A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
Human Befriends Goose - Oregonian Mike Jivanjee and his goose friend Kyle pose for a portrait. Mike rescued Kyle from Lake Oswego when she was an orphaned gosling; Kyle “imprinted” on him, and ever since has proved the truth of the biblical saying “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” See Love Story .
--Contributed by Marjorie Emerson
Editor’s Corner Guest Essay: Light the Sky
My name is Nyamedo Nkrumah; I am a teacher at Amos Okrah SDA Primary School at Sakora Wonoo in the Ashanti Region in Ghana [west Africa). I teach Class Six.
My students and I were eagerly set to do “Light the Sky,” an event created some years ago by Animals’ Angels, [an organization headquartered in Germany whose members follow animal transport trucks to slaughter, taking pictures, naming the animals, and when possible giving them food and drink, and acting to defend them legally]. The ceremony is always observed during the Christmas or End of Year Season; [The burning candles symbolize bringing light into the darkness of their lives. This is carried out in a number of cities in Europe.] For us in Amos Okrah school, it was the very first event of this kind. Dance.jpg
In accordance with this tradition, we had planned to light candles for all animals, especially livestock and laboratory animals of any kind. Our aim was to show them--dead or still alive--that they are not forgotten, to give them hope that there are friends fighting for them and their rights and to change things for the better, to set a sign to other people about what is going on around them, and last but not least, to send our concerns, messages and the animals’ souls personally to Heaven, for God to take care of all, give them love, peace and eternal happiness--things we are not able to provide here on earth.
After discussing everything with my children and making sure that they only would take part
wholeheartedly or otherwise had better stay at home, everything was ready on Monday,
December 12, 2016, at around 4:00 pm. To start with, some of my students performed a traditional dance, usually meant to honour the dead and beloved ancestors, but this time, we purposely paid respect to all suffering animals in this world and those who already had died tragically. (Dance pictured above.)
After that, the dance group met, equipped with candles alight, under a huge old tree to form the capital A, for Animals. Later, more children joined.
All of a sudden, a small flock of sheep emerged from their tiny stable. They had been leading a miserable life for a very long time. To be in their stable is like being in a wardrobe, so crowded--no space, no light. Until shortly before that day, those poor sheep were not allowed at all to get out; nothing had helped, no amount of pleading by us on their behalf, simply nothing. I despaired. One day when I was passing by again, I couldn’t do anything else but sending up a hurried prayer--even less than that, just a short, quite hopeless question--”God, couldn’t you help them in some way?” LightTheSky.jpg
The very next day, I couldn’t believe what I saw: They were freely roaming about in the bush! From this moment on they have been allowed to leave the stable every afternoon for about two or three hours . . . And now they came for the first time to visit us at the place where we were dancing and lighting candles, dedicated specifically to them and animals like them! When the darkness had fully set in, we had a small assembly by candlelight. To round it off, a boy used hot wax to trace the Animals’ Angels sign on a rocky surface.
It was such a fulfilling evening in which God blessed our efforts in every way--indeed, every single moment was rich with blessing.
--Nyamedo Nkrumah (edited)
For an Editor’s Corner Guest Essay by Christa Blanke, founder of Animals’ Angels, and a review of one of her books, see PT 123.
“Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
“You never stand so tall as when you stoop to help a child or an animal.”
--Jewish Proverb (both from www.creaturequotes.com ).
Dear Peaceable Friends,
As always I enjoyed the thought-provoking articles in this latest issue of “Vegetarian Friends.” You asked if any of your readers have had an experience of feeling they were breaking a taboo when accidentally consuming animal products. I have not had that, but wanted to write why I have not had that.
Occasionally friends who are not vegetarian expect me to be horrified if I accidentally consume meat. To me, this smacks a little of the sense of personal purity—that I myself will feel contaminated, sick, unhealthy, or impure from the consumption of meat. That in itself distracts, I believe, from the larger moral implications for others--animals, the environment, and humans caught in the animal production--by putting attention on the “me” that is getting queasy or feeling guilty. Additionally, a sense of personal purity places the vegetarian above or outside the moral scale of others. Where does being vegetarian or vegan place us in the moral scale against an impoverished Central American farmer who may have only a few chickens and a small corn crop to sustain his family? Against an Inuit whose entire culture has been built around ancient, rich, and intricate patterns of hunting, which involve a knowledge of the natural world far greater than most of us could even imagine?
I also think feeling a sense of purity incorrectly identifies the source and timing of whatever efficacy vegetarianism or veganism will have. My usual places of eating are restaurants, home, and homes of friends, and I do not believe that my personal vegetarian choices have saved a single animal. If I consume a piece of meat in one of those situations, I have not contributed (immediately) to that animal’s death any more than refraining from eating it would have saved [him or her]. To think otherwise privileges my individual body and my individual actions as more powerful, or even perhaps more pure or holy than they are. But I do believe that hundreds, thousands, and millions of choices by many people can move a society forward. How this happens on any issue, neither sociologists nor psychologists can precisely understand or predict (though some of the thinking on “swarm” theory posits that many individually good choices can eventually direct the movements of a group).
When acquaintances think I would be “sick” or “horrified” to consume meat, it is similar to how some hesitate or apologize around me if they mention something that involves animal death, as if they think I would be too upset to hear about it. And yet I imagine that I have read far more about animal death and suffering than they have, and reading about that has led me to make some of my choices. To be clear, I am not saying that there are not countless horrific experiences being suffered every day by animals. But to feel too delicate to handle occasional ingestion of meat, or mention of animal suffering, is to try to remove myself even further from that suffering. But I think it is that sadness and suffering that we, as creatures of both empathy and will, need to stay close to if we can, both to pity the world and to change it from within—not outside or above.
Sincerely and with gratitude for all your good work,
Thank you for your thoughtful response.
It does seem likely that people who had the experience of being slightly or acutely horrified at eating an animal accidentally would be people concerned with their purity; Mary
Douglas' classic book opposes pollution to purity, as even the title, Purity and Danger, indicates. Whether or not it applies with anything like consistency to vegans I haven't been able to determine. I made only a very small "poll" of my immediate family and friends, but failed to ask if any of them were concerned about their purity. I suspect the question would have been hard to answer unless it was “no.” I do know that I myself have always been wary of talk about purity for the very reason you mention, that it can foster self-preoccupation (and holier-than-thou attitudes). I live in community that is traditionally vegetarian(not vegan) since its beginnings in 1912 due to a commitment to the oneness of all life, but I’ve known members do not seem very concerned with compassion for animals. In general, members consider purity helpful to the practice of meditation, and it does help in the sense that, as Kierkegard said, “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing,” and when it means that one is, as far as possible, consistent. But compassion is what matters most, even when our intention to be consistent fails.
(In connection with the taboo against cannibalism mentioned in the essay, it occurred to me that of all the many cold-blooded murderers I've read or heard about in our culture during my lifetime, I can remember only one that involved cannibalism [not counting situations of starving castaways like the Donner party]. This suggests that the vast majority even of people who kill, apparently without a qualm, and who, presumably, would not think of themselves as pure nor as respectful their human kin, still seem to observe the taboo. I take this pattern to be support for my belief that, though the purer-than-thou factor may be present--sometimes I see signs of it in myself--it is not the deepest ground of this taboo. I also take it to support my conviction that vegans who have a feeling, vague or acute, of horror or pollution when they accidentally eat flesh are motivated at the most profound level by an extension of the sense of [human] kinship: they feel that to eat animals is to eat members of our own family.)
We invite further comments on this issue.
Dear Peaceable Friends,
What an interesting pioneer [John Howard} you have featured . . . .the real unpleasantness of the work he undertook must have been appalling.
The name was vaguely familiar to me, but I didn't know why. He sounds to have been a compassionate and important man. And I love the epitaph on the obelisk ["Whosoever thou art, thou standest at the grave of thy friend”], simple, but significant. He sounds a bit like a Friend! . . . .
Many thanks for all your work . . .
--Marian Hussenbux (pictured)
Dear Peaceable Friends,
The title of your essay [“Spiritual Pollution?”] hits the nail on the head, because meat-eating impedes one’s spiritual progress . . . . [W]hat is a meat-eater thinking of but gratification of the sense of taste?. . . . I like your ties to other taboos as a basis for lack of compassion, and examples of compassionate souls like . . . John Howard. The Pioneer article on John Howard . . . is especially appropriate.
Hospital Food Challenged
Thanks largely to the work of PCRM pointing up the carcinogenic properties of processed meats, the influential American Medical Association (AMA) has come out urging hospitals to shun it and promote healthful plant-based menus! See AMA Speaks Up and Live Science
--Contributed by Angie Cordeiro
Pioneer: Thomas Tryon (1634 - 1703)
Suppose you were Thomas Tryon, a male born in 1634 to the working class in the England of Charles I, ten years after the birth of George Fox. You had no education, and were set to spin wool as a child (and reportedly got very good at it), then to herd sheep as a teenager. Finally, at eighteen, you ran away from your family home is Gloucestershire to apprentice with a hatter in London.
The times were exciting. This was just after the termination of the English civil war with the victory of the Puritan and "Dissenting" Parliamentarians or "Roundheads" over the Anglican Royalists or "cavaliers," and the beheading of King Charles I. The temporary Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell was in power.Thomas_Tryon_White.jpg
Radical religion of all sorts was in the air: Quakers, Baptists, "Diggers" (like anarchists), "Levellers (believers in complete equality), Fifth-Monarchy Men (a kind of apocalyptic sect), and many others all determined, in an oft-quoted biblical phrase, to "turn the world upside-down." Of course there were also remaining Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and followers of various sage teachings, including the gentle wisdom of the uncommonly (for the times) broad-minded Cambridge Platonists. In the midst of all this, what road would you take?
You might have been tempted to take up with the Diggers or Levelers, and get back at the one-time aristocrats who had disdained you and held you and your kind down. As Diggers liked to chant, "When Adam digged and Eve spun, who was then the gentleman?" But Tryon went further yet: he was determined to dig even deeper that the Diggers, and level even more than the Levelers. He wanted to level species as well as humans, and he saw that in such a world the all too gruesome violence of recent battles might also cease. He later wrote: ". . . far greater Advantage would come to pass amongst Christians, if they would cease from Contention, Oppression, and (what tends and disposes them thereunto) the killing of Beasts, and eating their Flesh and Blood; and in a short time humane murthers [human murders], and devilish feuds and cruelties among each other, would abate, and perhaps scarce have a being amongst them."
In London, young Tryon became an Anabaptist in 1654 under the influence of his overseer. His insatiable seeking led him to read the books of continental mystics like Jakob Böhme and
Cornelius Agrippa. These adepts, Christians in the Pythagorean and Neoplatonist tradition, emphasized cosmic oneness, and the evolution of souls through occult insight, mystical experience, and purity of life. Through such inner wisdom one could experience deeper and deeper participation in the inner life of God. So was Tryon led to find his own independent spiritual way.
In 1657 Tryon heard a voice from within, called by him the "Voice of Wisdom," advising him to become a vegetarian and live on a frugal diet, mainly water, bread, and fruit. (Later he was allowed to add butter, cheese, and grains.) The vegetarian practice had a theoretical connection to the philosophy, for the ancient mystics' concept of profound Oneness led also to the idea that everything--humans, the earth and the dwellers therein, and the heavens--shared "affinities" with one another . Tryon went on to explain how "affinity" means that one will take on the characteristics of the food one eats and of how that food was procured. Thus since the meat on one's plate was obtained by violence against an animal, that violence will infuse the food, and draw out similar tendencies within oneself. So it was that the killing of animals led, on the human plane, to the horrors of war and slavery.
In about 1663, like George Fox in 1671, Tryon traveled to Barbados, hoping to set up a successful hat trade, and enjoy the greater religious tolerance of that colony (the monarchy and religious repression toward Dissent having returned in England in 1660). But he was shocked by the cruelty of the slavery system in the island’s plantations. He could not long stand to live near it.
In 1669 Tryon returned to London, and then in 1682 the "Voice of Wisdom" told him now to write and publish books on behalf of temperance, vegetarianism, and nonviolence, plus a couple exposing the evils of slavery. (One essay, in the format of a dialogue between an East Indian Brahmin and a Frenchman, exposed the evil of war, especially religious war, and must be one of the first writings in which Eastern lore--represented by the Brahmin's refined pacifism and subtle mystical insight--was brought in to critique European spiritual and ethical thought.)
Tryon's life-story of fearlessly following conscience and inner wisdom, unlike some others, has a happy ending. The merchant/writer's hat trade continued to prosper more and more, and his books sold very well. While some of them were morally outspoken, many of his twenty-one volumes entered publishing niches we might now call health, diet (he included recipes), pop psychology and self-help, genres likely to become bestsellers then as now; readers always love to peruse good advice whether they actually live it or not. The one-time illiterate shepherd ended his days wealthy and widely influential.
A worthy none other than Benjamin Franklin attributed his vegetarianism to Tryon, writing in his Autobiography,
"When about 16 Years of Age, I happen'd to meet with a Book, written by one Tryon, recommending a Vegetable Diet. I determined to go into it. . . My refusing to eat Flesh occasioned an Inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's Manner of preparing some of his Dishes, such as Boiling Potatoes or Rice, making Hasty Pudding & and a few others.BenFfranklin.jpg
Franklin found that such a regimen could save money, and added "This was additional Fund for buying Books.” Books instead of meat! Some people have singular tastes.
(Regrettably, Franklin did not remain a vegetarian all his life; after some years he allowed himself to be taken in by one of the opposing arguments still used today, although shown to be invalid 200 years ago: “if animals eat other animals, I can eat them.” See “Absence of Malice,” PT 32.)
Here is another passage from Tryon’s gifted and compassionate pen, harking back to Eden:
For there is greater evil and misery attends mankind by killing, horrifying and oppressing his fellow creatures and eating their flesh . . . than is generally apprehended or imagined. Man's strong inclination after flesh and his making so light and small a matter of killing and oppressing the inferior creatures, does manifest what principle has got the dominion in him; for had man continued . . . in the power of the humane nature and followed the voice and dictates of the divine principle which he was created to live in, he would have been far from oppressing, killing or eating the flesh and blood of the beasts, which was not allowed him in the beginning. . . [M]an was created to . . . live in the power of the divine principle and therefore was put into a garden amongst innocent herbs, fruits and grains which were intended and ordained for his food . . . [I]t should be considered that flesh and fish cannot be eaten without violence and doing that which a man would not be done unto . . .
One final thought: why was it that, given the spiritual marketplace of his turbulent times, did Tryon not become a Quaker? His major values were certainly consistent with those of Friends, but one gets a sense that Tryon's path was more individualistic, mystical in the Platonic style, and less inclined to the highly prophetic (in the biblical sense) Quakerism of that first generation. But one can only regret there was not a strong vegetarian voice such as his, condemning violence against animals, embedded in Quakerism from the beginning.
We featured Thomas Tryon ten-plus years ago; for further quotations, see PT 13.
Black Bean & Veggie Casserole
3 Tbsp. ground flax seed
¾ cup soy or almond milk
1 packet onion dip powder
1 cup canned or cooked (drained) black beans
1 cup chopped cauliflowerBlackBeanCasserole.jpg
½ cup chopped red sweet pepper
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup vegan parmesan (Parma is particularly tasty and healthy)
1 cup whole-grain bread or cracker crumbles
Herb for garnish (optional)
Stir together flax seed, warmed soy milk, and onion dip powder; set aside to gel. Mix together black beans and (uncooked) chopped veggies in large bowl; stir in gel; place in oven dish. Top with bread or cracker crumbs. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes; garnish with parsley or cilantro if desired. Serves 6 to 8.
This recipe was veganized and otherwise improved by Angie Cordeiro from an original by my friend Kathryn Lindskoog, now deceased. The Ellwoods enjoyed it very much at an Emmaus Feast recently.
Book Review: The Animals’ Agenda
Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce. The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion,
and Coexistence in the Human Age. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2017. Hardback, $25.95.
What do animals want and need? That question has motivated the areas of scientific research and philosophical study called “animal welfare” for fifty years, and it is one that Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce examine in The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age. While Bekoff and Pierce carefully chronicle the successes of those sciences in answering that question, the driving force of the book is our society’s massive failures to respond ethically to the conclusions of that research for the benefit of animals. Even sadder is that the failures are not unintentional; Bekoff and Pierce lay bare the use of animal welfare research by various industries in the further exploitation of animals for human profit, rather than in service to a genuine concern for the actual well-being of animals.Animals'Agenda.jpg
These prolific authors are scientist and a philosopher supremely qualified to lead readers through the maze of animal welfare sciences, policies, and effects. Marc
Bekoff is an evolutionary biologist; perhaps his best known of thirty books is The Emotional Lives of Animals. Jessica Pierce is a bioethicist whose recent book Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets has been the subject of much discussion in both academic and popular realms.
Chapter Two argues that what we learn about animals should provide a basis for how we ethically treat them. In the following five chapters the authors move systematically and in great detail from the ethical basis of their argument to examine various types of animal imprisonment and management (agricultural, research, entertainment, pet, and in the wild) and the harmful effects of those imprisonments and manipulations on the flourishing of animals. A final chapter succinctly summarizes the conclusions with a reasoned and impassioned plea for a “paradigm shift in how we think about and interact with other animals…where nonviolence is the norm rather than the exception, and where exploiting animals will be viewed as morally offensive.”
Bekoff and Pierce shine light not only on the real agenda of animal welfare sciences but
also on specific “absurd claims” made, such as the comfort of life in captivity, or that slight
improvements in the heartless process of slaughter deserve the description “humane,” or the necessity of killing in the name of conservation, which more often kills the species whose natural appetites threaten the plentitude of an animal that humans like to consume. The objectivity of the science must necessarily be called into question.
The authors’ persuasively argued conclusions are sobering: “The moral commitments (or in our minds, the immoral commitments) of welfarism have remained constant: we are still the purveyors of pain and suffering. In what kind of world do we live when an entire research program is focused on how best to harm animals, and how to salve the conscience of those who might have reservations about the violence?”
What do animals want and need? “Do we know enough to answer this question? Absolutely. We know enough, right now, to know that animals want to be free from human exploitation, free from captivity, and free from the sufferings we impose on them.” After the obvious need to stop the killing, Bekoff and Pierce make creative suggestions such as “new human-free zones” created intentionally for the animals (rather than accidentally as at the Chernobyl site) to allow habitat and thus animals to flourish.
This clearly argued, carefully documented, and morally devastating critique includes
profound concern for the human animal as well, since “welfarism is a cage that traps human
perception, one that also confines our sense of empathy for other beings,” In the words of
the Dalai Lama, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them
humanity cannot survive.” Bekoff and Pierce make clear that it is at our own peril that we refuse to show love and compassion to all sentient beings.
-- Pamela Hedrick
The photo of the mountain goat is © Craig Blacklock. Permission to reproduce sought.
Children’s Book Review: Counting Sheep
Jacqueline Kelly. Counting Sheep: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet. Illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer. Henry Holt and Co., 2017. Hardcover. 104 pp. $15.95 ($22.95 in Canada.)
I was looking forward with eager expectation to the arrival of this book, the fourth about the brave and wise Calpurnia Tate and her gentle brother and sidekick, Travis (a spiritual son of Francis of Assisi). When the book finally arrived, it turned out to be even better than I expected. Considering the title, I admit I was a bit surprised that of the 104 pages, the first sixty-four are not at all about sheep, but about butterflies. Calpurnia employs her extraordinary skill and patience in mending a butterfly's broken wing. How many people--or even vets--could or would do that? The whole book is wonderful, but perhaps my favorite scene is the one in which the newly-healed “flutterby” flies onto Travis' small hand. A rather frightful moment ensues when a territory-jealous hummingbird attacks the flutterby, but no harm is done; we can breathe easy.Calpurnia.jpg
But as soon as the butterfly is safely mended, we have the crisis with the sheep--to be specific, with Snow White, Mrs. Tate's animal-companion ewe. At first it seems that the ewe mother has given birth to a single lamb, a birth so simple and uncomplicated that Dr. Pritzker, the town's veterinarian, refuses to accept any payment. But, alas, Dr. Pritzker is called off in a hurry to a major emergency--a valuable plow horse needs urgent attention--but Snow White has a second lamb in reserve. And she’s stuck. What had seemed to be a simple delivery becomes a twin birth as remarkable and complicated as the well-known ones from the Book of Genesis [Esau and Jacob, Perez and Zerah]. And here is where our Calpurnia emerges as a superhero. Few persons would be willing, for any money, to stick their hands inside a mother ewe’s birth canal and un-twist a fetal infant into the right position. Calpurnia--who has watched Dr. Pritzker at work but never done it herself, achieves this extraordinary feat, with the valuable assistance of Travis.
I was highly delighted that the kittens and mice in the story seem to be living in peaceful co-existence with each other.
The book is intended for child readers, but I strongly feel that it could be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Perhaps veterinary students would find it most valuable; I would make it required reading for them. The lovely illustrations by Jennifer Meyer are worthy of high praise. --Benjamin Urrutia
Poetry: Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 - 1936,
and Strickland Gillilan, 1869 - 1954
Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes