Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who's to Blame for All the Killing?

Be incredibly suspicious whenever someone says "either/or."

A lot of the times in the rescue community you meet people who say, "It's the fault of the public! They breed and abuse animals, we have to kill them because the community is irresponsible and there's too many!" Then you meet people who say,"Those evil kill shelters! It's not the public's fault! The shelters don't have to do that much killing! They just don't want to put in the hard work to save lives!"

As always, I think the the truth is somewhere in the middle, and villification does little to solve anything (unless you have documented proof that people are acting like villains, and then prosecute and campaign against them vigorously). I think that our animal control facilities reflect the values of our communities and vice versa. I think that change will come when municipal shelters become more innovative and implement more life-saving practices like foster programs, transports, aggressive spay/neuter campaigns, and healthy partnerships with other rescues (which will include engaging the community), and when our communities engage with and practice humane education principles, like adopting instead of buying, fostering, volunteering, spaying/neutering, implementing stricter laws about breeding, and investing in training and veterinary care (which will include engaging local municipal shelters). No one's off the hook here. We're all to blame for this damn mess.

Jesus instructs people who are about to judge another's failings to take the log out of their eye before they try to remove the speck from their neighbor's. Whatever your religious beliefs, it would behoove those of us in animal rescue to remember that principle.

Friday, July 19, 2013

When You're Too Weary to Write About Theology

My friends and I have been spending the past few years reading blogs by people that articulate our thoughts, doubts, and struggles with the conservative evangelical faith we were handed by our churches and/or families.

I used to be the kind of person who would write such blogs, who would tackle those big issues of "why" and deconstruct the assumptions behind many cherished fundamentalist notions.

But as I read people like Rachel Held Evans or watch my friend venture forth to share her ideas on faith and culture online, I find myself feeling equal parts envious and soul-weary.

I am envious because I used to have that fire in me about faith that led me to write about it and to deal with whatever nonsense people might say in response. I want that fire back.

I am wearied when I consider such an endeavor because of the possible responses. It's not that at this point I care what people will think of me (too liberal to be a Christ-follower? Sure, if telling me that makes you sleep better at night, you go right ahead). It's that I find the usual rhetoric extremely triggering.

My faith in Jesus ebbs and flows and is extremely fragile.

 It is based solely on the fact that I can't find any other satisfying reason why the world is the way it is, not because someone hit me over the head with my sins, or because it can be proved with 100% certainty from Scripture, or because of an apologetics handbook, or because I have a perfectly formed orthodox theology, or because of some handy formula someone writes out on a tract. My faith in the actual life, death, and resurrection of Y'shua is because when faced with the incredible pain, suffering, beauty and joy of this world, I can find no other satisfactory response than a God who became a part of it and offers a way out. I don't have 100%, or even 50%, certainty in the existence of the Divine. If someone put a gun to my head, demanding to know if I believed, there are days where the most honest answer would be, "I don't know." Doubters like me don't make for very good for martyrs, but I hope God would see the raw, cracked-open, bleeding honesty of those words.

Thus, dealing with the responses to all of my "liberal" ideas would make me want to run as far away from anything resembling Christianity as possible. I am so infuriated by so much of evangelical rhetoric that there are weeks after I read something where I really feel like I don't believe anymore. I'm not saying it's right to want to fly the coop when people make you angry, or that it's even right to become so enraged; I'm saying that's the headspace I'm in right now.

When Anne Rice famously renounced organized Christianity, she said, "I respect that there are all kinds of denominations and all kinds of churches, but it's the entire controversy, the entire conversation that I need to walk away from right now." 

A few years ago, I used the analogy that my faith used to be up on stilts, and now I walk on crutches. Today it feels like God amputated my legs and gave me a new set to learn to walk on, and while I'm relearning to walk there are certain conversations with certain groups of people that I can't enter. I so desperately want to be the woman who writes about theology again and who can remain cool and collected when confronted with a dissenting opinion. But I can't run those kinds of marathons yet. I'm not used to these new legs.