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Our subjects cover: religion (Christian, Jewish and others); diet and lifestyle (vegan and vegetarian); and other miscellaneous subjects.
In Reference to: 13 April 2008 - When Is a Church Not a Church?
It's so easy to be angry and feel isolated because of our views, isn't it? It's one of my biggest personal struggles to accept that being angry and isolated is ... as some would say ... the work of evil keeping me from being a witness, a light in the darkness about this issue. I'm working through the example of Paul in Romans which, in my opinion, speaks directly to this problem. One side of that story looks like Paul claiming vegetarians are 'weak in faith' (I think that's a shallow view of that story because it doesn't take into consideration the whole context of the problem Paul was trying to address). I think the real take-away from that story is completely applicable to our problems as veg*ns in church.
I hear Paul talking directly to me ... supporting me in my trouble with other Christians ... I believe to the depths of my soul that we need to radically alter our corporate relationship with non-human creation and I consider non-veg Christians to be the ones on the other side of Paul's equation, the ones for whom my testimony, my witness, should not be a stumbling block. I don't care whether or not Paul would eat flesh 3 meals a day today or not, really. I think the message is that in order for big change to happen, it has to happen through relationships. Love the sinner - hate the sin. (insert standard disclaimer about meat eating not necessarily being a sin)
I see changes happening in the people around me ... not because I've approached this issue directly, forcefully, but as an organic outcome of our relationship. The relationship has to be there first, then we can learn from one another. When I find my train of thought leaning towards "they're wrong and I have to change them" I'm usually coming from a place of anger, hostility, self-righteousness and I don't accomplish much.
When I surrender that anger and focus on my job as good shepherd of All gods creatures I am more peaceful, more relational, and "miraculously" (wink) the people around me are more open to me and my way of life ... which means I have more opportunity to educate them on the issue, show them what it might look like to be (in my case) veg*n in suburbia, etc.
One of my favorite quotes is from Ghandi, something like "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I have it on a necklace that I wear every day - now that I'm learning about Jesus it's even more applicable - it reminds me that I have to model the how of Jesus in order to accomplish the what of Jesus.
I guess the point of all this is that I think we have the model for effective change right in front of us. (I agree, to an extent, with Frank's point about the different approaches for church leaders vs. members of the congregation.) For the most part I believe that if we live our ideals while we love our neighbors we will be successful. If we see 'living our ideals' and 'loving our neighbors' in conflict then I think we're barking up the wrong tree entirely - I'm finally figuring out that it has to be the same thing. Try not to think in terms of 'them' and how 'they twist bible phrases', focus on being the best veg*n disciple of Christ you possibly can be and if we're right, God can work changes though us instead of having to do it in spite of us.
Go on to: Comments by Betsy Wosko - 21 Apr 2008
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