Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Experiments with Truth

Alone on Monday morning, I am still in Texas and the friend I am visiting is at work. I am reading the bible and thinking about what has been unfolding in my life: the gift of my pen-pals, the state of the world, the Catholic Worker movement, the events of this weekend. I feel a bit disgusted at the excess I have indulged in over the past few days: beer, chocolate cake, and meat everyday, crude talk and no exercise, prayer or meditation. I wonder, when is it appropriate to accept differences and when to stand on principle and confront them? I find I do significantly more conforming than confronting.

My quandary about how to treat my meat-eating is an example of that. I do not want being a vegetarian to stand in the way of receiving hospitality, particularly because I am not sure I am opposed to eating meat per se, but to the way it is produced and processed, the treatment of the animal and the people along the way. Then, I think of Gandhi who rigidly refused milk even when told it could cure his deathly ill child. The religious teaching he aligned himself with was against eating of any animal product and he stood firmly to that. His decision seemed so narrow and foolish to me when I first read of it. Yet, it was that type of hard-nosed adherence to conviction that put him in a position to shake the world, one consistently principled step at a time.

Sometimes I feel that the religious life is for me not because I am especially religious, but because it is the only place I can safely and acceptably practice the lifestyle I am inclined toward. It is the only way I can practice this lifestyle without being an embarrassment to myself and an offense to others. This line of thinking begs the question, why so much attention to avoiding offense? The prophets offended others and brought derision on themselves as did Jesus and all the disciples who have followed his Way, knowing that the sincere love they share will not always be received as such. This is a hard truth. I had comfortably turned away from it for a moment, but it is always hanging in my periphery, occasionally sliding around to stare me down. I do not know how to respond. It is so much easier to be nice than to be good.

5 comments:

azuree said...

This was great to read Amy! You went to Texas?! How was it? I hope we have an opportunity to hang out again soon!

XO
Azuree

Anonymous said...

"Then, I think of Gandhi who rigidly refused milk even when told it could cure his deathly ill child."

I think he was wrong.

"The religious teaching he aligned himself with was against eating of any animal product and he stood firmly to that."

It is as such against the Bible. The Israelites who left Egypt got a meal of some birds "vaktlar" we call them in Swedish. St John the Baptist ate only animal products, namely grasshoppers and honey. our lord ate fish.

"His decision seemed so narrow and foolish to me when I first read of it."

Sometimes first impressions are exactly right.

"Yet, it was that type of hard-nosed adherence to conviction that put him in a position to shake the world, one consistently principled step at a time."

1) Same firmness may not mean same sanity in choice.

2) It did so because Brits admired and admire that kind of thing. Under some other regimes it might have only landed him into mental hospital. Both he and some high brow Brits admired the Russian Leo Tolstoy. And that man was against property.

3) Gandhi got his own friends in India free from Brits. He cultivated peacemaking with Moslems. He also had a disciple, the first president of the Indian Union, Ne ... arlal (sth) Nehru, who occupied Portuguese India against the wishes of its population, and got this mainly Catholic country strip under anti-christian pressure. Gandhi did not mind (if he lived long enough to see it, I am not sure about that).

Funny that the word verification here is "glory".

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, now, and ever, world without end, amen!

a.e. nee said...

Az: Thanks darlin', Texas was lovely. It was so good to see my friend and nice to have a peek at the West again. Hopefully we will chat soon--Love ya!

Hans: Thanks you for the thorough comment! I love to hear a different perspective from my own. I would not agree that Gandhi's decision against meat is against the bible. That is, it is not in direct contradiction as the bible does not command meat must be eaten only shows examples that it is acceptable. Of course, it was worth noting too that just because something is in the bible does not mean God is endorsing it's continued practice.

I don't think eating meat is unbiblical (although animals were not conceded as a food group until after the flood at which point man was also given license to violence and other things I don't think God would endorse but that he did allow, it's an interesting passage), but Gandhi practiced a religion that did and the point is that he remained faithful to his conviction.

I also admire Tolstoy.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Gandhi's conviction is that it considered meat-eating wrong. However, he was, I believe, already dead when Nehru invaded Goa.

Two CHRISTIAN aspects on meat-eating:

Carmelite rule, see ch 17 for this question. Orthodox Lithuanian martyrs who were ordered to eat meat during some kind of Lent and refused.

HGL

a.e. nee said...

Hans, that Carmelite rule is so interesting. I have not based my dietary preferences on my interpretation of scripture or any religious rules that I knew of, just personal conviction, but it is interesting to see a rule having been established for something I've been in contemplation about. I am particularly interested in the bit about not making a fuss over it when in someone else's house, that is one of my main personal contentions.