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GG’Z Notes: Salt

SALT

Len, just the first stuff I’ve written about salt. I’m working on a book review of the book with that title. Excuse the underlines, and other editing stuff. GG (LennyHarp has a Mom)

In Matt 5:13 Jesus tells his followers, “Ye are the salt of the earth: if the salt has lost its savor, it is worth nothing but to be cast out.” I sense this nation founded upon Christian principles has lost this special savor.

In religion

According to Strong’s Concordance, there are forty-one verses which reference salt in the English translation of the King James Bible, the earliest being the story of Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when she disobediently looked back at the wicked cities of Sodom (Genesis 19:26). When King Abimelech destroyed the city of Shechem he is said to have “sowed salt on it;” a phrase expressing the completeness of its ruin. (Judges 9:45.) In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referred to his followers as the “salt of the earth”. The apostle Paul also encouraged Christians to “let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).

Despite what modern education and the media tell us, the United States was founded upon Christian principles. We learn that people disobeyed rules from the very earliest times (Cain and Abel) and the Pilgrims had to construct their public places where law-breakers were punished – then we built jails. Even the criminals realized there were consequences for breaking the law. But that basic premise has changed and more concern is shown for the criminals than for the victims. Salt can lose its saltiness (its flavor) if it is left out in the air as was done before air-tight containers were used to store it. I’m concerned the United States has lost its savor – its Christian saltiness.

Not very many of us shun unChrist-like behavior. We loudly proclaim we are Christians, and attend our worship services faithfully. But we accept behavior that no Christ follower would participate in; we accept it in the name of letting everyone “do his own thing.” We tell ourselves that is the “tolerant” thing to do. There is a big difference between acceptance and tolerance but a short distance in our use of the terms.

We can learn from the OT that when the Israelites’ behavior became so decadent and corrupted because they accepted behavior of the society around them, God left them to their own devices. In Judges 21:25 “. . . there was no king (leader) and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (our modern phrase “Do your own thing”) They constantly fluctuated back and forth to and from God.

I recently began to ponder the properties and history of salt. I am amazed at what I have found. A great book to read is Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlasky. Salt was the basis of the world economy until into the 20th Century when oil became more important to the world. They were drilling through a salt dome in Texas when this sticky black stuff came out and someone decided to store it – this was oil from Spindletop the largest oil find in the US!

Salt was the original reason for the trade routes we now call the Silk Road. We’ve all seen the pictures of camels loaded with merchandise. They first carried salt and still do in the Sahara along the mountain routes; in the 1960s caravans transported some 15,000 tons of salt. The harvest of salt from the earth’s surface dates back to China at least to 6,000 BC, making it one of the oldest verifiable saltworks. Many cities are named because of their nearness to the saltworks. Salzburg in Austria, Galicia in Spain, English towns that end with the suffix ‘wich,’ and many more in all countries.

From about 2800 BC, the Egyptians began exporting salt fish to the Phoeicians in return for Lebanon Cedar, glass, and dye; the Phoenicians traded Egyptian salt fish and salt from North Africa throughout their Mediterranean trade empire. Those trade routes have been named “The Silk Road” because they began to carry the other needed products and then the luxury items such as silk, spices, wines, and other precious commodities.

Salt has caused wars throughout history, much as oil has in our time. History is full of examples of governments imposing taxes on salt resulting in rebellions – Gandhi’s famous revolt against Britain which lead to independence for India, the French Revolution, European wars, the American Revolution, our Civil War, and more. Opposing armies always tried to interrupt the delivery of salt to troops.

Properties of salt: Preserves and flavors. The preservation of meat we call jerkey has been used for millennia. Humans learned to can and freeze food only in the last 200 years but in all of history salt was the best preservative.

Our bodies need salt – note the hospitals giving a saline solution to balance the body’s system, often before they even know the results of lab reports. In my chemo treatments they give a saline solution between the different chemicals – the chemo “cocktail” only becomes a cocktail when it mixes in my bloodstream. In cooking most recipies require salt – even candies and deserts. When we say “a man is worth his salt” we mean he is worth his pay. The Romans used to pay their soldiers enough so they could buy salt for their families needed. In ancient times, a perfect gift for a host was a package of salt – rather than a bouquet of flowers, bottle of wine or a plate of baked goods as is customary now.

It is interesting to ask can there be too much salt? Ever put too much salt on a baked potato? Or in a stew? A favorite recipe? Of course we have. We use brine to make pickles but our main diet is not composed of this extreme item – or it shouldn’t be.

I think of the Zealots of Christ’s day. We can become too much like these troublesome groups and the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who preached but didn’t live by their own rules. It has been interesting to study the history of how these groups began in Israelite history and how they evolved into the groups Christ specifically condemned.

I often wonder about the prominent and popular mega-churches. In the past year I did a “study” on those 3 groups Christ pronounced “Woe unto you” as in Matt 5. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians to let their conversations be full of grace seasoned with salt.

In history the “Dark Ages” came after the Popes began to control governments, even to choosing the leaders and the way people ate, dressed and everything in their lives. Much the same way extreme groups have done throughout history.

We need a few good leaders who live their Christianity. Personally, I am to live my life in such a way that I transmit God’s love and care for all of us – not by just talking about my “Christianity.” Christianity has to permeate my being so that I do not have to tell others I am a Christian. It is sort of like enjoying a good baked potato or stew rather than just telling how to produce a tasty recipe. Even a fudge cake or an apple pie has to have some salt in it! But do we ever hear anyone say “There’s just enough salt in this”? An imperceptable chemical change occurs and that is what should happen to us – we can’t explain it – a “miracle” just happens.

Jacqueline

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