Archive for February, 2008

55

February 27, 2008

last night i came home late [what else is new?]. i live at coffee shops these [unemployed] days, it seems. but i love it.

as my roommate and i considered watching more of season 1, i realized it was getting colder inside our apartment. no surprise. for those who have visited, cold is nothing new. our bedrooms seem to stay warm upstairs but the downstairs is never affected by the thermostat. however, something seemed different this time. it read 66 and was set for 70, so i cranked it up to 73, just for kicks. it said 65 minutes later. then 64. we grabbed blankets and headed downstairs to continue more of season 1 and i hoped that it would somehow fix itself.

an hour later when we decided to call it a night, i ran up to see if the numbers had changed, because it sure felt like it hadn’t.

63.

so, i bundled up even more than usual, putting on a hoodie and actually wearing the hood. somehow i fell asleep, hoping that 73 is how it would feel in my room when i woke up.

but no.

as soon as my alarm sounded i jumped up to go see what numbers would great me.

55

i cursed the system and called my landlord. in record time i got out of the apartment dressed and ready for the day [after telling my roommate the situation and giving her advanced notice that someone would be showing up to check the problem].

i know i am being whiny. but i won’t deny that being cold [unnecessarily so] makes me absolutely miserable.

* * * * *

i just received the phone call.

damn squirrels. chewing wires.

somehow that affects the heat [?]

when i go home later i will have my fingers crossed that he spoke truth.

and maybe, finally, we can plan our house-warming party.

[and it will actually be warm]

sunday

February 25, 2008

Church. Community. Whatever you want to call it. It’s not been something I have been fond of for quite sometime. I’m more cynical. hesitant. unsure of its significance. doubtful that its possible… that people can be that real with each other. But, I’ve been participating, somewhat, in a local community here in town for a while now. Still not sure why. But I actually look forward to Sundays.

What continues to surprise me is that I have begun spending a significant part of the service in tears. A couple weeks ago I think it was maybe 30% of the service. But yesterday its a safe bet to say I was crying for about 90% of 75 minutes. I sat there trying to figure out just what it was that had struck me. I still am not sure. A couple shared their story of seeking intentional community. of experiencing a gift only to feel betrayed. of honesty and heart ache. of embracing a journey and letting go of expectations. and then at the end their baby [who played a significant role in the story] was sprinkled and welcomed into community. it was extremely beautiful and hope-giving.

i kept asking myself [and God] what was affecting me. Maybe it was their vulnerability. Their desire for intentional living. Their admission of heartsickness and anger. Their ability to eventually be okay. It was just so hopeful. I felt like maybe the coldness I have known for so long was possibly beginning to change. I haven’t known what this would look like. I am not sure how to even share it with those around me because it feels foreign. i am also hesitant to describe what i am experiencing for fear that it will sound trite or cliche. there is also a part of me that wonders if maybe i was just having “a day” and it was more me than anything else…

but i don’t know if i can pass it off that easily.

for so long i’ve just accepted life as completely gray. some would say i’ve embraced postmodernism. that i’ve become soft on absolute truth. i don’t really know. i do know its become a lot harder to define my beliefs. to define what i think is true. yet i anticipate sunday. i anticipate gathering with people that i don’t know. i anticipate acknowledging my brokenness and my inability to fix myself. of seeing love and hope faith played out in front of me… reminding me that i can know it.

and i think what struck me maybe was that i was reminded that i have known it. that there are moments i can look back on in my life where something happened inside me to compel me to action. where a teaching about Jesus affected me in a way that something significant changed within me and outside me. where the kingdom seemed already and not yet and i was participating instead of cowering.

i am so tired of stubbornly refusing to believe its possible. but i am also scared of the questions that linger. of how life will play out. of how to interact honestly with others and not be afraid of what they will think. i am scared to trust.

i will leave this post unresolved. its exactly how i feel… i don’t really know what to do next.

discontentishness

February 23, 2008

another weekend night spent with little ones instead of friends

being told not to work out because of a slight fracture… 3 weeks and counting

resolving that this isn’t the year to run the half marathon

not reading a book since october

telling people i don’t have a full-time job

wondering constantly just what i was thinking when i went to college.

believing that there is more but still being uncertain of what it is

thinking that my posts are usually only interesting when i am quoting the thoughts of others… and wishing for some thoughts of my own.


in summary [kind of]

February 16, 2008

okay. greg boyd is awesome. i won’t continue to post only about my eating habits… its just been one of those weeks where i’ve been mulling over a lot of the reasons behind my decision. i am not trying to persuade anyone necessarily, but instead am just trying to offer responses to those who are curious or merely not yet informed as to the reasons some people choose this lifestyle. what follows is the closest to a sermon i’ve posted in a while, and FYI most of the content is not mine.

also, i don’t post the following to make anyone feel bad for not seeing things my way. its only to put some information out there so people know where myself and others are coming from. information is constantly being presented to us. our response will always be passive or active. my response to the following has been to be radically active [and not even as radically active as some, since i still am lacto/ovo].

the following is the basic reasoning i hear from people who consider vegetarianism to be misguided:

God gave humans dominion over the earth.
This includes animals.
Therefore, humans have dominion [control, etc] over animals.

Apparently this is supposed to stop me in my tracks and make me come to my senses about how ridiculous/overly sensitive i am being towards non-humans. Ironically, I can use the same reasoning for my convictions. It comes down to how people view dominion.

Another thing I hear is this:

The vicious cycle can’t be stopped; the food is there so why let it go to waste? Your passions are impractical. [I am asserting this latter statement, but its easy to see that this is what they are getting at.]

To this I would say [with respect] that you are missing the point.

Dominion and Love must go together

Our original mandate in the Bible centered on carrying out God’s loving dominion over the earth and the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:26-28; Psl. 8:4-8). We are entrusted and commissioned to reflect God’s care for animals by how we ourselves care for them. This original commission was never retracted by God. Carrying for animals is still one of our most fundamental benchmarks for how we’re doing as a species. And by that benchmark, I think it’s obvious we’re failing pretty miserably…

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am called to manifest the reign of God in every area of my life. Since torturing animals is not consistent with the reign of God, I feel I cannot help fund an institution that does this.

Consumption as Practical is… a cop out.


Undoubtedly, someone will respond; “What practical difference will it make for one individual to refuse to benefit from the butchery of the slaughter houses? They’re going to continue to operate regardless of what you or any other individual does.” The same argument was used to justify Northern Americans reaping benefits from slavery before the civil war. For all their protesting, few Northerners boycotted the South’s slave-driven cotton industry. This argument is simply a poor, morally vacuous argument.

But even if we grant that refusing to benefiting from animal torture on factory farms doesn’t make any practical difference, this shouldn’t affect the behavior of followers of Jesus in the least. We are called to do what we do not because its practically expedient, but simply because we are called to do it. Faithfulness, not pragmatism, is our motivation. Our call is not to pragmatically fix the world, but to simply be the Kingdom.

Consumption as Dominion is grossly reductionistic.

Over the last century we have reduced farm animals to commercialized commodities whose only value is found in how efficiently we can produce and slaughter them for profit. Consequently, we now have a situation where more than 26 billion animals each year are forced to live in miserable, over-crowded warehouses where there is absolute nothing natural about their existence and where they are subjected to barbaric, painful, industrial procedures. (I encourage readers to view the film Farm to Fridge [click here to watch] and read Matthew Scully’s marvelous book Dominion to be informed on these matters).

Here are just a few examples of the typical treatment animals receive in our factory farms to satisfy our appetite for meat.

* Up to a dozen chickens are squeezed into sixteen inch cages, stacked four or five high, in which they cannot so much as spread a wing. This is how they spend their entire miserable lives.

* These over-crowded, over-stressed conditions produce hostile behavior. To prevent chickens from plucking each other to death and thus lose profits for the factory farm industry, these poor creatures are “debeaked” (as are turkeys and sometimes ducks). This involves using a searing hot blade to cut through the bone, cartilage, soft tissue and nerves of the beaks of these abused birds.

* Cattle are routinely castrated, have their horns cut off and are branded with a searing hot iron, all without the use of pain killers. During auction and shipping their movement is controlled by electric prods (called “hotshots”) that send painful, high-voltage shocks through the cow’s body.

* Because of the speed with which it must be carried out, the slaughtering of cattle is not always efficient. Some are consequently still conscious when they’re dismembered.

* Dairy cows spend the bulk of their existence in crammed quarters, hooked up to a milk machine. They are impregnated each year to keep milk production going and have their young taken from them almost immediately after birth, an act that is unnatural and traumatizing to both the calf and its mother.

* Once taken from their mothers, calves are frequently kept in tiny crates in which they cannot turn around or even lay down comfortably. To produce veal, male calves are fed an unnatural diet to keep them borderline anemic. This keeps their meat white and tender. When they’re just several months old, they’re slaughtered.

* The worst victims of the factory farm industry, in my estimation, are pigs. Gene research has recently revealed that pigs are one of our closest cousins in the animal kingdom. These poor beasts are routinely castrated, have their ears and tails cut and have their teeth yanked out all without the use of any anesthesia. The shrieks of pain heard throughout these ordeals are gut wrenching (see the film Farm to Fridge).

* Pigs are customarily kept in narrow stalls that allow them to do nothing more than stare ahead their entire lives. Because pigs are extremely intelligent creatures – more so than most breeds of dog – they often go insane in this confinement, sometimes gnawing at their own limbs (which is why many factory farms yank out their teeth). They are pumped full of hormones to stimulate unnatural growth, and many get to the point where their legs won’t support their body weight any longer. These must then be dragged to slaughter.

* Pigs are commonly packed so tightly into transportation trucks that many are crushed to death in the process. As with cattle, the slaughtering process is far from perfect, and some are yet conscious when they are scalded in boiling water to have their hair removed.

So. There you have it. Coming across Boyd’s posts have been more affirming for my choice to remain a vegetarian. I do hope his thoughts were enlightening for those of you who endured the length and content of the post.

By the way, I haven’t watched the video. I am not sure I can handle it. If anyone sees it feel free to comment.

continued thoughts on not eating meat

February 12, 2008

i was in jackson for the past few days helping with tornado clean-up… needless to say i am exhausted in every way possible, yet i know there are more people who feel the burden of what happened way more than i do because they have been there non-stop since it happened, and will continue to be working in the weeks and months to come. i will write more later on this.

i had a broken cell phone and no real connection to anything outside of jackson until today. so, i find myself at panera grabbing a bagel and enjoying the temporary distraction from thoughts related to tornadoes and my current jobless state.

i was catching up on google reader and found out a theologian i read shares in my passion for being a non-meat eater.

i really was encouraged by how he articulated his conviction. a lot of it rings true for me, as the meat industry is something i greatly enjoy not supporting anymore for its inhumane practices. i really do think that caring for the earth and exercising dominion over it, as was the initial plan for human beings from the beginning of time, involves compassionate care for and not just a free pass for mass consumption of animals.

someone asked me over the weekend if it was something i merely prefer to do, or if it was a conviction for me. i believe its both. it has definitely been like a hobby, in a sense. but the more i think on it, the more it does some like something other than myself is compelling me to do this. i don’t expect all people to understand me… but when you do feel understood, it does something to your soul. it seems like i’ve had to give an account for my vegetarianism a lot more recently and the responses i get are so varied… and its always nice to meet people who get it in their own way- even if they don’t share my conviction for not eating meat.

*relevantmagazine.com posted an article written by a non-vegetarian on animal rights, which was an interesting read as well.

more on Union

February 7, 2008
these are the main housing complexes on campus.
you can see some of the guys’ dorms [Watters] in the northwest corner
of the image. the 8 girls’ dorms [Hurt] are to the south and east. if you start counting from the very top girl’s dorm, i lived in #1 [Blythe], #3 [Eaton], and #8 [Patton].

i can’t even look at pictures anymore without getting chills and tearing up. my heart is so heavy. so much of who i am today is because of my experience at union and even though i’ve expressed my bitterness regarding certain aspects of college life there, i do cherish the time i spent there. its hard to think that most of the campus community is destroyed. i can’t imagine what it will be like when i see it in person. i remember when the storms came in ’02, we all curiously looked outside to see what was happening, even as it hit. there is no way 1200+ students on campus were following all the rules when the storm hit. but, somehow everyone is safe and i just can’t get over it. i don’t think anyone will ever get over it.

Union

February 6, 2008

This made me sick to my stomach to see this morning. The first picture is of girls dorm rooms [I lived in Eaton for 1.5 years] And, its hard to tell, but I think this is the back side of Hurt Complex at Union- the girls dorms where I lived when I was in college. I started getting texts about what was happening there early last night and continued to try to figure out what was happening in Jackson through out the rest of the night. I woke up to Dr. Dockery, our president, on the Today Show giving an interview. I really, really can’t believe what my school looks like now. Several were injured after being trapped in the guys’ common area at Watters [guy’s dorm] but no one died…. I can hardly believe it. The videos and pictures blow my mind. I just cannot believe it.

Union was hit by a tornado when I was a freshman. My car was roughed up, as were others. Major repairs had to be done… but nothing like this happened. Union is a small, close-knit community and I know they will be okay. I will post more later. I am hoping to hear from some of my friends in Jackson soon… I know the phones are slammed. I think there are a few of us who will be heading down to help out when we get the go ahead.

try, try again.

February 4, 2008

it was about this time last year that everything changed. all my plans, all the things i had anticipated doing with my life, the confidence i had in pursuing a vocation… the certainty that i knew myself and what i believe about how life works. not anymore. i had run from my doubts and questions for so long that it took moving across the country to realize i had no idea what the hell i was doing [but i could sure pretend to do it well, whatever it was].

to summarize [which is not a strength of mine]: i lost complete faith in the Christianity i had come to know.

what if this is all one huge cosmic joke and i have completely fallen for it? and if not, why does it feel that way?

my faith will never be what it was before i moved away. i don’t say this to be cynical or bitter. i actually say this in a peaceful state of hope [or hopeful state of peace… each sound about right]. my heart is not closed like it was when i found myself back in nashville last april. i still don’t have a ton of answers, but the journey isn’t so bleak or scary to me anymore. i welcome the conversations about faith instead of inwardly shutting down and blocking everything out. i am more careful with my words and when it comes to conversations about the answers to life’s big questions.

i do long for more. i hope for an encounter with Him that will move me further in the way of Love. Love for Him. for others. for myself, even. i found myself very overwhelmed at a local gathering this weekend as i prepared to take communion. some of it doesn’t make sense to me anymore, and if anything i guess i was simply aware of this fact and the questions i would be bringing to the table with me as i prepared to take the bread and cup.

i fumbled around in my bible, not really sure what i was looking for, but was reminded of a passage in john 16 for some reason.

take heart. i have overcome the world.

the latter part of the passage struck me and the tears flowed. i was thinking about how i don’t know much any more. i don’t understand the chaos and brokenness of the world. i try to imagine that i am slightly in tune with how Jesus would respond but then i get frustrated with others and especially with myself for missing the point so often. letting go for a moment was so freeing.

and this made me hopeful that i can let go again. and again. and again.