WHY A THEOLOGY OF FOOD?
What is theology and how does theology relate to food?
Generally theology includes the search for answers to such difficult questions as: What will happen to us when we die? Will there will be rewards and punishments? Does god exist? What is the nature of god? How should we worship god?
I am not particularly interested in any of the above aspects of theology. They are completely speculative. There is no way for us to know answers to such questions, except to wait until we die. We should study such questions only as part of the history of theology and philosophy. We should not judge people based on whether they agree with us regarding the answers to such unknowable questions.
However, there is another aspect of theology I do find interesting. It is one which is given little coverage in sermons or seminaries. It’s the one attribute of god that we can know something about while we are still alive, before we die. It is the “how we should behave” attribute of god, the ethics attribute.
If we focus on this ethics aspect of theology, we can make the world a more ethical and lawful place. And, if god is paying attention to what we do down here, SHE will be pleased. God turned the world over to us. It’s our duty to civilize it.
I am not sure what god is. Although I fervently hope god exists, I am not certain god exists. However, I choose to presume that god exists and to commit myself to living as if god exists. I am confident that whatever god is, god would want us to do unto others as we would have them do to us, to do unsolicited good deeds for those in need, to strive for the moral improvement of our species, and not to focus only preparing for the next life.
Do we believe we can civilize the world? Why don’t we make a more focused effort to do so? Why do religions generally neglect the “how we should behave” attribute of god?
Whatever god is, god is inseparable from the concept of ethics and justice. We should make a concerted study of how to make “justice roll down like waters.” (Amos 5:24.) In doing so we will learn all we can know of god with any certainty during this incarnation. And maybe in doing so we will civilize the world.
The other preliminary question is how theology or the study of a god of ethics relates to food. There are many ethical issues that involve food: whether the food we eat strengthens or weakens us and increases or decreases our ability to complete our calling, whether the way we get food protects or degrades our physical environment, and whether the way we get food wipes out species and involves the mistreatment of sensitive beings.
THE GODDESS, SYMBOL OF A MYTHICAL PAST,
MODEL FOR A BETTER FUTURE
In Old Europe before 4300 B.C.E. (and in the Middle East before around 5500 B.C.E.), there was no generalized warfare. We know this because cities before this time had no walls. Jericho was the only exception. Where there is no war, there is no need for walls. In Old Europe there were towns of up to 10,000 people. There were paved streets, small two-story temples, five-room homes with plaster floors and walls. There were beautiful frescos on the walls, vases, sculpture, and jewelry. The Old Europeans had a written language—which we have not deciphered—which survives on pottery and walls. Homes were all roughly the same size, indicating there was a fundamental equality of wealth and income.
The people of Old Europe and the Old Middle East thought of god as a woman, a very hard concept for us to grasp today. Women did not dominate men as men have since dominated women. Society was not matriarchal in the sense that it has been patriarchal since men took over in Europe around 4300 B.C.E., and in the Middle East around 5500 B.C.E. Society was matristic, that is mother-centered. Most of the rulers were queens, but there were some kings too. Most religious leaders were priestesses, but there were some priests. (See the section of this book entitled The Delphic Oracle, p. 67.) Women owned the land because women had pioneered agriculture while men were out foraging. Inheritance was from mother to daughter. When a man and woman married, the man joined the household of the woman’s mother. There were similar patterns in the Middle East, India, and China. (See the chapter of this book entitled Loss of Eden, p. 39.)
All this was swept away in Old Europe beginning around 4300 B.C.E. by patriarchal Aryan invaders from the Caucasus, whose ideology was conquest and horse, cattle, and sheep herding. They had mastered horseback riding, and they had perfected powerful lightweight, composite bows and deadly composite, flint swords. This happened in the Late Stone Age, even before the Bronze Age. The invaders spoke a Vedic language from which the Indo-European languages are descended. The Aryans were invincible, and the goddess culture was quickly overwhelmed. It was a sad time. I suspect the goddess people prayed as they were being slaughtered that someone in the distant future would try to pick up where they had left off.
Anthropologists exhume the town dumps or middens of Old Europe and find the bones of food animals in strata older than the time of the Aryan invasions. Meat was eaten in Old Europe, and thus it might be said that the goddess is not an appropriate unifying theme for a vegan foodways book such as this. However, archaeological evidence, which I will detail in later chapters, indicates that in Old Europe there was less animal husbandry, that much more land was cultivated before the invasions of the patriarchs than after, and that meat was a smaller part of the diet.
Further, there are indications from mythology and from statements by the earliest historians that at least some of the goddess worshiping tribes of Old Europe did not eat meat or that there were devout classes in certain tribes which did not eat meat. I refer to myths and histories found in the sayings of Pythagoras, the writings of Plato, the Talmud, the Old Testament, and the writings of the Judeo-Christians—all of which state clearly that there existed a prehistoric, Edenic Golden Age in which at least some tribes did not use animals for sacrifices or for food. I propose that these myths and legends refer to the time before 4300 B.C.E. in Europe and before 5500 B.C.E. in the Middle East. (See Loss of Eden, page 54.)
The priestesses of the goddess cultures were herbal healers, and those who heal with herbs eat more herbs and vegetables and eat a greater variety of herbs and vegetables and therefore would have eaten less animal-based food or maybe none. The vegetarian Pythagoras admitted that he learned much of his knowledge at the feet of Themistoclea, a priestess of the Oracle of Pythia, renamed Delphi by the patriarchs, one of the last surviving remnants of the goddess religion. Pythagoras was strongly vegetarian, and so we would presume that so too would have been Themistoclea, and so too would have been the religion of the Oracle. I propose that the religion of the Oracle and the tribe that Pythagoras was born into represented one of the last surviving vegetarian tribes from pre-Indo-European times. (See the section of this book entitled Greek and Persian Legend and the Link Back to the Golden Era, p. 67.)
Many of the stories I refer to are myth, but that does not mean they are not true. Myth is a story about the past that states an ethical or moral truth which applies to the present, a statement about the past regarding what the present should be. Myth is often also an allegorical or vaguely remembered account of actual, historical incidents. Bachofen wrote convincingly of the “historicity of myth.” Classical Greek writers admitted that their gods and mythology in many cases grew out of dimly remembered facts about early kings and heroes.
The Hebrew myth of the Garden of Eden and the Greek myth of the Golden Age are possible example of this. Eden is said to have been a time when humans in small numbers lived in a peaceful, garden setting, where plant food was so abundant that they did not have to cultivate or hunt. As presented in the Hebrew Bible, the diet of Adam and Eve in Eden was vegetarian (Genesis 1:30, 9:3) as it was in Plato’s Golden Age (The Republic, Book 2). Did a glimmer of the Golden Age or Eden survive down through the Hebrews and the Pythagoreans to the Essenes and the Judeo-Christians, and from them into modern times? That is my hypothesis.
In using the goddess as my unifying theme, I admit that I am to some extent creating my own myth. It is worthwhile to use myth as a tool for appealing to people today about how we should live, as long as we explain the true story behind the myth.
However, it would be a mistake for me to build my case just on what happened in the past, or for me to say that the reason why we should try to make a new Golden Age is because there was a Golden Age in the past, of for me to say that we can make a new Golden Age today only if one existed in the past.
We can find peace—even if it is for the first time—if enough of us work for it.
I stress the Eden and Golden Age myths because they prove that from ancient times, prophets have been reminding us that at least some of us ate a green diet and that we should return to that ideal state.
The Aryan invaders sometimes killed everyone except for the virgin girls—our ancestors on the female side. These they forcibly took as concubines. But all was not lost. The daughters remembered the knowledge from earlier times. They taught it to their children, including their sons, who helped keep it alive. And that’s why a man has standing to write a book such as mine.
Over the centuries we are rediscovering these themes. They are reemerging because enough of the fragments survived to enable us to piece together a picture of that era. These themes are inherently more sensible and life-enhancing than the conquest and domination themes introduced by the patriarchs —our ancestors on the male side.
By the time we get to the era of written history, we find prophets—Pythagoras, the Buddha, Socrates and Plato, the writer of Daniel, John the Baptist, Simon Peter, Matthew, James the brother of Jesus, Jesus himself, and all his original disciples, and many modern day prophets such as Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy—who taught some or all of the themes of the matristic civilization: peace, high ethical standards, the primacy of law, nonviolence, opposition to slavery, respect for women, respect for children, and herbal knowledge. These prophets and their followers rejected meat eating and cruelty to animals.
Because Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the leading Western religions, I will focus on them and show that various Hebrew prophets and Jesus and his immediate predecessors and his disciples rejected meat eating and cruelty to animals. I will show that Jesus’ Judeo-Christian church was vegetarian for over 300 years—until it was wiped out by the gentile church. I will show that they ate that way because they believed Jesus had taught them to eat that way in order to realize the messianic era.
Skipping to the present, we see two tendencies contending. On the one hand there is an explosion in the numbers of humans, 6.6 billion as of 2007, 9.0 billion by 2050, and growing at around 90 million per year) and factory farm animals (15 billion or 40 billion and rising). One-third of the world’s population lives in poverty, hunger, disease, and misery. There is overwhelming pollution of the physical environment. We develop computerized weapons of fearsome killing capacity. There is continuous war in one part of the world or another. I worry that I may turn on the radio tomorrow and learn that a suitcase nuclear bomb has gone off in New York or Tel Aviv. The outcome hangs by a thread.
And we have constructed an amoral economic system that mindlessly profits from and reinforces these tendencies. Orthodox capitalist theory is that gross sales and profits must rise continuously and that our numbers should rise too because this spurs sales and holds down the cost of labor. It will be extremely difficult to reign in the excesses of capitalism.
In 1886, a court reporter for the U.S. Supreme Court, a former railroad president, in preparing the official report of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (118 U.S. 394), wrote, as the summary of the case, that corporations were persons and had the rights persons have under the 14th Amendment. In fact, the chief justice had expressed that opinion orally only, and the actual case said no such thing. Nevertheless, subsequent courts accepted that side comment as law. Corporations were declared to have rights. Before Santa Clara County, corporations had had only privileges, privileges which could be taken away if a corporation acted contrary to whatever standards a majority of a state’s legislature might set. Corporations had to apply individually for charters. Corporations could be discriminated against.
Today’s corporations are only required to obey the law and are free to try to lobby against laws that limit their freedom to maximize profits. When corporations abuse their power, it is hard to cut them down to size. You have to prove they are violating some law and sue them. Before Santa Clara, the legislature could cancel their corporate charter or threaten to do so. Ironically, even today “unions, churches, unincorporated businesses, partnerships, and even governments, all … have only privileges.” (See Wikipedia, “Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad” and “Corporation.”)
Corporations have become non-human, super-beings. They have acquired eternal life. They can do things individual shareholders would feel guilty about doing. The corporation has an obligation to maximize profits and even maximize the rate at which profits grow. By law, corporate greed knows no limits. Shareholders are not liable for the wrongs of the corporation unless they take part personally in the wrongdoing. Shareholders can avoid legal liability and therefore moral liability. They not only are shielded legally by a “corporate veil,” they hide morally behind it. They crush ordinary men who stand in the way of profit maximization. In my law school class on corporations, there was no mention of any of this.
There is at the same time, an increasing consciousness of natural law (law in its ideal sense, as it should be, not as it is), a desire to live in harmony with the physical environment, a quest to put an end to war, and a sensitivity to animal life. These two conflicting themes coexist and contend with each other in a dualistic competition. The challenge facing us in this era is to reach enlightenment before we destroy ourselves.
I contend that those who treat animals compassionately are more likely to treat their fellow humans compassionately. I propose that treating animals compassionately is one aspect of a package of human values that can draw us towards peace and enlightenment. The goddess beckons us to come to our senses, and this is another reason why I have chosen her as the unifying symbol of my book.
ETHICAL-THEOLOGICAL QUESTION POSED
If you were to host for dinner a visiting goddess or Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, or the Buddha, what would you serve him—or her? Would you serve her a filet of a rare animal species that was on the verge of extinction? Or pate de foie gras, made from a goose force fed corn with a funnel down her neck to the point where she was in constant immobilizing pain? Or veal parmesan, made from a calf taken bawling a few hours old from its mother, denied a childhood, reared in a veal crate, and fed an unnatural diet that made it wretchedly ill? Or the cutlet of some other animal that left its crowded cage only once? Would the visiting goddess approve of what was on your menu? Would she decline to eat such foods? Would she leave the table? Would she stand up and say, “The cries of innocent animals come up to me, and I will not pretend I am not offended by your financing their suffering.” Would you lose points with Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates for your cruel diet? I’m just joking. Or am I?
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF OPPOSITION TO
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
Because the era of the goddess was relatively vegetarian, I use the goddess symbol to make my ethical case against abusing animals and using them for food.
It is a matter of ethical concern that we kill animals for food and a matter of ethical concern how we kill them. But it is a much greater ethical concern how we treat them during their short lives. (See the section of this book entitled The Ethics of Diet, p. 287.)
There are some 15 billion (some authorities say 40 billion) farm animals waiting to be slaughtered. Most of them live part or all their lives in hellish factory farms. Chickens have instinctual needs to stretch their wings, move around, and scratch the dirt, but they are raised claustrophobically four birds to a cage the size of a microwave oven. Their cages are stacked up ten high, and urine and feces rain down on them constantly. These are animals with an acute sense of smell, so it is all the more abusive that they are forced to live in stench. They are debeaked, which would be like cutting off part of your nose, mouth, and chin, but many are still able to peck each other to death with their blunted beaks.
Pigs have instinctual needs to roam free, but many live their adult lives in “bacon bins” so small they cannot turn around, cages stacked to the ceiling, inside closed buildings, and they too live in the stench of the feces and urine that rains down on them. To drink they are given the urine- and feces-laden liquid they excrete. When they are moved from cage to cage or to slaughter they are driven with baseball bats. They fight back. Ten percent of them die of heart attacks in the slaughtering process.
Beef cattle are finished in feed lots devoid of grass, standing and lying instead in muddy or dusty feces. Young bulls are castrated without anesthetic. Cattle need to eat grass and hay for proper digestion, but they are fed an unnatural diet made up mostly of corn, soy, and meat to fatten them, and this diet sickens them.
Dairy cows must deliver calves yearly to continue to produce milk. The calves are all taken away within a few days so they will not keep the cows away from the milking machines. Both mother and calf wail for days. Most dairy calves go into “veal crates” so small that the calves cannot even turn around or lick themselves, where they are fed nothing but surplus milk and butter—subsidized by our taxes. They are fed none of the iron-rich grass they need. This is done to make their flesh whitish and tender, but it makes them severely anemic. They suffer from constant diarrhea and numerous other diseases so serious that 20 percent of them die before their typical slaughter age of 100 days. Can you imagine what you would have to do to calves to kill 20 percent of them in their first 100 days?
Our food animals lack our intellect and our ability to speak, but they have all of our ability to perceive pain, claustrophobia, and stench. The same is true of animals tortured in laboratories where cosmetics and medicines are tested. They all know they are suffering.
Yes, our ancient ancestors killed animals and ate meat, but those were animals which had lived a free and natural life and ate natural food. Our ancestors killed animals quickly. They killed only what they needed to kill to survive. What exists today is the systematic industrial torture of feeling beings on a massive scale. It is a sin.
Pet owners would be outraged if their dogs and cats were mistreated in such ways but think nothing of the way our food animals are mistreated. Most say correctly that our species has been hunting animals for millions of years, but they ignore the fact that we did not confine and torture them by the billions until recently. (See the section of this book entitled The Ethics of Diet, p. 287.)
It is amazing that most people know so little about these ghoulish evils. Most do not realize the torture their food dollars finance. They do not see the connection between what they eat and the mistreatment of the animals that we convert into food. Some know but block it out. Some consider it necessary and inevitable because we are descended from a long line of meat eaters. Most believe the lie that it is necessary to eat animal products to be healthy. Some consider it of no importance or relevance, saying, “They are just animals.” Tough men laugh at you for having pity for the animals. We humans are occasionally creative and enlightened, but mostly we are just insensitive.
I was beaten by football thugs in junior high. I didn’t like being beaten. I don’t like it when people beat up other people. And I don’t like it when people beat up animals who have done us no harm whatsoever. I eat a green diet primarily because I see no way of eating animal products without spending my money to hire thugs to beat up animals.
THE GODDESS AS ETHICAL SYMBOL
Although I have called my book “What To Serve A Goddess,” I could have called it “How To Serve A Goddess.” What to serve her is a part of how to serve her. Right eating is an important part of right living.
In this book I talk a lot about religion. My religion is the religion of ethics and law: Behaving ethically is more important than believing any specific set of doctrines regarding unknowable things. I revere and follow Jesus as an ethical, not a religious teacher. My calling is to search for truth honestly and to follow it wherever it leads me.
Likewise, I use the goddess as an ethical and not a religious symbol. It is hard to find ethical symbols that do not derive from religious traditions. For historical reasons, our language is structured so that it is difficult to talk about ethics without using religious terminology. The study of ethics was, until modern times, largely though not exclusively the province of religion. Only over the last few hundred years has ethics become a discipline independent of religion. Ethics was for a long time taught mostly in seminaries. Now it is taught by philosophers, physicians, environmentalists, attorneys, teachers, and by every profession, guild, and trade. In order to study the ethics of thousands of years ago, it is impossible not to use religious terminology, because that was the context in which ethics was discussed back then. This book has a theological component because our ethical concepts are rooted in theological concepts.
Some may think it blasphemy that I refer to god as a goddess. Today’s blasphemy is yesterdays truth: In ancient times everyone except the invading patriarchs thought of god as a woman. Those patriarchs with their male sun, storm, and thunder god invaded the Near East around 5500 B.C.E., Europe around 4300 B.C.E., Persia around 2000 B.C.E., and India around 1750 B.C.E. and turned the world upside down.
Goddess figurines unearthed in Old Europe from before 4300 B.C.E. are sometimes dismissed as mere fertility idols. This attitude is part of the disdain that patriarchal historians have always had for ancient matristic cultures. The invading and warlike patriarchs worshiped a male god and made it their goal to stamp out the religion of the goddess. “You shall not permit a sorceress to live,” said the early Hebrew patriarchs in what probably was a reference to the priestesses, herbalists, healers, and midwives of the older, competing goddess religion. (Exodus 22:18; cf. Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10.)
It is hard to piece together information from so far in the past, and it is important not to over idealize. Nevertheless, there is much evidence that the goddess religions generally stressed family harmony, high ethical standards, the rule of law, peace, male-female equality, healing, respect for life, opposition to slavery, respect for animals and the physical environment, and a vegetarian or relatively vegetarian diet. (See the section of this book entitled Old Europe, Before 4300 B.C.E., a Paradigm of Partnership, p. 40.)
The patriarchal conquerors could not completely exterminate the religion and ethics of the goddess. Goddess ideals went underground and survived semi-dormant under the patriarchal surface. Over the centuries they have gradually increased in strength, and recently they have emerged into the light of consciousness. After 6,000 years, slavery is illegal again—although de facto slavery still exists in many places. Women can again vote and marry whom they choose. They again have the same right to divorce as men. They again can own property in their own names and control it and leave it to whomever they wish when they die. Most of the formerly patriarchal religions now allow women to serve as priests and ministers, something that would have been unthinkable even a hundred years ago. Women are finally regaining the status they enjoyed in Old Europe before 4300 B.C.E. If you take a really long view of history, this is one of its most significant developments.
Patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism are hybrids, the patriarchal invader religions crossbred with the goddess religions which preceded them. These religions all worship a male god, although Hinduism worships male and female gods. Nevertheless, theologians generally agree that god transcends gender. According to Mahavira, the definitive prophet of Jainism, god resists classification:
All sounds recoil thence, where speculation has no room, nor does the mind penetrate there. The liberated is not long or small or round or triangular—he is not black—or white—he is without body, without contact (of matter), he is not feminine or masculine or neuter; he perceives, he knows, but there is no analogy (whereby to know the nature of the liberated soul); its essence is without form; there is no condition of the unconditioned. (Pratapaditya Pal, The Peaceful Liberators: Jain Art from India, p. 13.)
Some have problems thinking of god as goddess. If you prefer, every time I write “goddess,” you can read “god,” “highest prophet,” “true messiah,” “holy spirit,” “shekinah,” “wise one,” “the ongoing consciousness of the good,” “the tendency towards peace,” “the transcendent embodiment of the highest ethical standards.” These are all similar concepts.
Some are offended that I don’t capitalize “god.” I regard god as a concept or force more than as a person. I presume SHE cares more about what I do with my life than how I spell HER name. I agree with the Jewish position that god is inseparable from ethics. It is because god and the good are such overlapping concepts that I write the word “god” uncapitalized. I also do it to make you think.
Modern-day Hindu prophetess, Amachi, has an interesting theory about Jesus. She believes his female side was paramount and that he came as a man only because in the radically patriarchal age in which he lived, leaders would only have taken him seriously as a male. His message about how to bring peace to the world contained ethical elements from the previous matristic age.
THE GODDESS AS SYMBOL OF THE FEMININE SIDE OF GOD
Rabbinic Judaism had/has a trinity of sorts: There is god the father, god the mother spirit, and god’s sons and daughters. We are all made in the image of god the father and god the mother spirit. God functions in the world through our participation. We are god’s sons and daughters and therefore in some sense part of god. In the Jewish mystical tradition known as kabbalah, the shekinah is the creative and female side of god. The Judeo-Christians believed Jesus was an adopted son of god, as were all messiah-kings, a special son that we, as fellow sons and daughters of god, should emulate.
The Odes of Solomon are the oldest known Christian hymns, written in the First Century. They were written in and survive in Syriac, a language similar to the Aramaic and Hebrew that Jesus spoke. In the Odes the word “spirit” is feminine, and there are numerous references in the Odes to the spirit as “she.” The earliest Christians sang hymns in which the holy spirit was female. (James Hamilton Charlesworth, The Odes of Solomon: The Syriac Texts, 11:2 at p. 52, 19:2 at p. 82, 35:1 at p. 126.)
The first Christians were the Judeo-Christians of Jerusalem. They were descended from the respected Essene sect. The Essenes, the Judeo-Christians, and the Pharisees were all Jewish sects. They all spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, and in those languages “spirit” was ruach or rucha, a feminine word. For them the holy spirit was female. For them the trinity could not have been three males. Every time Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit, he and his listeners were thinking “she.” (www.adishakti.org/text_files/holy_spirit.htm.)
Paul’s version of Christianity took root at Antioch and from there spread throughout the Greek- and Latin-speaking Roman Empire. (Acts 11:26.) The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, a neuter word. In Latin the word “spirit” is spiritus, a masculine word. So it was, through a linguistic accident, that gentile Christianity, very uninformed about Judaism, developed its male holy spirit and its all-male trinity.
The idea that the holy spirit is a woman is present in ancient Judeo-Christian gospels, which survive in quotations made by orthodox theologians. For example, the hateful heresy fighter Origen, makes the following comment about the Gospel According to the Hebrews:
If any one should lend credence to the Gospel According to the Hebrews, where the Savior Himself says, “My mother, the Holy Spirit took me just now by one of my hairs [or lock of hair] and carried me off to the great mount Tabor,” he will have to face the difficulty of explaining how the Holy Spirit can be the mother of Christ when it was itself brought into existence through the Word. (Commentary on John, 2:6, www.newadvent.org/fathers/1015.htm. See Origen’s Homily on Jeremiah 15:4 and Jerome’s Commentary on Micha 7:5-7; see A.F.J. Klijn, Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition, p. 7, 52 ff.)
Origen was referring to John 1:3, which says that all things were made through the word. Jesus was the word, and therefore even the Holy Spirit was made through the Word. Therefore, according to John, the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Son.
Origen presumed that John was more authoritative than the Judeo-Christian Gospel According to the Hebrews. Origen was a poor scholar. He apparently did not even know that “Spirit” is the feminine word ruach or rucha in Hebrew and Aramaic.
The earliest version of the Nicene Creed says that “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.” The Roman Church changed it to say that “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This controversy was one of the reasons for the schism between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. In the Orthodox version the Father is superior to both Holy Spirit and Son. In the Catholic version Father and Son together are superior to the Holy Spirit.
So among Judaism, Judeo-Christianity, and gentile Christianity there is confusion over the relationship between father, son, and holy spirit. As Judaism teaches, were god the father and god the mothering spirit together the parents of Jesus as they are the parents of all of us? Did a male holy spirit “overshadow” Mary and father Jesus? (Luke 1:35.) Did the holy spirit proceed from the son? and was Jesus as the word the “parent” of the holy spirit? (John 1:3.) Did the holy spirit proceed from the father or from the father and son, as the two versions of the Nicene Creed say? (See the section of this book entitled Christological Inflation, p. 79.)
Early gentile Christians, recent converts from religions which had worshiped and prayed to a mother goddess, longed to worship god again as a mother. They came to revere Mary as a surrogate for the mother goddess they had lost. So when the Council of Ephesus in 431 C.E. decreed it proper to revere Mary as theotokos or god-bearer, there was dancing in the streets.
The early, patriarchal gentile Christians did a historical sex change operation on the holy spirit and made her male. Christianity, with its all-male trinity has not been as sensitive to the real needs of humans, the environment, women, and girls as it would have been had it held to the father-mother-son-daughter trinity of Judaism and Judeo-Christianity.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF A CALL TO EAT WHAT WILL
MAKE US HEALTHY
Part of right living is right eating.
The average person eats around six pounds of food per day, around 2,190 pounds of food per year, around 164,000 pounds of food in a 75-year life. (1995 lecture by Buck Levin, nutritionist, naturopath, and instructor at Bastyr University.) The average American eats 235 pounds of meat each year. (Dianne Hales, “We’ll Make Your Tastebuds Tingle,” Parade, November 12, 2000.) This brings new meaning to the old adage “you are what you eat.”
Well, what else would we be but what we eat? It is true that to a small extent we are composed of the oxygen we breathe, since it might join with food to build cells, but except for that, we are what we eat. Dr. Udo Erasmus gives us a choice: Our bodies can be built of nutrient-rich foods or junk foods. If our bodies are built of nutrient-rich foods, they will constitute a medium in which certain cancer-causing microbes and actual cancer cells will either lie dormant or die. (Udo Erasmus, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, p. 364.)
Nevertheless, most see no connection between what we eat and the condition of our bodies. Some of us eat as if our digestive system were incinerators which completely purify what we eat. It does not happen that way. Digestion takes place at body temperature. Food is not completely deconstructed into elements and compounds. Some fats and proteins percolate right through the lining of the stomach, flow right through the blood stream, and join cells, completely undigested. If we eat junk, we are junk.
Cattle, pigs, and chickens are fed a steady diet of pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, ground-up meat, and the fecal matter of several species. Fish in the sea eat the outflow of farms and factories. The mercury from coal burning utilities settles in the oceans, where it is consumed by fish. The contamination concentrates in their fatty tissues, bones, and glands. Fish farmed fish are fed insecticide and antibiotics to kill the sea lice and the diseases which infect them.
Because the seas are the ultimate waste dump for industry, the FDA warns people not to eat too much fish. Methyl mercury and PCBs are the main contaminants.
If junk is what cattle, pigs, chickens, and fish eat, junk is what they are. If we eat cattle, pigs, chickens, eggs, and fish, junk is what we are. You wouldn’t bring home pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, manure, and heavy metals in a small jar and feed a few grams each day to your family. So why would you bring home meat or milk or eggs containing all these pollutants and feed these to your family?
The bodies of factory animals are often cancer ridden. Some of the same viruses that cause cancer in animals also cause cancer in humans. You would not know this from watching the breast cancer awareness ads on TV: You hear a lot about “early detection” but not a word about prevention. That’s right; cancer can be prevented. The cancer rate among vegans is very low. (See the Cancer section of this book, p. 273.)
Hippocrates, the Pythagorean physician, taught: “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.” This means we should only eat food that strengthens us and should eat no food that does not strengthen us.
Under an ancient version of the Hippocratic Oath, healers swore to “apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick.” The modern version exhorts doctors to “prevent disease whenever (they) can, for prevention is preferable to cure.” However, most physicians today do not have time to practice preventive medicine or give dietary advice. Instead doctors prescribe drugs and perform operations to try to overcome the effect of their patients’ bad diets.
We are what we eat, as well, on an emotional level. We like to eat what makes us feel good about ourselves. Once we learn how badly factory animals are treated, we will no longer feel good about eating them. We may not want to know, but we ought to know—because the money we spend on animal foods finances the system that mistreats the animals we eat.
So why do we eat as badly as we do? Because we have not been conscious of these issues. Because we have been asleep.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF RETURN TO ENVIRONMENTAL SANITY
Our numbers have grown exponentially. Ash from the eruption of the Toba volcano some 74,000 years ago wiped out most humans. Our numbers were as low as a few thousand or even a few hundred. (See the section of this book entitled Population Explosion and a Plant Based Diet, p. 231.) Rapid reproduction became a necessity. Those families and clans which survived were those which bore the most children. This may be the time when we developed our urge to have large families. By the end of the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago, the human population of the world had risen to some 10 million. By the time of Jesus, there were some 200 million of us. We reached 6.0 billion in 1999 and 6.6 billion in 2007. We are headed for 9.0 billion by 2050. Add to this the effect of 15 billion (some say 40 billion) domesticated animals worldwide, most of whom would not otherwise exist, and most of them living in factory buildings and feedlots.
These animals defecate and urinate in vast quantities. The waste flows untreated into streams and then into rivers and coastal estuaries. The pollution flows because we choose to eat chicken, pork, beef, eggs, and dairy products. By buying their animal-based foods, we hire the farmers to grow the animals and pollute the waters.
Most of these animals are fed sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics, creating a breeding ground for diseases that are becoming resistant to the drugs we can no longer rely on to heal us.
Grazing animals rip out grass by the roots and girdle saplings and so help destroy forests and contribute to desertification. There was knee-high grass in vast areas of the American West that are now tumbleweed deserts. Wells in dry areas in third world countries are surrounded for miles by land stripped of all vegetation by herds of animals coming to drink. Deserts can be reclaimed, but only if animal herding is banned. If deserts are turned back into grassland and forest, more CO2 will be taken from the atmosphere, and greenhouse warming will be reduced. Diet affects land use, which affects climate.
There is a direct link between what we eat and how species live, die, and become extinct. Loggers are cutting down rain forests far away, but it is our dietary choices here that cause the cutting. When we eat a hamburger here, we are hiring some logger to cut trees so some rancher can graze cattle to make your next Big Mac.
Ninety percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn grown in the United States is fed to animals. Corn, soy, and other feed crops are heavily subsidized, which lowers feed costs for producers of meat, milk, and eggs. Growing these crops causes unsustainable losses in topsoil. A cow has to be fed 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat and the other 15 pounds–which could have been fed directly to humans or used to produce biodiesel and ethanol–is lost in this inefficient exchange. (See the section of this book entitled The Environment and a Plant-Based Diet.)
Farmers in poor countries finish animals in feed lots, while people starve just outside the fence. Much of the meat is exported to make payments on their country’s massive international debt. Small farmers cannot afford to grow basic commodities because subsidized U.S. commodities are cheaper.
If we had taken responsibility for our numbers back when there were only a billion of us, maybe we could keep eating a diet high in animal-based foods and still maintain a healthy environment and adequately feed the poor. However, it’s too late now. We made our choice when we kept breeding to the point where we took over the entire planet. We have foreclosed the meat-eating option. Drastic changes are necessary, and the longer we wait to implement the changes, the more drastic the changes will have to be.
The argument is made that we need to eat animal products to get certain nutrients. However, thanks to modern science this is no longer so. We now know what nutrients we must be careful to eat if we don’t eat animal products. It is now possible to feel perfectly safe eating a green diet and feeding a green diet to our children. (See the section entitled A Plant-Based Diet —Health Considerations, p. 237.
I posit that the goddess calls us to make this radical change, because it is the only solution now left us.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF THOSE IN NEED
Back during the and Contra Wars of the 1980s I traveled in Central America. One January I found myself in high altitude and chilly Antigua, Guatemala, where I caught cold. I decided to head for a hot beach. I journeyed down to the costal village of Puerto Champerico, a village on the Pacific. I swam and body surfed in the big breakers. I hung out in the town square and worked on my Spanish with the local high school kids. I learned how to pronounce dinosaurio and Retalhuleu, the tongue twister name of the province I was in. I enjoyed being the only tourist in town.
I met Enrique, and he taught me how to sing the scale in a way I had never heard before. (See Enrique’s Scale in the music section of this book, p. 418.) He was a house painter, but he could earn only four dollars a day, and he only got a few days of work each week. Enrique and his family were always hungry. I could find no decent vegan food in the local cafes. So we worked out a trade: I bought big sacks full of rice, beans, vegetables, potatoes, and eggs in the marketplace. I bought eggs because they needed essential fatty acids, and flax was unavailable. I took the sacks to his house, where his family and I cooked them up. I got the vegan food I wanted, and his family got a lot of food.
Enrique was faced with several dilemmas: He needed money to feed himself so he would have energy to work. But he also needed to feed his family. He had parasites, probably from drinking contaminated water. His illness drained his energy, but he didn’t have the money to buy the Flagyl that would kill the parasites. All night long they were harassed by zancudos, tiny little mosquitoes that really sting. The family stayed up all night fanning the baby to keep the zancudos from biting. Enrique didn’t even have enough money to buy mosquito nets for himself or his family.
Enrique was/is not unusual. To one degree or another some two billion people around the world face the same dilemmas. They lack good drinking water, are malnourished or starving, are diseased, and lack good shelter. Some of the most needy are mothers and children, particularly those with no husbands. “Lady Madonna, children at your breast. Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.” Today’s single-parent goddesses suffer. The title of this book challenges you to do something for them. See the sadness in the face of the goddess on the cover of this book? She is weary and battered.
FOOD IS A SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, A PERSONAL, AND
EVEN A SPIRITUAL MATTER
We take what we eat personally. We like various foods and dislike others. We offer to share our food with others, and feel offended when others refuse to eat it. Conversely, we sometimes go ahead and eat food we do not like so as to avoid offending others.
I have written much of this book in the first person singular because what I have to say about food is in large part based on my experience. It would have been dishonest for me to leave myself out. How I decided to make my culinary transition to a green diet may help you make yours. How I decided that my diet was important to the physical and moral environment of the world may be relevant to your decision about what to eat. How I taught myself to grow and cook my own food may inspire you to do the same.
I love food. I eat all the time. When I work, I eat. I take leftovers to my office in plastic containers and raid the refrigerator every few hours. I hide pumpkin and sunflower seeds in my desk drawer and munch on them as I work. I eat flax seed by the spoonful and chomp on them.
I like to eat what makes me feel good, and that means a light, low-fat diet. I remember how sluggish I used to feel after eating roast beef. It made me want to—go—to—sleep. Z-Z-Z-Z. I would lie on the sofa feeling sluggish from the thick oil I had injected into my arteries. At the same time my heart would be racing because the adrenaline that had been in that terror-stricken cow was now in me.
In this book I will not hesitate to tell you the negative side of the great American diet. However, I will also employ what I believe to be a better way to win you over: I will talk about the uplifting possibilities which will flow from eating a plant-based diet, including a trim figure, better health, and a longer life span. I will introduce you to recipes that will thrill your palate and satisfy your cravings. Most of the flavors we enjoy are found in the spices and vegetables we add to our foods, not in the meat, milk, or eggs.
Eating a plant-based diet will make you feel light and healthy. You will be able to eat a greater volume of plant-based food, eat more frequently, and quit counting calories. You will thoroughly enjoy the taste and texture of plant-based food. You will leave the table feeling full but not sluggish. You will be able to stabilize your weight at a leaner level.
My omnivorous friends sometimes tell me that if they do not eat meat, they feel somehow unsatisfied, that they have not had a real dinner. I have a theory about this: As a fat-addicted species, we crave the salty, fatty, chewy, crunchiness of animal-based foods because the are essential fats we need are found in animal-based foods. I will tell you how to get them from plant-based sources and how to prepare plant-based food that is as crunchy, chewy, and as salty as necessary to be satisfying. (See the Healthy Cooking Techniques section, p. 349, and the Goddess Recipes section, of this book p. 365.) You will find it no great sacrifice to give up animal-based foods. Along with them will go your big belly, your high blood pressure, your diabetes, your infirmity in your old age, and your early demise. You will feel like running and playing with your grandchildren instead of sitting and watching them.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF THE CALL FOR PEACE AMONG HUMANS
Because the era of the goddess before 4300 B.C.E. was peaceful, I use the goddess as a symbol of peace. The vegetarian leaders and groups I referred to above, from Pythagoras to Jesus to Gandhi, had theories about how to put an end to the cycle of violence and warfare. Their theory was that we should do unsolicited good deeds for those who are in need, that we should absorb the violence instead of return it when doing so will stop the cycle of violence. There is a package of ethical beliefs, which just might bring peace. Treating animals with compassion was and is part of that package. (See the section of this book entitled The Ethics of Diet, p. 287.)
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF LAW
The blindfolded person holding the scale is an ancient symbol of law. She is a woman. In many languages “law” is a feminine word, perhaps a word from the language of the ancient matristic, lawful cultures, a word that survived the invasions of the lawless patriarchs. And bear in mind that when I refer to “law” I am talking about natural law, law in the ideal sense, not law as it is, sometimes a tool manipulated by the rich and powerful to get more rich and more powerful.
Law is an interlocking structure of values which support each other. Visualize a four-sided pyramid, a very strong structure composed of six members. If one member of the pyramid is missing, it will collapse easily. Following this analogy, a legal system where murder or assault or theft were allowed would be an unstable system. It is hard to imagine a legal system that permitted such wrongs, but try to posit its existence, and then think about how allowing such evils would undermine other aspects of law.
The same can be said for treatment of women. Women lost their rights with the coming of the patriarchs, the right to vote, own property, marry the man of their choice, and divorce an unkind husband. Laws that allowed the subjugation of women created a blind spot in men’s legal thinking. They had to come up with some justification for the subjugation. The justification generally made little sense: Women were obviously inferior because of some mythological original sin or because they were smaller or because they did not have souls. A legal system that does not grant rights to women will lack stability. Society is weaker where only half its members function fully. The lack of this important structural member will tend to make the entire structure subject to collapse.
The same can be said for the treatment of children. Children were treated well before the invasions of the patriarchs, but poorly thereafter. The Aryan Romans, for example, valued sons, and tolerated having one girl, but often would abandon subsequent girl babies to the streets, where they would be eaten by dogs or pigs. The lucky few would be adopted by Jews or Christians. Parents or custodians of children were free to put them to work in sweat shops and had no obligation to educate them. A legal system that does not protect and educate its children raises children who will not achieve their full potential and may become criminals. Rights for children is thus a structural member without which a legal system will lack stability and tend toward general injustice.
Likewise, a legal system which allows slavery will be unstable. Slavery became legal from the time of the patriarchal invasions and continued to be legal until the 1800s. I contend that allowing slavery stunted the development of law and delayed the evolution of democratic and lawful societies. It created moral blind spots. Why was it illegal to beat or kill a free man but legal to beat or kill a slave? Why was illegal to rape free women but perfectly legal for a slave owner to rape his women slaves as often as he liked? Owners made up crude rationalizations to justify such things. And if a slave could be abused, then why couldn’t a troublesome free man or woman be abused? Again, a legal system that allows slavery is one that lacks stability and tends toward general injustice.
We could say the same thing regarding prisoners’ rights. The beatings and rapes to which prisoners are subjected—while wardens look the other way—is a scandal. We must keep an eye on prison keepers, as Jesus advised, for they can easily get caught up in brutality. (Matthew 25:30.) Most prisoners are eventually released. They will more likely be worse people when they come out than they when they went in. Thus a system of laws which allows prisoners to be brutalized tends towards instability.
We could say the same thing regarding respect for the physical environment. If we use the world around us strictly to maximize profits and without regard to any other values, the quality of our lives is reduced.
I hope you see my point about law in the ideal sense being an interlocking structure of values which support each other. I have talked about a system of laws which might allow the abuse of women, children, slaves, prisoners, or the natural environment. Now take my argument just one step further and think about a society in which it is legal systematically to abuse 15 billion (some say 40 billion) factory farm animals on a daily basis.
Most of us know about the abuse to a greater or lesser extent but suppress our feelings about what is going on. We suppress our feelings in much the same way that people suppressed their feelings about the abuse of women, children, slaves, prisoners, and the physical environment. “Oh, these things happen, and we have to be realistic,” they say. “It’s always been that way.” “We don’t want to change too quickly lest we damage the economy.’
Those who profit from the system elect the governments which sanction the abuse. The profiteers market their animal products and convince the public to eat far more animal products of far lower quality and of higher fat content than they ate in times past. In producing these animal products, the profiteers cut down forests and pollute rivers and oceans. They inflict chronic illnesses on us and cause us to spend vast amounts on a medical system which is silent about how to prevent these illnesses. Our life spans are shorter, and we suffer more from chronic diseases in our old age. Society is weakened physically. We are drained of resources which could be spent in better ways.
I contend that a society that allows the abuse of animals has a serious blind spot, and behind or within this blind spot other great wrongs and untruths are allowed and encouraged to exist.
MY THESIS IS THIS
I aim to prove that treating animals with compassion—which necessarily includes moving to a green diet—is an indispensable part of a package of behaviors which can better our earthly reality. Treating animals with compassion will stimulate change on other levels and teach us to treat humans and the environment with sensitivity. I consider it a keystone behavior. It’s absence is so conspicuous that once people learn it, they will rise to a higher level of awareness. Change will be stimulated on other levels.
I believe it is possible to have a truly healthy and long-lived population, to put an end to hunger, to make good drinking water available to everyone, to bring down health care costs, to reign in population explosion, to achieve an environmental balance, to stop the great die off of species, and to bring about peace between humans and between nations. I believe we are much more likely to realize these goals if we treat animals with compassion and much less likely to realize them if we don’t. Our abuse of the animals is such a conspicuous societal sin that we have to eliminate it if we are to become aware of and eliminate our other sins.
Will it be easy to convince enough people to treat animals with compassion to make a significant difference? No. Will it take a long time? Yes. Should we then not try? We should still try. Women lost their rights with the coming of the patriarchs, and that is when slavery and child abuse began. It has taken some 6,000 years to right these wrongs. Should all those people through all those centuries who struggled to undo these wrongs simply have given up? The sooner you join in this effort, the sooner progress will be made.
This movement has powerful foes, because there are vast profits made in the exploitation of animals and the spoliation of the environment. However, the odds are not as bad as you might think. Now we can spread these ideas through the Internet, at virtually no cost. The Internet is the great equalizer.
They have all the money, but we have all the good ideas.
There are already millions us around the world who refuse to eat animal-based foods. There are millions more who are sensitive to these issues and would go part or all the way with us if they just knew how to cook plant-based food in an appetizing way and if they could be assured they could get all the nutrients they need from plant-based food.
THE GODDESS: SYMBOL OF THE CALL TO WAKE UP
We humans are morally defective as a species: We desire conformity very strongly. We generally believe we are safe if we are in the majority. We presume the status quo is correct and defend it stubbornly. We ridicule anyone who questions the status quo as a kook. We have big brains, but we use them to construct complex rationalizations to justify things as they are. We are easily manipulated when there is a lot of money to be made. Making a lot of money is nearly everyone’s dream. Keeping the economy stimulated is a must if the current political party is to stay in power. We are all too quick to dismiss difficult issues by saying, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” We are all too quick to say, “I don’t have time.” When we are faced with an important task which will be difficult or take a long time to accomplish, we don’t even try. And we are morally blind when it comes to the animals we abuse and eat. All these defects are grounded in one overarching defect: We are not aware. We are not conscious. We are sleep walking through life.
So wake up!
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