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.

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3 Responses to “in summary [kind of]”

  1. Nikki & David Goldbeck Says:

    check out HealthyHighways.com for 21 reasons to be a vegetarian.

  2. Billy Kangas Says:

    Hey there,
    I noticed your post on Jesus Creed about coffees you enjoyed so I came over here to see what you were up to. I’m always looking for people with interests in God and in Coffee.

    I work primarily in the church, but I moonlight at a coffee shop or two and have a pretty healthy obsession with the black stuff. I’m curious as to how you get your coffee.

    I write about coffee at http://billykangas.blogspot.com
    I write about God at http://orant.blogspot.com

    I’d be really interested in what you’d have to say on both!
    Thanks.
    -Billy Kangas

  3. Billy Kangas Says:

    Hey it’s great to hear from another coffee person out there. I’m mostly interested in equipment and technique. But anything you want to talk about is completely fine. This is my place for all things coffee.

    Make posts as long as you like.

    This week on my other blog I had to read what seemed like novel sized comments, and I loved it. If I could get people to talk like that about coffee here I would have it made!


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