In case you missed it (which I’m not sure how you could have), my city has been in the news because of the shooting of a gorilla to save the life of a child. Obviously, this happened at a zoo, not in the wild. Because I live in Cincinnati, not in a tropical rainforest in Africa.
I’ve perused the articles, Facebook posts and tweets here and there — tuning out most them — coming to the same conclusion that I’m sad the gorilla was killed, but thankful the child was spared serious injury.
When I saw that Karen Swallow Prior was a guest on a podcast talk about the issue, I knew I had to listen because I was confident the conversation would be nuanced and Biblical without resorting to clichés about children and animals.
I wasn’t disappointed. There were many quotable nuggets, but here’s one of my favorites from Prior, talking about when she first heard about the situation.
“I had two thoughts. The first was, Thank God they saved that little boy. And the second one was, What do you expect to happen when you stick a wild animal in the middle of the city for people to gawk at.”
Why am I sharing this on a blog about agriculture and food?
Because this situation says a lot about how we view animals and ourselves. And that has everything to do with how we approach farming and food.
Speaking specifically to Christians, those who produce food and those who eat food need a strong theology and philosophy of animals and eating. Moreover, we need to be willing to have fierce, uncomfortable, kind conversations that help us apply that theology and philosophy to the issues of our day. I believe we especially need to listen to “factory farmers” (a term I detest!) and learn from them instead of assuming things about them based on social media.
I’m still figuring out how my convictions about animals should influence my actions and beliefs. I don’t agree with Karen Swallow Prior on everything, but I am thankful for her voice on these issues.