As you may have noticed, my CJN columns have often dealt with politics and economics. Let’s do something different this month and discuss the positive virtues of… the pig!
No, this isn’t an amusing segue to the subject of pork-barrel politics. Rather, I’m referring to bacon, ham, back ribs, pork chops and other culinary creations made from the four-legged pinkish creature.
Why am I getting into this? Let me explain. Back in early January, my fellow Sun Media colleague Anthony Furey wrote an amusing series of throwaway lines in a good column about Islam and religious tolerance. Here’s what he said: “Look, I couldn’t care less what rules you choose to follow. I think it’s absurd that Muslims and Jews deprive themselves of the joys of bacon. But whatevs. Just means more bacon for me.”
Some of you may be thinking, “Wow, that’s offensive! Doesn’t he know that Jews and Muslims don’t eat bacon for religious reasons? Maybe this self-professed libertarian atheist should learn more about other people’s faiths.”
Well, here’s the thing: Furey is completely right. It is absurd that some members of these two faiths don’t eat bacon.
Fortunately, this means more bacon for him – and me.
Yes, I’ve been eating bacon and many other pork products since I was young. I still consume bacon at least once a week, or more. Oh, and I eat shellfish, too.
What I do isn’t terribly relevant to the Jewish community, of course. I’ve been agnostic for more than 30 years. While I strongly support freedom of religion for all groups and individuals, I don’t wish to participate.
Unlike Furey, I don’t have a huge issue with religious Jews (or Muslims) refraining from eating bacon. I may fundamentally disagree with their position, but at least they’re being honest and forthright about it. That’s something I can respect.
The issue I have is with a significant number of moderate, mild and relatively lax Jews. These are the individuals who occasionally go to the synagogue, pay their fees, pray for a few hours, and then go rushing out to the nearest rib joint or dim sum restaurant at their earliest convenience.
And trust me, they’re not eating vegetables or kosher food.
I’ve seen it happen on various occasions. Over the years, I’ve met others who have witnessed the very same thing in other cities and towns. Perhaps you have, too.
To be fair, some Jews openly admit to doing this. The bulk won’t say anything – either out of fear, shame or potentially being treated with scorn by family and friends. Worst of all, some openly defend the practice of Jews not eating bacon or lobster – and then do it in private.
Pretty hypocritical, if you ask me.
Yes, I know what Leviticus, 11:7, says: “And the pig, because it has a cloven hoof that is completely split, but will not regurgitate its cud; it is unclean for you.”
Since I don’t read or study the Torah, you’ll forgive me if I don’t care all that much about this passage.
I own plenty of books of non-fiction that contain both accurate and inaccurate facts. Ultimately, you have the freedom to choose and the freedom to interpret, aspects of the Jewish Torah, Christian Bible and Muslim Qur’an as you see fit.
For what it’s worth, I’ve always supported the notion that being a good Jew, Christian or Muslim (if that’s important to you) has far more to do with observing religious tenets than eating habits. It’s the belief in your faith and following parts (read: not all) of religious scripture that will lead you to a blessed life and existence.
If you’re going to simply judge the value of a Jew based on his/her consumption of pork, shellfish and other foods, that’s rather absurd. Think about it. n
Michael Taube is a Sun Media columnist, Washington Times contributor and former speechwriter for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.