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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. 🙂

 

Everything Must Change September 11, 2014

EMC

Everything Must Change
(When The World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide)
– Brian D. McLaren

This is not a quick and easy read. At least it wasn’t for me. But this is potentially one of the most important books you may ever read. The is one of 4 or 5 books I would like to see in everyone’s library.
More importantly, I’d like to see it in the hands of every “young” person between 18 and 30. I totally believe the future of the world as we know it depends on the issues addressed in this book.

“Everything Must Change” is written by a Christian, predominately to a Christian audience (although many fundamentalists doubt this target audience is “Christian” to begin with). But, the issues and principles here apply to every human on the face of the planet.  And they effect every human and non-human on the face of the planet.

Some issues covered are:

* The Prosperity Crisis – Environmental breakdown caused by our unsustainable global economy.  One that does not respect environmental limits, while creating great wealth for about one third of the world’s population.

* The Equity Crisis – There’s a growing gap between the ultra-rich and the extremely poor, most of whom are growing in envy, resentment and hate of the rich.  The rich become fearful and angry as they seek to protect their wealth.

* The Security Crisis – The danger of war arising from resentment between the groups at opposite ends of the economic spectrum.

* The Spirituality Crisis – This is the failure of the world’s religions (especially Christianity and Islam) to provide a framing story that could bring healing or at least reduction to, the previous three crises.

This is another book that will help readers see how we’ve misconstrued so many of Jesus’ teachings.  Brian helps us to hear Jesus’ words more in alignment with how his first listeners heard them.  We see that we have a “framing story” that desperately needs changed.  So we revisit “the essential message of Jesus.”  In doing so, we re-examine metaphors like “The Kingdom of God.”  We consider our human situation in connection with the message and purpose of Jesus

In one section, Mr. Mclaren likens our past religious attempts at understanding to those of someone piecing together a puzzle.  We’re trying to fit it all together according to the picture on the lid.  The problem is, we have the wrong lid!

In chapter 4, a young man from Khayelitsha, South Africa, delivers a very weighty message to a group of pastors and evangelists from America.  It is a message every pastor and evangelist needs to hear.  If you’re a “missionary,” please read this chapter.  Even if you don’t want to buy the book, borrow it from the library.  Borrow it from me.  Just read this chapter.

It seems many people shy away from politics and religion.  As Brian states, “A lot of us are very happy to go through life knowing as little as possible about economics, politics, and ecology.”  The thing is, these are both the problem, and part of the solution.  For me personally, my politics are intrinsically tied to my faith in Christ.  Yes, we pray.  But then we help bring God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven” by taking action: Action that can help bring about equality, justice, and environmental responsibility.  I believe a proper look at the teachings of Jesus will reveal that very thing.

This was my 9th Brian McLaren book.  My “Comrades” and I are getting ready, as a group, to read Brian’s latest, “We Make The Road By Walking.”

If you’re someone who cares about the future of your children, your children’s children, and so on; I would suggest you read “Everything Must Change” and seriously consider the message it contains.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.


Quotes:

– Not only am I often unsatisfied with conventional answers, but even worst, I’ve consistently been unsatisfied with conventional questions.

– Part of what it means to be “a new kind of Christian” is to discover or rediscover what the essential message of Jesus is about.

– Many of our religious institutions have taught us to see no horizon for the message of Jesus beyond the soul of the individual.
Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The way of the kingdom of God calls people to a higher concern than self- or national interest: namely, concern for the common good.

– We can no longer deal with global problems as discrete unrelated issues.

– Jesus bursts on the scene with this scandalous message: The time has come!  Rethink everything!  A radically new kind of empire is available.

– Theocapitalists have tended to see the rich as morally good and the poor as morally culpable for their own poverty.
Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse, are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.

– We don’t have a violent “Second Coming” Jesus who finishes what the gentle “First Coming” Jesus failed to do, but we have a poetic description of the way the gentle First Coming Jesus powerfully overcomes through his nonviolent “weakness”, a prince of peace whose word of reconciliation is truly mightier than Caesar’s sword.
Buy the book. Click HERE.



 

 

A Generous Orthodoxy March 22, 2012


A Generous Orthodoxy:
Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.


Wow.  That’s one l-o-n-g book title.  But that pretty much tells you the general material that’s covered in the pages of this book.
Rather than rejecting the various branches on the tree of “Christianity,” Brian McLaren looks for the good that each has contributed to our understanding of, and relationship with God.

This, my 5th McLaren book, was hard for me to get into, at first.  I had started to read it many months ago.  I ended up putting it back on the shelf and reading other books instead.  That difficulty was, I’m convinced, due mainly to all the reading before you ever get to “Chapter One.”  There are TWO forwards, an introduction, and what’s called “Chapter 0,” all before you start the first chapter of the book!  Anyway, once I committed to reading it, I found it fascinating, very interesting, and quite educational.

Indeed, Brian is generous in these pages.  Probably more so than I would have been.
That’s a good thing.
He acknowledges this generosity in discussing the “good”, but admits that much could be said regarding the  “bad and the ugly.”
But the focus here is what we can take with us as the journey and growth process continue.
Just as the ancient world emerged from the prehistoric world, and the medieval from the ancient, and the modern from the medieval, we are now emerging from the modern to the post-modern (which will likely be re-named by future generations).

With this emergence comes, as it always has, new understanding; new ways of thinking; new ways of being.  This includes a growth and expansion of how we perceive and relate to God.
When we grow up within a particular religious culture, we tend to believe that what we have is that which has been handed down “since the beginning.”
We have it “right,” and those other branches just missed it somewhere.

Well, this book helps us realize there has been a vast variety of “Christianities” throughout the ages.
The first chapter, titled “The 7 Jesuses I Have Known,” sets the stage for our journey of enlightenment through the potpourri of beliefs held by those who have sought to follow the leading of Christ.

There is rich, nuanced history here, of which I was predominantly unaware. I came away with a new understanding of many of the branches named in the expanded title of this book.
Without doubt, there’s enough bad “sap” in those branches (including those I was involved in) that I would not consider being a part of them, but I have a respect for the good in those traditions, as well as those who engage in them.

“A Generous Orthodoxy” is another great adventure in literature. It’s an exposition of where we’ve been, and a look at where, with God’s grace, we are heading.
– df

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

——

McLaren has worked to knock down barriers between Christians of different theological backgrounds by preaching that none of us has a handle on the whole truth.  Christianity is much broader than American Evangelicalism. Sometimes this is hard to grasp in a country where Evangelical has become synonymous with Christian.
– Matt Benzing

——

McLaren argues that all of the theological hair splitting misses the core message of Jesus.  I would challenge those like me in the evangelical circles to read this… not to confirm what we already believe… there are lots of books to do that… but to understand arguments outside our collective comfort zone. Whether you adopt McLaren’s conclusions or not, understanding the thought process can be a helpful exercise.
–  Paul Mullen
——

McLaren has given the church a gift- a way to think about theology that actually brings Christians together again, rather than forever splitting into smaller and smaller and smaller groups. Read it and see if you don’t find yourself challenged, taught and humbled.
– Bob Hyatt

Buy the book.  Click HERE.
——

From the back cover:

Whether you find yourself inside, outside, or somewhere on the fringe of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the “us/them” paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of “we.”

————

SOME QUOTES:

* The word God itself was reimagined through the experience of encountering Jesus.

* We’re here on a mission to join God in bringing blessing to our needy world.

* [We must] study not only the history of the church, but also the history of writing the church’s history.

* Anabaptist Christians, not unlike liberal Protestants, find the heart of the gospel in the teaching of Jesus. [They] focus on living out Jesus’ teachings about how we are to conduct our daily lives, especially in relation to our neighbors.

* I had met too many certified tongues-speaking Christians who were consistently dishonest, weird, unhealthy, and mean-spirited. Any understanding of being “Spirit-filled” that didn’t include helping people to become healthy, Christlike, and kind didn’t seem to be worth much.

* Most Christians kind of bottom-line everything to heaven or hell, and that makes life feel kind of cheap.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

* The Jesus Movement, especially in its early days, was a truly wonderful thing. But all too soon [it] was co-opted. It was to a different Jesus that I was gradually converted.

* Yes, you can follow Jesus without identifying yourself as a Christian.

* Some Protestants seem to let Jesus be Savior, but promote Paul to lord and teacher.

* The emerging church has the potential of being to North American Christianity what Reformation Protestantism was to European Christianity. – Phyllis Tickle

* Jesus needs to be saved from Christians…
Can we trust Jesus to save himself from the mess we’ve made of his name, and in so doing, save Christianity?

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

* Christians are not the end users of the gospel

* Scripture is always a factor, but it is never sola. [It] is always in dialogue with tradition, reason, and experience.

* When the scripture talks about itself, it doesn’t use words like authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal. Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extrabiblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority.

* The Bible is a story, and just because it recounts what happened, that doesn’t mean it tells what should always happen or even what should have happened.

* We must accept the coexistence of different faiths in our world willingly, not begrudgingly.

* We constantly emerge from what we were and are into what we can become – not just as individuals, but as participants in the emerging realities of families, communities, cultures, and worlds.

* To be in this creatio continua, this ongoing and emerging creation, in front of all this beauty and glory, meants that there can be no last word.


Buy the book.  Click HERE.


 

Do One Green Thing March 14, 2012




Do One Green Thing:
Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices
– Mindy Pennybacker

You want to make healthier eating choices.  You know buying organic clothing and fair-trade coffee, along with smarter choices for personal products is a good thing.  You know recycling is good for people and the planet we share.
BUT, it’s just all so overwhelming!  Too many claims.  Too many choices.  Too much research.  And it seems to cost more to “do the right thing.”
So, since you can’t “do it all,” you may feel you’re left with doing nothing.

NOT TRUE!

Too many people (including myself) sometimes get locked in an all-or-nothing mentality.  In “Do One Green Thing,” Mindy Pennybacker shows us how to make one simple choice in a variety of areas of everyday living.  One simple choice that can make a difference.
Plus, she sifts through the information, does the research, and give us the bottom line data we need to make the small changes that make a BIG impact.
She also names Brands and items!  Now, it is easy being green.

This would be a great reference book to keep in your car and take shopping with you.
“Do One Green Thing” is a great and very, very practical book that can help us all be better stewards of God’s gift of creation.

– df

Buy “Do One Green Thing”.  Click HERE.

“One green thing: It’s so simple.  This book takes the pressure off by giving you one easy but effective choice to make in each basic area of your life. And it’s written by a trusted voice in environmental health reporting: Mindy Pennybacker.
– Meryl Streep

“The eco-friendly world is a bitch to navigate.  Do One Green Thing makes it simple, but not simplistic.”
– Donna Bulesco, In Style magazine

“From foreword to index, the succinct book is fewer than 300 pages, but Pennybacker manages to cover a broad range of everyday questions.”
– The Daily Green

Buy “Do One Green Thing”.  Click HERE.

———-

Related Quotes:

“If you think ‘Going Green’ is something new, take a look at your Bible.  There is verse after verse about caring for the environment and all of God’s creation. So, being a good steward over God’s creation is not something new, but instead a responsibility we must all undertake.”
– Kelli Mahoney

“All of God’s creation—nature, animals, and humanity—are inextricably linked to one another. As creation cares for us, we too are called to care for creation and engage in the work of healing and sustaining it. ”
– from the preface of  “The Green Bible.”

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to power a TV for three hours.

Buy “Do One Green Thing”.  Click HERE.

Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil,  4,100 kilowatts of energy, 3.2 cubic  yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution.

If the entire world lived like the average American, we’d need 5 planets to provide enough resources.

Buy “Do One Green Thing”.  Click HERE.

 

Eve Of Destruction 2012 July 5, 2010



So many Christians are still so totally focused on “over there,” they ignore what God
calls us to take care of “here and now.”
We need to take care of the earth God has given us, and of each other.
Thanks again, Barry, for helping to restore our focus.
— df

—————-

“McGuire continues to promote the awareness of social and environmental justice.”
—  The Urchins

—————-
Barry says:
“Give it a look and a listen.  You might have to watch it two or three times.
It’s one of the heaviest things I’ve ever done.  Please feel free to forward it to
anyone that you think might benefit from viewing it.”

Watch the video HERE.
————
BUY IT HERE.



Here are the Lyrics:

Well the Western World is in danger
We the People have become like strangers
Taking polls and opinions while the fabric decays
For the greed of the few how much the innocent pays
And the children are watching, you can hear how they pray

And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
How you don’t believe we’re still on the eve of destruction

Think of this green Earth, a tropical rainforest
And take a look around to the Sahara Desert
We wanna cut it down, burn it to the ground leave barren and waste
Till there’s no room for living, animals, rivers or lakes
And there’s nothing to stop it but a miracle of faith

And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
said you don’t believe we’re still on the eve of destruction
now you don’t believe we’re still on the eve of destruction

I know you understand what we’re trying to say
Can’t you see the madness that’s lead up to today?
We believe its time for a change, for a new golden age
Where the business of life runs in harmony with nature
For nature reflects the beauty within ourselves
And this changin’ attitude would ring out the Liberty Bells
For the hungry and the homeless and the helpless as well

And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
saying you don’t believe we’re still on the eve of destruction
oh you don’t believe we’re still on the eve of destruction

At the source of silence, we’ll sings songs of creation
Transcending the boundaries of our soul’s imagination
You can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation
Cuz the truth is in Love, Freedom and Cooperation
Let there be peace in your heart, that’s all right, that’s where it starts
Let there be peace tonight, in all the Nations
For the music of life is in (our last deliberation?)

And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
saying you don’t believe we’re still on the eve of destruction
no, no, no you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

Watch the video HERE.
———————–
BUY IT HERE.

 

A Walk In The Park April 16, 2010

We recently went to Headwaters park for a walk. It was our first time this season. We go there a lot throughout the summer. We try to hit various parks, but that’s one of our regulars.

I was enjoying the walk. Enjoying the view. I started thinking about the beauty of nature; of God’s creation. It’s easy, of course, to switch gears and start thinking about how we’ve messed up nature. Man has, with no doubt, had a negative influence on nature. We’re still messing up nature. But…

I started thinking about the park again, and how beautiful it was. I started to realize that the beauty of the park was, in part, due to man’s influence on nature. This park was created by professional landscapers. There are people who keep it mowed, trimmed, green and pristine. So, although we destroy, abuse, and trash the earth, we can, in fact, have a positive influence. This led me to recall God’s original intent for the interaction and harmony between man and the earth. And between one another.

In chapter 2 of Genesis we read, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

In Evangelical Christianity, I learned that the earth doesn’t really matter. We can treat it as we please, and God doesn’t really care. After all, it’s all gonna burn anyway, right? Part of the problem with modern Evangelicalism is the whole focus is “later.” Our lives are just a “waiting room,” and all we really want to do is leave. What a perversion of the gospel. What a perversion of what Jesus came to teach us.
As Greg X Voltz wrote in his song “Livin’ For The Bell,”
      “There’s a lot to get done before the end of the show,
       but it’s hard to get to it when you just want to go.”

I believe our lives do matter. They matter here. They matter now. I don’t think we have a clue as to how much what we do in our everyday lives will affect the rest of our eternity. I’m not talking about whether or not we “make it.” That issue is not in question for me. I’m talking about aspects of the rest of eternity that we can not yet understand. But, understand or not, I believe how we treat the planet God gave us, and put us in charge of caring for, matters.

The good thing is, it doesn’t have to be all negative. As my walk in the park helped me see, we can make it better. This applies, not just to our interaction with nature, but with each other as well. This is where the social justice of things like standing up for the oppressed and caring for the poor and needy comes in. I have a couple of friends who work with children in Haiti. They have done this long before the recent devastation happened. To me, this is a part of social justice. This is Christianity. I love that they do what they do.

I’ll probably never go to Haiti. It’s not something I’m very comfortable with. I can, though, support those who do go.
There are things I can do. We all have areas where God can use us to make things better. I don’t consider my wife and I fanatics. We don’t do everything “green,” but we do what we can. We can recycle, at least, some stuff. We can use organic and earth friendly products most of the time. We can’t give to all the needy, but we can go on the annual “Aids Walk,” and help raise funds for them. We can spend time with the lonely stranger that God has us cross paths with. And we can do this out of love, instead of seeing everyone as a “project;” as a “candidate for conversion.”

My life may not always be a walk in the park. But wherever the path leads, my walk matters. My life matters. What I do in relation to God, people, and the earth matters. This is my Life Walk.

 

My (brief) review of AVATAR January 1, 2010

I saw AVATAR today.
If you see it, you really need to get to the theater. It is, for sure, a big screen experience. The cinematography is truly beautiful.
The performance-capture technology is really amazing.
At the same time, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about special effects. It is an engaging, wonderfully told story.
I only got teary-eyed a couple of times, so I did pretty good.
It’s anti-war message, and “green politics” are in your face (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing), but it
also works as a love story, and an action movie.
My wife also enjoyed it, even though she didn’t really expect much going in.
With commercials and previews, we spent about 3 hours in our seats. It was, however, time well spent.

 

 
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