About the Book
Book: Chemicals and Christians
Author: Martha McLaughlin
Release Date: January 31, 2020
“Just because you’re set apart doesn’t mean you’re set aside.”
Martha McLaughlin and her husband served as international missionaries for 10 years, ministering in a variety of ways, including helping to identify unreached people groups. When her physical breakdown forced them to return to the USA, she feared it was the end of her missionary journey. But instead, God told her, “Just because you’re set apart doesn’t mean you’re set aside.”
Today Martha feels called to try to help a different kind of unreached people group: the isolated sufferers of toxic illness, a growing but largely invisible population. Yet, like the canaries once used in coal mines to detect poisonous gases, they are a wake-up call to the effects of the thousands of chemicals used daily in our modern society.
Expertly researched and written, Chemicals and Christians: Compassion and Caution is loaded with valuable information and biblical counsel for hope and avoiding harm in our increasingly chemicalized environment. It provides steps for biblical health management, offers practical resources, and shows Christians ways to help.
I have never read a book quite like Chemicals and Christians before. The description of this book caught my attention for several reasons. I know there are some chemicals that I am sensitive to, and I know some people who are very sensitive to chemicals. For many years I have been working to cut down on the amount of chemicals, especially frangrances, in our home. This book sounded quite interesting to me, and I learned a lot from it.
Martha McLaughlin has written a very interesting book about the effects of toxic chemicals, especially common fragrances, on people. Most people can handle certain amounts of these chemicals with no obvious problems—but for some people, these chemicals cause major problems. She talks about the sequence that most people with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) go through. First, they begin to get sick, and then they search for answers. Then, they sift through the things surrounding them and remove all they can that makes the sickness worse. Most of these people find themselves needing to separate themselves from other people just to survive. They strike out at the illness, and then sigh—grieve for what they have lost. After going through the scream and seethe stages, they salvage what they can of their life and then learn to smile where they can.
I found it incredible that many people are unwilling to stop using fragrances even when they know it bothers or harms people around them. The author makes a very good point that, as Christians, we need to do all we can to help those around us—and one of those ways is to avoid fragrances that harm them! The number of things in the environment that cause problems for supersensitive people was unbelievable. I was not surprised at some, such as driers venting out of other houses, but reroofing a house in the neighborhood? That made me pause—it was a new thought to me that that could be a problem!
I also learned some things about myself while I was reading this book. I have often, ever since I can remember, had a headache on Sundays. Is it because of the fragrances, especially from drier sheets and personal care products, that people in church carry with them? And the headaches I almost always get after going shopping—could they be from the chemicals in the supermarket and not just the stress of driving an hour or two? It’s hard to know—but I wonder.
This is a very well-written book that will make you stop and think about what is around you. What is in your life, or my life, that causes invisible harm to my family and to others? What can I do to cut down on the harm done to myself, my little children, and people in the church or community who are sensitive to chemicals? There are many helpful suggestions, and a long list of resources in the back of the book. This book is a good reference to have around and refer to when someone needs help with chemical sensitivities.
I received a free copy of this book from CelebrateLit, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
About the Author:
A professional writer since 2006 with a BS and an MEd, Martha has had more than 500 articles published. Alongside her husband, she served as a missionary in South America from the late ‘80s through the late ‘90s. A widow with two young adult sons, Martha lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoys outdoor activities.
More From Martha:
When people talk about taking the road less traveled, the implication is generally that there was a choice involved. I’ve made choices at times to wander down lonely trails, such as deciding to become a missionary and move to a country in crisis. Water and electricity were rationed, grocery store shelves were empty, a cholera epidemic raged, the president disbanded congress, inflation hit 10,000 percent, and active terrorist bombing shook our house on a regular basis. Most mission organizations and all non-essential embassy personnel left the country and those of us who chose to stay found ourselves on a very sparsely populated path.
At other times in my life I’ve ended up on roads less traveled not by any decision of my own, but by circumstances beyond my control. During my decade of missionary service, my health steadily declined and I was forced to return to the States to look for help. It wasn’t easy to find, but I eventually learned that Lyme disease, mold exposure, and the chemical onslaughts of a third-world megacity had overwhelmed my detoxification system. I discovered I could climb out of bed and function if I avoided anything that would make my full metaphorical barrel of toxins overflow. I also discovered that was much easier to do in theory than in practice because of the overabundance of untested and unregulated chemicals in common, everyday products.
My health condition introduced me to a world of chemically sensitive people, all of us living isolated lives, unable to safely access most medical care, shopping, schools, and churches. I’d been deeply saddened at having to leave the mission field and wondered why God had removed my ability to serve, but not the sense of call I felt. I gradually began to understand that I still had a calling, but to a different population. I felt God asking me to speak for people who are generally unseen and unheard. I want the Christian church to not only see us, but to find ways to open their doors and provide the spiritual nourishment and connection we so desperately need.
As I was discovering the needs of the chemically sensitive population, I was also learning how quickly it’s growing and how easy it is for anyone to join. I began to understand the connection between everyday chemical exposures and common mental and physical health conditions and symptoms. So the other side of my call is to warn healthy people, or those who haven’t yet connected their chemical exposures and health complaints, that it’s wise to be careful – that being a good steward of the physical body doesn’t just mean getting eating, sleeping, exercise, and relaxation right, but that avoiding toxins is a huge piece of the puzzle.
I’m not someone who always had a burning desire to write a book. I wrote it because I had something to say and a conviction that God wanted me to say it. I want healthy people to stay that way, and I want chemically ill people to be seen, heard, and reached with God’s love. My deep desire is for Chemicals and Christians to help save people from unnecessary suffering.
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