What Would Jesus Do? Easter Dinner and Lamb as Sites to Understand One's Jesus, Compassion, and Consumption

Several things happened today, while I was walking with Kira Satya today, my five month old daughter. We were walking down Euclid St. in Berkeley, towards University of California, Berkeley. In the window of the convenience store at the corner of Ridge and Euclid, there was a poster up. I decided to take a photo of it:


I thought it would have been more effective to type in ‘them’ instead of ‘him’, if the poster is implying that Christ or Buddha have reincarnated and are alive amongst us today. I wondered what the question assumed. I wondered what most people assumed the answer to be. Would Christ or Buddha reincarnate into a human? If so, would the human be a ‘him’/man/male? What if they reincarnated into a non-human being, like a blade of grass or the lamb taken away from his or her mama to be eaten by some humans who are celebrating Jesus for Easter dinner?

Then again, I am asking these questions as someone who is not a practitioner of Christianity, but have been born and raised in a culture in which Christianity is the national norm. Since I can remember, I have been bombarded with images of “Easter”, which have included chicken eggs, chocolate treats (usually via child slavery from wonderful corporations like Hershey and Nestle), and lamb dinners. It wasn’t until I encountered the scholarship of critical animal studies and critical consumption studies that I stopped accepting these traditions as non-problematic.

While walking down Cedar street, at the intersection of Shattuck Ave, I passed by the new butcher shoppe, which teaches those who can afford it, how to butcher the non-human animals. It really seems to be a trendy practice amongst ‘hip’ Easy Basy/SF people, tauted as ‘sustainable’, ‘local’ and ‘more humane’ than non-human animals raised for consumption in standard industrial agricultural space. The shoppe had this sign up:


I am intrigued by the phenomenon of eating lamb for Easter dinner as a way to celebrate Jesus. I think of how in Christianity, the image of mother Mary holding baby Jesus is very sacred for millions. I also think of how that same type of sacredness is not afforded to the lamb and mother sheep who are torn apart to celebrate Easter. I invite people to discuss this with me, as well as my perception of what I find very contradictory to the construction of a Jesus that was supposedly all-loving and wanted to teach people how to alleviate and avoid perpetuating suffering and pain.

I also thought about Kira Satya and me and how it would be ‘insane’ for her to be taken from me to be eaten in order to celebrate the life of someone’s deity who supposedly embodied love and compassion.

The same can be said for the hundreds of thousands of Easter eggs that come out of the mass exploitation of chickens, whose babies are taken away from them. It’s amazing how here in the USA, these realities are made invisible to the plethora of children (and adults) who eagerly await celebrating Easter through the consumption of Easter eggs, lamb, as well as chocolate treats sourced from child slavery in the Ivory Coast.

What would Jesus do if they saw this sign hanging in front of the Butcher Shoppe? What would Buddha do?

These are hypothetical questions, as I know they are not going to have a ‘universal’ answer, but I’d like to start the conversation.

8 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Do? Easter Dinner and Lamb as Sites to Understand One's Jesus, Compassion, and Consumption

  1. “What Would Jesus Do?” is irrelevant. Christians believe in Paul, not Jesus.
    ZedMont writes on the Daily Kos:
    “The Christianity you see today is not the Christianity practiced by Jesus’ apostles. It is the Christianity that was unknown until the self-appointed ‘apostle’ Paul invented it, based on his personal, unwitnessed conversations with a vision of the resurrected Jesus, some seven years after the crucifixion.”
    Agreed. Paul was never one of Jesus’ original apostles: he never met Jesus nor knew him in life during his earthly ministry. The late Reverend Janet Regina Hyland (1933 – 2007), author of God’s Covenant with Animals (it’s available through PETA) once said to me in a phone conversation, what makes Paul’s revelation any more valid than Mohammed’s (or Joseph Smith’s, etc.)? Even Oral Roberts in 1987 claimed to have had a vision of a 900-foot Jesus!
    The scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus claimed, “have neglected the weightier matters of the Law; justice and mercy and faith.” (Matthew 23:14,16-23; Luke 11:42, 20:45-47)
    This is painfully obvious when contrasting Paul’s pronouncements on the Law with those of Jesus.
    The most-repeated argument against biblical vegetarianism I’ve gotten from Christians is that they claim they are no longer under Mosaic Law, because the apostle Paul referred to his background as a former Pharisee and his previous adherence to Mosaic Law (with its dietary laws, commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals, etc.) as “so much garbage.” (Philippians 3:4-8)
    Nothing in the synoptic gospels suggests a break with Judaism. Jesus was called “Rabbi,” meaning “Master” or “Teacher,” 42 times in the gospels. Jesus’ ministry was rabbinic. Jesus related scripture and God’s laws to everyday life, teaching by personal example. Jesus engaged in healing and acts of mercy. Jesus told stories or parables — a rabbinic method of teaching.
    Jesus went to the synagogue (Matthew 12:9), taught in the synagogues (Matthew 4:23, 13:54; Mark 1:39), expressed concern for Jairus, “one of the rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 5:36) and it “was his custom” to go to the synagogue (Luke 4:16).
    Jesus called himself “Son of Man.” The prophet Ezekiel was addressed by God as “Son of Man.” (Ezekiel 2:1) In Hebrew, “son of man” (“ben adam”) was a synonym for “man.” Psalm 8:4 uses it in plural. Simon (Peter) referred to Jesus as “a man certified by God.” (Acts 2:22)
    Both John the Baptist and Jesus were considered prophets by the people. (Matthew 11:9, 21:11, 21:26, 21:46; Mark 6:15, 11:32; Luke 7:16, 7:26, 9:19, 24:19; John 4:19, 6:14, 7:40, 9:17)
    Jesus placed himself in the tradition of the prophets before him. (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24, 13:33; John 4:44)
    Jesus frequently compared his ministry to the ministries of Noah, Lot and Jonah. (Matthew 10:15, 11:24, 12:39-40, 16:4, 24:37-39; Luke 10:12, 11:29,32, 17:26-29,32)
    Jesus began his ministry by teaching the multitudes not to “give what is sacred to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine.” (Matthew 7:6) Dogs, like swine, were considered foul and unclean by the Hebrew people. (Deuteronomy 23:18; I Samuel 24:14; II Kings 8:13; Psalm 22:16,20; Matthew 7:6; Luke 16:21; Revelations 22:15) These words were used by the children of Israel to describe the neighboring heathen populations.
    When sending his disciples out to preach, Jesus instructed them not to go to the gentiles, but to “go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6) When a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, he replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:22-28)
    Jesus regarded the gentiles as “dogs.” His gospel was intended for the Jewish people. Even the apostle Paul admitted that the gospel was first intended for the Jews, and that the Jews have every advantage over the gentiles in this regard (Romans 1:16, 3:1-2).
    When a scribe asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment in the Torah, Jesus began with “Hear O Israel, the Lord, thy God, is One Lord.” This is the Shema, which is still heard in every synagogue service to this day.
    “And you shall love the Lord with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…And you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus concluded.
    When the scribe agreed that God is one and that to love Him completely and also love one’s neighbor as oneself is “more important than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Jesus replied, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-34; Luke 10:25-28)
    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself said:
    “Do not suppose I have come to abolish the Law and the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill…till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle pass from the Law till all is fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
    Jesus also upheld the Torah in Luke 16:17:
    “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest portion of the Law to become invalid.”
    Nor do these words refer merely to the Ten Commandments. Jesus meant the entire Torah: 613 commandments. When a man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, “You know the commandments.” He then quoted not just the Ten Commandments, but a commandment from Leviticus 19:13 as well: “Do not defraud.” (Mark 10:17-22)
    Jesus’ disciples were once accused by the scribes and Pharisees of violating rabbinical tradition (Matthew 15:1-2; Mark 7:5), but not biblical law. At no place in the entire New Testament does Jesus ever proclaim Torah or the Law of Moses to be abolished; this was the theology of Paul, a former Pharisee who never knew Jesus, but who used to persecute Jesus’ followers. Paul openly identified himself not as a Jew but as a Roman (Acts 22:25-26) and an apostate from Judaism (Philippians 3:4-8)
    Sometimes Christians cite Matthew 7:12, where Jesus says “Do unto others…” and this “covers” the Law and the prophets.
    But Jesus was merely repeating in the positive what Rabbi Hillel taught earlier.
    Hillel was asked, “What is Judaism?”
    He replied: “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is Judaism. All the rest is commentary.”
    No one took Hillel’s words to mean the Law had been abolished — why should we assume this of Jesus?
    If Jesus really came to abolish the Law and the prophets, Simon (Peter) would not have resisted a divine command to kill and eat both “clean” and “unclean” animals (Acts 10), nor would there have been a debate in the early church as to what extent the gentiles were to observe Mosaic Law (Acts 15).
    When Paul visited the church at Jerusalem, James and the elders told him all its members were “zealous for the Law,” and that they were worried because they heard rumors that Paul was preaching against Mosaic Law (Acts 21).
    None of these events would have happened had Jesus really come to abolish the Law and the prophets!
    Jesus not only repeatedly upheld Mosaic Law, he justified his healing on the Sabbath by referring to commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals!
    While teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for eighteen years. He justified his healing work on the Sabbath by referring to biblical passages calling for the humane treatment of animals as well as their rest on the Sabbath. “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham…be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” Jesus asked. (Luke 13:10-16)
    On another occasion, Jesus again referred to Torah teaching on “tsa’ar ba’alei chayim” or compassion for animals to justify healing on the Sabbath. “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 14:1-5)
    Jesus compared saving sinners who had gone astray from God’s kingdom to rescuing lost sheep. He recalled a Jewish legend about Moses’ compassion as a shepherd for his flock:
    “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? Who among you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
    “And when he has found it,” Jesus continued, “he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home,he calls together his friends and neighbors saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
    “I say to you, likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Matthew 18:11-13; Luke 15:3-7,10)
    Paul, on the other hand, said if anyone has confidence in Mosaic Law, “I am ahead of him” (Philippians 3:4-8).
    Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said he did not come to abolish the Law and the prophets?
    Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said whoever sets aside even the least of the laws demands shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19)?
    Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who taught that following the commandments of God is the only way to eternal life (Mark 10:17-22)?
    Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest portion of the Law to become invalid (Luke 16:17)?
    Paul may have regarded his previous adherence to Mosaic Law as “so much garbage,” but it should be obvious by now that JESUS DIDN’T THINK THE LAW WAS “GARBAGE”!
    If Christians revere Paul’s words over those of Jesus, then “Christianity” really is “Paulianity”.
    Bertrand Russell referred to Paul as the “inventor” of Christianity.
    I’m not saying Christians should all be circumcised and following Mosaic Law. The Reverend Andrew Linzey, the foremost theologian in the field of animal-human relations and author of Christianity and the Rights of Animals (1987), rejected such an approach in a 1989 interview with the Animals’ Agenda.
    I’m merely saying that Christianity for the past 2000 years has been based on a misunderstanding. Christians aren’t really following Jesus. They’re following Paul.

      1. Yes, I don’t think the poster even though it references Buddha is coming from the perspective of reincarnation.

        More likely it’s coming from a Judeo-Christian, emphasis on the Christian framework in which the idea would be that Jesus if he “came back” would come back in the same body that he had in the past. A revival/revivification versus a reincarnation.

        That is actually the belief about what will happen at the endtimes for mainstream Christians and Muslims (that Jesus will return) anyway.

        That said, I can’t see how an ethical person could condone what happens in the factory farming/processing operations that provide the bulk of N. Americans’ animal based food. So, I can’t see Jesus or Buddha liking that.

        Easter, maybe more than some of the other holidays is about symbols and the eggs, lambs and other animal products you mentioned all fall into that category in most people’s minds such that they don’t think about where they came from. It doesn’t help either that many of the representations of these things aren’t real (lots of lots of plastic eggs, plastic and papier mache lambs, plastic flowers, etc.) — so it doesn’t push anyone to think about where the real items come from. -e.

    1. I really like how you answered the what-if with precedents from the past!
      It’s so much better than some other approaches I’ve seen, like years ago when some right-wing magazine had the cover story “What Would Lincoln Say About Abortion?” and went on and on and on applying Lincoln’s anti-slavery arguments…
      …instead of recognizing that abortion already existed in the U.S. during Lincoln’s presidency. To know what Lincoln would say about abortion, just look up whatever Lincoln actually said about abortion.
      Likewise your approach is so much better than glibertarians who ignore all the places and times without free public schools when asking “what if there were no public schools?” and so forth.

  2. Ham for Passover would not go well with the in-laws. Mud’n’law, a new TD Jakes fan, asked if “chittlins” were appropriate for Easter as we stood on opening day line of the film HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Her choice. Her treat. My folk only ate “chits” on New Year for Good Luck. They are both dead. So much for their luck. She smiled the smile she often creates when passing gas or pondering her faired haired boy’s covenant union with a SisterLocked® woman with the wry sense of, is it humor? By film’s end we’d agreed Greg Kinnear carried the work, the beautiful Lithuanian Kenny Loggins looking JESUS portrait still made us think of Michelangelo’s cousin, chuckled about how the overgrown daikon root we pulled from the garden and carved to resemble a shank bone for the Seder plate fooled the Rabbi long enough to not readily notice the Hallelujah Acres [hacres.com] vegan menu on the Pesach table. All in the name of LOVE. Good Yontiv! Happy Resurrection Day 😀 !!!

  3. I believe Jesus was a vegan based on common sense, since I was not around when Jesus was on earth.

    I don’t discuss the Bible much with people because it was made and passed down by man and you can argue for and against animal cruelty with the Bible, depending on how one interprets it. Sometimes we need to put down all books (be it for or against peace) and just sit, think about it and be mindful; it’s just common sense not to eat animal products, and it has been proven in many ways in this day and age.

    The most accurate description of Jesus’ life, in my opinion, is from the book Gospel of the Nazirenes. In it, Jesus is shown to be a vegetarian. He did not feed the crowd fish in this book but fruits and bread. Also, in His youth, He stopped people from being cruel to a donkey (or mule, I forgot), and as a child, as he walked passed dead flowers, they suddenly became alive and bloomed…This is the Jesus I believe walked the earth.

    Anyway, to answer your question Breeze, I would suspect Jesus would treat businesses with store signs like that the way He treated the moneychangers in the Bible–with much wrath!

  4. “I thought it would have been more effective to type in ‘them’ instead of ‘him’, if the poster is implying that Christ or Buddha have reincarnated and are alive amongst us today. I wondered what the question assumed. I wondered what most people assumed the answer to be. Would Christ or Buddha reincarnate into a human? If so, would the human be a ‘him’/man/male?”
    Yeah, if it was “Christ and Buddha” (both) instead of “Christ or Buddha” (either one) then “them” would apply instead of “him.”
    As for either one’s pronouns, I’m OK with going with the pronoun for the previous incarnation.
    For that matter, if either one came back to life in a female body, then would this individual be female or transmale? Transmen tend to prefer male pronouns in English and other languages that have separate male and female pronouns, right?

  5. Passover remains one of the most important holy days in the Jewish calendar. Passover is an annual spring festival, serving as a memorial of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses. In first century Judea, Passover was centered around two events. On the 14th day of the month of Nisan, innocent lambs were ritually slain in the Temple at Jerusalem. This was the day of Preparation. On the 15th day of Nisan, the Passover feast would take place. The Passover meal would be eaten by congregations and by families, in selected places throughout Jerusalem.
    The Passover meal consisted of slaughtered lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs and wine, which was sipped periodically. The prayers at the table invoked the remembrance of God’s deliverance of His people from past bondage; asking for His continued blessings upon the children of Israel. The first three gospels imply Jesus’ Last Supper was a Passover meal (Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-14; Luke 22:7-15), and that his crucifixion occurred the very same day.
    If Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples was a Passover meal, then Jesus may have eaten the Passover lamb. This would mean it was unlikely that he was a vegetarian. The account of the Last Supper given in the Fourth Gospel clearly indicates it was not a Passover meal, but a meal shared on the day of Preparation:
    “Before the Passover feast Jesus, aware that his hour had come that he should depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And supper being ended…” (John 13:1-2)
    This text explicitly states that Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples took place before the feast known as Passover.
    John 18:28 states that the Jewish religious authorities would not enter the Roman Praetorium where Jesus was being tried, “so that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.” Pontius Pilate told the Jews, “This is your king,” as he ordered Jesus crucified. This occurred on the twelfth hour of the day of Preparation. (John 19:14) After crucifixion, the Jews asked Pontius Pilate that Jesus’ body be taken from the cross and given a decent burial before the Sabbath which was Passover. (John 19:31)
    Friday was the day of Preparation for the Sabbath, which began at sundown. According to the Jewish calendar, a new day begins at six p.m., while the week concludes with the Sabbath, or Saturday. The first three gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) state that Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples and suffered arrest, trial and crucifixion on Friday evening, the 15th of Nisan. Only the Fourth Gospel explicitly places the Last Supper on Thursday evening, the 14th of Nisan. Jesus’ final meal with his disciples, his arrest, trial and crucifixion all take place on Nisan 14 in this gospel.
    To some extent, the accounts given by Matthew, Mark and Luke conform to the Fourth Gospel. In Matthew 26:5, the authorities decided not to apprehend Jesus during the Passover feast, “lest there be an uproar amongst the people.” All four gospel writers record Jesus’ burial on the day of Preparation. (Matthew 27:57-62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 20:42)
    Passover was a holy day, regarded as a Sabbath by the Jews. Its holiness was protected by traditional Sabbath restrictions. The gospels describe incidents connected with Jesus’ crucifixion which would not have occurred on a holy day.
    To begin with, it is unlikely crowds would carry weapons once Passover had begun. (Matthew 26:47,55; Mark 14:43,48-49; Luke 22:52; John 18:3) There would have been no Jewish involvement in the Roman legal proceedings against Jesus. (Matthew 27:12; Mark 15:3; Luke 23:5) Nor would the trial and crucifixion of Jesus have occurred. (Matthew 27:27-50; Mark 15:16-37; Luke 23:26-46; John 19:17-30)
    Simon the Cyrenian would not have journeyed from the country (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26) Nor would Joseph of Arimathea have been able to purchase a linen shroud and see to the burial of Jesus’ body. The fact that Jesus was quickly taken down from the cross and buried in his tomb is consistent with the Jews’ desire that he not be left on the cross once the feast had begun. (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-47; Luke 23:50-57; John 19:38-57)
    The accounts of the Last Supper all center on the meal itself. As the meal proceeded, Jesus took the bread and gave thanks before God. Because his position in relation to God was like that of a high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:5-10, 7:17, 8:1), Jesus more than likely presented the bread before God as an offering. He then broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it, eat. This is my body…broken for your sakes; given up on your behalf. Do this in remembrance of me.”
    Jesus also took the cup, gave thanks before God, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “All of you drink of it; for this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until that day when I shall drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” They sang hymns, and went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:17-20; I Corinthians 12:23-26)
    Passover is traditionally a patriarchal family rite in which the father of a family presides. This meal does not resemble a traditional Passover Seder. During the meal, Jesus identified his body and blood (soul, or life-force in the Jewish tradition) with food and drink offered to God through word and prayer. There is no mention of the Passover lamb; the foods described are vegetarian.
    Paul, who called himself an apostle to the gentiles, provides the earliest written account of the Last Supper in I Corinthians 11:20-32. He writes of the “Lord’s Supper,” but does not refer to a Passover meal. However, in I Corinthians 5:7, he proclaims: “Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed for us.” Early Christians observed the day of Jesus’ crucifixion on Nisan 14th. Claudius Appollinaris, Clement of Alexandria and Hippolytus attest to this. Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29) died at the same time as countless other innocent lambs of God.
    A tradition soon arose, however, that Jesus was crucified on Friday. The church father Irenaeus (120-200 AD) wrote that Jesus died in obedience to God’s will on the same day (Friday) Adam ate the forbidden fruit. For centuries, one of the most bitter disputes in the Christian Church was over the date of the crucifixion. Next to the Trinitarian dispute, this was the most serious issue facing the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325.
    The Eastern Church had celebrated the resurrection on Nisan 16, in April, which was also the Jewish Passover. The early Christian father Lactanius wrote that Jesus was crucified on March 23, with his resurrection on the 25th. Curiously, these are the dates on which the passion, death, and resurrection of Attis, a pagan savior, had been celebrated for nearly two thousand years. The rites performed in honor of Attis closely resembled the Christians’ Easter liturgy.
    Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified on Thursday, Nisan 14. He died at the same time the Passover lambs were being slain in the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus promised his disciples he would be resurrected on the third day (Sunday) from his execution. (Matthew 16:21; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33) A trial and execution on Thursday, the day of Preparation for Passover, is therefore, more consistent with Scripture.
    The Reverend Charles Gore, Bishop of Oxford, writes in A New Commentary on Holy Scripture: “We will assume John is right when he corrects Mark as to the nature of the Last Supper. It was not the Paschal meal proper, but a supper observed as a farewell supper with his disciples. Nor do the accounts of the supper suggest the ceremonial of the Passover meal.”
    In his commentary on Luke in the Cambridge Bible for Schools, Dean Farrar suggests the Last Supper “was not the actual Jewish Paschal meal, but one which was intended to supersede it by a Passover of far more divine significance.”

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