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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Repositioning Slaughter

A friend recently passed along this article about a forthcoming Nepalese festival involving mass animal sacrifice (every five years, for a goddess, etc.) My friend, who is vegetarian with vegan leanings, was of the opinion that this is an outrage. I see his point, and having recently nursed a sick kitty back to health, I'm more in touch than usual with the importance of life, including animal life, but...

I'm a meat-muncher, and a Unitarianish type who is leery of changing others' faith practices. If you're worshiping a Goddess of Power, doesn't it make sense to spill a lot of blood? And they eat the meat, so it's not going to waste...

I believe in the value of all life, but not in the sanctity of any life. Life is an accidental byproduct of impersonal cosmic forces (a splendid byproduct, but still...) and so the destruction of it isn't inherently wrong.

And yet. I'm generally against killing humans, I don't believe humans are meaningfully more important than other animals, I'm against cruelty and confinement, and animal sacrifice is as stoopid as any religious practice could be. I'm still trying to find a balance between the part of myself that is drawn to Vegan values and the part that intends to keep eating animal flesh. This festival is a troublesome issue for me precisely because I don't know quite where I stand or why I stand there.

Literalistic religion is one cause of this problem. A symbolic sacrifice can be just as powerful as actual animal slaughter; that's part of what makes The Crucifixion resonate so strongly with so many people. Animal rights activists in Nepal are trying to persuade folks to sacrifice plants instead, but plants don't make the noises and smells of animal sacrifice and so may be a less pleasing odor in The Divine's nostrils... but sometimes The Divine needs to tighten Her belt, just like the rest of us.

Another possible compromise... abortion sacrifices. They should have doctors at the festival, ready and willing to perform abortions for all pregnant comers. That's almost like a human sacrifice, right? Powerful juju. And they got overpopulation issues around that region, right? I think I've just solved this problem. Another controversy ended.

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