New Church of Montgomery, Presented via zoom and Google Slides
Feb 7, 2021
“All God’s Critters”
11:00 am, Lay-led Service, by Maggie Panyko
Oh Dearest Lord, may the food we eat nourish us and treat the earth kindly. May its nutrients transform into food for thought. May every bite we take bring us joy, and reflect our gratefulness to the earth and its caretakers.
Lighting of the Community Candles
- We light the first candle to honor the good and truth to be found in all spiritual traditions.
- We light the second candle to honor the Earth and all of life as the creation of the Divine, God of us all.
- We light the third candle to honor and support the variety of our individual paths which together, make our one spiritual community
- We light the fourth candle to honor and provide an open and safe place for all who seek greater understanding and a life of deepening spirituality.
Inherent to a vegetarian diet is usually a conscious decision about avoiding meat and animal products for the purpose of compassion for animals and creating a more sustainable system of raising food which is also kind to the earth.
The purpose of today’s lesson is to teach a little about some of the history of the Swedenborgian church as it relates to vegetarianism and Christianity.
Genesis 1:29, New Living Translation
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
Job: 12, 7-10
But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being
Matthew 14, 13-17
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Secrets of Heaven, 1002 Swedenborg
 The reason blood is called soul and symbolizes the holiness of charity, and the reason it represented the holiness of love in the Jewish religion, is that it constitutes the life of the body. Since blood constitutes the life of the body, it is the body’s outermost soul, so that we can call it the physical soul, or the vehicle of our physical life. And since external objects represented inner attributes in the representative churches, blood represented the soul, or heavenly life. The symbolism of not eating as not mingling now follows. 1002 Regarded in itself, eating meat is a profane custom, since people of the very earliest times never ate the flesh of any animal or bird but only grains (particularly wheat bread), fruit, vegetables, different kinds of milk, and milk products (such as butter). Butchering living creatures and eating the flesh was heinous, in their eyes, and characteristic of wild beasts. It was only on account of the menial labor and the functions the animals performed for them that they captured any. This can be seen from Genesis 1:29, 30. But when time passed and people turned as savage as wild animals and in fact more savage, for the first time they started to butcher animals and eat the meat. In view of the fact that people were like this, practice was also tolerated, as it still is today. To the extent that people follow it in good conscience, it is permissible, because everything we consider true and consequently allowable forms our conscience. For this reason, no one these days is ever condemned for eating meat. 1003 This now shows that not eating flesh in its soul, [not eating] blood means not mingling profane things with holy. Eating blood with flesh never mingles profane things with holy, as the Lord also taught explicitly in Matthew: It is not what goes into the mouth that renders a person unclean but what comes out of the mouth; this renders a person unclean, since the things that come out of the mouth come out of the heart. (Matthew 15:11, 17, 18, 19, 20)
From Swedenborg.org: Jonathan Rose explains that Swedenborg mentions the eating of meat several times in his writings, but he doesn’t appear to come down on one side or the other. In one passage, he seems to imply that eating meat is savage (Secrets of Heaven §1002), and this has influenced a number of Swedenborgians to become vegetarian. In another passage (Divine Love and Wisdom §331), though, Swedenborg refers to eating meat as a normal practice, with no reference to his earlier remarks.
What about Swedenborg himself? According to the anecdotes left behind by those who knew him, Swedenborg was primarily a vegetarian who occasionally ate fish, but he would only eat red meat if he was offered it as a guest in someone’s house or at some type of public function.
-Other accounts by his maid say he ate eel and pigeon pie – wikipedia, Sigstedt, C. The Swedenborg Epic: The life and works of Emanuel Swedenborg Bookman Associates, 1952, p. 476, # 642).
1745 – Swedenborg begins to have visions. His first: Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character. Suddenly, he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling him: “Do not eat too much!”. – ” Small Theological Works and Letters” by Emanuel Swedenborg. Edited and published by the Swedenborg Society (London, 1975)
The New Jerusalem inaugurated (in Heaven) in 1757 was to become the experience of all who would discipline the flesh … Bible Christians embraced with equal conviction any secular goals which seemed to fulfil their beliefs.-Lineman
In 1772, Swedenborg dies
In approx 1794, several societies form for the study of Swedenborg’s writings
1809 – The Salford Bible Christians of Northwest England are founded by William Cowherd, a Swedenborgian who broke away to form his own church. They come to be known as the Cowherdites; their chapel, Known locally as the Beefsteak Chapel, urged its members to participate in a meat-free diet as a form of temperance. They are one of the philosophical forerunners of the secular Vegetarian Society formed in Kent, England in 1847. According to PJ Lineman, a writer on the English Swedenborgians, he notes that “the Bible Christians ‘ saw the death of Jesus as a symbol of the destruction of man’s body so that his spirit could be set free’.14 These beliefs influenced Cowherd’s teachings on vegetarianism and temperance. Lineham considers that Cowherd ‘thought that meat eating and the drinking of intoxicating liquor excited man’s animal nature and prevented him from recovering his infinite nature’.15 Dietary reform was primarily for man’s spiritual development. He also notes that Cowherd criticised other Swedenborgians for believing that ‘ so long as a sinful brutal nature continues within us, it is still permitted’.16 Swedenborgian principles were desacralised, and coupled with the social movements of the age.
1817 Reverends William Metcalfe and James Clark, followers of Rev. Cowherd, cross the Atlantic with 40 followers and form the Philadelphia Bible Church – wikipedia; Bible Christian church
1825 a group of people attempt to form an Owenite colony in Yellow Springs, OH. It is attractive to local Swedenborgians, but dissolves after a few months, though they were, “intelligent, liberal, generous, cultivated men and women,” – ysnews.com
1838, a boarding school in Surrey, England, founded by the Owenites, was called the Concordium, and also known as Alcott House, served their pupils a meat-free diet. Owenism was a utopian social experiment designed to do something with the poor after the Napoleonic Wars, “to place the unemployed poor in newly built rural communities.” -Wikipedia, Owenism
We pray for our church family all over the world, past, present and future.
We thank them for their knowledge and the good things that have been passed down for the good of humanity. We pray that compassion for all souls is always foremost in our mind, Whether we speak of animals in the field awaiting slaughter, or our neighbors without food. We pray that our choices are kind ones, and that our imprint upon this world is light unless it is in the form of giving and generosity.
May we kindle kindness in our hearts to feel and share the warmth of love, Love that comes from you.
Prayers of the People, Silent or Aloud:
Let us now pray, in our hearts, for our neighbors, friends, and loved ones in distress and need and express our thankfulness for the abundance with which we are blessed.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory now and forever. Amen.
“GO NOW IN PEACE,” Written by Joe Wise
For Fun: DIY Impossible Burger Recipe
Secrets of Heaven, Swedenborg: https://49lirp3us0hl3fg75c1nefee-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NCE_SecretsofHeaven2_portable.pdf