From a November 7th, 2011 article in Newsweek magazine titled "Don't Let Chaos Get You Down" by Dr. Andrew Weil:
More and more of us are sedentary, spending most of our time indoors. We eat industrial food much altered form its natural sources, and there is reason for concern about how our changed eating habits are affecting our brain activity and moods. We are deluged by an unprecedented overload of information and stimulation in this age of the Internet, email, mobile phones, and multimedia, all of which favor social isolation and certainly affect our emotional and physical health.
While I can't follow all of Dr. Weil's conclusions, it's a fascinating article. A century ago, our society transformed from rural and agricultural to urban and industrial. As one who has family who still farms, I recognize that the number of those who work the land continues to decline. In short, we are getting further and further from the soil. My wife, an urban high school science teacher, has students who don't know that potatoes grow underground, or that french fries are made from potatoes.
I'm not an extremist, hell-bent either on some hippie commune or an Amish return to 19th century lifestyles. We live in the 21st century. We are living with centuries of progress under our belt. Let's acknowledge that, appreciate it, and continue to move forward.
Maybe the task from a Christian perspective is rather simple: Ponder with seriousness the nature of the 1st article of the Apostles Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." There are physical and spiritual consequences to an ignorance of this one sentence.
On a physical level, Dr. Weil notes, "a wide range of behavior problems in children who spend less time outdoors. And now the term 'nature-deficit disorder' is invoked as the root cause of an even wider range of both physical and emotional ailments in people of all ages who are disconnected from nature." Think of exercise and a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. Or vitamin D, necessary for optimum brain health, gained by spending time in the sun.
On a spiritual level, a relationship with the Maker of heaven and earth sets us in a proper place within creation. Knowing the Creator gives us identity and meaning as creatures. An understanding of the 1st article of the creed gives us a sense of gratitude as well as a deep sense of responsiblity for what God has made. A 1st article sensability is foundational to our very being as those created by God. As Luther says, "All this He does out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him."
So what can you do combat "nature-deficit disorder"?