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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. 🙂

 

The Myth Of A Christian Nation July 15, 2010

Gregory A. Boyd:
“If Jesus wasn’t concerned about ‘taking Israel back for God’ by political means, why would any who align themselves with his kingdom aspire to ‘take back America for God’ by these means?”
“Did Jesus ever suggest by word or example that we should aspire to acquire, let alone take over, the power of Caesar?  Did Jesus spend any time and energy trying to improve, let alone dominate, the reigning government of his day?  Did he ever work to pass laws against the sinners he hung out with and ministered to?  Did he worry at all about ensuring that his rights and the religious rights of his followers were protected?  Does any author in the New Testament remotely hint that engaging in this sort of activity has anything to do with the kingdom of God?
The answer to all these questions is, of course, no.”
“However we, as American citizens, might personally decide to weigh in on these issues politically, we should not attach the label Christian to this activity.”
“Of course our political views will be influenced by our Christian faith.  But we must also recognize that people who have diametrically opposing views may believe they too are advancing the kingdom.”  [Again, this hit home with me through Philip Yancey’s statement that Hillary Clinton was pro-choice, not in opposition to Christianity, but rather because of her Christian faith.- df]

————————–
There are a couple or so ideas in this book that I most definitely do not agree with.
They are beliefs, however, I also held at one time.  I don’t wish, though, to
focus on what I don’t agree with, since most of this book expounds upon what may very well
be one of the most crucial messages of our time.  It would be very difficult to over-emphasize
the importance of this book.

The body of Christ needs a wake-up call to shake it from its
thirst for violence, hatred and bloodshed.  What many evangelicals call
a “Christian Worldview” is nothing but a religious version of the political, power-
hungry kingdom of the world.  More than one prominent televangelist has, in reference to our enemies, said things  like “Blow them away to the Glory of God.”
Rest assured that this rhetoric, whether spoken by Christians, Muslims, or any other socio-religious political group, is NOT the way of Jesus…OR of His followers.
— df
——–
Some quotes follow, which may be periodically updated.

Buy the book. Click HERE.
—————————————

“Evangelical Christians who align themselves too closely with political
causes or declare that they want to bring America ‘back to God’ are
actually doing harm—both to the body of Christ and society in general.”

From the Back Cover:
The church was established to serve the world with Christ-like love, not to rule the world. It is called to look like a corporate Jesus, dying on the cross for those who crucified him, not a religious version of Caesar. It is called to manifest the kingdom of the cross in contrast to the kingdom of the sword. Whenever the church has succeeded in gaining what most American evangelicals are now trying to get — political power — it has been disastrous both for the church and the culture. Whenever the church picks up the sword, it lays down the cross.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

“It’s difficult to overemphasize the change that occurred when, in AD312, the emperor Constantine was converted.  This was the first time anyone ever associated the Christian faith with violence, but its success stained the church from then on.  [Constantine made] it a crime not to be a Christian.  The kingdom of God, manifested in the crucified Nazarene, had become the empire of Christendom.  What followed was a long and terrible history of people using the sword “in Jesus’ name for the glory of God.”
(That demonic perversion continues in much of American Christianity today. – df)

Participants in the kingdom of the world trust the power of the sword to control behavior; participants of the kingdom of God trust the power of self-sacrificial love to transform hearts.”

“We believe in our nation over and against their nation, our religion over and against their religion, our culture over and against their culture, our political ideology over and against their political ideology, and so on.”

Buy the book. Click HERE.

“By God’s design, people are not to be won over primarily by our clever arguments, scary religious tracts, impressive programs, or our sheer insistence that they are going to hell unless they share out theological opinions.  No, they are to be won over by the way in which we replicate Calvary to them.  That are to see and experience the reality of the coming kingdom in us.”

“The best way to get people to lay down the cross is to hand them the sword!”

On ‘God and Country’:
“We have allowed out allegiance to the kingdom of God to be compromised by allegiance to our nation, and allowed the flag to smother the cross.  The time to turn completely from this Constantinian Idolatry is long overdue.”

Buy the book. Click HERE.

“Perhaps it would be a benefit if the word GOD wasn’t so trivially sprinkled on our coins, our Pledge of Allegiance, our civic functions, and elsewhere. We end up wasting precious time and  resources defending and tweaking the civil religion – as though doing  so had some kingdom value.”

“What if the energy and resources used to preserve and tweak the civil religion was rather spent feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, befriending the drug addict, and visiting the prisoner?  What if instead of trying to legally make life more difficult for gays, we worried only about how we could affirm their unsurpassable worth in service to them?  What if instead of trying  to defend our religious rights, Christians concerned themselves with siding with others whose rights are routinely trampled?”

Buy the book. Click HERE.

“Believing Jesus will soon “rapture” Christians out of the world, they have little concern with the church being a witness on issues of social justice, global peace, the environment, and so on.  Whatever else one thinks  about the New Testament’s eschatology, it certainly does not encourage this sort of escapism.”

“We must refrain from doing what Jesus never did: Namely, positioning ourselves as wiser, morally superior guardians and “fixers” of others.  Moral guardianship is what the Pharisees did — not Jesus.”
“Like Jesus, no part of Paul’s kingdom ministry involved trying to tweak the morality of the culture at large.”

“We kill and die for our freedom and the freedom of others.  But why should a kingdom person think killing for this reason is a legitimate exception to the New Testament’s command to love an bless enemies?”

Buy the book. Click HERE.

 

Morality: Why I Am Better Than You June 28, 2009

(from “Searching For God Knows What” by Donald Miller)

        A great concern for those who defend a propositional gospel over a relational gospel is morality.  Some feel that if we do not emphasize morality, people will have too much fun and refuse to play by the rules the rest of us who know God have to play by.  [But] the Bible is not structured as a moral code.  It does not have all the answers on right and wrong.  A book containing a complete moral code would require all pages in all books.

         Lately, however I have been thinking of morality in less conceptual terms, less as a system of rules and regulations and more a concept very beautiful and alive.  Basically I am a simple sheep, having very little idea of what is right and wrong, and Jesus is going to pull me out of the ditches when I screw up, and protect me from spiritual enemies.

          I wonder if the idea of morality is just another ramification of the Fall.  Paul even says that the law was given to the Jews to show them they couldn’t follow the law.  Morality exists only because we are fallen, not unlike medicine exists because people get sick.  The hijacking of the concept of morality began when we reduced Scripture to formula, and a love story to theology, and finally morality to rules.  It is a very different thing to break a rule than it is to cheat on a lover.

          The moral message I have heard is often a message of bitterness and anger because our morality, our culture, is being taken over by people who disregard our ethical standards.  None of that is connected, relationally, to God at all.  Morality as a battle cry against a depraved culture is simply not a New Testament idea.  Morality as a ramification of our spiritual union and relationship with Christ, however, is.

          I was the guest on a radio show recently that was broadcast on a secular station, one of those conservative shows that paints Democrats as terrorists.  The interviewer asked what I thought about the homosexuals who were trying to take over the country.  “Which homosexuals are trying to take over the country?” I asked.  “You know,” the interviewer began, “the ones who want to take over Congress and the Senate.”  “Well,” I said, “I’ve never met those guys and I don’t know who they are.  The only homosexuals I’ve met are very kind people, some of whom have been beat up and spit on and harassed and, in fact, feel threatened by the religious right.”

Think about it.  If you watch CNN all day and see extreme Muslims in the Middle East declaring war on America because they see us as immoral, and then you read the paper the next day to find the exact same words spoken by evangelical leaders against the culture here in America, you’d be pretty scared.  I’ve never heard of a homosexual group trying to take over the world, or for that matter the House or the Senate, but I can point you to about fifty evangelical organizations who are trying to do exactly that.

          I continued, “As a Christian, I believe Jesus wants to reach out to people who are lost and, yes, immoral – immoral just like you and I are immoral; and declaring war against them and stirring up your listeners to the point of anger is only hurting what Jesus is trying to do.  This isn’t rocket science.  If you declare war on somebody, you have to either handcuff them or kill them.  But if you want them to be forgiven by Christ, you have to love them.  So go ahead and declare war in the name of a conservative agenda, but don’t do it in the name of God.  That’s what militant Muslims are doing in the Middle East, and we don’t want that here.”

          A moral message, a message of us versus them, overflowing in war rhetoric, is not the sort of communication that came out of the mouth of Jesus.  Some Christians, when considering immorality in culture, consider two issues:  abortion and gay marriage.  Moral ideas presented in the New Testament, and even from the mouth of Christ, however, involve loving our neighbors, being one in the bond of peace, loving our enemies, taking care of our own business before we judge somebody else, forgiving debts even as we have been forgiven, speaking in truth and love else we sound like clanging cymbals (turn on Fox News to hear what clanging cymbals sound like).

          Morality, in the context of a relationship with Jesus, becomes the voice of reason and calm in a loud argument, the voice of life in a world of walking dead, the voice of Christ in a sea of self-hatred.

Buy “Searching For God Knows What” at:
http://astore.amazon.com/lifewalk_store-20?node=2&page=5

 

 
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