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Why are there carnivores?


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#41 Anthony

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 05:18 PM

I also have a lot of sympathy with the arguments put forward by Andreas, and recently by Matthew. I have spent several longish periods as a vegetarian, for these and other reasons, though I seem to lack the strength of mind to make it permanent.

Nonetheless I don't see any traditional basis for imposing vegetarianism on, or expecting it of, all Orthodox Christians.

#42 Nina

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 08:37 PM

Q - Why are there carnivores?

A - Because the T. rex went extinct.

E - If there were still T. rexs, there would be no carnivores left alive. They would devour everything (humans included) and then each other. The last (and the fittest) one would have died of hunger. Let's be grateful for the benign carnivores that surround us today.

P.S "E" stands for 'explanation'.

#43 Kusanagi

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 09:14 PM

Forasmuch as the divine apostle said that everything in the old law is a foreshadowing of what was to come and be made known [Hebrews 10:1], the most sacred Gregory the Theologian says that those three cities built by the people of Israel in Egypt, Pitho, Ramessy and On [Exodus 1:11], foreshadowed for
us the three principle passions, I mean: love of pleasure, love of money and vainglory.

It was the first of these that the Israelites carried off with them when they left Egypt, as if it were a kind of reward for their bondage. Because of the abundance of it, however, they were especially tempted by it and kept attempting to return to Egypt, as is recorded in the second and fourth books of Moses, which are called Exodus and Numbers. There it says the entire assembly of the sons of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron saying, “Oh, if we had only died stricken by the Lord ni the land of Egypt when we sat by the flesh pots!” [Exodus 16:3]. Likewise, “and the children of Israel sat down and wept saying, ‘Who will feed us meat? For now our soul is consumed and there is nothing before our eyes but manna alone!’ And Moses said ‘Where do I have meat to give to all these people, for they weep against me, saying, “Give us meat so we can eat”?’ And God commanded Moses to say to them, ‘Purify yourselves in the morning and you will eat meat, for you have wept before the Lord saying, “Who will feed us meat, for we were well off in Egypt?” The Lord will give you meat to eat until it comes out of your nostrils, and it will be an abomination for you.’” [Numbers 11:4-20].

This exodus of the ancients from Egypt is taken by the fathers with divine vision as a model of monastics leaving the world and denying it; the nourishment or food prepared by them from the seeds and fruits of the earth can serve as the image and perfect likeness of the manna from heaven. Just as manna—and not meat—was sent by God from on high, so also in the beginning it was the seeds of the earth and fruit of the trees that were given for food by God Himself [Genesis 1:29], and not meat, which the ancients lusted after while disdaining the heavenly manna, and they fell in the wilderness. For it is said, “When the meat was still in their teeth, the Lord was greatly angered against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague, and the name of that place was called Graves of Lust, because it was there that they buried the people who had become lustful” {Numbers 11:33-34]

Basil the Great asks:
Whose bones fell in the desert? Was it not the bones of those who sought to eat meat? For as long as these people had been satisfied with manna, they vanquished Egypt and passed though the midst of the sea, but when they remembered meat and the fleshpots, they did not see the promised land.

Here then, having discovered the origin and motive for all those who are battling against the good tradition of our divinely inspired fathers, that they who voluntarily give the monastic vow are to abstain from meat, we set forth this alone in reply to them. If certain monks in antiquity partook of meat, this was considered by God as something equivalent to the bloody sacrifices of the old law. “For it is clear that from the beginning, God did not want to grant them such sacrifices, but condescending to their weakness and seeing them in a frenzy and stricken with desire for sacrifices, He permitted it,” says the divine Chrysostom.

The same applies to the eating of meat. From the beginning this was not the will of God for monks, so it must be a condescension, although it was quite inappropriate. For this reason it was later set aside by the God-bearing fathers, which will be sufficiently and truly demonstrated below.

Insofar as the monastic vow seeks for our ancient state and passionlessness and not the obvious condescension shown to Noah [Genesis 9:3], we must consequently permit ourselves the food given by God to Adam in Paradise and not to Noah after the flood. Now this is the first witness testifying to a monk’s fear of God, his love and reverence.

QUESTION: Where did monks receive the custom of not eating meat, which is clearly in contradiction to the divine apostle Paul who told Timothy, “In the last times some will fall away from the faith through hearkening to the deceiving spirits and teachings of demons, liars in their hypocrisy, burned up by their conscience, commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be eaten by the faithful and those who know the truth” [1 Timothy 4:1-3]?

REPLY: Although heretics called Manicheans, Encratites, Eustathians, Marcionites, Saturninans and Priscillianites claimed that the flesh of all animals, as well as wine and marriage, are impure, there is no need for us now to harbour any doubt about such questions, because through the grace of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church, while cursing the heretical blasphemy concerning foods, holds abstinence in esteem. We must pay attention to how the devil, when he saw that all these weapons of his had become so completely ineffective, reverted to his original schemes and warefare through which he evicted teh first-created man from paradise and brought the condemnation of death down upon him.

And concerning these things the divine Paul not only with pen and ink but also with tears wrote to the Philippians saying, “Many,” he says, “are walking about, of whom I have spoken to you many times, and now I tell you again with tears: enemies of the cross of Christ, whose god is the belly and glory in their shame, who are earthly minded” and so on [Philippians 3:18-19].

Commenting on this, the divine Chrysostom says:
Nothing is so useless and alien for a Christian as to look for entertainment and relaxation. Your master was crucified and you are sating yourself? DO bnot merely carry your cross, but also bear the suffering of the cross. For everyone who is a friend of satiety and relaxation in this life is an enemy of the cross of Christ. Paul weeps for those that others laugh about, whose god, he says, is the belly. This is their god because they say, “Let us eat and drink!” Do you see how evil satiety is? Some people’s god is in their shame. Now if these things were thus spoken about them, that is the Jews, what about those present here; will they escape this rebuke and no one be found guilty of this? Is there no one here whose god is the belly and whose glory is in shame? I desire and I desire very strongly that none of these things be applicable to us and to find no one guilty of what we have just mentioned. But I am fearful that this applies to us even more now than it did then to those for whom it was spoken. For when a person spends his entire life for his belly in drinking and eating, is it not proper to say about him that his god is in his belly and his glory in shame?

For this reason we monks must be especially flee from such excessive audacity and fearlessness before God. The whole generation of Latins and Lutherans care little about such things, while searching high and low both in the Scriptures and in history with a spirit insistent on having its own way, collecting quotations and precedents for eating meat all the time. They have become like hornets and wasps that are unable to gather honey from the flowers of the field or the fruits of the orchards or garden vegetables, but feed themselves on the carcasses of dead beats, or to speak even more truly, they are like the maggots that are born of excrement and feed on excrement. Just as bees gather honey from flowers, each of us who considers such peoples’ ways to be an abomination must become like bees and gather from the Holy Scriptures and the lives of the holy monastic fathers words flowing with honey, that can extinguish the lust of the pleasure-loving demon and submit us to obedience to Christ and the tradition of our Holy Fathers who absolutely denied the eating of meat to monks.

QUESTION: Since God allowed the righteous Noah to eat meat after the flood, for He said, “Every beast will be food for you, like the green herbs; I have given them all to you” [Genesis 9:3], why is it a sin or a virtue for monks to eat or not eat meat?

REPLY: Up to the time of the flood, the general rule for all men given by God to Adam in Paradise was not to eat meat. “Lo, I have given you,” said God, “every seed bearing plant that scatters its seed, and every tree that has fruit bearing seed, this will be food for you and for all the beasts of the earth and for all the birds of the sky and for every creeping things that creeps on the earth and that has a living soul” {Genesis 1:29-30]. But eating meat after the flood is viewed far more as something permitted, condescension to our incontinence, rather than a law of God. Basil the Great says:

After the flood God permitted Noah and all men after him to eat meat, not because this was necessary for our nature, but rather as condescension to our weakness. For the Lord knew the mercilessness of men, and so he permitted them such pleasures. And due to this permission, the other animals also started to eat fearlessly, rising up one against the other. It is possible even now for those who want to do so to imitate the life that existed in Paradise by avoiding the pleasure of eating many different kinds of food and directing themselves towards that life by using as food the fruits and seeds that come from up in the trees. We reject anything unnecessary as being excess, but we do not consider them abominable for the sake of the Creator. Yet neither do we hold them permissible, because of our flesh’s inclination to passion.

#44 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 09:31 PM

Sigfrid,

I'm not sure in your post here what is you and what is St Basil so it is difficult to respond.

As for St Basil's words - as you explicitly remark in your 'title', these are words about the monastic life, which is a different path than that of the laity. Thus while those words are important - they still do not argue for or against the practice of vegetarianism.

You still have not given any support for your claim that the giving of animals to mankind as food is somehow a condescension to our weakness.

Fr David

#45 Nina

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 11:22 PM

As for St Basil's words - as you explicitly remark in your 'title', these are words about the monastic life, which is a different path than that of the laity.
Fr David


Yes, and whoever from laity ranks can simulate the monastic example in this regard (and other), excellent!

However there are different practices of ascesis even in monastic ranks. There was an elder (sorry I do not remember who) who did not dare interrupt life be that of an animal, or plant. Because plants are living beings also. He had a dried up fish skeleton hanging at the door of his cell, and boiled to eat it - this was his feast, because when he fasted he would have only water and bread. After eating the broth from the skeleton he would hang the skeleton at the door for next use and ask forgiveness from God for indulging.

Also as we all know many Holy Fathers tell us that "it is better to eat meat, than to "eat" the flesh of our neighbor by slander, judging etc." At least from what the Fathers say that I know of, I have never read that one can not enter Heaven because of meat consumption - the quantity and manner of preparation is important, but not the fact that one eats meat. And out of 10 verses from the Holy Fathers, 9 will, in diverse ways, mention the love for our neighbor.

It is not that I am a big meat eater. Actually since the fasting of Panaghia finished I have not had any meat (only fish on the day of Panaghia). This does not mean I am a vegetarian, because tomorrow I plan to have meat. Also once I saw a chicken being slaughtered and I fainted so now I run away faster than a bullet if there is such thing in front of me in reality, or TV, or reality TV. So after establishing that I have no interest in protecting carnivores (because I can live without meat if I choose to), I wanted to emphasize that what Fathers say speaks louder than all our personal sensitivities. How can I be a vegetarian and think that I am respecting life when there are so many homeless sleeping on the sidewalks with flies standing on their faces??? Isn't that life? Also aren't our neighbors flesh when we hurt them with words, behavior etc?

#46 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 12:20 PM

I would not, of course, say that eating meat is canonically unsound - it must remain a matter of personal choice. Equally, for the reasons Matthew has most helpfully articulated, it is not wrong to abstain from eating meat. It appears there are benefits from not eating meat and no advantages in eating meat. (It is said, I believe, that environmentally, meat production is wasteful of space.) I only feel that those who eat meat might reflect on what is involved in the provision of meat. There is (I'm sure, deliberately) no linkage between that well-packaged prepared meat meal in the supermarket and its origins, and not much between between well-presented slices of ham at the deli counter and the pig it came from. But in my mind, I make the linkage back to the animal and what has happened to it, and that linkage makes me feel that the violence involved to God's creaures does not justify having something I can easily do without, and which abstention may well confer some benefit. (And being as weak and sinful as I am, I need every benefit I can find.)

#47 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 02:28 PM

I only feel that those who eat meat might reflect on what is involved in the provision of meat. There is (I'm sure, deliberately) no linkage between that well-packaged prepared meat meal in the supermarket and its origins, and not much between between well-presented slices of ham at the deli counter and the pig it came from. But in my mind, I make the linkage back to the animal and what has happened to it, and that linkage makes me feel that the violence involved to God's creaures does not justify having something I can easily do without, and which abstention may well confer some benefit.



Although I don't think this changes the basic point of this thread I think there is something important in what is said above.

First off when the fasting rules were developed meat was not remotely as available as nowadays. I would think that on many non-fast days most Orthodox villagers would have had nowhere near the amount of meat available as we have. There must have been some seasons when a non-fast day would have meant more in the way of consuming dairy products than meat.

Secondly since in those days most Orthodox lived so close to the animal they would have to consume- they would have raised it, fed it and then slaughtered it or at least prepared it- there would have been no doubt about what eating meat involved.

Of course though nowadays the route from animal to our plate is very different what with industrial farms & packing. In many cases food as sold in stores purposely presents what is most appealing to the senses.

It's possible though that rather than this presenting us with an either/or situation of meat/no meat this may instead affect our whole sense of diet. In other words fasting (which also includes what we do eat, not just what we don't eat) can be a way of showing our responsibility for the larger world in which we live.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#48 Eric Waltemate D.C., L.Ac

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 03:18 PM

Anyone been to an abattoir?



We get our meat from a Pakistani butcher. No antibiotics, no hormones, and killed humanely according to (I'm assuming) Muslim law.

#49 Father David Moser

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 03:38 PM

I would not, of course, say that eating meat is canonically unsound - it must remain a matter of personal choice. Equally, for the reasons Matthew has most helpfully articulated, it is not wrong to abstain from eating meat.


And this is exactly the point that I wish to focus upon. I think that those who choose to embark upon a vegetarian lifestyle will gain benefit from doing so. There are indeed certain compassionate arguments to be made about abstaining from meat (which have been eloquently made already here). However I am equally opposed to those who would try to depict the consumption of meat as somehow sinful or a spiritually inferior or deficient practice. While a strong argument could be made for the benefits of voluntary abstinence from meat, there is no good argument to mandate the general abstinence from meat on spiritual grounds - it just isn't there (or at least I have not yet seen it).

Also I agree with the observation that we are too disconnected from the production of the food that we consume. But that is not limited to slaughterhouses (let's use the more common word - or is that a new world/old world thing?) Look at how the animals destined for slaughter are raised and fed. They are tormented from day one. And then lets look at how it is that our fruits and vegetables are produced. This too is an unnatural process filled with chemical (fertilizers, pesticides, weedkillers, etc) baths, radiation exposure and forced growing cycles. Is this not a form of violence against the earth as well? We would all do well to get closer to the sources of our food.

An aside here. I once had parishioners who lived "off the land" very simply, raising most of their own food. When I would go to visit the barnyard animals were in abundance and as I was shown around I would see the flock of geese - one named "Thanksgiving dinner" another named "Christmas dinner" and the goats named "Stew" and "Roast" and so on. These people (a very pious and compassionate family) were very aware of where the food they ate came from and were nevertheless "carnivores".

Fr David Moser

#50 Eric Waltemate D.C., L.Ac

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 04:03 PM

A question for those more learned than I:

From what I was told, Fasting in the Earliest days of the Church meant eating nothing at all, or The Black Fast. This practice was co-opted and modified by Mohammad and can still be seen in the period of fasting called Ramadan.

The monks who could afford to do this after decades of training were the Spiritual Warriors who were looked up to and venerated. Those who could not needed some sort of discipline so the rules about not eating meat, dairy, oil, wine, etc... were imposed.

Now during the Iconoclast period the secular clergy (married priests of the cities) were Iconoclasts and the Iconodules were the monastics (a generalization of course.) The Iconodules were victorious and people wanted to copy what they did so the rules about abstaining from various foods were introduced.

This was not across the board for everyone or for every region. In the West, St. Benedict's Rule was for abstention from 4 legged animals except for the sick or weak. In Northern Europe, the rule did not forbid dairy or fish as a protein source was needed. In the Mediterranean, where there is an abundance of invertebrate protein, these creatures were allowed. I've even heard that when the Russian missionaries came to Alaska, meat was not forbidden to the Aleutians as there really was/is no other food available.

So am I correct in assuming that these are very general guidelines that are fast and fluid? I also assume that since there are many different opinions about this that this is a man made rule about when and what one is allowed to eat. Is this correct?

#51 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 06:17 PM

Just to clarify - I do not see abstention from meat as fasting in the sense we use that word in the Church. Secondly, I know I cannot say that those lay people who eat meat are somehow deficient in their spiritual lives. But, of course, having a view on any issue such as this does carry with it a conviction which one would like more people to share. Is there an argument generally to mandate abstinence from meat? It depends how you receive the arguments for abstention. I put the question: what good does eating meat do for us as Orthodox Christians? If the answer is 'none', why do it knowing what it involves?

#52 Paul Cowan

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 07:10 PM

I put the question: what good does eating meat do for us as Orthodox Christians? If the answer is 'none', why do it knowing what it involves?



To go to the other extreme, since Soy beans can now sustain life in virtually every form from soy milk to soy burgers to automotive fuel, why eat other vegetables knowing their life span as Fr. David pointed out? We can just stick to one type of bean for the planet and devote all our growing space to it. It is more rugged and more able to be produced in almost every climate and supplies our dietetic needs.

We have a small vegetable garden in the back yard. We eat what ripens. I also know how many chemicals I have to put on just on this 10X20 piece of ground to keep the bugs off. They usually win anyway. If it were not against our subdivision rules, I would also be shooting and eating the neighborhood squirrels.

I am not trying to be too sarcastic with this, (a little yes) but each side has its extremes and each side can find common ground. Society is not going to change whether OC participate in it or not. I don't watch TV any more, but I know they still produce bad things on it.

I know proper land management. I also know the law of natural selection. If the predators do not kill off the other animals, there will not be balance. If humans do not particiapte in the control of animal growth we will have deer and racoons and all types of wildlife or domestic life running our streets. As we expand into rural country, the animals have no place to go but deeper in to the shrinking woods. When they are all gone they are forced to inhabit what we have overtaken.

I don't eat steak every night. I sometimes don't eat meat when I am allowed. I understand the slaughter tactics used in big slaughter houses, they kinda resemble what the priests did at the Jewish temples every year. Blood flowed down the steps from the altar area.

Since it is not canon, it comes down to a choice to partake or not to partake. How does it make you feel? Follow your conscience and God will honor your conscience.

#53 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 07:20 PM

If the answer is 'none', why do it knowing what it involves?


This could be said about a great many things. TV, non-Orthodox music, sports in general, and on and on. Why don't all Orthodox Christians simply find the nearest cave to work out their salvation?

And the answer isn't "none". It provides sustenance. In some places (like northern Alaska) crops don't grow so well, much of their meat is eaten raw because they don't get the nutrients they need any other way. For many it is part of our culture, the family table, treasured recípés handed down the generations, and part of God's bounty.

Animal sacrifice, commanded by God, involved the killing, splitting, and roasting of animals. God commanded that lambs be KILLED to mark the doors of the Jews. Turtle doves were sacrificed when Christ was presented at the Temple. Were the people who obeyed the commandments of God evil for killing things that have breath because God told them to?

If you want to be vegan, that is well and good. You have said that you are, you have said why you are. Understood. Why do you continue to demand that others justify their decision? Some of us enjoy non-Orthodox music. Some of us enjoy sports. Some of us even find something occasionally worthwhile on television. Each one answers to his Master.

You asked the question. This is my answer, such as it is

Herman the omnivore

#54 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 07:54 PM

Dear Paul and Herman,

I have said that it is a matter of personal choice. I don't demand anything of anyone. I sought only to put forward (with some force, I suppose) a view with arguments in support. Indeed, one could ask the question I posed about many things (flying is topical), but not many of them involve the treatment of higher life forms we know meat production involves. Also, account must, of course, be taken of any particular situation such as that in Alaska. I had tried to avoid going to extremes and the suggestion that I was going to extremes does not, I think, really bear up, if I may say so.

Is it not a case of doing what we can according to our (informed) consciences? Just to show that I am not following a line of advocacy, as it were, I will give you ammunition to shoot at me. I'm surprised no one asked if I have leather shoes, and I confess I do have. I can see how that makes me look inconsistent at least and hypocritical at worst, and torpedoes all I have said. I regret having leather shoes but they are somewhat more necessary to me than eating meat, and Lydia does not suggest getting through a Russian winter without a fur coat (same in Canada, I suppose): local situations . . . As in so many things, we try to do what we can, knowing that our efforts cannot be complete.

You do raise a interesting point - should the practical ways in which we Orthodox Christians lead our lives be distinguishable from those of others? I'm not saying one way or the other. But it does occur to me that my lifestyle is no different - no better - than my neighbours', and perhaps worse environmentally. The monastery here at Essex is scrupulous about recycling, avoidance of waste, self-provision, and so forth.

#55 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 08:56 AM

Just some of my random thoughts on this subject.

"Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which comes from the mouth of God.”

"Give us this day our daily bread"

""He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthen man's heart." (Psalm 103:14-15, LXX [the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, used by the Church]. Known as the Poem of Creation, Psalm 103 is sung at Vespers.) "

Our monks and nuns eat no meat at all of course.

We do - twice a week. The strange thing for me is that lately when I have been preparing the meat I can't help thinking that it is the flesh of something that was alive, something that had intelligence.

There are so many different aspects of this question to consider.


The ecological aspect :

" One-Quarter Pound Hamburger: Raising animals for meat has its consequences. It leads to rain forest destruction, global heat rising, water pollution, water scarcity, desertification, misuse of energy resources and world hunger. The use of land,water, energy and human effort to produce meat is not an efficient way to use the Earth?s resources.

Since 1960, some 25% of Central America?s rain forests have been burned and cleared to create pasture for beef cattle. It has been estimated that every four ounce hamburger made from rain forest beef destroys 55 square feet of tropical rain forest. In addition, raising cattle contributes significantly to the production of three gases which cause global warming; is a leading cause of water pollution and requires a staggering 2464 gallons of water for the production of each pound of beef. It only takes 29 gallons of water
to produce a pound of tomatoes .

Eliminating the South and Central American rain forests affects migratory bird populations by destroying habitats and homes.

In a few years, the cleared land is overgrazed and abandoned. Often, vegetation does not return for years. New forests may not return for decades. Local people suffer, because land they need to grow food crops is being used to grow beef for fast foods."

#56 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 01:27 PM

Eric Waltemate wrote:


So am I correct in assuming that these are very general guidelines that are fast and fluid? I also assume that since there are many different opinions about this that this is a man made rule about when and what one is allowed to eat. Is this correct?


I wouldn't say "fast & fluid". We all share in either of two basic fasting regimes: that for the laity and then a more strict one for monastics (no meat; in many monasteries fasting on Monday the day of the Angels). Most people who try to fast within Orthodoxy are aware that they share in a way of fasting, a 'rule of fasting', that is larger than themselves.

But within these two ways there are considerable variations according to circumstances. This in fact is part & parcel of the larger fasting rule since the fast was made for man and not man for the fast.

An example- in the monastery I lived in during the 1980s we followed the fast for monastics according to the Typikon. This was something new for North America since fasting to be honest about it had fallen by the wayside even in some monasteries & among the clergy & hierarchy not to mention the laity. However taking up fasting was part of the changes occurring in the late 1980s- early 1990s.

I remember though attending a clergy conference a number of years later. This is once I had become part of a jurisdiction where fasting was much more prevalent. I was surprised then to see at this clergy conference in the middle of the Fast of Sts Peter & Paul that fish was served on a technically non-fish day.

All of the clergy from the diocese were present- even the head of our church who happened to be the ruling bishop of our diocese. I was so used to the fasting regime from my time in the monastery I asked one of the senior priests at the conference why they ate fish. To which he responded that this was the rule they followed.

In any case I could see this wasn't a case of 'slacking off'. And in time from being around the Russian people in my own parish I began to learn that the eating of fish during certain of the lighter fasts is acceptable at certain times within the Russian church (especially the Sts Peter & Paul fast and the Nativity Fast). As it turns out this practice goes back so far in Russia history, I take it that it must have had something to do with the availability of food at certain times of the year.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#57 Owen Jones

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 03:39 PM

It seems to me that there is a problem of textual literalism here. WE can endlessly parse a text for its historical/literal meaning, but the more important point I think is what is the spiritual point? Everyone experiences the world as lacking, as missing something, as not as it ought to be, despite the pop spirituality that says that every moment is just as it ought to be. That experience leads us to believe with certainty that there is an unfallen realm in which all nature exists in a state of pure harmony, and that this is the way that God intended things. Now, we have two alternatives, either God screwed up in the creation of things, or we -- our attitudes and behaviors -- have somehow caused a fundamental distortion in nature. The former position leads to gnosticism, which is an attempt to bring about a pure state of nature through some sort of intellectual system or idea, or political and social action, or through arriving at some type of emotionally ecstatic state in which the world ceases to exist in our minds. The latter position is that we must be repentant, and constantly on guard against our own evil thoughts. AS Christ teaches, getting hung up on the rules of fasting puts the cart before the horse.

Which brings me to another point. Someone recently, maybe on another thread, was equating Christianity with the immortality of the soul. But this cannot possibly be, since people have believed in the immortality of the soul in all different cultural and religious contexts. What Christianity teaches is the glorification of the body. IT is the resurrection of the glorified body that is the key Christian teaching, and the glorification of the body is an iconic representation of the glorification of fallen, corrupt nature. This glorification is, shall we say, a process that begins now, so that our passage (diabasis) or Exodus from this world to the next is not such a radical bridge as we would have thought or believed. So Christ is our Exodus from this world to the next, as we are glorified as He was glorified. This is something that true saints can actually see happening. It is usually expressed in terms of the uncreated light of Mt. Tabor. But we don't seek the light for its sake, just as we would not recite the Jesus prayer a million times, just so that we can see the light. Just so that we don't fast in order to glorify ourselves.

#58 Anthony

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 08:25 PM

One small question: don't Orthodox monks (or at least some of them) eat meat once a year, at Easter?

#59 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 08:32 PM

decided not to post

#60 Anthony

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 08:38 PM

I really meant meat as in animal flesh (land animals). I actually assumed it was lamb in this case. I may well be completely wrong about the whole thing, of course.

Fish is another interesting question, as I believe it forms a fairly regular part of the diet on Mt Athos.




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