Readers write

July 25, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 15

A healthy alternative to no meat or factory-farm meat

Re: “What would Jesus eat?” June 11, page 30.

I read this article with great interest and agree with John Borger that factory farming is not ideal, but he makes it sound like the only options we have are to eat factory-farm meat or not eat any meat at all.

There are still small family farms like my Roesacres Organic Farm that do our best to allow our animals to live in conditions where they can do what they were created to do. My cattle spend most summer days outside having access to fresh pasture. My chickens are also allowed outside to eat grass and scratch around in the dirt.

God created cattle to eat the things that people don’t. Unlike me, cows can take grass and turn it into milk and meat for us to eat, and at the same time fertilize the ground so more grass grows. It’s a pretty efficient system.

Borger also makes the comment that meat is the cause of many diseases. In reality, meat has very little to do with these diseases. We live in a culture where fat-free is thought to be healthy. While many people try to cut out the fats in their diets, our society is only getting heavier. The main problem is actually the carbohydrates.

Meat can be, and should be, part of a healthy diet. While fruits and vegetables should make up at least half of what we eat, meat raised in a healthy way can also be beneficial to our health. The meat and eggs in my diet do not have a negative effect on my health; in fact, they only make me healthier

There are many other farms like mine that are doing their best to raise healthy animals to produce healthy food for us all to eat. Meat does not need to be cut out of our diets, but we do need to know where it comes from and how it was raised.

Scott Roes, Milverton, Ont.

Magazine ‘contributes significantly’ to spiritual formation

The “Discernment front and centre” editorial, June 25, page 2.

I’m not convinced that “agreeing to disagree” is always “a sign of spiritual health,” or that it’s what the Bible advocates. “Agreeing to disagree” can too easily be an excuse for not engaging in serious discernment of what the Spirit is saying to us.

Clearly, unity is important in the Acts 15 discussion and in Paul’s responding to issues in the various Christian communities. However, designating unity as our highest priority over anything can leave us hostage to the notion that any personally held feeling or conviction is therefore valid and needs to be respected and accepted.

Even in the Acts 15 discernment process, what was seen as “good to the Holy Spirit and to us” was to identify certain behaviour—idolatry, sexual immorality and consuming blood—as behaviour inappropriate for those in the body of Christ. And, yes, as you say, some of these issues do “sound familiar to our discussions today.”

So let us give a measure of value to our unity, but let us also take our discernment process seriously before too quickly throwing in the towel and simply “agreeing to disagree.”

Jim Brown, Wellesley, Ont.

Listen to the prophetic young voices

Thank you so much for beginning the Young Voices section in Canadian Mennonite. It is refreshing to hear the opinions of the younger generation.

I especially appreciated the prophetic voice of Daniel Eggert (“Young adults pursue walk with God in other Christian traditions,” May 28, page 35) when he said, “I think right now the [Mennonite church] has to make a decision on whether it wants to clothe the naked and feed the poor, or whether it wants to be a community of followers of Christ.”

He eloquently states what I have felt for some time: “By focusing continually on social justice and motivating people to take action in that regard, it’s a little bit like harvesting all the crops and not re-planting the seeds—like owning a stock and taking all the dividends and never reinvesting. We can focus on the outcomes of faith . . . but if we don’t continue to focus on faith and growing the number of believers, then it minimizes the future fruits.”

In how many Mennonite congregations do we already see the results of what Eggert is talking about? There are many aging congregations where younger people haven’t been schoolled and mentored in their faith, and therefore find the church irrelevant to their social justice and action. How soon will the vision for social justice disappear, too, because the roots of faith haven’t been nourished?

Yes, I believe the Mennonite church does face an important decision, and we need to go back further than our Anabaptist heritage to focus on inspiring people in their faith to be followers of Christ. We had better listen to those prophetic young voices.

Ruth Smith Meyer, Ailsa Craig, Ont.

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I would like to congratulate Scott and his like for treating his fellow creatures considerably better than what they experience on factory farms. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, I could not cover every exception to the rule in my article. However, I am sure that even Scott realizes that his operation is the exception rather than the rule. There will always be farmers (my grandfather was one) who always have the consideration of their animals first and foremost. I will still disagree with Scott that it is necessary for humans to eat meat (except of course, in very limited circumstances), but I would like to speak about what we agree on rather than what we don't. If Scott butchers his own meat, rather than sending it to be processed in a commercial slaughterhouse, (where I was convinced that I could not be a part of this cruelty), than I would really have no issue with his points. Although,I have no plans to resume eating any animal products, I wouldn't have a big problem with people like Scott who do. Unfortunately, the percentage of animal products, like meat, milk, and eggs that come from producers like Scott, is minimal at best. If people do choose to eat meat, they should try to ensure that it comes from people like Scott Roes.

John Borger

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