More about Vegetarianism

I’ve read a little bit more and talked to some people about vegetarianism, and I’ve clarified my ideas a little more. The section of AC that I quoted is about the commandment not to eat blood with flesh, since that would be to mix what is holy (blood) with what is profane (flesh) – representatively speaking. This is the next number, AC 1003:

From these things it is now evident that “not to eat flesh with the soul thereof, the blood thereof” is not to mingle profane things with holy. Profane things are not mingled with holy by one’s eating blood with flesh, as the Lord clearly teaches in Matthew:

Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man; for the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart (Matt. 15:11, 18-20).But in the Jewish Church it was forbidden because, as has been said, by the eating of blood with the flesh there was then in heaven represented profanation. All things done in that church were turned in heaven into corresponding representatives-blood into the holy celestial; flesh, outside of the sacrifices, because it signified cupidities, into what is profane; and the eating of both into the mingling of the holy with the profane. For this reason it was then so severely interdicted. But after the coming of the Lord, when external rites were abolished, and thus representatives ceased, such things were no longer turned in heaven into corresponding representatives. For when man becomes internal and is instructed about internal things, external ones are of no account to him. He then knows what the holy is, namely, charity and the faith therefrom. According to these are his external things then regarded, that is to say, according to the amount of charity and faith in the Lord there is in them. Since the coming of the Lord, therefore, man is not regarded in heaven from external things, but from internal ones. And if anyone is regarded from external things it is because he is in simplicity, and in his simplicity there are innocence and charity, which are in his external things, that is, in his external worship, from the Lord, without the man’s knowledge.

The thing that struck me about this particularly are the Lord’s words in the New Testament that declare that what goes into a person does not defile him I think this is important, and it’s convinced me even more that eating meat is not a sin.

Does this mean my newfound vegetarianism is doomed to die an early death? Nope. This is because I still like the attitude that it describes the Most Ancient Church as having: regarding animals as useful providers, rather than as sources of meat, and regarding their products and the products of the vegetable kingdom as food. I don’t think it’s a doctrinal thing, and I don’t even think it’s a conscience thing for me now that I’ve read a little more – it’s more just an attitude toward the world that I’d like to adopt.

I think one of the main problems with vegetarianism is that it can go along with a sense of merit and superiority. That’s also one of the main problems with being Coleman. I don’t think the former will be nearly as hard to deal with as the latter is.

* Edit 10 June 2008 – As I mentioned in a comment to this post, I stopped being quasi-vegetarian shortly after I started.  The comment explains why. *

About Coleman Glenn

I'm a New Church (Swedenborgian) minister and Patheos blogger (
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3 Responses to More about Vegetarianism

  1. Coleman Glenn says:

    Well, it was doomed to die an early death. Turned out it it DID make it harder not to feel superior to other people. I didn’t expect it to be a separating thing as much as it was, and it ended up not being worth the amount of energy and effort it took, since it took away my focus from other things. Oh well.

  2. Glenn Schoen says:

    In numbers 329-31, Divine Love and Wisdom seems to give its imprimatur to the eating of meat:

    From the final end in creation it can be seen what a form of use is. The final end in creation is the existence of an angelic heaven. And because the angelic heaven is the final end, so, too, is mankind or the human race, since heaven is formed from it. It follows from this that all other phenomena created are intermediate ends, and that these are forms of use in the order, degree and respect that they have relation to mankind and through mankind to the Lord.

    Since the final end in creation is an angelic heaven from the human race, and so also the human race, therefore its intermediate ends are all other phenomena that have been created. And because these have relation to mankind, they have regard to these three constituents of a person, namely, his body, his rational faculty, and his spiritual character, for the sake of his conjunction with the Lord. For a person cannot be conjoined with the Lord unless he is spiritual, and he cannot be spiritual without being rational, and he cannot be rational without having a body in sound condition. These three are like a house. The body is like the foundation. The person’s rational faculty is like the superstructure of the house. His spiritual character is like the furnishings in the house. And conjunctio5:49 PM 2/6/2008n with the Lord is like his inhabiting of it. Apparent from this is the order, degree and respect in which forms of use, the intermediate ends of creation, have relation to mankind, namely, that they are for sustaining a person’s body, for perfecting his rational faculty, and for his receiving a spiritual character from the Lord.

    Forms of use for sustaining the body relate to its nourishment, clothing, lodging, recreation and enjoyment, and protection, and the preservation of its condition. Forms of use created for the nourishment of the body are all constituents of the plant kingdom which are serviceable for food and drink, such as fruits, grapes, seeds, vegetables and herbs. So, too, all constituents of the animal kingdom which are eaten, such as steers, cows, calves, deer, sheep, male and female goats, lambs, and the milk obtained from them…

  3. Erik Martin says:

    I completely agree that “regarded in itself, eating meat is a profane thing.” And yet I am not and never have been a vegetarian.

    Something else I think is, regarded in itself, a profane thing — living in a body made out of meat. As Epictetus said, I am a little soul carrying around a corpse. How profane!

    This doesn’t mean these things shouldn’t be done — rather it means that if they are done “with regard only to themselves”, or “only for their own purposes”, or “separated from the spiritual”, that it is profane.

    In other words, regarded in itself, the body is a corpse. Regarding the soul that animates it, it is an image of God.

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