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Almost Vegan: It’s Not Always All Or Nothing January 9, 2019


We’ve been vegetarian for around 12 years now.  We didn’t just wake up one day and say “Let’s be vegetarians.”  It was just a process that happened.  It mostly started with me doing a 30-day juice fast.  After that we both started eating better.  At some point we cut out beef, chicken and pork. Eventually, we stopped eating fish as well.


Recently, my wife proclaimed she wanted to “go vegan”. She would have done it on her own, but I wanted to join her in that journey, as she did on mine.  When we became vegetarians, it was mostly a dietary/health decision.  More and more, it became an ethical/moral choice. And it is ethics and morality that are at the core of my wife’s desire to eat vegan.


I grew up on a farm.  We killed and ate animals.  It’s what we did.  And yet, if my dad saw anyone abusing an animal, well, he’d make it very clear that that was unacceptable.  If my brother or I were involved in such abuse, our backsides reaped the results.
I know. Many will say killing and eating animals is the ultimate abuse.  Believe me, when you look at the meat industry, there are things much worse than death.  Animals are literally tortured to provide food for the masses.  It all boils down to money and greed.  And, of course, it’s not just food.  It applies to cosmetics and much else as well.  There are many people who would rather remain ignorant.  Those who will refuse to watch videos like THIS, or THIS One, because they want to live as they do without accepting the responsibility for their actions.  The same principle applies to buying things made by slave labor.  Buy whatever you want, but OWN your actions and acknowledge their consequences.  FYI, according to US law, animals are allowed to be burned, shocked, poisoned, starved, addicted to drugs, and brain damaged without requiring the use of any painkillers.
Still, having grown up on a farm, I do believe that if you’re going to kill animals to eat them, you can still be ethical about it. Many vegans will likely disagree. That’s OK. We can do that.


However, the food industry and cosmetic industry, (with some exception) is certainly not ethical in it’s treatment of animals.  That is the motivating factor behind my wife’s decision to transition into being vegan.  I say transition because we decided not to throw out everything in our pantry/refrigerator/freezer.  The money was spent, so since our vegan eating is not about diet, the damage was already done.

Since ethics, and not diet, is our primary concern (although being healthier is a definite benefit) at home we still eat eggs (for now) that are locally produced and ethically sourced at farms we can actually visit and see how things are done.


Some people are very concerned about labels and legalism.  Yes, I get it.  If we eat eggs, we’re not vegan.  OK, then let’s say this: : We eat a vegan diet, except where we know that eating eggs is not a violation of our purpose in eating a vegan diet.” (The same principle applies to mild cross-contamination.)

On the PETA site (and they’re certainly the “go-to” for millions of vegetarians and vegans), they have some great advice:

Following a vegan lifestyle isn’t about purity—it’s about helping animals and doing the best that we can to reduce their suffering and avoid exploiting them while still living a normal life.  [And] Don’t grill restaurant servers about micro-ingredients (e.g., a tiny bit of a dairy “product” in the bun of a veggie burger). Doing so makes being vegan seem difficult and annoying to your friends and restaurant staff, which discourages them from going vegan themselves—and really hurts animals. We don’t need the “vegan police” making it seem as if vegan living is a chore. Snapping at the waiter sends the universal message that all vegans are, well, assholes.

There’s a great little book about going green.  It’s called “Do One Green Thing.” People who see all issues as “all or nothing,” often end up opting for “nothing.”  If you’re still a carnivore, try joining the “Meatless Monday” movement. Do something to help the planet and the creatures who live on it.


As I started off saying, people love labels, and they love excluding those outside of those labels.  Just as there is judgment in the LGBT community from the L and the G towards the B and the T, I often see judgment from vegans toward vegetarians.  The kind of toxic legalism that is seen in fundamentalist religions, sadly, isn’t exclusive to religion. Would I like to see all carnivores become vegetarians or vegans? ABSOLUTELY.  And we can certainly encourage others to do so.  And, of course, we MUST stand against the cruelty and abuse of animals. We use our voice, our vote, our money, our signature; whatever we can to end those atrocities.


But for me, I want to do what I can to reduce animal suffering while living in the real world.  I truly hate legalism. I’m wary of blanket labels. I’m definitely not big on following the law for the sake of the law*. All “laws” (including those we set up concerning vegetarians and vegans) are to provide a service.  When a law does not provide the intended service, I for one have no problem disregarding that law.  I want my actions to be purposeful and meaningful, and not blindly following and set of rules and laws.  That almost always leads to harm or disaster.


So for now, when we eat out, or at other’s homes, or at work carry-ins, we will tell other’s we’re vegan.  For in those cases, we truly are.  At home (or where we can verify our ethical goals are being met) we will be “almost vegan.”




*  Another example of not following the law for the sake of the law:
If I’m driving out in the country, and I come upon a 4-way stop, and I can clearly see there is no one or nothing in any other direction for miles, guess what; I’m Not Stopping! At that point, that law is providing no service to anyone.  Yeah, it’s still the law.  And if caught, I’m willing to pay the consequences without question.  I’ll own it. But I’m still not stopping. 🙂

 

A Time To Embrace July 1, 2011

A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics
By William Stacy Johnson

First of all, let me say this is not what I consider a “casual” read. I could easily think of this as a text-book for some introductory college course on politics and religion.  Still, it’s a course worth taking.

At the end, there are 74 pages of end-notes, an index of names, an index of subjects, PLUS an index packed with scripture references!  All in all a well researched and very well documented book.
This book has two major sections, with a number of sub-sections.
The first portion deals with religion. The second covers both law and politics.

Religion:  There are 7 main theological viewpoints concerning same-gender relationships that are presented. Yeah, seven.
With all the “us vs. them” shouting matches going on, we may presume there are only two, diametrically opposed views. This is simply not true. There are those who will say “I only care about ONE viewpoint, and that’s what the BIBLE says!”

The realization from looking at this variety of viewpoints is that they all have some basis in scripture. So one of the best things about this book is that it helps us understand what others believe and why they believe what they do. This is especially important when dealing with opposing views by those whom all believe that they are honoring God.
(Certainly, they are not all actually doing so. Flying planes into buildings, bombing clinics, hanging men because they’re black, defending slavery, burning heretics, beating gay youths to death, and denying others their basic rights have all been done to “honor” God.
I assure you, God was not honored.)
Moving on.

Each of the 7 views discussed are approached from three additional perspectives:  That of Creation, of Reconciliation, and that of Redemption.
Then, each view is also approached in the light of the often quoted Pauline writings to the Romans. Since these texts are frequently brought up in discussions and debates, looking at each view in light of these scriptures is of extreme importance. As the author states, his list of religious views and approaches are not exhaustive, but there is an awful lot of ground covered!
Whatever your view, it’s probably expounded upon here.

This whole section on religion can help foster real discussion, not just debate. Debate rarely changes anyone’s mind, or moves us closer to any kind of unity (not to be confused with “uniformity”).

I’m so very, very tired of people just spouting out dogmatic beliefs while never truly having examined the issues and evidence; both biblical and extra-biblical. Reading this book is a good first step toward better understanding, and better communication.

I will say, Mr. Johnson is far more religious than I am or care to be. His emphasis on baptism is, to me, almost obsessive. But I suppose it is this dedication to tradition that could help his writings be considered by those who may not normally read anything substantive on the issue of marriage equality.

Part Two:  Law and politics.

This is a great “mini-course” on our legal system. We look at a lot of actual case law, and the evolving nature of the laws themselves. Most of us have probably heard of old laws, still on the books, that we laugh at and wonder why they’re still there. From this we should see that laws MUST change and adapt as society changes.

It’s essential here to realize that although some of our founding fathers were theists, this country is not, nor has it ever been, a “Christian” nation.
Nor should it be. This county was born, in part, to get out from under “church” control. Our religious beliefs will certainly influence our political system, but must never control it. (Read “The Myth of a Christian Nation“)

Anyway, we see that a “democracy” is not the same as “majority rule.” In fact, democracy can often be in direct opposition to majority rule. Johnson points out that one of the main functions of a true democracy is to assure that the majority doesn’t “ride roughshod over the rights of the minority.” The courts can, and must at times, go against the wishes of the majority. This should be evident from our own history of slavery, racism, and sexism. Some things should not be simply presented to the masses for a vote.

We learn about how the Supreme Court applies “minimal, intermediate, and strict scrutiny” when deciding issues of equality.  We examine the six basic features of a “deliberative democracy.”
We look at the particulars of both equality and marriage from a strictly legal perspective.  We see that “Marriage in the United States is a civil institution.  There is no requirement in law that marriage be approved by the church or any other religious community.
There is nothing inherent in the structure or content of marriage that should bar gay couples from getting married.”  One interesting side-light is that it was the Protestant church itself that demanded marriage be controlled by the secular state!

This author is more than fair in his discussion.  More so than I would likely be.  He makes it clear that “Pronouncements of mutual condemnation do not help to move us forward.”  This echoes the “elevating the conversation” ideals of people like Andrew Marin or Brian McLaren.  We simply must be able to carry on discussions without yelling at each other.

There is much here from which to learn and grow; and to do so together.
Both pro-gay and anti-gay activists can gain tremendous insights from reading this book.
If you desire dialog; if you desire to understand the various viewpoints instead of just condemning those who have them, you
owe it to yourself and the rest of us to read this book.

There is a time for everything.  Now is the time to embrace.
Embrace God.
Embrace God by embracing equality for all of His children.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

————————————–

Some Quotes:

Remember that a generation ago, Protestant churches were arguing not over gays but over whether divorced persons should be allowed to remarry.

One of the major self-deceptions is the assertion that marriage is an institution that has remained the same for millennia.
This is simply not true.

That the early church did not foresee the full implications of [welcoming] same-gender orientation does not limit that text’s meaning for us today any more that the early church’s inability to foresee the end of slavery or the imperative of equality for women means that we should practice slavery or the subjugation of women today.

Supporting exclusively committed gay unions represents not a departure from our biblical and theological traditions, but rather a deepening of them.

[There are many who] have moral and religious reasons for favoring same-gender marriage.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Biblical prohibitions were addressed specifically to hedonistic or exploitative forms of sexual conduct… These biblical passages are silent about mutually and exclusively committed same-gender love.

For more than a thousand years, the term “sodomy” applied to any  sexual activity that departed from heterosexual vaginal intercourse.  Thus, oral sex between a man and a woman — even between husbands and wife — was condemned and outlawed as sodomy.
[For a proper biblical definition of sodomy, read Ezekiel 16:48-50 – ed.]

Of all the decisions made in a democracy, these deeply divisive ones are the last ones we should toss out to the electorate at large.

It is not permissible for a majority to eliminate the constitutional rights of a minority.

When religious fundamentalists refuse to deliberate with others because they believe they already have a monopoly on revealed truth, political results that are welcoming to all become impossible.

There is currently no moral screening for heterosexuals before they may procure a marriage license.

The commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” is a commandment that belongs to the species as a whole, not to each individual. (Can I get a “Duh!” – ed.)

American society…appears willing to tolerate, somewhat grudgingly, the existence of lesbians and gay men — provided it does not have to put up with their happiness… [Martha Nussbaum]

Eventually, marriage equality will prevail. [Amen!]

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. [Martin Luther King Jr.]

On October 12, 1998, a twenty-one-year-old gay man named Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left to die hanging on a fence. Almost all gay men report having been subjected to some form of abuse or intimidation.

 

Think June 17, 2010

Capital Punishment:
A consistent ethic demands that our nation end capital punishment. We should not take life to punish wrongful death. There is no evidence that it deters murder. It is easy to make fatal mistakes, as DNA testing has shown. The death penalty is biased against the poor, who cannot afford adequate legal representation, and is racially disproportionate.
– Sojourners

Gays and Lesbians:
“Regardless of what moral or theological positions churches hold regarding gay and lesbian sexual behavior, all Christians can and should unite around a commitment to defend people’s basic rights. But the church cannot in good conscience take a passive approach to this question. It is, after all, other Christians who often have taken the lead in this thinly disguised but mean-spirited assault on human dignity. Biblically based Christians who operate out of a more loving and compassionate framework must meet the challenge head-on and forcefully oppose homophobia.
– When Dignity is Assaulted by Jim Rice

But do we really want to deny a gay person’s right to be at their loved one’s deathbed in a hospital with “family restrictions”? Do we also want to deny that person a voice in the medical treatment of his or her partner? And do we really want all the worldly possessions of a deceased gay person to revert to the family who rejected them 30 years ago, instead of going to their partner of the last 20 years? ”
– Gays and Marriage: A Middle Way by Jim Wallis

“While the passing of [hate-crime] legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians would be a good thing, it will do very little to prevent such crimes unless Christians and other people of conscience work to change the atmosphere where gays are seen as less than complete human beings with the full civil privileges of other citizens. Gays and lesbians aren’t going to go away. Nor are they going to stay away from the church, where—rumor has it—people “love their neighbors as themselves.” This is an opportunity to practice what we preach.”
— Practicing What We Preach by Aaron Gallegos

War and Peace:
Our world faces a major challenge of how to resolve conflicts, reduce violence, and defeat terrorism without preemptive war. War has become a first resort instead of the last resort. In a world with terrorists, terrorist states, unilateralist superpowers, and weapons of mass destruction, alternatives to an endless cycle of violence are needed.

Ecology:
Addressing the degradation of God’s sacred Earth is the moral assignment of our time, comparable to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, the worldwide movement to achieve equality for women, or ongoing efforts to control weapons of mass destruction in a post-Hiroshima world. — From the National Council of Churches Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States.

Put aside the Holy Scriptures for a while and read God’s first revelation—nature itself. Such was the advice offered some years ago by a profound, Christian thinker. We stress “Christian” here because this person of faith intended no offense to [the Bible], nor to us who hold [it] sacred. His point was that long before the writing of Genesis, humanity could already read God’s self-revelation in the natural world.

In the book of Genesis, the creation is simply gift, a garden made with care, and in its essence, very good. Our original place was to walk with God in the garden of life.

(All above comments are taken from “Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace.”

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR CREATION CARE: MAY 25TH, 2010

 

 
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