The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of+
people of faith in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a Peace-full diet
Editor’s Corner Guest Essay: Communicating with Animals
by Dorothy Tucker Samuel
In a wonderfully perceptive book titled The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard devotes a few paragraphs to humanity’s charge [in the Genesis creation story] to have dominion over the animals. He sees that as a glorious commission to rule by communicating with animals as God rules over us by communicating with us. He believes a people in harmony with God would be at peace, and that peace would be communicated to the animal world.
This is certainly in the spirit of Isaiah’s great vision in ch. 1:6:
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”
Willard believes that it was the charge of human beings to live a life of peace that would be “caught” by the animals and “lead” them into peaceful interaction. The vision of human beings charged with exercising dominion over animals in the same way that God exercises dominion over humanity is not new. It has simply been lost or overlooked in the mainstream of both Judaism and Christianity. . . . The Old Testament [sacrificial laws are] filled with exploitation of animals. In a horrible reversal of both Genesis and Isaiah, killing is most explicit in acts of worship. The religious sacrifice of animals seeks out the most peaceful creatures such as doves and lambs.
Willard, addressing himself to the spiritual growth of human beings rather than specifically to the welfare of animals, sees this displacement as a kind of anti-sacrament.
Animal sacrifice in religious ritual signals the effects of our failure to do what
we were meant to do--whatever else its point. The poor animal ‘pays’ with its
[sic] life for humanity’s sin. In the most graphic way imaginable, this portrays
our failure through history to serve God in the appointed fashion. (p. 52) . . . .
Western Christians have moved far from religious sacrifice of animals. In holding up the two goals of conquering the earth and subduing the animals, we now sacrifice animals only to greed, appetite and “sport.” Neither is our neglect of animals based upon any religious need to do no harm. And we have developed a highly irrational fear of any undomesticated animal. Most Christians find it almost impossible to envision a little child leading not just pet dogs and cats but lions and wolves into a peaceable kingdom.
But Willard’s concept of “communicating with” animals is startlingly provocative and distinctly Christian. There is a cat who shares my home, a self-sufficient, independent mixed-breed cat. We communicate daily, sometimes several times a day. She comes on my lap and nuzzles my chin. I rub her ears and head and whisper to her. She purrs, and pets me with her paws. We do this only at her instigation, not my own. In return for this authority, she conforms to certain house rules for the preservation of my environment.
We also share a passion for bird watching, and my windows and porch are hung with bird
feeders. I don’t know just how I first communicated to her that the birds are for watching. Certainly, it was never by scolding or discipline. But watching is what she does, inside and out of doors. She can sit so motionlessly in a window that the goldfinches and kingbirds simply ignore her. She can lie beneath the porch feeder so unobtrusively that the sparrows and jays dart down to snatch seed. She has never even threatened the birds.
I think maybe Isis and I have achieved something of that vision described by Willard. I don’t know whether she is a bird watcher just to please the me she knows from that wordless communication, or whether an appreciation of birds was communicated and changed her own attitude. I know that neither of us subdues those wild creatures, as I do not subdue Isis, and as God does not subdue me.
Many years ago, before I had absorbed the necessary union of love and liberty, we did have a bird in a cage. [And] one summer, the children found an injured bluebird on the lawn and, knowing no other sanctuary, we confined him with the more exotic creature until his wing could heal. They managed very well, those two creatures, accepting each other in a distant but kindly fashion.
When the wounded bird was well, we had a little party of farewell. I carried him in my hand, strangely honored by the touch of the tiny feathered being. We sat quietly in a circle on the lawn, my husband and I and four young children. After the bird’s heart had calmed to a steady, unfrightened rhythm, I opened my hands. He sat. That tiny being now released from a confinement he could only have understood through wordless communication, simply sat in my open palms for five or six minutes. We were mute with awe.
Then he rose in the air, tested himself in widening circles. And while we watched, forlorn now that he was leaving us, he circled back down. Gently, like the touch of God, he lighted on my head. We were barely breathing in our rapture. Then he rose again, circled slowly higher and wider until we lost him among the overhanging trees and the movement of other birds. A little verse which my husband and I had adopted as the talisman of our marriage became for me also a relationship to animals:
May my love
And the other bird? He could not cope with freedom in our midwestern climate, and lived out his life in the cage. But I have never caged another bird. Today, with Isis, I watch the birds in their freedom and sometimes feel a little as I believe God must feel watching me--and you.
--from the Summer, 1991 issue of The Friendly Vegetarian, slightly edited. Used by permission of the editor and Bill Samuel.
Dorothy T. Samuel, 1918-2001, was an exceptionally brave and compassionate vegetarian who came to her conviction in 1947 without outside guidance or support, to be followed by her family. The Samuels later became Friends. She is featured as the Pioneer in PT 49 , and her son Bill Samuel as the Pilgrim.
“May all be fed. May all be healed. May all be loved.” --John Robbins
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
“My mama doesn’t eat animals because they don’t eat her!” --Sam Laws, age 4
“Ignorance is not an incurable disease. But first we must have the courage to confront our own demons . . .”-- Philip Wollen
Dear Peaceable Friends,
I loved your December article, "The Holy Innocents," . . . equating Herod's reign under Rome's thumb with today's America . . . . And bringing in the innocent animals as "imperial victims" is the perfect way to introduce their plight to those who unthinkingly eat their flesh in large quantities today.
Too, I am so glad [Robert Ellwood] wrote a splendid review of Lawrence Anthony's marvelous book. I read it two or three years ago, took extensive notes on it, began a bit of a correspondence with his wife, signed up to receive her newsletters, and followed the sad news of his death and the amazing news of his elephant friends traveling to his house to bid him farewell and pay their respects. The elephants at Anthony's preserve, Thula Thula, are safe, but others are not. How could we take away their land, kidnap them for zoos and circuses, shoot them as "big game"? We act so insane, like mini-versions of tyrant Herod!
The recipes look scrumptious, John Milton's poetry is sublime, and Clement of Alexandria's respect for animals admirable. Reading about Clement brings me back to my days of compiling Creature Quotes.
All in all, a wonderful issue, for which I'm grateful.
Joy and Peace to you and yours,
Friends Susan and Oscar
To see friend Susan’s online book Creature Quotes: Advancing Toward Freedom for All Species, go to Quotes . The kindly canine face is of Oscar, adopted senior boxer.
Veganism Spreading in Israel
Israel, where until recently the term vegan was associated to health-freaks and radicals, is undergoing a momentous change. More and more people are adopting a plant-based diet or choosing to replace some meals with plant-based ones. Much of this change of view toward veganism was catalyzed by Gary Yourofsky’s Youtube lecture about veganism, focusing mostly on the unethical practice of raising animals for food and their unavoidable victimization. To learn more please visit Israel Goes Vegan . Furthermore, a law passed in Israel in 2010 banning the importation of products tested on animals has now gone into effect.
--Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia and Lorena Mucke
Slaughterhell Abuse in Israel
Israeli journalist Ronen Bar captured footage in Israel's largest abattoir of animals repeatedly being stung with electric prods in the eyes, genitals and anus. He spent 19 days working undercover at the slaughterhouse where abuse was widespread. He shares, "These were the exact instructions of the managers in my first day there . . . if a calf doesn't move, shove the electric probe in his arse." See Abuse
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
Vegan TV Show
The Cooking Channel is diving into the world of veganism with their new show on Jan 6 titled "How to Live to 100." In the show, Chef Jason Wrobel cooks up tasty and awesome-looking plant-based dishes that are sure to entice vegans and meat-lovers alike. See Vegan Show
--Contributed by Lorena Mucke
Empowered Women are More Compassionate
An international survey of attitudes toward animals in 3,000 university students shows that females tend to have more concern for animals than males, especially in settings in which women are empowered. See Empowered Women
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
Pioneer: Gina Cerminara, 1914-1984
Born in Milwaukee, Gina Cerminara was of Italian descent, her father an attorney and an agnostic, her mother, she says, “a perpetual student of religions and movements.” For a long time mother and daughter attended the Theosophical Society in Milwaukee; this was Cerminara’s main religious influence in youth. At eleven, she decided she wanted to be a writer. Cerminara was a modern Renaissance woman; among her many interests were reincarnation, spirituality, Theosophy, general semantics, parapsychology, and vegetarianism.
Her degrees, through the Ph.D. in psychology (not an easy achievement in pre-Second Wave days), she earned at the University of Wisconsin, where she later taught. Other college work was done at Northwestern and the University of Rome; other teaching at a Milwaukee high school and the Latin American Institute of New York.
Her studies in the work of Edgar Cayce led her to affirm that reincarnation is a reality; she believed in Cayce’s ability to help people heal themselves by understanding past lives. Her first book, Many Mansions, published in 1950, was about him and his work. It sold 900,000 copies in 11 languages. Cerminara’s supportive analysis of Cayce’s work takes reincarnation from the category of bizarre beliefs, to which it was then largely relegated, to that of a logical ethic, helpful in living and not really in conflict with Christianity. Like all Cerminara’s books, this one is so rich in thought-provoking material that it needs multiple readings. Samples of Cayce’s ideas: “It is a sin to do violence to our own bodies through intemperance or neglect . . . Love does not possess; love is . . . no effort is ever wasted; all striving and compassionate desire enriches the universal pool of resources available to all . . . frustration is the mother of creation . . . knowledge not lived is sin . . . selfishness is the basic sin.”
In another book, Many Lives, Many Loves, 1957, Cerminara discusses a California psychic named Fred Kimball, who apparently could “read” animals and diagnose their physical and emotional problems. She adds her own ideas about the real worth of animals and our responsibilities toward them:
“I can no longer look into the eyes of any living creature without feeling that there sits a being of dignity and worth, who looks back into my eyes with grave, sometimes timorous, but always intelligent awareness.”
“Animals are not only souls evolving in their own right . . . they are also the materials upon which all of our own tendencies are exercised, the tests upon which the Power and Superiority aspects of our own souls are given searching examination . . . they represent an index . . . to the degree of spiritual evolvement of the people who stand in relationship to them.”
Cerminara’s life’s work and thought were gathered in 1973 into Insights for the Age of Aquarius, published in hardback in 1973 and later in paperback. Here Cerminara sets forth the ethical system she felt our species must adopt for survival. Universal vegetarianism was only one change she saw as an ethical and practical necessity. Accepting animals as a part of the ethical system was another essential step she saw on the route to human justice. Basic to her projected world would be justice and safety for children, women, people of all races and all degrees of disability. This is impossible so long as most people feel the sufferings of animals do not matter, so long as the meaning of “others” in the Golden Rule does not extend beyond our own immediate group. And Cerminara would have violence dealt with systematically; any display of cruelty, she said, would be seen as a cry for psychiatric help.
Cerminara lived her theories (“a life of compassion and sanity,” one friend said), helping to found and operate an animal shelter in Virginia Beach, Virginia where she lived for some years. She participated also in human aid programs such as a soup kitchen and in gratis teaching and prison visitations. In one-to-one relationships, too, she made herself a positive and helpful force, one not reserved for close friends. Mere acquaintances have credited her with changing their lives, some even with saving them from suicide.
Cerminara lived much of her life in Santa Barbara, California and died there in 1984.
She has so very much to say to us and to all who follow us that her work should be sought out, studied, and preserved. One editor said that if civilization lasts for another hundred years, it may be because of the wholesome, compassionate ideas Cerminara’s book injected into the muddied and violent streams of twentieth century thinking.
Reprinted by permission from the Spring, 1992 issue of The Friendly Vegetarian. Shortened and edited.
If any one food says "Let food be thy medicine" soups come instantly to mind. Making soup can be as easy as boiling a cup of water and adding a vegetable bouillon cube, or dissolving a few teaspoons of miso paste in an eighth of a cup of hot water and adding more water for a desired consistency . . .
Personally, I start soups by first boiling a full pot of water in a tea kettle. In a soup pot that has a lid I’ll add just a small amount of olive oil, or coconut oil, then some diced onions, celery and other vegetables that are on hand. By this time the kitchen is smelling delicious. Please be encouraged to experiment with soup making, and trust your nose. Always have vegetable bouillon cubes on hand to add for an extra hearty taste.
Basic Split Pea Soup
1 cup green split peas
6 cups filtered water
1 large carrot
1 medium yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1 tablespoon light miso or 1 vegetable bouillon cube
Wash and drain the peas and place in a 3-quart pot with the water (reserving a cup for the bouillon cube or miso paste). Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer. Scrub and cut the carrots into chunks, peel the onion and cut into quarters; add both to the peas and simmer for 1 hour, or until soup can be creamed by mashing the carrot pieces with a fork against the sides of the pot until the green soup is orange-flecked. Dissolve the miso or bouillon cube in reserved hot water and add to the soup and stir.
Variations on this simple nutritious warming soup are endless. Like all the soup recipes this is a basic place to start and asks to have added what is left over from lunch (brown rice, potato, greens) or ingredients that need to be used soon. It’s a matter of using what we have on hand rather than going shopping for ingredients, and trusting that we are provided for.
The photo comes from the website Vegan Again, courtesy of Erica from Richmond.
Tri-dosha or Vedic Carrot and Broccoli Soup
6 cups filtered water
2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 cups broccoli; use florets and peeled stem pieces
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh grated organic orange peel
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
Bring water to a rolling boil. Add carrots, onion, broccoli, ginger, coriander. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Add orange peel; garnish with fresh chives.
Film Review: The Hobbit, Part I
The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. A New Line Cinema/Wingnut film. Produced, directed, and co-written by Peter Jackson. Starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Ian McKellan as Gandalf/Mithrandir, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
The long-awaited first part of the movie version of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s book for children that formed a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, appeared in the US in December. It has many good qualities. The New Zealand settings are beautiful as ever, Martin Freeman as Bilbo is excellently cast, as of course is Ian McKellan who reappears as Gandalf, and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; we have an unexpected treat in the appearance of Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown, a wizard who is known only offstage in the books. We see vivid and appropriate scenes from the back story of the dragon’s catastrophic takeover of the dwarfs’ underground city and treasure, with the destruction of the nearby town of Dale. Another sequence of early scenes, in which Gandalf comes to Bilbo’s well-appointed hole, bringing with him a party of thirteen dwarfs wanting to hire a burglar to help them regain their treasure, may be called amusing, and is more or less faithfully presented.
But once the journey is well underway, this one-time story for children seems almost lost as Peter Jackson panders to young (to most?) viewers’ obsession with violence. The person who loved the book feels overwhelmed, nearly drowned by battle scenes--some not in the book--that go on, and on, and on, until they are not only revolting but tedious. Speaking for myself, I could not again enter a darkened theater where The Hobbit is showing.
But I do look forward to getting the film on DVD, fast-forwarding through the tsunami of violence, and savoring the good stuff. Because there are indeed scenes here worth the savoring. The sequence featuring Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum, for example, is sensitively done, enabling us to not only see but feel something of Bilbo’s compassion in choosing to spare Gollum’s life when he could have guaranteed the saving of his own by killing Gollum--that seemingly small moment on which the whole future of Middle-Earth hung suspended The sequence in which the eagles rescue Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarfs is almost blindingly beautiful, both visually and spiritually, showing the giant birds to be not only among Middle-Earth’s rational beings, but possibly shape-shifters, and possessing power akin to that of angels.
But best of all, surprisingly, is a short sequence not even in the book, one which presents a piece of the back story--the all-important rise of the Necromancer, aka Sauron--that is known to the new reader of the book only as the reason why Gandalf is drawn away from the party for so long. And best of the best is that it enables us to see and feel this ominous portent of future things through the mind and heart of the funny and lovable Radagast the Brown, healer and companion of animals. He is dressed in fur, but these skins must have been taken from animals he found dead; it is impossible to imagine him killing any beast. When we see Radagast with small animals jumping into his pockets, Radagast in deep distress upon seeing so many animals fallen sick, when we see him tenderly cradling and healing one small creature close to death, when we see him of one mind with his furred friends in fleeing from the deadly danger in the forest tower, we know without being told that here we are witnessing the truest relationship of the rational beings of Middle-Earth to the wild / tame beings of field and forest.
Radagast the Wizard, like other powerful and nature-sensitive characters in this world--Beorn the Shapeshifter, the Adam-and-Eve-like Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and the High Elves--knows that animals are friends, not food. Despite Peter Jackson’s poor judgment in so much of this first installment of The Hobbit, we can be deeply grateful to him for the good things, especially this marvelous portrait.
And we can hope to see more of the Earth-Brown Wizard.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Postscript: A disturbing article in the Nov. 19 TIME reports that twenty-seven animals--ponies, sheep, goats, chickens-- died and several were injured nonfatally during the production of The Hobbit as a result of being housed on an unsafe farm full of death traps, from unfenced bluffs to sink holes; that handlers complained to the production company, but action was not taken, so that the deaths continued. The company’s spokesperson claims that after the American Humane Association made recommendations for change, they acted swiftly and moved the animals. Something doesn’t add up. Unless new information emerges clearing the producers, I recommend boycotting the film, as well as holding these animal spirits in the Light.
Poetry: William Blake, 1757-1827
Oliver Goldsmith, 1730-1774
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.
from The Hermit
. . . . "Here to the houseless child of want
My door is open still;
And though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will.
"Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.
“No flocks that range the valley free,
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by the power that pities me,
I learn to pity them.
“But from the mountain’s grassy side,
A guiltless feast I bring,
A script with herbs and fruit supplied,
And water from the spring. . . . “
The painting of the hermit and his musician guest is by Morris von Schwind, 1804-1871.
Issue copyright © 2013 by VegetarianFriends
The Peaceable Table is a project of Quaker Animal Kinship / Animal Kinship Committee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Pasadena, California. It is intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 1982 and 1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its treasures, we publish articles for toe-in-the-water vegetarians as well as long-term ones.
We manage on the traditional shoestring budget, with most funds for domain name, server, and advertisements in other periodicals coming out of our own pockets; so we welcome donations either by PayPal or check. Make checks out to Quaker Animal Kinship, and send to Norma Pratt, Treasurer, 395 E. Palm St., Altadena, CA 91001.
This journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the March-April issue will be February 26.. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or 14 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy is available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked, if their funds permit, to donate $12 (USD) per year.
Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia and Robert Ellwood
NewsNotes Reporters: Lorena Mucke, Marian Hussenbux
Recipe Creatrix: Angie Cordeiro
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood