Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Eat Pig

Why are Christians allowed to eat pig? This is something that bothers me a little bit. I've never really heard or read an explanation that completely satisfies me, although I have to say I love grilled ham and cheese, so for the most part, I ignore the issue. The fact that I enjoy eating pig should justify the fact that I do eat it, right? (that last sentence was sarcastic)

The Old Testament says:
Leviticus 11:7 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.
Deuteronomy 14:8 - And the swine, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

So, at the point in the history of the world where Moses was wandering around the wilderness with the tribes of Israel, it was really important to God that people not eat pig. God even doesn't want his people to touch the carcasses of pigs.

But, I am quite certain that many (most?) Christians eat ham. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if ham is the most common Easter meal, and I am pretty sure that ham is taken from pigs. Of course, the Old testament does not carry as much weight as the New testament with Christians, but for the most part, Christians are not taught it is acceptable to ignore the Old testament. This is more or less the same time that God told us, "Don't kill" and "Don't commit adultery". We, as Christians, take the 10 commandments as law, but for the most part we ignore the "Don't eat unclean animals" part of God's commandments.

I have come across the following New testament Bible verses that people use to justify eating pig (and other unclean foods as well):

None of these clearly say to me that the coming of Jesus allows us to ignore Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8. However, let's assume that some or all of these do say that Jesus condones abolition of the food laws. Here is what actually bothers me: if this is true, why did the Old Testament God make the special effort to tell Moses "Don't eat pig" ?

I have heard talk of "the Old Testament God" and the "New Testament God" as if they are two different Gods. The Old Testament God is described as angry and vengeful whereas the New Testament God is always kind, loving, and forgiving. But, although described as two separate types of Gods, there is only one God. Part of Jesus's mission was to re-connect humans and God, but God did not change between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. The separation was on the part of humanity. So, we cannot say that the "Old Testament God" condemns pork whereas the newer, kinder God of the New Testament says "that is ok, guys, eat whatever you want."

I suppose it is possible that when it came to the food laws, God was intending his words for the newly freed Israelites only. It would make sense that God was protecting his people from the many diseases that eating pig can cause. These are diseases that today are recognized and controlled well enough that we no longer need God's warning. That seems it could be a reasonable explanation, but it just doesn't seem quite right, does it? Shouldn't the Word of God be timeless?

It is also possible that Jesus came to help explain the intension of God's Laws, and in cases where people misunderstood the Old Testament, he came to set us straight. Maybe, in this case, God's people simply did not understand the commandment. This is hard for me to swallow, if for no other reason, Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8 both seem exceedingly clear. I just don't see where the misunderstanding would come in.

Practically speaking, following all of God's food laws would be exceeding difficult in today's world. My guess is that even those who claim to follow them are unable to do so at all times. Technically speaking, anything that touches an unclean food is itself unclean and should be destroyed. So, if I get a steak that was grilled on the same surface on which a pork-chop was grilled, I am breaking the law.

So, I am hopeful that at some point someone can explain this contradiction to me. I do eat ham. Usually I don't even think about it, but obviously I have enough doubts about God's intension that I spent the time to blog it. Maybe eventually I'll have to come to the simplest conclusion: God doesn't want me eating pig. I should stop. I hope not, because like I wrote at the beginning: I love those grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Jerry's Blog: The Homeless -- I read this and it hit home for me (pun intended ... a little bit) . Just about everyday I walk up or down the 16th Street Mall in Lodo (Denver) to and from the light rail station. Everyday I see people who are homeless. Quite a few of them are asking for hand-outs. Usually I try to navigate 16th Street so that I am on the opposite side of the street as the panhandler when I pass, but most days I am unable to completely go through the day without being asked for spare change (anything will help).

Usually, my response is to dig through my pockets and say, "I'm sorry, man. I don't have any change." (this is actually true ... I usually don't have any change). Sometimes, if I do have some change, I give him (it is usually a him ... very rarely a her) a few cents. Sometimes, I simply pretend that I don't hear him. Every once and awhile I just say "No" and walk on.

No matter what I do, I feel guilty. It eats me inside to see people living on the street, and it makes me feel guilty to purposely refrain from helping out. It makes me feel bad to ignore these people. It even makes me feel guilty when I give one of them something, because I don't know if the change is just going to become some sort of drug or liquor. Luckily I give them so little, that the amount of damage my money will inflict in drug or alcohol form is not likely to be very much.

Just like Jerry, I give money to organizations who help these people. For me, it is the Denver Rescue Mission and my church (different church than Jerry's). This makes me feel a little better. But, as Jerry points out... giving money is a way of replacing action with transference. I am paying someone else to "shine" for me. To be fair, these organizations need people like Jerry and me, because they certainly need money. But, if they had unlimited budget with thousands of people paying to help out... but no one to do the actual ministry, all that money would be worthless.

So, even filtering my money to hard-working organizations who are doing God's will, makes me feel somewhat guilty. Am I doing enough? Am I doing what God intends for me to do?

I think about the WWJD (What would Jesus Do) movement from a few years back(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWJD ). Maybe this is still big, but I have not heard it quite as much lately. But if I ask myself, "What would Jesus do?", it would certainly not be to cross the street to avoid homeless people. It would not be to dig through his pockets and say "I'm sorry, I don't have any change." It probably wouldn't be to give the poor guy some change or even to give thousands of dollars to other people to help handle the problem. It may actually be closer to what Jerry did when he walked with the man to the coffee shop and talked to him... although I sort of doubt Jerry did it as well as Jesus would have (no offense, Jerry).

The thing about Jesus was that he always seemed to know the right thing to say. He always seemed to know the right thing to do. Probably being the only son of God helps when it comes to knowing what will help the most.

So, here, maybe is my problem: I don't know exactly how to help the man on the street. Heck, I don't even know if he really needs my help. I would venture that if he is asking for money from me, he needs some sort of help, but chances are he needs more than I know how to give. He needs motivation or he needs a job or he needs professional counseling or he needs God. Maybe he needs all of these. And personally, I am not sure I am qualified to help him with any of this.

So, maybe, it isn't all that bad that I am giving money to an organization that knows how to help homeless people. Maybe, in this case, leaving it to the professionals may be the best that I can do. I know I am ill-equipped to interact on a meaningful, helpful, follower-of-Christ sort of way. If I were to interact in an attempt to truly make their lives better, it is entirely likely.... maybe even probable that I would do more harm than good.

But that is basically saying "there is nothing more I can do", and that is a cop-out.

Well, of course, Denver Rescue Mission has a web page of "Ways to Help". They even have a list of greatest needs. On the most needed items page, there are a number of items they need, but they also need people to help: "Mentor Teams for Family Rescue Ministry ", "Tutors for Children and Men", "Male mentors", and "Christian Outreach Volunteers". Those are great opportunities to shine.

Of course, obviously, they do need money. Or, at least, they need the things that money can buy. And, of course, it isn't just the Denver Rescue Mission or City Union Mission who are helping homeless and who Do a google search of "Denver Homeless" "Donate" and you get pages and pages of results, so there are lots of organizations out there trying to help and they all need money.

The Denver Rescue Mission's donation page has radio buttons with monetary amounts listed like this:

  • $27.60 to help 15 hungry, hurting, homeless people
  • $46.00 to help 25 hungry, hurting, homeless people
  • $64.40 to help 35 hungry, hurting, homeless people
  • $82.80 to help 45 hungry, hurting, homeless people

I hardly miss $27.60, but it helps 15 people. In fact, in the 6 years I've lived in Denver, if I follow out those ratios, I've given enough money (to various charities) to help thousands of people, and I don't really miss that either.

But, is it enough? Should I give my time and energy and heart as well? The answer is "Yes".

Will I? I'm going to have to think about that.

By the way, right after I posted this blog, I went to Jerry's and added a comment to his. There was an Anonymous comment there from someone advertising an 800 # to connect with "Real Singles from your local area". In other words, his Blog got spammed! This just blew me away (although I guess it shouldn't have surprised me at all). What is this world coming to? Anyway, I just thought this was weird. Is this a common thing? (Blog Spammers?)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Bierstadt & Evans

This past weekend, I did it. I climbed to the top of Mt. Bierstadt and then Mt. Evans. While not an easy hike, and while several times I felt like I would not make it, the climb was very rewarding. My legs were extremely sore the next day and the day after and even a little bit today.

Now, I am daydreaming about doing Long's Peak. Derry, the guy I was planning on hiking / climbing with, does not have the same open dates to do it as I do, so it is looking like we might not get to do it this year. But, I am thinking about just doing it without him. I might ask Brannan (the guy who went with me up Bierstadt & Evans), or I might even try to do it on my own. I might back-pack up to the Goblin Forest back-country sites (which is about 1.5 miles up the Long's Peak trail-head) on Friday and then take off early Saturday morning.

Maybe this can be both my climb up Long's Peak and my solo-Backpacking trip (see Time Flies). Of course, climbing Long's Peak may not be real smart. Anyway, in case I decide I want to do this, here are some pages that might help:

Backcountry camping guide: http://www.nps.gov/romo/visit/park/camp/guide.html

Backcountry Trip Planning Worksheet: http://www.nps.gov/romo/downloads/campingpdfs/Tripplanningworksheet.pdf

Designated Backcountry camp-sites in RMNP: http://www.nps.gov/romo/visit/park/camp/campsites/designated.html

Just a miscellaneous Denver Post article about Long's Peak: http://denverpost.com/search/ci_2900903

Note... the fact that my legs got so tired (and started to cramp) on the sawtooth between Bierstadt and Evans scares me a bit. I also came much closer to running out of water than I am comfortable with. So, here are some changes I think I need to make:

  1. More Water... I always bring a lot, but I am thinking I need more. Also, just in case, I think I am going to get some water-purification pills. If I back-pack up to Goblin Forest, I'll have my water filter anyway. The thing is, though, there is not a lot of water to be gotten up above tree - line. By the time I get back down to the water, I'm close enough to the end, that I might not need it.
  2. Polyester shirt as my lower layer (instead of cotton).
  3. Banana chips as part of my food (my King Soopers did not have any for this last trip... I usually bring some).
  4. Take Calcium / Magnesium / Vitamin E / Potassium supplements the days before the hike (I have read recently that this will help with leg cramps).
  5. Work out harder. Weights in the back pack on the tread-mill. Higher resistance on the cross - trainer. I hope to carry Tyler in the Kelty carrier a few times before the Long's Peak hike. Should I weight train my legs?
Now, if I can just plan a weekend to do this.