Jerry Murtagh, Second Degree Clergy, lived at the Church for over two months,while enrolled in the Deaconship program. Originally from Upstate New York, he is a graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse with a B.A. in English and Drama. A devout peyotist, he considers his service to the Church to be his highest calling.
What does Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, better known as the Word of Wisdom, have to do with peyotism? This question, or one like it, is most often asked here at the Church. Adherence to a dietary discipline, like the one suggested in the Word of Wisdom, goes hand in hand with the spiritual awakening produced by the Holy Sacrament Peyote. Likewise, both the Mormon faith and the entheogenic path rely on the concept of Divine Revelation, wisdom revealed to those with pure hearts and open ears. We, the clergy of the Peyote Way Church of God, believe Section 89 to be such a revelation, one prescribing a sound and beneficial lifestyle to "...all saints in the last days."
In 1939, Jethro Kloss published his now famous Back to Eden, a "bible" for natural living, including much information on medicinal herbs and healthy diet. Kloss derived many of his prescriptions from his own experiences with Mother Nature, as well as his family's use of bark, roots and other herbs in treating illness. As revolutionary as this book was (and still is), the Word of Wisdom was published just about one century earlier. "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof, all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving."
Today the message of the Word of Wisdom is as important as ever. "Strong drinks are not for the belly..." Alcohol is responsible for approximately 150,000 premature deaths in the U.S. annually, as well as playing a role in domestic violence, accidents, and homicides. "Tobacco is not for the body..." Tobacco is responsible for over 300,000 premature American deaths annually, and is by far the number one cause of preventable death. The Holy Sacrament Peyote has been known to deliver a similar message about these toxins during the Spirit Walk. We recognize the legitimate sacramental use of alcohol in Christian services, and the role of tobacco in the Native American Road meeting, but the addictive and lethal nature of these substances must also be recognized.
In 1987, John Robbins' excellent Diet for a New America showed us the relationship between diet, health, and the environment. A heightened concern for the environment (Earth Mother) is often experienced by the Spirit Walk communicant. As Robbins demonstrates, the single most effective choice you can make to benefit our planet is a reduction of meat intake. The production of meats, along with dairy products and eggs, accounts for over one third of all raw materials used for all purposes in the U.S. In addition, cattle grazing continues to be the number one cause of rainforest destruction and American deforestation. Over seventy percent of our virgin forests have been wiped out in this century alone. Perhaps Joseph Smith knew of future pitfalls when he wrote that flesh-meat should be used "sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."
Such advice on meat consumption is also beneficial to your health. By far the number one cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, killing us at a rate of about one every 45 seconds. There is no argument that the predominant cause of a heart attack is saturated fat and cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol comes from four sources: meat, fish, eggs (egg yolks being the single most concentrated source of cholesterol in the human diet), and dairy products. Fiber, the nutritive antithesis of cholesterol, is only found in plant foods. "All grain is good for the food of man (& woman); as also the fruit of the vine."
At Peyote Way Church, we understand the Word of Wisdom to be a description of a holistic, herbal, vegetarian lifestyle. "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof" suggests the macrobiotic concept of following the seasons in choosing your diet (watermelon and cucumber when it's hot, carrots and rice when it's not). This all-natural approach does not include pesticide-ridden, irradiated, chemically engineered, lifeless, (but oh so pretty) produce. Nor does it include the little "white lies," white sugar, white flour, and white rice. Whole wheat bread contains eight times as much fiber as white bread, and all grains are more easily digested in their natural form. White sugar is more then just "empty calories," it's poison, stripping the body of essential nutrients, particularly vitamin B 1. As natural and wholesome as corn syrup" may sound, it is nothing more than an alias for the much loved killer, sugar.
Experimenting with a lifestyle like the one suggested in the Word of Wisdom can be fun, challenging, and rewarding. Try replacing your morning cup of Joe" with an herbal tea like ginger or ginseng. Both of these wonderful, healing herbs, as well as others like cayenne and Gotu Kola can really get your engine revving. Carrot sticks make a healthy, delicious replacement for the oral fixation of cigarettes. Instead of that slab of meat anchoring down your plate (talk about "dead weight!"), try centering your meal on a vegetable casserole or stir-fry. Better yet, plan a meal with no protein at all. Your digestive system will thank you for the break. Protein deficiency is one of the last great American myths. If this news is no news to you, and you practice it daily, keep up the good work. As promised by the Word of Wisdom (and the Holy Sacrament Peyote), you "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures, and shall run and not be weary and shall walk and not faint."
Back to Eden, Kloss, Jethro
Diet for a Small Planet, Lappe, Frances Moore
Sugar Blues, Dufty, William
Diet for a New America, and May All Be Fed, Robbins, John
Spontaneous Healing, Weil, Andrew
Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Weil, Andrew