Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christianity and Vegetarianism

I'm surprised I haven't written about this topic yet. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (also a veg) asked me why I am a vegetarian. Health reasons aside (every male in my family has died of heart disease!), religious thought does come into play. This intrigues many people, because they've never seen vegetarianism espoused from a spiritual -- certainly not Christian -- point of view.

This is just a brief "article" I wrote, and is by no means comprehensive. It's peppered with Bible references because he's an evangelical, and they roll like that. I may or may not write more in the future. For some reason (that is absolutely baffling to me) this seems to be a controversial topic.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ethics of eating meat aside, modern carnivorous diets have far-reaching negative effects on the environment and world hunger. Back in Jesus' time, animals weren't fed disproportionate amounts of grain (not to mention hormones), mass-slaughtered in warehouses, then transported thousands of miles by petrol-guzzling planes, trains and automobiles. If we stopped consuming red meat alone, there would be enough excess grain to feed many, many who are suffering and in need. Christian vegetarianism is primarily an attempt to follow Jesus' injunction to care for "the least of these." (Matt. 25: 31-46)

That being said, of course the slaughtered animals are not treated with the appropriate care, respect and compassion described by Jesus in his parable of the lost sheep. If God discerns the fate of a tiny sparrow (Matt. 10:29-30) how he must shudder at the agony of these creatures!

Lastly (certainly not least) vegetarianism is found in every spiritual practice around the world. It is a form of abstinence, of fasting, of exercising our self-control.

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived in harmony with God and Creation, eating only "herbs of the field" (Genesis 1:29-30). A fallen world that has been redeemed by God is a reversion to paradise, to Eden. This was foretold by the prophets, who said that the "wolf and the lamb will lay down together." (Isaiah 11:6, 62:25) As Christians, we believe that the Resurrection affects everything about our world. The Lord declares that he is "making all things new." We are trying to live into this radically compassionate, new vision of the world.

I'm really not saying anything that hasn't already been said before. However, I am saddened by the impassioned, often angry, responses from non-vegetarians who act as if threatened by our way of life. Perhaps they have been confronted by aggressive, militant vegetarians in the past. I don't know. However, we must respond with only love, understanding that that is simply not where they are at on their journey. Vegetarianism isn't something to force or coerce someone into. Rather, it's simply another way to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

(For more info, check out this website.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Advent Conspiracy, Part Deux

Christus Rex

Wishing everyone a very happy and pleasant Christ the King Sunday!

Or, in modern parlance:



Anyway, I'm glad Pentecost is over soon. I'm so sick of green.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marriage Equality - Protests

It's not really about marriage, it's about respect and human dignity. It's about not being silent.

I went to the Phoenix rally yesterday...the newspapers will say about 2,000 people showed up - try 3,500!

Pictures cannot convey the sheer enormity of that crowd.

Once again, I'm proud to be a member of a church that "seeks and serves Christ in all people." Being able to carry this flag for all to see truly felt like taking Christ into the world. How fitting it is that the Bishop happened to be at the Cathedral that day, giving us the thumbs up before we headed down to the march.

Washington, D.C.:

Monday, November 10, 2008

13 Things You May Not Know About Me

A la Tamie. Make a list of your own, if you like.

- - -

1. I have a neurotic habit of adding up numbers - on clock displays, barcodes, phone digits; anything. And multiples of three are lucky. If I set the microwave timer, it has to add up to a multiple of three. (34 seconds on power level 8, for example. 3+4+8 = 15.)

2. I also like some contemporary Christian music. I hide it away like most people probably hide their porn.

3. I went to a Lutheran preschool. My teacher was a British woman named Mrs. Kibsey. Her assistant teacher was Ms. Young, who made me eat my sandwich when it got all crusty and yelled at my best friend Elliott and I for kicking up dust in the sandbox playing trucks. I didn't like her.

4. Speaking of Elliott, I totally stalk my elementary school peers on social networking sites. I love seeing what they're up to.

5. I love the teeny-tiny little spiders that sit in corners staring at the wall for months on end.

6. From age 9 to 14, to I was overweight. I still don't like people watching me eat.

7. I once hit a pigeon on the way to school. It landed directly in front of my car, and exploded in a spectacular display of feathers. The drivers around passed by laughing, but I felt so bad I pulled over, was late for class, and prayed for the poor bird. In retrospect, it was just a little bit funny.

8. The sound of people chewing noisily makes me cringe. Thank God for restaurants!

9. Same story for vacuum cleaners. I have to turn up my MP3 player obnoxiously loud when I'm cleaning.

10. I've never been able to keep a plant alive for more than a month.

11. If my feet are uncovered, I absolutely cannot fall asleep.

12. I've kept a journal since I was seven.

13. There is a large xylophone under my bed.

- - -

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bittersweet Day

I feel proud to be an American again, but ashamed for Arizona, where Proposition 102 passed.

(Marriage is defined by Arizona statutory law as "the union of one man and one woman." Proposition 102 would enshrine this definition in the constitution, making it difficult [if not impossible] for judges to strike it down.

I don't expect the Arizona Supreme Court to act so reasonably anytime soon, but homophobes are scared as usual. The Mormon church in particular has poured millions of dollars [70% of overall contributions] into this campaign, buying commercials, electronic billboards, yard signs, and huge banners on nearly every corner of Phoenix. Nice priorities.)

Every "Yes on 102" sign says so much more than the green and blue words printed on the paper;

You are not welcome here.
You are not the same as us.
You are less.
Your love is less.
You are less of a human being.
We don't want you in this state.
We don't want you in our lives, our communities.
We don't want you.

102 in Arizona passed, but far worse is No. 2 in Florida, which is deliberately worded to outlaw - not only same-sex marriage - but civil unions and domestic partnerships that afford basic human rights to gay couples. Rights like hospital visitation, power of attorney, tax breaks, right to shared property ownership, and insurance carryovers. Gay Arizonans never had those rights, but tomorrow gay Floridians will wake up to have their lives radically altered.

They don't even want us buried next to our loved ones when we're dead.

That is powerful hatred.

In Arkansas, a ban on same-sex adoption passed. Because an orphan raised by strangers is, apparently, better than gay parents.

Failure of Proposition 8 in California is our last hope. Right now, as we wait, it leads 53% to 47%, with one-third of precincts reporting. If Proposition 8 indeed fails to pass, this day will not be as bittersweet for me and millions of others.

One of the reasons I have supported Barack Obama is that he includes gay Americans. He empowers us, lets us know that we are citizens too. He didn't hesitate to mention us in his historic speech tonight, no matter how uncomfortable it makes some people. No matter how politically inconvenient it might be. He understands what it's like to be thought of as somehow "lesser."

We are Americans too.

Yes we can.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

All Souls

All Souls' and All Saints'/Eve are among my favourite holidays. They're a celebration of the darkness, of the unknown, of mystery and ritual and antiquity. (I don't know why I feel that ancient things automatically adopt a degree of holiness, it just feels right.)

If you do not celebrate the death/darkness, it isn't a whole celebration of life/light. It's a reminder that physical death (even if it meant a final end) is not the worst kind of death.

This fondness for All Souls' day is problematic. You see, I don't personally know many dead people. As life goes on, I'm sure my appreciation and perception of this day will morph into something new. Some day, I will have pictures to place on the altar, and the day will assume a different hue, likely more somber.

Secondly, none of my ancestors have been members of the communion of saints for about 150 years, and I just can't conceive of receiving a visit from them.

So, I placed some incense and food on my home altar anyway, lit a candle, said a prayer and opened the window for any wandering spirits who cared to stop by. (This is the one time of year where I afford myself a certain amount of superstition and elect to walk by intuition.)

I felt it was a night well-spent.