Nej, kapitel 4 i Food & Faith kommer inte bli summerat en vabb-dag som denna, jag inser det nu när jag sitter och matar min förkylde son en kombination av pannkakor och vildsvinskorv föratt han inte ska vara både sjuk och hungrig. Och på tal om korven, så är det i kapitel 4 – ”Life Through Death: On Sacrifical Eating” – som Wirzba kommer till frågan om att äta djur. Den mycket korta summeringen är att han tycker att köttätande går att motivera teologiskt. Utgångspunkten för hans resonemang är offer, och det faktum att allt liv beror på andra varelsers död. Kapitel 4 är kanske bokens bästa. Här bränner det verkligen till, och det är kanske här Wirzba tar de största riskerna. Självklart är det också det mest kontroversiella kapitlet.
Men i stället för att jag summerar kapitlet, så låter jag Wirzba göra det – åter i den utmärkta intervjun i The Other Journal. Notera att Wirzbas ok till köttätande inte är ett frikort för kristna till urskillningslös karnivarism – tvärtom. Det är en ”frihet” som kräver ansvar:
When we eat, even if we’re vegetarians, we are taking the lives of others. And the question is, how do you make yourself worthy of the life of another that you now consume? And that’s a very, very difficult question. It gets us to the heart of what it means to be a creature, because God creates a world in which everything that is alive eats, but for anything to eat, another must die. And this is where I think theology has so much to offer, because when you look at the Old Testament and the New Testament, you find that there is this use of the language of sacrifice. There are plenty of people who would want to say it’s time to put sacrifice outside of our theological imaginations, but I think that that’s precisely the wrong way to go. A lot of suspicion about sacrifice rests upon a misunderstanding of what it is. We look at the sacrifice and we fixate on the altar and the slaughter of the animal. We don’t pay nearly enough attention to the giving of the person to that animal in its nurture, in its protection, in its rearing so that the animal could be presented to God. Historically speaking, the case can be made that the offering of the animal was always accompanied by the self-offering of the person making the sacrifice. It was the same with the grains that were offered at the temple.
When you live in an agricultural society, to offer the first fruits of your fields and to offer the healthy animal in your flock is to make a profound commitment of yourself to God. Jesus shows us this in his ministry in an ultimate and practical way because he shows us that to live the Christian life is to give yourself away. You give yourself away not by despising yourself. You give yourself away by devoting your life to the nurture of others, even the nurture of the whole of creation because without the creation, none of us can live. Theologically speaking, I think what Jesus shows us is that if you want to be a truly Christian eater, you have to learn to eat in such a way that you aren’t simply taking things from the world, but that you’re also giving yourself to the world in its care, in its protection. I think that’s really what the Eucharist is all about.
The Eucharist is about eating Jesus, drinking Jesus, so that he can enter into us, and being now inside of us, he can redirect all of our activities so that we can talk about a christological form of raising animals, raising plants, and pursuing an agricultural economy. Once we have Christ in us, Christ transforms our vision, and transforms our expectations about what’s important, what should be valued, what needs to be cared for, what needs to be protected. Because of Christ, all of these things now appear to us in a new light. I think that’s the really profound thing the Scriptures show us, that there is this uniquely self-sacrificial way of relating to food and the world that then makes genuine sharing possible.