Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Meat consumption and the Bible

I am a vegan most of the times. However, lately I have been considering a Biblical justification for my diet. This is my draft written paper on meat consumption that I will flesh out with scriptures to support my perspective and other scientific sources. So this is a work in progress. Nevertheless, I do not mind getting critiques and comments that can help me to improve on these ideas.

Many persons try to find a justification in the Bible for being Vegetarian.

Genesis is the book which one generally turns to find the first justification for being a vegetarian. God’s original plan made human beings vegetarians. Man’s Edenic diet was fruits, nuts and seeds.

Even after Eden, man’s second diet was expanded to carbohydrates. G-d gave Adam and Eve the task of tilling the earth to satisfy their hunger and food needs. Being removed from G-d’s orchard where human beings had access to G-d trees, we were to survive on our own techniques and interaction with the soil.

A meat eating diet, was first sanctioned after the flood. Though Abel raised sheep and killed sheep to sacrifice before G-d, which showed that G-d did not outlaw the killing of animals, G-d did not permit the eating of meat until after Noah’s flood.

After destroying all crops, trees and vegetation on the earth, G-d now gave humanity the option of a non-vegetarian diet in order to survive. G-d planned that man would continue to survive on meat until they were able to resume cultivation of crops and give the earth some time to produce trees and shrubs.

Even after G-d permitted man to eat meat, he still restricted the meats that humanity were to consume. Before Noah went into the ark, G-d instructed him about clean and unclean meats. G-d designated what animals were to be a part of humanity’s livestock rearing for food. Even with clean meats, G-d instructed Noah that not all meats were to be eaten if they were not prepared properly. Meats were only to be eaten if the blood was adequately drained from them.

Hence, in the establishment of the nation of Israel, G-d codified those laws and made them explicit for the second time. Leviticus 11 enumerates those animals that G-d permits for the citizens of Israel’s diet. G-d also indicated the conditions under which meats were to be considered for consumption. Israelites were told again not to eat food with blood in it, neither were they to kill nursing animals, or eat animals that were strangled or for which they knew not of the cause of death.

Another mentioned case of the vegetarian diet was the case of G-d’s provision of meals for the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness unto Canaan. Here G-d fed them with Manna, which was a vegetarian delicacy. However, the people complained for meat, and G-d gave them what they demanded with disastrous consequences. This meat that they craved, lead them to illness and sickness. This is a warning that G-d’s diet is always better than what humanity craves for.

The next case where the Bible speaks of vegetarian diet, was at the time when Daniel and the other 3 Hebrew boys were in Babylon. They recognized that the meats that were given for consumption went against G-d’s code for the nation of Israel. As such, they refrained from eating such meats, in order to observe the rules of G-d’s nation. As such, G-d rewarded them for their effort to live in accordance with his constitution with wisdom, intelligence and health.

Based on this example in the Bible, the only justification for being a vegetarian is to avoid consuming meats and food that were not prepared properly according to G-d’s constitution.

So what then is the Biblical justification for eating vegetarian, especially in light of the fact that Jesus ate fish and the Passover lamb? His disciples also did not forbid eating flesh, though they advised that flesh should not contain blood, thereby restating the permission that G-d gave to Noah regarding meat consumption. Finally apostle Paul declares that in the last days, that many will depart from the faith teaching doctrines of devils, abstaining from meat consumption and marriage. Can a believer in the Bible, and especially a Christian justify being a vegetarian Biblically?

In Bible days, there were no refrigerators. People grew what they ate, and killed them and prepared them the same day for consumption. Today, our meats prepared and placed on our plates could possible have been killed 20 years ago (especially if they are coming from the supermarkets or exports). Men have fed hormones to animals to make them grow and get fat fast.

Even in the Bible days, meats that were killed were taken to the priests to be killed, where certain parts were removed, and others roasted and eaten. In meat consumption today, meats can be fried in oil or fat. Clearly the Bible contains instructions about meat consumption in oil.

G-d’s preferred method for our meat preparation is roasted. Jesus by his example roasted the fish. The Passover lamb is roasted.

I believe that humanity can live without meat for months. G-d did not ordain that we should eat meats everyday. So I believe that by virtue of Biblical evidence, meat consumption does not need to be a daily occurrence. In fact, if it is ceremonial, done in social gathering and celebrations, where there is a little wine or alcohol to help in its digestion, then that is the truly Biblical way of meat consumption.

I therefore suggest that Christians and all Bible believers practice vegetarian diets most of the year, and partake in meat consumption selectively and periodically or cyclically throughout the year. In addition, when consuming meat, I recommend that it be done in some social gathering that also is followed by moderate doses of alcohol to aid in the consumption and digestion of the meat. Therefore, for 60 to 80% of the year, people who are seeking to be apart of G-d’s kingdom can be vegetarians. The other times, meat consumption can undertaken. The fact is though, that you were made to eat more vegetation than animals, and that your health depends on herbs, fruits and seeds that you consume and your energy on cultivated vegetation.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Valuing Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge

I needed inspiration and encouragement from God in light of the impending economic woes that are to hit Jamaicans in 2010. So I opened my Bible and came to Proverbs 24. I will now share the verses that spoke to me in a special way.

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: (Proverbs 24:3, KJV)

I believe the term "house" here refers to family or household. These times call for me to get wisdom and understanding especially as it relates to raising my family. Wisdom and understanding are the only things that can help someone starting a family survive and be prosperous despite today's difficulties.

It is important that those intending to start and raise families are willing to conduct research and desire to learn. To adopt a learning frame of mind, where one is always seeking information and reflecting on experience and the experience of others are important in helping to ensure that one builds a good, strong and united family unit. Yet, research and desire to learn how to raise a family should not be based on man's theories, but rather based on a search in the Word of G-d for insights into raising a family. Insights about how to relate to people are best studied and extracted from God's word which in turn can inform our experiences and practice.

People principles are most import today in management studies. God's revelation of people principles are far better than man's so called science of people principles and people development principles. After all, God is the manufacturer, while man is the the imitator. In fact, man's science is only the attempt to understand God's laws and principles. We study the causes and effects, while God is the one who created the very laws of cause and effect, and can change them if he wills.

One of the most important trait in order to be successful today (I believe), is the trait of nurturing and developing other people. This quality is demanded for today's leaders of any human organization. It is the trait required to build and manage teams and improve any organisation's performance. It is also a trait required for the expanded service industry, which has currently overtaken manufacturing and agricultural industries.

In checking the Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary, I discovered house too can also mean a geographic territory or a nation (Vine et al. 118). Thus, those who need to build a nation or to ensure that the nation is on a path of development, will also need to place a high value on wisdom and understanding.

And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:4)

The word of God confirms the value of being a knowledge worker. It shows that a knowledge worker will cash in and prosper from their knowledge. This is true not only for the individual, but also for nationhood. The economic development of nations requires the application of knowledge and the work of knowledge workers.

A wise man is strong, yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength. (Proverbs 24:5)

Strength in these times comes from being wise. Wisdom in the Biblical chapter of Proverbs can be understood from the parables of insects such as the parable of the ant found in Proverbs 6:6-9. Essentially, the ants in the parable work to store food for winter, making use of opportunities all year long to preserve their survival in times of hardship.

Patricia Nordman puts it this way:
"Sometimes we have to forego, or sacrifice, a pleasure today so we can realize a goal tomorrow." (par. 3)

The knowledge worker will also increase his strength by working steadily throughout the year and seizing various opportunities to prepare himself for future possibilities or eventualities. Through research, continuous learning, and other personal and professional development initiatives, the knowledge worker will build upon his competencies, abilities and skills, so that he can be of greater value in society and economy, thereby attracting more value and economic rewards.

In fact, I just read this week a great article by Peter Drucker in the Harvard Business Review that declares:
"Success in knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves - their strengths, their values, and how they best perform"(32).

Finally, I examined a verse that really admonished me:
"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." (Proverbs 24:10, KJV)

Through wisdom, knowledge and understanding, we take actions today and prepare for future possibilities and problems. Then when the situations do arise, we are prepared to face these challenges, because we have been preparing for them and have been developing the character and mindset to face them.

Those who faint during adversity are the unprepared. Hence their character and strength to face the situation is weak. Survival though depends on the desire not to learn from what is taking place and use it to make you better for the future.

I thank God that he is helping me to build character so that in times of adversity, I will be strong and prepared. May you too be encouraged that God is doing the same in you.

Works Cited:

Drucker, Peter. "Managing Oneself." Harvard Business Review OnPoint 2009, p.32-42.

Nordman, Patricia "Go to the Ant." 6 May. 2006 EzineArticles.com. 19 Dec. 2009 .

Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger and William White. “House.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index. Nashville: Thompson Nelson Publishers, 1996.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Jamaican musical icon reaps what he sows

Something happen this week that has troubled my soul and stirred me to post tonight.

Sunday morning, I went to the supermarket to see the headline of both the Jamaica Gleaner and Observer discussing the arrest of Mark Myrie, popularly known as Buju Banton. I had not time to investigate the paper.

However, for the entire week, Buju's arrest dominated the news and discussion all around Jamaica.

At first, I was appalled and felt that it was a set-up. That the gay American community plotted and schemed something to cause Buju's downfall, especially since he was being considered for a Grammy Award.

As more data however came out, I reconsidered my position. The problem is that even though I know the CIA is capable of setting up people for fraud as they did with Marcus Garvey (that what I was lead to believe while I was studying Marcus Garvey in my undergraduate year), this time I think Buju lived out his self-fulfilling prophecy of "Driva".

I believe that drug cartels who start out selling ganja may diversify their product offerings and move to the more lucrative crop. After all their goal is profit. So if Buju sang about ganja, who is to say he was not singing about a real life experience? And if he sang from experience, who is to say he did not go further and diversify into cocaine after tasting success in his ganja trade?

However, I am against all drugs including alcohol and cigarette and know nothing about that underworld. And I never want to know. Why should you make money through the destruction of other people and their health and reasoning abilities?

Driva was an awful song promoting the lawlessness and the selling of a herb that has destroyed the lives of many Jamaican young men. In fact, it was very disappointing for me a former Buju fan, to know that he moved from conscious and clean lyrics to join the Jamaican artistes that glorify drugs.

Secondly, I considered the US Feds. They are nothing like Jamaican police. When you talk about criminal intelligence, plus surveillance abilities, the only police better are those in Israel. Look at the US Embassy in Kingston and you know how dead serious these people are when it comes to security. If they collect evidence that a man is guilty of an act, then that evidence would really be convincing.

Buju, you reap what you sow. Your words are bearing their fruit. May you be an example to all drug men and lyrical composers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Praying for my Students

As I was leaving my office to attend an examination that I set for my students, in my instant message I told my wife about what I would be doing to let her know that I would be offline. Her reply was that I should pray for my students.

I carried that thought with me to the examination centre, committed to doing it. However, when I got there, I mentally pushed it aside to execute my other secular duties.

First, I checked to see if all my students were present, except those I expected to be absent. I also checked to see if the question paper had any errors. After doing this I checked the questions to determine how many possible interpretations could be had of my examination questions.

Finally, I remembered the prayer. I stood and closed my eyes and petitioned G-d in whispers, I heard snickering or laughing from 2 of the invigilators in front of me.

In the petition, I asked G-d to be gracious and merciful to the students and to cause them recall what they studied, learnt and read. I also petitioned that they would interpret the questions properly and read them carefully, that their answers would be relevant and match my expectations.

I also asked that God have pity on the students. I referred him to his heart of compassion that he had, wherein he was not willing that any perish but that all would have eternal life. I mentioned to G-d that this is similar to my situation as a lecturer, as I too had no desire that my students fail but that all should pass.

After petitioning G-d on the behalf of the students, I left the examination centre and returned 2 hrs after, when the students were leaving. One female student who was just leaving her seat walked over to me and said:

"Sir, I thank you for the prayer. I could not think until I saw you do what you did."

I knew then that G-d had used me and answered the prayer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Purpose of Torah

As I walked yesterday evening, a man with a bicycle was riding up the walkway. I was unsure which path he would take, whether he would swerve to the left or to the right. So I stood still in the middle until the cyclist swerved to my left and passed me. Then I reflected on this situation that had now passed.

In Jamaica, the first rule of the road is to keep left unless overtaking (Hylton 2003, p. 58). From this rule, all motorists can expect that when driving on the road, that their fellow motorists that use the road will keep left under most conditions. What this does is to create expectations and predictability about the other driver's behaviour. It eliminates the uncertainty that I felt when walking on the walk way and seeing the cyclist coming straight at me. (Usually, a cyclist would ride on the road and not on the walk way).

A very profound spiritual lesson emerged as I pondered this experience and even the rules of the road. God revealed to me through this situation that laws are necessary to ensure that human beings know what to expect and that there is some level of predictability in social and spiritual life.

For those of us familiar with Torah, many of the laws given outlined people's obligations to other people as well as their obligation to G-d. The scriptures are full of instruction about human obligation to society.

G-d wants human beings to know that they are obligated to others and must conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure that society or social relations do not disintegrate.

Marital laws for instance speak to a man and woman's obligation to each other and the offspring that result from their sexual relations. Marital laws make a man obligated to a woman that he has sexual relations with, so that he does not just use her like soap to fill his need and leave her. Rather it obligates him to treat the woman that he desires to have sex with in a special way, obligating that he stays with her until death, helping her through life in good times and bad. Marital laws mandate that the man also helps the woman to raise the offspring of their sexual relations.

Rules and laws were made to ensure that people know that they cannot just live to please themselves, but in order to live in society or community, they must live in consideration of the rights of others and their responsibility and obligations to maintain as much as possible peaceful relations in society, through ensuring that they consider other persons as they consider themselves.