December 2017 - January 2018
A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith
The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of people of faith in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a Peace-full diet
A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
Ingo the Belgian Shepherd has adopted Napoleon “Poldi” the owlet. Their love is clearly mutual, and provides a teaching moment for us humans, who are too often the ones “red in tooth and claw.” For more photos of these two inseparable friends, by wildlife photographer Tanja Brandt, see Dog and Bird
--Contributed by Angie Cordeiro
Editor’s Corner Essay: Shepherding and Sanctuary
The Holy Place
Most US citizens probably think of “Sanctuary” as a term often heard within the last year, referring to a place or policy of protection for undocumented immigrants threatened by deportation; but for animal activists it has been an important concept for three decades or more, referring to a place of safety for exploited animals. But in its very early meaning, it is a religious term, linked to “sanctus,” holy. It signifies a place set off from the ordinary world, where human beings can have access to That which is Sacred. In Mircea Eliade’s seminal book The Sacred and the Profane, the sacred place may be a mountain, a tree, or some other natural feature that is considered by a primal culture to be the center of the world, linking our world to the world of spirit, perhaps the divine realm above and the infernal realm below. A temple may be built on this unique spot, the House of God, in which the divine being lives, and to which pilgrims travel to approach the deity with worship and offerings. The offerings may be sacrificial in nature.
In later developments, after adherents of a religion have spread out geographically, multiple sanctuaries can be found: perhaps shrines where divine power was manifested, as in a miracle, a martyrdom, or the burial place of a saint. Another kind of (multiple) “house of God” is the meeting place of a local group of the religion’s adherents for worship, teaching, fellowship, perhaps sacramental participation. In the latter case, the sanctuary would be the most sacred part of the building, where the sacred ritual takes place. Here one can be in contact with God, That which is holy, though any one sanctuary does not claim to be the only place.
Over time, sanctuaries were considered to be places of refuge, where a person who had killed another without malice aforethought was secure from revenge killing by a member of the victim’s clan. In the Hebrew Bible, there were six such sanctuaries, “cities of refuge” rather than shrines or places of worship, but inhabited by Levites, a specialized tribe or category of people responsible for the cultus. The Levites would take responsibility for determining such persons’ guilt or innocence, and, in the latter case, would protect them during their stay in the city.
In Christian history, churches and cathedrals as sanctuaries became places where a wanted person about whom there was serious question of guilt could often find safety. This practice still obtains, particularly for undocumented persons who are threatened by violence if repatriated, or whose deportation would mean a family catastrophe such as separation of a parent from small children. Especially in the US-funded civil wars in Central America during the 1980s, and in today’s harsh climate of scapegoating undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable groups, some churches, Friends’ Meetings and synagogues “declare sanctuary,” meaning that they actively welcome and protect such vulnerable individuals or families under their roofs.
The Lord is My Shepherd
The concept of providing safety and sustenance to vulnerable animals--though not called sanctuary--is thousands of years old in Western religion, appearing first as a theme in the Hebrew scriptures. Before the ancient Hebrews settled in the land of Canaan and took up agriculture, they were nomadic herders, with flocks of sheep and goats, perhaps also herds of cows; some herding evidently continued after they became agriculturists. Attitudes toward these flocks and herds were ambivalent, a mixture of caring and of ruthless brutality. They were property; their reproduction had to be controlled by methods that included violence; their wool and skins were taken to make clothing and other equipment, their milk taken and drunk; individuals, both adults and infants, would be killed for food and sacrifice. But in the midst of the system that inherently required harsh, exploitative attitudes and actions (and probably fostered patriarchal control of women too), human caring and tenderness existed also.
Two examples particularly show this. One is from ancient Israel’s early monarchy period, when herding had long receded from its original place as the culture’s central means of livelihood, but was still part of the scene. In a parable told by Nathan the prophet to King David, a sheep, a little companion ewe lamb, lives with an impoverished person in his house, eats at his table, drinks from his cup, and “lies in his bosom.” But the lamb is kidnapped and killed by a rich neighbor to feed his guest. David responded with outrage on behalf of the grieving guardian and probably of the lamb as well--in his youth David (like Benjamin Lay, PT 140) had been a shepherd, and must have known how irresistibly appealing the wee lambs are. True, this story is not about sanctuary but about “pet-keeping;” nonetheless, the killing that it depicts is not only selfish but horrible because the listener feels that the lamb is precious beyond words. The tale is allegorical, yet would not have been effective unless it spoke to the heart in a culture in which such companionship could and did happen.
Another instance is the well-known Twenty-Third Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd . . . ,” attributed to David himself. The narrator imagines himself (probably not herself) as a sheep whose needs are all met by his caring guardian: green abundant pastures, a pond or lake from which to drink freely, soul refreshment, wise guidance, protection when predators threaten his life. The imagery appears to shift from the sheep and shepherd theme at one point, as the narrator eats at the table the Lord provides and drinks out of an overflowing cup. But can we be sure it is shifting? At the close, the “goodness and mercy” of the Lord, still the shepherd, will follow him devotedly all his life, almost pursuing him (perhaps when he strays into danger), and he is confident of living in God’s house forever. This may mean that he will always have the safety of the sheepfold at nights or even that he, as sheep, will live with the shepherd in his house as did the ewe lamb in Nathan’s story. References to fleecing and killing obviously have no place in this psalm; it is implied that the shepherd cares for the sheep for their sake, not his.
The God-as-loving-shepherd image, and variants in which human leaders are also shepherds, appear many times in the Hebrew scriptures, especially in the psalms and the writings of the prophets. The exploitation and violence inherent in human sheepherding are done only by bad shepherds, but God the Good Shepherd meets the needs of the sheep: feeding, seeking out and rescuing, protecting from predators, and healing them--because he truly cares about them. The image is carried over into the Christian scriptures (“New Testament”), especially in one of the discourses attributed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. By drawing particularly on the extended sheepherding image in Ezekiel 34, the author identifies Jesus with God: “I am the Good Shepherd.”
Imagine a scene in which all the flocks of members of a community are kept together in a single enclosure. The good shepherd comes to the door of the sheepfold and, when it is opened for him, calls each of his or her own sheep. All have names. They recognize his voice and know their names, so they come out and follow him to today’s pasture. If a hired hand--a bad shepherd--tried to get in, perhaps by vaulting over the wall, it would be to steal or kill; the good shepherd, however, comes to give the sheep abundant life. The fact that real-life shepherds do exploit and kill “their” animals is not, in this Johannine story, just displaced onto bad shepherds. Rather, it is turned completely on its head: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. We can imagine that this happens when he is defending them either from a would-be thief or a predator. But he loves them, and his love is unconditional.
How About Real Sheep?
Is the image primarily a metaphor, implying that God is like a good shepherd, humans are like bad shepherds in some ways, like sheep in other ways? Or is it a symbol, referring both to real shepherds and real sheep, and to much more, including God, and human beings and others? This is a very important matter whose implications have seldom been considered in Christian history.
It matters because when the whole extended biblical image--including this startling Johannine turnaround--is placed in conjunction with herding in the real world, it doesn’t really work. Real-life shepherds and other herders may have something--even a lot--of the good shepherd in them; they may be up late at night tending to a birth; they may brave icy winter winds to feed or bring in a vulnerable herd. But essentially they are the bad shepherds. The fact is that humans engage in herding and other forms of animal agriculture, both past and present, as owners of property that provides their livelihood. It is enslavement, exploitative in its very core, requiring callousness and violence to turn a profit. (Any care and kindliness that still appeared in traditional animal keepers are, of course, totally crushed by that rampaging dragon, factory farming.)
Because the good-shepherd-and-sheep theme doesn’t fit the facts, and because in both Judaism and Christianity, it has in practice been reduced to its metaphorical referents, the vast majority of adherents of both faiths have been for centuries, and still are, devouring animals with little stirring of conscience. It is a bleak picture. But the Jewish and Christian prophetic word in defense of the animal defenseless, although long reduced to occasional lone voices, has never been definitively silenced. And it is that prophetic word that prompted the start of organized activism on behalf of animals, when the Rev. Arthur Broome called a meeting in London in 1824 to found the [R]SPCA, whose members included both a committed Jew, Lewis Gompertz--probably the only vegetarian--and several Christians of strong conviction, including Evangelical parliamentarian William Wilberforce (he of the anti- human-slave-trade movement) and three clergypersons.
In recent decades, out of that whispered prophetic word, now proclaimed by thousands of voices, has come the animal sanctuary movement. And here, finally, the ancient Good Shepherd image has found a genuine and unambiguous grounding in the real world! The sanctuary keeper is a true Good Shepherd who cares for animals for their own sakes, not her or his own. S/he seeks funding, rescues, gives names, feeds, cleans up, protects, and heals. I know none who have actually laid down their lives for their animal friends, but I expect that some of them would.
S/he loves them, and through that love the unconditional Love of God the Good Shepherd radiates into the world.
(The lead photo is of a Jewish synagogue in Bucharest. The painting of the Good Shepherd rescuing a black lamb is by Nathan Greene. The drawing is of Old Slaughter’s Coffee House where the first SPCA meeting was held.)
Free to Good Home
Health, Sustainability, Compassion–These three issues are covered in a gift package of the book: The China Study, and two DVDs: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, and What the Health, free to anyone in the USA, subject only to limits of our budget. Send name and mailing address by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by USPS mail to L. Miles Standish, 6561 Warren Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
Many activists want to make end-of-year donations to worthy animal charities; but there are so many, varying in sound use of resources, that it is not immediately evident what the best use of our money would be. Nancy Campeau, a member of PT’s sponsor Quaker Animal Kinship, has done extensive research into this issue, and written an essay summarizing her findings and offering recommendations. See Giving Guide
In the parable of Jesus, the shepherd saves not merely the soul of the lost sheep but the whole animal. The stronger the reverence for natural life, the stronger grows also that for spiritual life.
Montreal, Québec, Canada, has elected an animal-friendly mayor, who is also its first woman to fill that office. Her-Honor-to-Be Valérie Plante (pictured) pledges to make animal protection a priority. See Mayor
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
Ireland, Italy to End Wild Animal Acts
On Nov. 9, Minister for Agriculture of Ireland Michael Creed signed regulations that will ban the use of wild animals in circuses and similar entertainment as of January 2018. See Ireland On November 8th in Italy--where humans and animals were once forced to fight to the death in the Roman arena--Parliament has banned the use of all animals, wild and “domesticated,” in circuses, to be in force in 2018. See Italy
--Contributed by Judy Carman
CCTV to be Mandatory in English Slaughterhells
Next year, the government will introduce legislation mandating closed-circuit TV in all English abattoirs (slaughterhells). In-house vets will have full access to the films. Outside groups have claimed that they also should have access. See CCTV
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
This is admittedly only a small step toward justice for animals, but it certainly beats laws that criminalize such filming, as obtain in some states in the US.
Did You Miss This One?
Hitler: Neither Vegetarian nor Animal Lover
By Rynn Berry, with an Introduction by Martin Rowe. New York and Los Angeles: Pythagorean Publishers, 2004. ix + 81 pages. Softcover, $10.95.
"Well, Hitler was a vegetarian!" How many times have we vegans/vegetarians heard this would-be conversation-stopper from non-veg friends! This proposition is supposed to trump the argument and knock us off our supposed moral high ground, since presumably no one would want to endorse a practice also followed by the figure epitomizing the profoundest evil of the twentieth century.
One could, of course, respond by asserting that Stalin was a carnivore (one of his chefs, incidentally, was the grandfather of the present Russian ruler, Vladimir Putin), not to mention Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, and query if this means one should instead shun the kind of food touched by their blood-stained hands.
But vegetarian historian Rynn Berry, in this short but hard-hitting work, goes a step further to prove decisively that Adolf Hitler was not a vegetarian at all. While he occasionally went on vegetarian jags in attempts to control his chronic sweatiness and flatulence, the despot also loved and usually indulged in favored German dishes such as sausages, liver dumplings, ham, and stuffed squab (pigeon). These tastes were well attested by his cook, the obese Willi Kannenberg, and by Dione Lucas, cookbook author and chef of the Hamburg hotel where Hitler often dined, as well as other intimates. Despite this well-evidenced fact, sometimes in his extensive table-talk Adolf Hitler argued for vegetarianism, pointing out that the elephant maintained his immense strength on plants, and describing the horrors of slaughterhouses. Nonetheless his practice did not follow his words. The Hitler-was-a- vegetarian claim was merely part of a scheme concocted by his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, to portray the Führer as in all respects ascetic, unconcerned about himself or his appetites, utterly dedicated to the German people.
Berry makes clear that the idea that Hitler and his regime were animal-friendly is likewise spurious. In that pathocracy, vegetarian organizations and periodicals were banned or severely restricted. The Third Reich's legislation in the animal welfare area was ineffective, was enacted mostly for public relations purposes and to privilege hunting. It certainly did not stand in the way of the totalitarian state's waging total war and pursuing the "final solution” killing of scapegoated groups, primarily Jews, regardless of the unimaginable cost in human as well as animal suffering. Indeed, Hitler's machinery of mass human extermination was indirectly inspired by the pitiless methods of modern stockyards and disassembly-line slaughterhells, as is further suggested by the notorious use of cattle-cars to convey victims to the death camps. It might also be mentioned that, because of wartime Germany's shortage of petroleum, which had to be saved for tanks and planes, supplies were usually conveyed from railheads to the front in horse-drawn vehicles, no doubt at the cost of immense suffering for the enslaved animals.
As valuable as is Berry's laying-to-rest of the "Well, Hitler was a vegetarian" gambit, the Introduction by Martin Rowe alone is worth the price of the book. This essay, representing nearly a third of the volume, deals very insightfully with the anxieties underlying the repetition of the vegetarian-Hitler claim, and with the larger question of what, exactly, would it prove if one could affirm that certain major historical figures were, or were not, vegetarian. Gandhi was; his great American disciple, Martin Luther King, Jr., was not; King's widow and son, after his death, became vegetarian; Gandhi's grandson Arun, though an advocate of non-violence, did not. Arguments continue about the likelihood of Jesus' having been vegetarian. (It might be mentioned that Hitler's Italian Fascist colleague, Benito Mussolini, was probably more vegetarian, though not vegan, in practice than the German. Il Duce, despite the image of heroic strength he liked to project, suffered from stomach ulcers and lived mostly on salad, fruit and warm milk, rejecting meat and the pasta and wine for which his country is famous.)
But Rowe tells us forcefully that such historical issues, while no doubt significant, cannot take the place of our deciding, in our own time, for ourselves what is right. The world is changing; the need to live lightly on the land is increasingly imperative, while the horrors of meat-production are becoming more and more evident and vile. No reference to another time or person can relieve us of our responsibility to respond for ourselves now.
This fine book, easily and quickly read but not quickly forgotten, is highly recommended. It belongs in the library of all serious vegetarians.
Reprinted from The Peaceable Table, March 2005. Amended 2017 by Robert and Gracia Fay Ellwood
Sweet Potato Pineapple Casserole
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds)
2 cups diced pineapple and juice (from fresh, frozen or canned)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp salt (optional)
½ cup pitted dates or pieces
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup pecan pieces
¼ cup cashew butter
Dash of salt (as needed)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. To roast the potatoes: Scrub the potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees F until completely tender, 1 hour–90 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. This leaves plenty of time to make your streusel topping and prep your pineapple.
To make the Streusel Topping: Chop the dates. Combine the chopped dates with the brown rice flour, pecan pieces, cashew butter, and a dash of salt. Use your hands to crumble together, just as you would with a traditional butter streusel topping. You want the streusel to hold together in pea-sized bits. If it’s not sticking, add a tablespoon of water and mix well. Check again, and add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get the pea-sized bits. Set aside mixture for later.
To make the Casserole: (If using fresh fruit) remove pineapple “bark,” core, and dice. You need about 2 cups diced pineapple. Combine the pineapple with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. The potatoes are done when a knife or fork can easily slide in and out. Remove from oven and let cool. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. Combine the sweet potato flesh with the pineapple and spice mix. Mash to desired smoothness. For completely creamy, it’s best to use a food processor.
Spread potato-pineapple mixture into a 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the Pecan Streusel topping over the top. Bake at 350 F. for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Tip: The Pecan Streusel topping can also be crumbled over any leftover fruit for an easy, satisfying dessert
--Katie Simmons (see Website)
Poetry: Thomas Hardy, 1840 - 1928
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
Note: A barton is a barn or other outbuilding; a coomb is a narrow valley.