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I'm bemused by the exultation that caffeine sodas are not against the Mormon code of health ("OK, Mormons, drink up — Coke and Pepsi are OK," Tribune, Aug. 31), as if caffeine affects health all that much.

With or without caffeine, the original Word of Wisdom is not a good health code, although Mormon interpretation of it is a fair one. First, many things in Joseph Smith's revelation rightly aren't followed, such as what grains for which animals and abstaining from meat (most people in the world need more protein).

Second, the revelation rightly bans tobacco. But for alcohol, wine and distilled spirits ("strong drinks") are forbidden but beer is OK ("barley for … mild drinks"), although Mormons ban it, too. Grains and vegetables are permitted, but sadly, Mormons don't emphasize that.

Third, as I taught in the missionary discussions, "harmful drugs are also included" in the Word of Wisdom, although, technically, they're not.

Finally, as a health regimen, it's not what's ignored in the text or what's interpretatively added that are stunning, but what's missed altogether: exercise, obesity, caloric intake, fatty foods.

If you're going to spend energy enforcing a health code, get one that's up to date.

Brian Ritter

Salt Lake City