Rev. Miriama began to describe the “Hot Mess” we are living in right now. She clarified this isn’t a figurative hot mess. It’s a literal one, where our warming Earth puts messy situations in front of us every day: deadly weather phenomena, hunger and drought, migrations of creatures – human and non-human – to distant lands in pursuit of life-giving resources they may never find. While cosmic freedom is secured through Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, the freedom to flourish as earthly creatures is not enjoyed by all. Rev. Miriama offered a call to action. She strongly conveyed that we must face this hot mess for what it is, the very truth of our day. If we can’t face it, we can’t begin to ask God to help us speak truth to power. And if we do not speak truth to power, freedom will not come.
As I took in the first event of the conference, I felt within me something like an oil and water mixture of conviction and apprehension swirling around, not knowing which one would end up on top. Truth-telling is exciting to me because of its potential to unravel harmful systems that are destroying lives as we speak. It’s a serious responsibility! Here I was with legendary truth-tellers all around, and I felt empowered to take part in this important work while also feeling scared of how my message might be received.
The Summit was my first event representing CreatureKind, and as I sat in the auditorium, I considered what it means to bear a message that is surprising and challenging for many people: that my faith is an important part of my commitment to animal protection, and particularly the protection of animals used for food.
As a follower of Jesus, I want to shine a light on the systems that treat animals like commodities, and that cage, abuse, and brutally kill creatures for whom God has called us to care. And it’s not only animals who are negatively affected by these systems. Our US food systems wreak havoc on the world and its inhabitants through chronic disease, harmful working conditions, environmental degradation, and climate change. In countless ways, my desire for animal protection is interwoven with the desire for human rights and environmental justice.
Systems that keep animals in the shadows are detrimental to us all. Their existence does not bring us or our world closer to freedom, and freedom isn’t only for people, but for all creation. As long as animals are locked up in literal or figurative darkness, then the Earth will continue to groan – not only for animals, but for everything God has made and Jesus has redeemed. If freedom and truth-telling go together, then our truth-telling must occur alongside the many other messages of hope, redemption, justice, and radical love that were present in a place like The Summit.
As I thought about the days ahead, I braced myself for resistance. I prepared for negative responses. I considered how I could best express the truth about our food system so that it could be heard and received. When the opening session closed, I walked out with my conviction on top, but my heart leading the way.