Sunday, December 27, 2009

L2MF Post #05: On the Non-Consumption of Pork

Dear Dad,

The holiday season isn’t complete without food and of course, the pièce de résistance of the noche buena would be the ham. In some cases, there’s also lechon and pork barbecue, which can also be served in birthday parties, wedding receptions, and other gatherings. But wait, those tasty food items are not just cholesterol-laden but also have some taboos associated with them.

I remember back in December 2005 when we had a family reunion in Iloilo, that you, me, and grandpa  were having breakfast. I can still recall what was served on the table that morning: fried rice, fried fish, hot chocolate, and pork longganisa. When I opted not to partake of the longganisa, you made a joking remark that I should convert to Islam. I was of course not taking it seriously, yet my response was that “pigs are friends, not food” (sounds like a PETA ad). Also, if I were to convert to another religion, I would just be like a product which is moved from a box by one manufacturer to a box of the competition.

Back in my first few years in college I had a dialogue with a Muslim friend about the non-consumption of pork. Out of curiosity, I asked him why they do not eat the flesh of pigs. He told me that it is haraam (forbidden), as written in their holy book, the Qur’an. We did not have a copy of the book at that time but he explained to me that the reason why they do not consume pork is because pigs are unclean. He also gave me non-scriptural reasons for avoiding pork consumption: trichinosis, foot and mouth disease, high cholesterol, swine flu, etc. I was satisfied with his explanation and left it at that.

I have researched further on the taboos about food and stumbled upon a verse from the Qur’an which states the prohibition of pork consumption:
“He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, – then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” — Qur’an 16:115
I have not heard about a similar prohibition taught in Mum’s religion and in the Roman Catholic church (except for the “no-meat on Fridays and on the Lent” teaching). However, I have stumbled upon a few verses in the Judeo-Christian Bible which state the prohibition of pork:
“And the pig is unclean to you, because though the horn of its foot is parted, its food does not come back. Their flesh may not be used for food, and their dead bodies may not even be touched; they are unclean to you. — Leviticus 11:7-8 (Bible in Basic English)
Now that’s a clear instruction. The spirit of that prohibition can also be read in Deuteronomy 14:8. There are also other verses that state God’s disapproval of His people’s consumption of pork:
“All day my hands have been stretched out to an uncontrolled people, who go in an evil way, after the purposes of their hearts; A people who make me angry every day, making offerings in gardens, and burning perfumes on bricks. Who are seated in the resting-places of the dead, and by night are in the secret places; who take pig’s flesh for food, and have the liquid of disgusting things in their vessels.” — Isaiah 65:2-4 (Bible in Basic English)
I fully know that Mum’s religion follows the Bible to the letter, yet they don’t have this prohibition in their fundamental doctrines (which includes the taboo in blood consumption). I am not expecting them to ban the consumption and sale of pork, rather I am expecting them to be consistent with their indoctrination materials. They proclaim to be the true followers of Jesus, yet not all of the laws are being observed. This is what Jesus has to say:
“Let there be no thought that I have come to put an end to the law or the prophets. I have not come for destruction, but to make complete. Truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth come to an end, not the smallest letter or part of a letter will in any way be taken from the law, till all things are done. Whoever then goes against the smallest of these laws, teaching men to do the same, will be named least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who keeps the laws, teaching others to keep them, will be named great in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:17-19 (Bible in Basic English)
I have been training myself for the past five years to abstain from eating pork as much as possible. I don’t see the need to follow a particular religious dogma in order to perform such abstinence. I have personal, medical, and practical reasons for doing so. (Well, not Practical, the pig who built a brick house in Three Little Pigs.)

There are people who would still buy, sell, and consume pork, and I’m not against that. If they find that ham, lechon and other pork foodstuffs are tasty, then let them enjoy their meals. Dad, I know that you still eat pork on occasions and I’m not going to give you a lecture every time you do so.

I have to go now and tell Mum to revise her shopping list so that she would sin no more during food preparation.

(J) The Freethinking Geek

Friday, December 25, 2009

L2MF Post #04: Happy Holidays!

Dear Dad,

Happy Holidays!

In this letter, I will take a break from reading the Bible and from discussing a particular doctrine from organized religion, and be a nice Recovering Christian. As you know, this is the Christmas season and this is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Friends and relatives have greeted me “Merry Christmas” since last week. Well, I see nothing wrong about that. You know that I had exposure to both Roman Catholicism (which celebrates Christmas) and to Mum’s “Non-Trinitarian, Restorationist Christian religion” (which does not celebrate Christmas). In return for their cheerful greeting, I say, “Happy Holidays.”

You may ask, why not say “Merry Christmas”? Well, “Happy Holidays” sounds neutral and is much more inclusive. You know that not everyone in this country is a Roman Catholic. There are other Christian groups who celebrate the holiday, while there are those who don’t. I have atheist, agnostic and humanist friends who also celebrate the holiday.

On another note, I say “Happy Holidays” because it not only covers Christmas Day (Dec. 25) but also Yule/Winter Solstice (Dec. 21), Rizal Day (Dec. 30), and New Year’s Day (Jan. 01).

(J) The Freethinking Geek

I wish you all a peaceful, prosperous, and a well-connected holiday season.