Our money and our mouth

Banking on values, not just value, matters for society and ecology.

What do the Archbishop of Canterbury and a fairly ruthless payday-loans company, Wonga, have in common?  Quite a lot actually, as it turns out.  For a start, they recently shared the media spotlight as Justin Welby announced, very commendably, that the Church of England would use its considerable resources to offer alternative forms of financial advice and support to people that did not involve fleecing them with scandalous rates of interest.  Archbishop Welby declared that he wanted to ‘compete [Wonga] out of existence’.  Almost immediately it transpired, however, that there were also less exalted links between Wonga, the Archbishop and the wider Church of England via its pension fund, albeit through a relatively minor and indirect investment.  The righteousness of Welby’s war on Wonga remained but the incident highlighted the challenges of matching values with investments, and the reputational risks of getting it wrong.

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Eating dog: a guide for Christians

Consistency is important in our treatment of all God’s creatures, including the ones we eat.

In a certain part of the world they like to eat a certain animal.  It’s a delicacy but how it’s produced is far from delicate.  After primates, whales, dolphins and elephants, this creature is one of the most sociable and intelligent in all of the animal kingdom, yet it can spend much of its life crammed into a metal crate not much bigger than its body.  Its sense of smell is incredibly powerful, and people have used it for this reason for generations.  But in the squalid conditions that it is raised for consumption, it knows only the stench of its own excrement.

The situation described above is true.  The animal in question, however, is not the domestic dog and the people are not East Asians.  The animal is, in fact, the domestic pig and the people are Western Europeans, North Americans and others like them.  Why is it that a sense of horror and outrage at the thought of man’s best friend being factory farmed to produce a real-life hot dog fades into an uncomfortable acceptance of this state of affairs when it involves the pig?  This blog addresses this inconsistency in our Christian food ethics, outlining the reasons for it as well as an alternative perspective.  It will also reflect this debate in my own journey from committed carnivore to ethical omnivore.

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