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Lenten Fast from
ViolenceSunday, February 26,
Below is a blurb I thought I submitted for my parish newsletter (but had a
mistake in the email address and didn't know it in time), followed by a
portion of an email I sent to a priest on the topic.
“For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice….”
Question: Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which
corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer: I renounce
(BCP pg. 302)
Lent is upon us. It is still the custom of the Eastern Orthodox faithful
to observe a vegan Lent. Although western Christian observances have been
all over the map throughout history, we still observe Shrove Tuesday as the
day (symbolically, at least) to use up our eggs, fat, and milk before our
Lenten fast begins. The following is a quote from New Advent’s
"… St. Gregory writing to St. Augustine of England laid
down the rule, 'We abstain from flesh meat, and from all things that come
from flesh, as milk, cheese, and eggs.' This decision was afterwards
enshrined in the 'Corpus Juris', and must be regarded as the common law of
Second, the massive, brutally inhumane seal slaughter is about to begin
again “in full swing” in Canada. Mainstream animal welfare groups, including
the HSUS are calling for action around the world, to encourage the Canadian
government to stop subsidizing the mass killing. (A majority of Canadians
are against the seal slaughter, too.) Please take a look at the “animal
bulletin board” in the Memorial Hall, or visit sites like http://www.protectseals.org/ or http://www.harpseals.org/ to learn
about the issue, and find out how you can help. Thanks, if you do!
I got involved with a small group that started Veg4Lent a few years ago
in the UK. And for two years, I sent out letters to the churches in this
diocese, and last year an email (to save money on postage). The first year,
I sent Veg4Lent's "long letter", which [my rector] thought was offensive.
(And I thought, if he thinks it's offensive, what about all the priests in
the diocese who don't know me? I felt like I must be the most-hated person
for doing that, which worried me just months before GC2003, and hoping to
get Resolution D016 submitted/adopted -- and having no luck with the Chicago
deputation agreeing to cosponsor it.) So the next year I wrote my own
letter, which [my rector] said sounded fine. And last year I wrote a
different one, so people wouldn't hear the same thing each year. Basically,
I was asking churches to post a flier, and include some mention of giving up
meat for Lent among all the other ideas churches sometimes suggest. And I
gave them the URL for http://www.veg4lent.org/ . It isn't the
kind of thing I expect to get any feedback about, so I just threw it out to
the wind. But I know final destination of the wind in [the town where my
church is located]. In three years, there was no mention here about that or
any Lenten observance at all. (Well [my curate] said something last year,
but in passing. And I was probably the only one who caught it.) I've decided
we are just too Protestant to worry very much about Lent. But on Maundy
Thursday, one of our members brought me a newsletter from her mother's
church in a south suburb, which pretty much quoted everything from my email.
My first reaction was "how nice to see someone actually did something with
the email I sent!". My second reaction was "how disappointing it is that no
one even brings up the topic here at my own parish!"
Until a week or so ago, I always felt apologetic about bringing up the
topic of giving up meat for Lent (because I'm an "animal person" with an
agenda). But a question was raised on the HoB/D list about the meaning of
Shrove Tuesday, and the history behind pancake dinners, etc. The answers
weren't just about using up meat and fat, but about using up eggs and dairy
before Lent started. We hear about pancake dinners as if they were a quaint
practice, and carry on the tradition as a social event, but not as if we
have to make any changes in our food supplies. Even though I knew the
Orthodox Church observes a vegan Lent, and was impressed that some churches
have extensive recipes on their websites, that doesn't help me in the
Episcopal Church. I didn't know, until I read some of those posts, that it
was also the custom for western Christians to observe a vegan Lent, and I've
been an Episcopalian for almost 36 years, coming from an Anglo-Catholic
parish, no less!
So I Googled, and found this webpage http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09152a.htm
, which tells how customs were never uniform, and became less stringent over
time, especially since the mid-1700's I think I read. I really shouldn't
feel apologetic about wanting to promote something that has been an
expectation of the Church -- even if they did it for other reasons. The
quote (from the webpage above) gave me quite a historic precedent, even
though times have changed.
"… St. Gregory writing to St. Augustine of England laid down the rule,
'We abstain from flesh meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as
milk, cheese, and eggs.' This decision was afterwards enshrined in the
'Corpus Juris', and must be regarded as the common law of the
The World Council of Churches, and the Episcopal Peace & Justice
ministries advocate a "Lenten Fast from Violence", asking people to cut out
one form of violence from their lives during Lent -- like violent movies,
violent video games, etc. I, of course, take a "Lenten Fast from Violence"
quite literally, since not only is the slaughter itself violent, but so are
the accepted agricultural practices of disposing of male chicks, debeaking,
de-toe-ing, forced moulting (depriving hens of food and water for up to 2
weeks to jump-start their last egg-laying cycle before they're spent)
de-horning, castrating, and who knows what all, without anesthetic. And then
there is the inhumane life-long captivity of animals crowded in cages or
pens too small to even turn around, which is the situation for about 95% of
our livestock raised out-of-sight in factory farms.
are truly slaves.)
Here's last year's resource for Week 2 "Fasting from Violence Against
Creation" (The title sounds good....)
a little info on the Orthodox fast: http://www2.wcc-coe.org/dov.nsf/35197f524cfab7f0c1256c1e004e58e8/ 88fedfe1d5295b9ec1256fd300352f8c?OpenDocument&TableRow=6.6#6.
article from last year: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_58326_ENG_HTM.htm
Nothing too impressive for an "animal person-of-faith", except for the
Whether as an act of penitence, an act of self-denial from a "privilege"
people are otherwise unwilling to deny themselves, an act of withholding
financial support from industries who (legally, and without outcry from the
public) abuse over 10 billion animals in this country each year, or an act
of charity/compassion/mercy/non-violence, I think getting back to St.
Gregory's statement warrants at least some passing mention in our churches
these days, before people decide to dutifully give up chocolate again, for
lack of something more "life-giving" (as opposed to "life-taking").
Certainly things are worse now for the farmed animals, and on a much larger
scale, than in his day. But on the other hand, no one who chooses to
"boycott cruelty for Lent" has to go hungry, anymore, with all the
vegetarian choices we have available now. So I don't understand why anything
pertaining to animals is such a "taboo topic" -- whether it's Lent, or
"Stewardship of Creation", or even the church-based environmentalists who
ignore animal agriculture as a major contributor to green house gases, water
pollution, or deforestation of rainforests. I guess animals are the
"elephant in the living room" (if I understand the expression
Today's blurb bumped ENAW's News Release about the
Orange Ribbon Campaign from the home page.
Friday, February 17,
Today's post bumped 'Promote the Episcopal
Network for Animal Welfare with these items from the home
Saturday, February 4, 2006
(ENAW/ASWA will be located at Exhibit Hall Booth # 1.
we will have a few hundred orange ribbons to offer.)
Travelling to Columbus this June? For a directory of veg or
veg-friendly restaurants, click here, and choose 'Columbus' in the drop down
Sunday, January 22, 2006
From a mailing
from In Defense of Animals:
"Being an animal guardian defines the compassionate
connection between animals and humans, counteracting the throw-away mindset
that society has towards animals."
-- Randy Grim, President,
Stray Rescue of St. Louis
Orange Animal Guardian RibbonsBy ordering a pin through the Oklahoma Alliance for
Animals instead of general awareness sites, in addition to differentiating one
orange cause from another with the paw print, the proceeds will go to an
animal friendly organization, instead of risking a cut going to support animal
Click on the URL's to read
Rational Animal's Press
Alliance for Animals' Animal Guardian Campaign
Guardianship by wearing the beautiful orange ribbon with a black paw
especially made for Oklahoma Alliance for Animals." Click on the picture, then
"page down" to the very bottom of the page (past the T-shirts), to
order a Guardian Ribbon pin:
Start your own Animal Guardianship campaign. Here's more
information from Rational Animals' site:
color 8 1/2" X 11" poster (.pdf file) and bookmark
background info from www.animalguardianribbon.org
are also for animal shelters. They chose orange, because:
for people who have a family member in prison, and animals in shelters are in
prison. They live behind the bars of cages, and most of them are on death
Orange is also an alarming color. Millions of animals are killed every
year in this country just because no one wants them. That's an alarming
Also, see 'Orange
Ribbon Campaign to raise Animal Protection Awareness. Wear Orange!' for
pictures of my ribbons, and my recommendations for making enough to share with
shelter volunteers and others.
Today's post bumped 'I
desire mercy and not sacrifice', says God. Boycott fur. (And also, boycott
Canadian seafood until they stop their brutal bloodbath of 350,000 or so
Sunday, January 15,
I really like this hymn, which we sang at church today in
honor of Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday. Sing along -- loudly:
Lift Every Voice and
Lift every voice and sing
till earth and heaven
ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise
as the listening skies;
let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
sing a song full
of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun
our new day begun,
let us march on, till victory is won.
road we trod,
bitter the chastening rod,
felt in the days when hope
unborn had died;
yet, with a steady beat,
have not our weary
come to the place for which our parents sighed?
We have come over a
way that with tears have been watered;
we have come, treading our path
through the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past,
now we stand at last
where the white gleam of our bright star is
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into
keep us for ever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray
from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest, our hearts drunk with
the wine of the world, we forget thee;
shadowed beneath thy hand
for ever stand,
true to our God, true to our native land.
James Weldon Johnson, 1899
But the words are a little different.
(Today's blurb bumped 'Eco Eating: Eating as if the
Earth Matters'; and the Collect for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and
also a link to the Church Times article
about a cancelled pig roast from the home page.