February 6, 2023

Too Squeaky Clean?

I listened to a fascinating interview with a nationally known allergist yesterday on NPR who was asked why there seems to be such an increase in food allergies these days.

He didn't speak with certainty but suggested that one of the best theories to explain this reality is that we have become too squeaky clean. Immunity grows as it deals with threats to it. I wonder if we will discover that one of the unintended, and perhaps necessary, consequences of our reaction to COVID may be too much squeaky cleanness. Who knows? But as I thought about that I also thought about the work of Carl Jung and Richard Rohr who remind us that the movement toward health entails not oppressing, but embracing the dark or shadow sides of ourselves. My observation is that those who don't--and there are a lot of religious leaders for whom this is true--end up having the shadow side bite them in the butt. Squeaky cleanness is not all that it is cracked up to be.