The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973

 

Reviews

Review by John Pitt of 'Journey Into Light' by Ruth Plant, Cassell Books

Not all by any means of the narrative covering some 40 years’ Spiritualist communication related in Journey Into Light will be of direct interest to anti-vivisectionists reading this newspaper, but author, Ruth Plant, well-known throughout the animal welfare movement in this country, reveals through this medium where she developed a sensitivity about animals.
 
It is always interesting to discover the whys and wherefores that lead people to the point where they feel impelled to do something active to help their fellow-creatures, human or animal as the case may be. Without judging the merits or otherwise of the routes taken by those who end up by expending time and energy in animal welfare, it is generally enough to say that any road – within reason of course – that brings in recruits is a good road. I do not propose either to judge the credibility or even in fact to attempt to review as a whole this lengthy and interestingly revealing account of Miss Plant’s 40-odd years “communication” with her dead brother and other close relatives: instead, to whet the appetite of readers who may wonder how this kind of pursuit lends to the development of a philosophy, I shall quote from the chapter Ruth Plant heads The Place of Animals in the Creation.
 
Ruth Plant’s first “revelation about men’s illogical thinking” towards animals came to her at the age of five when pet Plymouth Rock cockerel, Harry – brought up from an egg – had to be rounded-up by Nannie to give to a man who would take him to market.
 
Little Ruth did not yet realise the fate awaiting Harry but, as the chase went on and, shrieking, the fowl was finally cornered and thrust into a big tub, the penny dropped.

“Why should Harry, who had learnt to trust us and who looked to us for food and shelter, be suddenly attacked and hounded to his death. Wasn’t it a blatant barbarism on the part of us – the so-called civilized occupants of the world. . . .”
 
Revelation too came when Ruth Plant was a young adult, on a day when lunch had just been laid, when a cat came into the dining room and dropped a mauled headless bird on the carpet in front of the would-be diners, who howled: “How ghastly . . . . Oh, what a horrible beast.”
 
Said cat having been dismissed in disgrace, the hostess asked Ruth Plant if she would mind taking the lamb out of the larder. “A I carried it in,” she recalls, “and the family sat down to enjoy their repast of politely cut slices taken from its flesh, I suddenly realised how incongruous it was.
 
“Here we were, furious with the cat for taking the head off a tiny bird, but somebody had cut the throat of a lamb on our behalf so that we too might devour it in our more sophisticated fashion with knife and fork.”
 
The author suggests: “There are others who fully recognise the fact that they are eating animals, but feeling a little self-conscious and guilty, justify their action by announcing that animals gain greatly in the spiritual sense by being physically consumed by man and contributing, as it were, to the maintenance of his life on earth.”
 
“Carrying the theory of spiritual uplift by physical consumption to its logical conclusion, everyone should hope to be kidnapped by some great spiritual leader and served up as lunch for Billy Graham or supper for St Theresa of Avilla, according to the branch of spiritual advancement we adhere to; in fact we should be back to cannibalism.
 
“The orthodox Christian will often shelve the whole question of eating animals by saying that Jesus ate meat and he did not directly oppose the killing of animals. In fact, when he instituted Holy Communion, using the earthly forms of bread and wine as its vehicles, he at once wiped out animal sacrifice for religious purposes.
 
“That, at least, was a vast step forward; and did He not say, ‘You have many things to learn but you cannot bear them now.’ Was this possibly a forecast of new demands on our thinking; an extension of the spiritual path we, coming later, are meant to follow?
 
“The clue we have to the path in the objective picture of the final state is when ‘The lion shall lie down with the lamb.’”
 
On the subject of the vast number of healthy animals put down annually in Britain, Miss Plant cites a French friend who, learning that many died because their owners simply lost interest in them dryly commented: “It’s a good thing that you have not legalised euthanasia in this country or people would be rushing off all the time putting their grandmothers and old aunts away, judging by the rate they keep having their animals put to sleep.”
 
This chapter also includes numerous accounts of people in Ruth Plant’s home who are reported to have “seen” and described accurately various former pet cats, some of which are stated to have resumed their nightly routine of jumping up on favourite beds.
 
Reproduced with thanks to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. 

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