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Eating toward Shalom: Why Food Ethics Matters for the 21st-Century Church

MATTHEW C. HALTEMAN: ‘My Mennonite background had taught me well that the active pursuit of peace and justice for human beings is central to living out the Christian vision. But it wasn’t until 2003, when I joined a Reformed community, that animals (and the good earth we share with them) came prominently into view as inherently valuable creatures of God whose flourishing shalom requires… Caring for animals was the very first responsibility bestowed to humankind by God—our very first chance to practice the capacities of love, power, and mercy that accompany the divine image within us. What, then, are the costs of our food system to the animals under our charge?

The vast majority of these 10 billion creatures are bred, housed, fed, transported, and slaughtered in industrial systems that consign them to short lives of crowded, sedentary confinement and deny them many of their most basic creaturely activities and enjoyments. The degree to which we bend every aspect of their existence to our convenience and profit raises the question of whether our dominion over them has become more about playing god than serving God…

Are we loving God, self, and neighbor when we knowingly consume a diet that degrades our health, marginalizes the poor, and causes needless suffering to animals? Is our joy increased by these things?… Are we consistently kind in welcoming dogs and cats into our families while treating cows and pigs with the same creaturely capacities as mere units of consumption?… Are we good shepherds, such that mercy characterizes our dominion over other creatures, all the days of their lives? SOURCE…

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