Originally, I thought I’d limit this blog to commentary on the interface of Religious Studies, Biblical Studies, pedagogy, and adolescence. I’ve decided I’ll broaden things a bit. On occasion, I may write on topics outside of the study and teaching of religion. I may write a little on the practice of religion as well—areas related to philosophy, theology, and ethics. That said, as a high school teacher, I think it’s wise to avoid writing on politics and many current events. Hopefully this topic doesn’t make anyone irate!
Today, I had a brief conversation with a colleague about animal rights. This isn’t something I’ve pondered extensively but it’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while now, at least since the days when I used to co-blog with Joshua Paul Smith. My thinking about the matter has intensified over Lent as I chose to use this year’s Lent to ponder meat consumption, it’s various implications, and to see how my body would handle a vegetarian diet (so far, so good). My encounters with Wesleyan-Anglican Christianity, my teaching on traditions like Buddhism, my own philosophical wrestlings with the grounds for moral behavior, and reports I’ve heard regarding the state of industrialized animal farms, has pushed me to begin thinking seriously about whether my worldview needs vegetarianism to be consistent. (Also, I’d add the adoption of Frida into our family, which gives me a daily interaction with an animal.)
I’ve not arrived at a conclusion. I don’t want to be preachy about it. I do want to be able to articulate why I can live with this or that level of suffering in sentient beings (or not live with it) and better understand my own practices in light of realities such as climate change. I will say that the recent two-part interview with David Clough on the Panpsycast has been one of the best articulations for why vegetarianism needs to be considered, not only from a philosophical perspective, but also from a theological one within Christianity.
If you’ve thought about this matter, or tried practicing vegetarianism, I’d like to hear your thoughts on these matters as I continue to use Lent to wrestle with what I believe and how I think I should act.