Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

Family Minister’s Message for August Newsletter–plus a CORRECTION!: “So Far Apart, Yet So Close to Our Basic Humanity”

 {An edited and version of this appears in the August church newsletter.  I received a helpful reply by email from a church member about one of the assumptions I make in this article.  I have copied her reply and posted it as a comment to this post.}


So Far Apart, Yet So Close to Our Basic Humanity

A highlight of late-night General Assembly socializing in Charlotte was chatting in a hotel bar as the TV showed CNN coverage of New York State’s legislature’s approval of marriage equality for same-sex couples.  The whole bar applauded.

After GA I visited friends– I hiked the Appalachian Trail for a full hour, took a history tour by trolley of Asheville, ate locally grown or fished food in cool cafes, and picked a quart of black currants from their back yard, which one of my hosts baked into a pie.

Then on to New England, and New York City.   The Amtrak ride from Providence to New York was crowded with commuters and post-July 4 vacationers.  I admired the finely tuned complexity of the NYC public transit system and complimented myself that I could re-learn it after a year’s absence.

New York has become a “green,” energy-conserving, pedestrian- and bike-friendly city.  Crowds enjoyed themselves on sidewalks, in Central Park, and at plays and musicals.  Me too!  A friend’s son gave a tour of the floor where he works, midway up the Empire State Building.  Great views all around.   A new friend’s pal gave a tour of the underground loading docks at Rockefeller Plaza.  Clean, enormous, fascinating. Cheaper than the observation deck.

I stayed my last two nights at the international youth hostel.  Though large and busy, it was well kept.  The teens and young adults were generally courteous and clean guests, and they were friendly to the odd older person, like me.  But NYC doesn’t need an international hostel for variety.  Ethnic, national and religious diversity teem on the streets.

On my way to a public bus to catch my plane home, a young woman street vendor at one of the ubiquitous chrome wagons charmed me into getting chicken gyros with rice, $4.99.  I asked:  “Is it Halal?”

“Al-ham du-lillah!” she said. (“Thanks be to God!”) “Yes, of course it is Halal.  Are you Muslim?”  (She had on head-covering, a baseball cap in pink.  Her dad sat nearby.)

No, I said.  (I didn’t explain that I’m Unitarian and concerned about factory farming cruelty, and that I assume Halal and Kosher meat wasn’t farmed that way. Hope I’m right!)

I asked, “Are you from here?”  She said she was from Egypt but has been here 15 years, which I took to be more than half her life.

“Do you still have family there?”  She said yes.

“Are they okay?”  Yes, she said, they are.

“Are they happy?”  Yes, she smiled:  happy too.

“Well, God bless Egypt!” I said.  She repeated this, and thanked me.

She handed me the bag of fresh hot food, and I headed for the bus, following her dad’s directions.  She said, “Take care, my friend!”  We human beings can be so far apart, yet we can get so close… to our basic humanity.

Yours in service,


P.S.—See Pastor Cranky’s  summary of June’s General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations from Charlotte, NC.


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{I received this email from a church member in response to my column, which she appreciated. But she also has a helpful bit of information in response to my assumption about Kosher and Halal meat and animal welfare.}

I did want to comment on your statement that you hoped halal (and
kosher) meats were more humane than standard factory farmed meat.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case (the animals usually come from the
same CAFOs, it’s only the killing method that’s different–and not
always quicker or kinder). A few links for you, if you’re interested: (reprint of an article from
Tikkun magazine) (graphic undercover
footage from U.S–be forewarned)

These are from a large undercover investigation conducted in 2004; not
much has changed since then from what I understand. Lots of people
think kosher/halal means ethical, but that’s not the case from an
animal cruelty, environmental, or labor perspective.

Comment by Pastor Cranky

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