink a lot of it for it to do anything to you. Most Polynesians claim it is not addictive. I went to a ceremony mostly to associate with friendly and good men who had an enthusiasm and genuine warmth and desire to welcome me in to the culture. I actually didn't see any servers but one of the men's daughters and wife.

John Fowler writes in his article Kava: The Plant that Brings Peace about its properties and use:

KAVA: Genus - Piper; Species - Methysticum. A coarse and sparingly branching perennial shrub with heart-shaped leaves sprouting from multi-jointed fibrous stems. Although unremarkable in appearance, the kava plant nevertheless is venerated throughout the Pacific for its unique qualities.

Thousands of years ago the ancestors of today's islanders discovered that it is possible to extract from the plant's copious root system a somewhat astringent concoction with both curative and mind-altering properties. Today, as in the past, kava in Oceania is regarded as a gift from the gods given to man so that he might gain insight into the unknown -- while attending to the realities of the present.

Socially, kava is taken to induce relaxation, calm and pacify the soul, stimulate the imagination and inspire thought. Ceremonially, kava drinking is an important part of formal discussions and decision-making, and ritualistically, it is used to communicate with the world of the dead and the supernatural. In addition, Pacific Islanders have long recognized kava's healing and painkilling qualities, and use it to treat cuts, contusions and skin infections, and to ease sore muscles, rheumatism, asthma and fever. Kava is also believed to be an effective appetite suppressant. . . .

Since many Melanesian islands have won independence, kava consumption in urban areas has increased dramatically, due in no small way to increased westernization and the resulting erosion of traditional restrictions. This distancing of kava from its original cultural context resulted in the replacement of age-old protocol by looser, less restrictive westernized attitudes. In more traditional, culturally intact areas, kava remains interwoven with the spiritual and magical life of the community, where its use is governed by tribal authority.

In contrast to the prevailing Melanesian attitude, kava drinking in Polynesia is characterized by a formalized, detailed etiquette that not only serves to promote harmony and lucid discussion, but also supports indigenous rank and prestige. Kava's use and the ritual that surrounds it is an essential part of traditional Polynesian village decision-making, rites of passage, and other matters of communal importance. Traditional values, as epitomized by the kava ceremony, have served to strengthen the community while allowing outside influences to be progressively absorbed. In Polynesia, kava drinking is today almost exclusively restricted to the islands of Tonga, Samoa, Wallis and Futuna. In recent years kava has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in Hawaii.

Paul A. Cox, a former BYU professor and director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, has written numerous articles and a book Islands, Plants and Polynesians where he shows the medicinal benefits of kava. Some researchers argue that there is liver damage but others argue it is the hotness of the drink rather than the chemicals.

Many times leaders are unsuspecting of the pharmacological properties of cultural drinks that they imbibe. Most are accorded some kind of kava ceremony when they visit in Tonga and Samoa. Missionaries and their mission president are usually indoctrinated to it within a few weeks of arriving.

I would get lots of reference questions when I was a reference librarian at BYU-Hawaii about whether it was safe to drink. One time I had a conversation with a General Authority about it. He said he usually didn't bother with such rituals since he had lots of work to transact during the calling of a new stake president or giving conference addresses. He did say that the priesthood leaders wanted him to have a formal ceremony which involved drinking it and he wasn't surprised it had chemical properties. He also said most of the brethren didn't want to offend them so on occasion they would drink with them and keep their time at such ceremonies short since they were much too busy for such things since they were only there a day or two.

I realized during my time there that Polynesians at the Cultural Center and BYU-Hawaii took kava drinking very seriously. Many missionaries are given bowls as gifts and many actually collect them as keepsakes.

In South America for example missionaries drink maté. Wikipedia defines it as " Mate or maté (Spanish and Portuguese: mate, IPA: [ˈmate]) is an infusion, containing stimulants including caffeine[1], prepared by steeping the dried leaves of the yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) in hot water. It is the national drink in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and a common social practice in parts of Brazil, Chile and eastern Bolivia." I first encounter it back in the mid1970s when a friend of mine went to Chile. He said the members pestered you and wouldn't quit until you drank it. They considered it an insult if you didn't drink the offered brew. There are special bombilla or silver straws and filters that give the drinker status based on their intricate design. Again missionaries from these countries collect bombas since they are attractive and a token shared by friends.

Wikipedia as says about its properties:

Maté is traditionally drunk in a particular social setting, such as family gatherings or with friends. One person (known in Spanish as the cebador) assumes the task of server. Typically, the cebador fills the gourd and drinks the maté completely to ensure that it is free of particulate matter and of good quality. In some places passing the first brew of maté to another drinker is considered bad manners, as it may be too hot or too strong; for this reason the first brew is often called mate del zonzo (fool's maté). The cebador subsequently refills the gourd and passes it to the next drinker who likewise drinks it all, without thanking the server. The ritual proceeds around the circle in this fashion until the maté becomes lavado ("washed out" or "flat"), typically after the gourd has been filled about ten times or more depending on the yerba used (well-aged yerba maté is typically more potent, and therefore provides a greater number of refills) and the ability of the cebador. When one has had his fill of maté, he or she politely thanks the cebador passing the mate back at the same time.

The drink has a pungent taste like a cross between green tea and coffee, with hints of tobacco and oak.
A fair treatment of the pharmacological properties can be found Referências Científicas where green tea and maté are compared and contrasted. My friend says that many missionaries got a buzz from it and acted stupid when they drank too much but none of them were overly influenced other than possibly having a terrible headache later. He said most missionaries didn't like its strong taste and would dump sugar in to make it drinkable. I don't know which is worst the herb or the sugar.

I think that the socialization factor might outweigh the pharmacological negatives but some people's sense of ethics make it debatable. Personally if I had been there I would have practiced a form of selective socialization. I might have touched it to my lips or passed it on. I don't think most partyers care one way or another if someone abstains as long as they are interacting. One hundred years ago it might have been necessary to actually drink the stuff but today you can probably go either way and get away without drinking if you choose. The worst you might have to do is wet your lips. They actually are kind of interesting artifacts.

I am of a mind with the general authority I spoke with. You don't want to offend someone but I don't think these drinks will catch on in other cultures since they aren't that delicious. You have to acquire a taste for them. As to their being against the Word of Wisdom as long as church leaders continue to drink them I think the rest of us are safe in following their example.

One time I had a district leader on my mission who would have argued the opposite. One day he told me he that has to be commanded in all things is a wicked and slothful servant. I guess as long as there are inconsistencies such as these substances without clear direction from the top most of us will go on our gut feelings in whether to drink or not drink. I feel I can answer the questions on the temple recommend honestly. I probably will not encounter situations where I need to drink kava or maté. As to Pepsi I will be struggling with that one for years to come unless a living Prophet decides to make a pronouncement. Then I will refrain from my occasional lapse.


J. Stapley said...

I think you are being just as selective. I have several FP letters that indicate that de-caff coffee is ok. Do you think that is still Church policy?

The Widtsoes went on a anti-caffeine crusade and went to an extreme. This effected loads of people; however, moderate voices prevailed.

Dr. B said...

Since twenty years or more has lapsed without any statements who can tell. I don't doubt Widtsoe was very admanent. I wonder how Talmage would feel since he even experimented with stronger substances in the name of science. I selected this topic because it elicits some interesting discussion. Maybe it will be revisited but I doubt it. But what do I know I have been wrong before.

Anonymous said...

2 quick thoughts:

1. I was on my mission in Japan in the early 1990s. It is generally understood that LDS members in Japan do not drink Coke, and this created some problems with missionaries. My mission president, who is Japanese, wrote President Ezra T. Benson regarding the matter. President Benson responded by saying that there is nothing in the Word of Wisdom about Coke and that it is in individual matter.
Subsequently, my mission President asked us to only drink Coke in our apartments to avoid causing problems with the members in Japan.

2. In the recently published book on David O. McKay, the Rise of Modern Mormonism, by Prince and Wright, the story is told of President McKay attending some Church function. At the Function there were Coca-cola paper cups on the table. Someone apologized to President McKay about the cups, and said that the drinks were not cola. President McKay responded by saying that he did not care what was "on the cup" he just hoped there would be Coke in the cup!!

In the same book it talks about President McKay being offered a Rum Cake I believe. It was a cake made with alcohol. Some of the people wondered if it was OK to eat. Apparently President McKay smacked his lips and said the Word of Wisdom does not say anything about "eating" alcohol.

I am paraphrasing these 2 stories from the McKay book, but they are pretty funny. If you have a chance get that book take a look.

Dan Knudsen said...

When I went on my mission in 1962, my Stake President told me not to drink cola products, which I hadn’t been using anyhow.

When the Tab Choir went to Japan in the mid-80s, we were told not to drink any of the cola products, since the Saints in Japan felt they were against the Word of Wisdom, and we didn’t want to offend them.

When the choir went to Russia in 1991, we couldn’t drink the water (we were also cautioned to not let any water get into our mouths while showering). The hotel put bottles of Pepsi on the tables at meals. Since I was a temple worker and had been told not to drink colas, nor to even be seen holding one (so as not to offend those who had decided for themselves that colas were against the Word of Wisdom), it was difficult to get all the liquid needed to sing. The hotel also put a small pitcher of apple juice on each table; so, at meals I always looked for a table where no one had touched the apple juice. One morning the only table I saw that way was where Elders Oaks and Ringger were sitting--Elder Oaks’ daughter was in the choir and also sitting there. I made a beeline to that table, sat down and immediately began drinking apple juice; when I poured my 3rd glass of juice, Elder Oaks said, “Excuse me, but is that apple juice?” Without looking up, I answered that it was and he said, “May I have some?” So, he was not drinking the Pepsi, and wasn’t sure what the other liquid was. (Elder Ringger was drinking mineral water, since he was from Europe and was used to it.) Elder Oaks’ daughter apologized to him for drinking Pepsi, and he replied that she had to do what she had to do--which is why I drank all the apple juice I could find.

President Kimball’s statement on people needing different amounts of meat struck a chord with me. In March of 2005, I went Vegan, for health reasons, and then after 6 months, dropped back to being a regular vegetarian--I felt that I did well on both types of eating; however, in July of 2007, I had triple bypass surgery (98%, 95% and 80% clogged arteries)--how was this possible when I’d not had any animal fats? After thinking about it a few months I decided to go back to eating meat, as I must be one that needs meat. I used to think everyone would do better without eating meat, but now I realize there are those who really need to eat meat, and those who do better without it.

Floyd the Wonderdog said...

Nothing brings out the Pharisees like the Word of Wisdom.

I was told once by Utah member that "good Mormons" don't drink Coke. She was drinking Pepsi at the time. When I pointed out that both had caffiene in them she had a fit. Seems she couldn't function without her morning Pepsi.

My mission president, in a mission-wide meeting, with Elder Komatsu in attendance, told the missionaries that if they were offered Coke to take it. His logic was that by the time they got around to offering us Coke, we would have already been offered alcohol and tea. To turn down the person a third time would be an offense.

My college roommate commented that he couldn't start the moring without his mate. So, being a chemist, I looked it up. When told he had been consuming caffiene, he had a fit.

Unfortunately, too often a hard-line against caffinated beverages is the slippery slope to even deeper Pharisee-ism. We have WoW fanatics who preach against chocolate, white sugar, and white flour. I even had a Stake President that advocated that we become vegitarians. Not for health reasons, like Dan, but because if we never ate meat that would be "sparingly" as he interpreted the WoW.

Too much straining at a gnat. They refrain from Coke, yet never exercise. Take care of your own temple. Don't be judgemental.

Anonymous said...

I really think their is a common theme through these messages. After the letter of the law (temple recommend interview), it is between you and the Lord. Each of us should always be striving to be healthy so we can have the Spirit in greater supply.

I am a Yerba Mate drinker, I have one cup a day. I have done a lot of research and "I" feel like it is a healthy drink, since drinking Mate I rarely drink soda.

The research on Mate is interesting, it does appear that it contains caffeine, yet people with caffeine allergies can drink it. Also, recent reports show that it has much less caffeine than a cola drink, only around 13 mg vs 40+.

Even with that caffeine content, the health benefits cannot be ignored and in my opinion outweigh the caffeine negative. I have had a lot of my co-workers (non LDS) start drinking Mate to reduce Coffe, tea and cola drinks, you cannot tell me they will not be healthier, the goal of the Word of Wisdom.

One last thought, Yerba Mate's chemical makeup puts it on the Alkaline side, NOT the Acidic side that you get with Coffee and Tea (tea leaf tea). You want your body on the Alkaline side of things to help avoid disease.

Hope that helps folks make their own decision.

Anonymous said...

Thank you brother, I understand it way better now. "Wisdom goes beyond the letter of the law".
~ Pres. Spencer W. Kimball

I wont drink Colas or anything like it.

Anonymous said...

Bula si'a,

The theme of kava use and BYU policy (and the suggested un-just application of that policy) was discussed at length on the 'International Cultural Studies * BYU-Hawai'i' site. Unfortunately due to threats to kava drinking students at BYU the debate had to be abandoned (see threads entitled 'Is kava consumption banned in Laie because of revelation or misunderstanding?' AND '“what drives me crazy about the people at the university [BYU] including about 98% of the student body - they are all sheep..."). I would argue this is sad as this theme (kava use) is extremely important to the cultural identity of a large sector of the Pasifika members.

I am not speaking of 'party' consumption here, but cultural use.... the problem being though that to some, especially those of Western ethnicity, it is often hard to define a line between the two, as kava use can ebb and flow (between traditional and social) over the course of an evening. In short, what I would like to express here is that kava use comprises a key aspect of cultural identity for some members and therefore consideration must be giving to this instead of knee-jerk commentary by some in the Church (and at BYU) that kava is anti-Word of Wisdom. Potentially education and understanding will aid this. For those who would like to learn more about "kava and cultural identity" and kava effects and how these contrast alcohol use (as kava is commonly and mistakenly likened to alcohol) would be advised to consult

Food (or maybe I should say liquid" for thought.....

Vinaka, 'alougata ti'o, GS

Frank A. Burke said...

Are coca cola, mate', the so called energy drinks, chocolate, coffee, tea, guarana, kava, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, opium, morphine, etc. served in the Kingdom of Heaven? I personally don't think so. All of these substances take away a person's freedom and to one degree or another enslave us. There are two forces at work in this world-the forces of good and the forces of evil. Which force do you think is behind the use of these substances?

It's true that the Lord created these things, but I'm convinced He did it to "try us and to test us" to see if we would walk in the light or in the dark. It seems clear to me that about half of the membership of the church is addicted to one or more of these substances and I have never felt that the use of these substances has made a person a better husband, father, mother, wife, son, daughter, grandparent, saint, etc. There is always a decline in spirituality. Wouldn't you agree?

It's also ironic to me that we are so proud to be "The home of the brave and the land of thee free" but yet millions of Americans are addicted to at least something.

Imagine stepping into eternity with the expectation of resting from all your cares and finding yourself in a situation where you couldn't satisfy your craving for your favorite addictive substance. Wouldn't that be hell? I think so, and I believe that is precisely what is going to happen to millions of people.

If we are currently addicted to something we can fast and pray and the Lord will help us to break the addiction.

Anonymous said...

Coca-Cola, it's now the real thing!

Michael Medsker said...

Why not take this one further, I love those words of Frank A. Burke and to go one further, I have received personal revelation that has confirmed that each use of soda cola products compounds on the next and creates high blood pressure. The whole Word of Wisdom thing is for the weakest of saints or rather those fighting with addictions. How amazing it would be to be able to walk into the presence of God and be able to stay there because an addiction didn't keep us from his presence. All things shall be for thy good and it is up to us to overcome the weaknesses we have been given. It is a path with many steps leading upward. In light of the latest information handed down allowing us as saints to drink Coke is even still given with the caution of moderation. It is when we say we can't go without it or our body withdrawals we need to step back and say "I want to live the higher law.

mahuika88 said...

I'm the one from the photo with the mate! I recognize some of the other photos are also from my mission. I have no problems with you using my picture. Just so you know, Mate (yerba and mate cocido) was against the rules of my mission, and this photo was purely for a mission memory, I did not actually drink mate until after my mission. Coke was not against the rules and we drank it frequently in the mission. Some missionaries chose not to.

Anonymous said...

I say we are all too dependent on oxygen. I see people gulping it down every day. Its limiting their freedom to go without breathing. I say air should be against the word of wisdom. Join me tommarow as I expound upon the evil vise of water drinking. Look as humans we are dependent on many things. I'd say coke and all that stuff if fine if used in the right amount. For example you all seem to get a rush from caffeine. I feel nothing when I intake caffeine and a friend of mine gets sleepy when exposed to cafine...... another example is a man with peanut alergies... for him peanuts are against the word of wisdom because they are a deadly substance.....

Doble Yerba said...

The effort to explain such debates is evidence of conflict amongst Latter Day Saints and further displays of self fulfilling beliefs. I feel sorry for all the wasted energy on such idle debates for people who need authority to dictate their own paradigm regarding a healthy life. The next generation will prove this by not wasting time debating, but rather sipping herb and blazing it with as much purpose as all your sincerely knelt prayers. You'll see when you are interested, but it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, so we must do as the Israelites and wait for the orthodox to die and then move on.