Tag Archive: Sin


Christianity and Veganism – Either/Or?

Today I went to a Zizzi restaurant in Newark.  All I wanted was a glass of wine but I thought I had better at least buy an Italian bread bucket, as it is a restaurant not a pub.  As a vegan I was not thinking that the fining process for the wine had probably involved the use of animal or fish products.  I wasn’t thinking, all I wanted was a glass of wine after over two weeks not drinking anything.  In the end I had two glasses of wine, sea bream and tiramisu.  Some vegan I am?  Yes, absolutely.  I keep wanting to ‘eat normally’, ie, not vegan, and sometimes I give in to the urge.  The last two or three months I have given in a few times.  Until tonight, over the last two weeks I have been OK and stuck to the straight and narrow path of being a vegan.  It’s been better for my digestion as well.

Today, before this, I was thinking that the reason I am a vegan is that eating non-vegan harms animals, even just using their products, given the farming methods used, and that it brutalises people, especially at the extreme end of those who work in slaughter houses.  I wanted to be a vegan because I wanted to affirm myself as a human being who does not harm or cause suffering to animals and is not in any way involved with it.  There are people who say they would never harm a fly who eat meat and fish and their products regularly.  They are in denial.  Other people are being paid to do the dirty work for them and they buy the sanitised product at the end, and obviously recognise no link between themselves and any harm or suffering caused to an animal.  If they say they would never harm a fly and mean it, their thoughts and feelings lack clarity.

At the moment, though, I could joyfully abandon veganism.  I often crave foods that are not vegan, the vegan equivalents are just a bit harder to get hold of and a bit more expensive, and there have been times when I have eaten seitan when I have wanted to cut into some real flesh.

Christianity and Veganism – either/or?  Apart from two years in my teens I have always considered myself a Christian.  Even during the first years of being hospitalised I sometimes had difficulty seeing myself as Christian, but in those days I considered myself to be in a bad place in my life.  In my teens I embraced a life without God for two years.

The one thing we know about the things Jesus ate, if we believe the Bible, is that he ate fish.  For a few years now I have held to a position in my thinking if not always in my practice, that abstinence from all things animal is morally superior to indulgence.  So I was asking myself earlier today, where does that leave Jesus?  If it is better not to eat flesh or any of its products, where does that put the Saviour of the world, morally?  I get embarrassed when I don’t eat vegan.  I would be embarrassed to give up my vegan position, and have often seen my slips as sin.  If my slips are sin, did Jesus sin in eating fish?  Yet I have seen my veganism as part of my Christianity.  I have thought a great deal of the vegans I have met, robust and beautiful people.  Is it enough to say that Jesus was a man of his time and ate flesh without sinning?  I think vegetarians and vegans existed in those days as well.

I don’t know about veganism, but vegetarianism is an important part of some Eastern religions.  When the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans he recognised that some people did not eat meat and saw them as the weaker brethren with weaker consciences, and said that if his eating meat caused any of them to stumble he would never eat meat again.  There is no reason in the text to believe he did not mean this and it seems possible that he might have become vegetarian himself, because undoubtedly there were people who would have been stumbled by his eating meat.  I’m wondering if I am making too big a thing of this in believing that holding to a position that veganism is morally superior and preferable is incompatible with me calling myself a Christian in the traditional sense.  The kind of Christianity I have believed in says that Jesus was sinless, yet He ate fish, at the very least.

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I’m Sorry But . . .

Today I feel emotionally sick and out of step with everyone, even with my own sense of decency.

Is there a time I should just shut up and let people get on with it?  Just for a day maybe, or a week, or maybe I should cut my tongue out and never be able to speak for the rest of my life!  Now there’s a thought.

As much as I truly admire the people who work so hard for our security and am very touched by the happiness and satisfaction some of them I have heard speaking today are expressing, I still find it repulsive that anyone can be happy about and rejoice over someone else’s death.  No matter how much they or others close to them have suffered.

As I said, I feel emotionally sick.  I still can’t have a thought or emotion begin to materialise without the people upstairs start their stuff.  The uncanniness of it is doing a number on me, along with some of its deliberate and markedly repetitive illegality when they bang just after the boundary line every day.  I wondered after I typed those last paragraphs and thought maybe I’m being a bit too squeaky liberal to be real.  Perhaps I should join the celebration, for reasons of my own it feels like a bit of a weight off of my shoulders as well.  Maybe all decent people are glad, and I just don’t have that level of freedom to be able to enjoy it with everyone else who is also decent.

But I remember stories of days when missionaries went among cannibal tribes, eyes wide open, taking the risks.  And dying.  No political pull outs.  Died for their peaceful, loving, non-violent beliefs, killed by the enemies, in lifestyle, that they had gone to live among and convert/evangelise/win for Jesus.

Jesus said, so the Bible tells us, if we choose to believe it (or it might have been Paul), ‘render to no man evil for evil, but overcome evil with good’.  Armies and governments and terrorist groups are made of many people who, individually, would be identified as ‘a man’.  I’ve heard it preached and taught that war is a different kind of situation to which that does not apply.  That sometimes peace has to be fought for, and that that is the justification for war.  But how can you fight for peace with weapons of war?  If you do the same you become the same.  The act of war causes and deepens wounds in the psyche, personally and nationally, which make it more likely for physical warfare to continue to be embraced as an option.  People don’t repent, they go into denial and justification, and that isn’t something which makes for a future where this is less likely to happen.

We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12), and that means to establish new habits of acting and thinking. I’ve noticed that when I take a step to do what is right, I understand how wrong the former thing was and how wrong its support structures and rationalisations.  Especially if I thought before that the right thing was the wrong thing.  In my early days as a Christian I was taught that pragmatism and compromise over the truth were not acceptable approaches to living the Christian life.  That belief has not abandoned me, even though these days the church is more at ease with ideas of necessity and pragmatism.  I’m not sure why that is.  Maybe I just haven’t moved on as I should have done.

However, I believe that the spread of peace depends on abandoning war as an acceptable way of ‘maintaining’ ‘peace’.  If war is not an option, we have to go further in building international relationships.  Not ‘so far and no further’.  So far then ‘how very dare you, sir?’  Peace is not compromise.  Peace is Shalom, whole and vibrant.  Peace is love, not polite, formalised, ritualistic functionality.

If war is not an option, outraged people with hurt egos can’t issue a call to arms, pumping out buzz words ten to the dozen that make you feel ashamed and embarrassed to disagree with them.  People who do not embrace armed conflict as an option must surely be easier people to approach.

If we want to talk about the brave people who die in the pursuit of peace, and lay down their lives, I think there is more chance of healing for the world and of leading by example if those people lay down their lives in refusing to kill, rather than in trying to maintain peace and security for their own group by killing people and groups who are seen to threaten it or who strike at it.  If we lay down our lives for peace, sacrifice our lives in being actively peaceful and refusing to engage in war.  Let our own lives be taken rather than kill an aggressor.  Rather than a few being brave for many, I believe we all need to face it and trust for ourselves.  That way we relate with love for all, even for our enemies.  That is how peace is built.  We are governed by peace because we are founded on peace.  It isn’t the result, but the whole structure.  As long as we need to protect our lives, we live with fear.

This is what I should do, not what I do.  I am protecting too much, things and goals which wanting to achieve make me careful for my life.  Crazy things, like seeing the end of coercive medicine in the mental health system, a change in understanding and an end to labelling.  Even more, I don’t want to die on my own, maybe never to be discovered and with my life seen as worthless and full of failure, and something to be despised and not missed.  That is my craziness, wanting to hold on to my life until I feel it is worth something, not so guilt-ridden and not so isolated.  That is how I feel under the present abuse.  Too guilty to die, and guilty for hanging on.  Sorry for coming back to myself, but on the other hand, I think facing and coming to terms with yourself is a necessary part of being able to embrace this lifestyle choice anyway.  So no, I’m not sorry, really.  You have to come back to yourself to lay your life down by deliberately committing to non-violence.  I know so.  I’m only sorry I can’t express it better because of what is going on in my life at the moment.  I could possibly express it if I chose my own advocated actions, but under the abuse I can’t do it in words.  The option for me seems to be to surrender to and make myself vulnerable to my abusers (who might only be abusers in my mind anyway), or not to be able to express it in words.  But I do have a problem with my abusers if that is the point they are trying to make  by their abuse.  ‘Join us, we’ll teach you the way of peace and non-violence by making you pass through the fire of our violence’.  Jesus didn’t use violence.  The Bible says the devil can appear as an angel of light, and that means his presentation is appealing and persuasive.  But trust goes to the cross.  They present as Christians, and everything I try to say is aurally countered, either actively or with silence.  Or is it all a product of my own fear and darkness?  The Bible says in Christ there is no darkness, it also says the darkness becomes light.  To me that doesn’t just mean that a light shines removing the darkness but that, where Christ is, the darkness itself, even the darkness of violence, is light.  That is the conviction of my heart and soul.  Love, my love for those who do me violence, makes even the violence a source of light and something into which I should walk.  And these words are darlings I refuse to kill by putting them into action.  The violence and exclusion/silence, because of the ‘hallelujahs’, feel like a call, a ‘trial by fire’.  But also, post-communism, it feels somehow inappropriate.  So why am I arguing so much?  Have we talked our way out of needing to pay the price, by invalidating the price asked and demanded as torture?

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