The Peaceable Table

A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith

The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of people of faith in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a nonviolent diet

Editorial: Stranger at the Table



About in 1628 the twenty-something Rembrandt Van Rijn portrayed, in high drama, the climactic scene of the resurrection narrative in Luke 24:13-25. The story tells that two disciples of Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to their home in the village of Emmaus (a journey of about seven miles) on Sunday afternoon, two days after the crucifixion of Jesus. As they discuss the shattering event, a stranger overtakes them and asks what they are discussing that makes them so sad. One of them, named Cleopas, tells the newcomer about Jesus, the prophet of mighty word and deed from Nazareth whom their hopes had cast as the one who was going to liberate Israel, but who had been seized by the authorities and, horribly, crucified. They add that, that very morning, women of their group had reported finding his tomb empty, and angels announcing that he was alive; but others going to the spot did not see him.


The stranger responds by explaining to them that this all happened in accordance with God's plan, in fulfillment of various Scripture passages from Moses and the other prophets. When the two travelers reach their home, the stranger shows signs of going on, but they urge him to spend the night: "Abide with us, for it is toward evening . . . ." He accepts the invitation, and joins them for supper. At the table he takes the part of the host, breaking the loaf of bread and distributing it. Suddenly, they recognize that he is Jesus; and he vanishes. Electrified, the two disciples get up and go back to Jerusalem (a two-plus hour walk, mostly in the dark) to tell their friends that Jesus had appeared to them, and became known in the breaking of bread.


The Breaking of Bread

That the recognition took place in the context of a shared meal is significant; it identifies the stranger, connecting him with the main concern of Jesus' ministry, the Kingdom of God. This is an ancient theme in Israel's history, the minority position of those who hold that God's highest will for us is not royal human rule but a society of equality and thus of fairness. As described in "The Prophet From Nazareth" ( see PT 64) this concept is rooted in the Exodus, Israel's founding story, which shows that God, unlike many other nations' deities, is against exploitative rule; God wills to liberate its victims (via human action) into a life of happiness and plenty. Later prophets renewed Exodus for their own times. They denounced (among other things) the rapacious rule of contemporary overlords, whether they were Israel's own rulers, or a new foreign empire. They promised renewal and abundance to those who Returned to God as their king. One of the symbols of this new life of plenty is the shared feast: "On this mountain the Lord will make for all peoples a feast of rich things, a feast of wines on the lees . . . ." (Isa. 25:6) .


In his own day in which Roman greed and cruelty were driving the common people into tax debt, loss of farms, hunger, and misery, Jesus' teachings gave particular emphasis to the shared-meal image, in his parables as well as his actions. It becomes not only a symbol of future freedom and plenty, but a present reality of enough to eat for everyone. (The technical term is open commensality.) Furthermore, it means acceptance and friendship for those at the bottom of society instead of marginalization and contempt. In virtually any human society, some have much while others have little or nothing, and, correspondingly, most people will dine with those on their own social and financial level, but not with those they consider beneath them. This applies not only to the aristocrats, who scorn peasants, but to self-supporting peasants, who scorn the destitute and the prostitutes. But the feast Jesus promotes is one of compassion, equality and plenty for all who will to share. The God of love, not Caesar, rules.


Cleopas and his companion were almost surely among the poor; if they had means, one would expect them to be riding in comfort, not walking nearly five hours in one day. Like most first-century Jewish peasants who still had homes, their house was probably a stone-and-mud hovel, and their food scanty. The rough stone and board wall behind the dining figures in Rembrandt's painting, the small table with only enough food just to go around, reflect this probability (although not the high ceiling and spaciousness, probably chosen to convey a sense of the numinous). Yet they invite the homeless stranger to share what they have for the night. In doing so, they enact what they have learned from Jesus: and they find that he is not dead, but there at their table. They are stunned.


(Another means by which Jesus proclaimed God's Kingdom was through healing; and since some illnesses resulted in social ostracism, healing was linked to acceptance. He must have had an extraordinary healing gift, since so many stories tell of healings. He evidently did not consider this power unique, since when he sent his disciples out on a temporary mission, he told them to heal as he did. It was one of the main signs of the Kingdom of God.)


The painting's wonderful golden light from an unseen source, in which the figure of Jesus is silhouetted--light many times brighter than any oil lamp could cast--suggests that "something greater than Solomon is here." In the words of a hymn by Faith Bowman, "Where we call no man our master / But are kin and equals all, / Rich and homeless feast together-- / God is there to grace the hall." For this Quaker, the amber glow represents the Divine Light, which, largely unseen, suffuses all things and sometimes radiates out of the darkness in dazzling splendor: "The whole earth is full of [thy] glory." (Isa. 6:3) It is both Power and Presence. In the homeless stranger at the table we see the unknown Someone who cannot be defeated by violence and death, the Someone the from whom all somethings and someones come.



Does this mean that all someones, however lowly, are welcomed at the table in the Kingdom of God? It is evident that historically, most human actions to promote the Kingdom have fallen sadly short. Perhaps the language contributes to the problems; despite its intent, its identification of God with a male monarch influences our thinking. Suggested alternatives, like the Commonwealth of God, don't communicate as well.


Particular instances of the Feast fall short in different ways. For example, even this marvelous Rembrandt painting shows that the artist seems to assume that the Kingdom of God is a class society. The three diners (one is on his knees before the figure of Jesus) are male, whereas in the background, a wife or kitchen maid is doing the work.* Sadly, it is unlikely that Rembrandt's contemporaries, and thousands of people of faith viewing the painting since then, have seen any problem here.



Furthermore, when we seek to provide a table and shelter for all, inviting the destitute from the "highways and hedges," we find that we must have not only generous, open hearts, but caution, prudence, and toughness as well. Those in greatest need do not necessarily welcome the Kingdom; a disturbed or addicted or mean-spirited few may sabotage the program for many. And the program may even perpetuate the problem, if supportive services such as therapy and job counseling are not provided as well. These necessary precautions tend to creates a two-class situation: those who bring the food and make the rules, and those who receive and obey. This fact tends to blunt the sensitivity of the well-intentioned folk who plan and carry out the dinners. Sometimes when I have participated in serving, I found that the "hosts" ate at their separate table, which the homeless "guests" did not feel free to join.


The View From Beneath the Bottom

Perhaps it is in regard to our oppressed animal cousins that historic efforts to welcome the stranger have failed most dismally. Most of the time people of faith have continued to regard "food" animals as beneath the bottom, if they are aware of them at all; they exist only as things on the platter. They remain strangers, not recognized even after death.


It is true that in some cases social conditions may make this problem very hard to remedy. One example is a program to feed homeless people who live on the vast city dump in Managua, Nicaragua. I visited this place in 1986 and 1995, and was horrified. Adults, children, whole families spend their lives combing the trash for not-too-decayed scraps to eat or an item they can sell on the streets; when a truck arrives to dump its trash, desperate people swarm over, and fights may break out. Because this situation especially reached my heart, I contribute to a program called Pro-Nica, supported by a group of Florida Quakers, which (among other activities) provides one meal a day to some of these destitute children. And the local people who plan and serve the meals, wanting these wretched children to have the best at that one dinner, include "meat." I made inquiries of my fellow Quakers: wouldn't it be more compassionate and Friendly to make the meals nonviolent? My correspondent, herself a vegetarian, agreed, but said it is hard to do. It seems that much of the country is a "food desert" when it comes to vegetables (which agrees with my experience there in 1986). Money for the program is limited, meat is more available, so that is what the children get with their rice and beans. I keep hoping for a way to open.


Of course there are food deserts in the US as well, but the middle-class people of faith who plan meals for homeless people are not confined to these deserts. Most of them center the meals on animal flesh because they have always eaten that way themselves; I know one or two who have even heard and resisted the message of compassion for animals. Instead of working toward an Exodus for the animals, most people of faith have unthinkingly participated in enslaving them in tighter cages. Instead of healing, we have paid to have them live in filth and misery, and die in terror and agony. Instead of sharing fairly at the planetary table with free animal nations, we consume the products of organizations that take over their living spaces, extinguishing nation after nation.


As with his forbears the earlier prophets, the prophet from Nazareth called people of all classes to repent. This word has become a caricature, but its original intent is profound, and is highly relevant here. One of its primary meanings is to turn away from corrupt social structures based on ranking and exploitation, and Return to the God of compassion and (distributive) justice. Both society and the individual must be transformed, until we love our neighbors as ourselves. We rejoice that some in our day have heard the prophetic message in regard to animals; no doubt there are readers of PT involved in shared-meal programs where the tables are genuinely peaceable. I know of a church and a Friends' Meeting whose members not only served homeless persons vegetarian meals, but decorated the tables with candles and flowers in honor of the strangers.


In the stranger, whatever her or his class or shape, we must recognize the divine Face.

--Gracia Fay Ellwood


*Is this sexist feature redeemed by the fact that the maid is the one who most resembles Jesus, both in the angle of her body and the light silhouetting her? In fact the resemblance calls to mind his saying "Who is greater, the one sitting at dinner or the one serving? . . . . But I am among you as one who serves." Lk. 22:27). I invite comments on this and any other aspect of this essay.


Sources: The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg & John Dominic Crossan

Life in Year One by Scott Korb

Meeting Jesus Again For the First Time by Marcus J. Borg

In the Shadow of Empire by Richard A. Horsley, Ed.

Supper at Emmaus, oil on paper on panel, by Rembrandt Van Rijn.

Unset Gems

"Sentient beings, near and far, I vow to beFriend.
The Truth I vow to learn and speak.
With God I vow to unite all my being.
I can do all things through Christ who
empowers me."
--Triple vow of the Order of the Cross and the Grail

"To God belong the East and the West; whichever way you turn, there is the face of God."
--Qu'ran, Surah Baqara 2:115

News Notes

Ohio Hen-Hell Won't Happen

An application by Hi-Q Egg Products for a permit to build a 6-million-hen battery-cage egg factory farm in Central Ohio has been denied, apparently due to a failure to provide a report on the impact it would have on the surrounding community. This mega "farm" would have produced at least 74,000 tons of chicken manure and 23 million gallons of manure-contaminated egg-wash water each year, not to mention the vast suffering of the hens. See Hen Hell

--Contributed by Lorena Mucke


“Globally Significant” Marine Extinction

Overfishing, pollution, loss of habitat and climate change are causing devastation in the ocean, with many species at the brink of commercial extinction. The International Programme on the State of the has issued a report describing the catastrophic effects of irresponsible human activity that may cause much hardship to the generations to come. This report urges authorities and people everywhere to act rapidly in order to prevent "globally significant" marine extinction. See IPSO and Black Fish

--Contributed by Lorena Mucke


Parliamentary Victory for Animals

The British House of Commons has overwhelmingly voted to ban the use of wild animals in circuses; the action will take effect July 1, 2012. See Ban

--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux

A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom?

Friendship Across Worlds

Arthur, an intrepid tabby perched confidently on the edge of a boat, plays with his good friend, a lagoon-dwelling dolphin named Thunder in 1997 at Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The dolphin is not wild but in human care. See Worlds . Does this qualify as a Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom?

--Contributed by Marjorie Emerson

Letter: Linda Terry

Dear Peaceable Friends,

I read the PT yesterday and really appreciated Lisa Adams' letter. She and I think a good deal the same on many points. Thanks for putting this in the newsletter. I'm sure that it connected with many of your readers, like me, who have somewhat different views.

Blessings, Linda Terry

Did You Miss This One?

The Rescuers Down Under , a Disney animated film based on the books by Margery Sharp. Starring Eva Gabor, Bob Newhart, Adam Ryen, and George C. Scott. 1990.

For over twenty years it has puzzled me that such a fine film, deservedly praised by critics, managed to achieve only a modest success with the public and never became a mega-hit. The story centers on Cody (voiced by Adam Ryen), a ten-year old Australian boy, a pint-sized Francis of Assisi and Radagast the Brown, who loves animals and risks his life to save them. The feeling and heroic devotion are very much mutual. Golden-haired Cody befriends Marahute, a giant gold-and-white eagle (the shared plumage suggests an affinity), freeing her from binding ropes. In return she gives him a ride on her back, the most beautiful flight sequence I have ever seen. It calls to mind the eagle rescue flights in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but in one way is even better, since it is a true Joy-ride.

Cody and Marahute have an enemy, a ruthless poacher named Percival McLeach (voiced by George C. Scott, with some facial resemblance), whom I would call the Devil Incarnate--except that it would probably be a slander against the Devil. Cody falls into one of McLeach's animal traps. McLeach, finding a golden feather in Cody's backpack, kidnaps him and tries to force him to reveal the whereabouts of Marahute and her nest. To him Marahute means only a fortune in hard gold, but the loyal Cody, of course, refuses to betray his friend despite alternating terrorization and blandishments.

Fortunately, mice have created an international Rescue Aid Society (RAS) for such eventualities, and they send their two best agents to deal with it. These are Bianca (voiced by Eva Gabor), an elegant, sophisticated European White Mouse, and Bernard (voiced by Bob Newhart), a humble but brave and smart American Brown Mouse. They have worked together, and faced great dangers together, and of course they are in love. The call comes through during a romantic dinner date at which Bernard is trying to propose--alas, romance has to wait. They fly south via Albatross Airlines ("A fair fare from here to there"), riding on a talkative, volatile bird named Wilbur who serves as comic relief. The mice team up with an Australian RAS agent, a Crocodile-Dundy-type kangaroo rat named Jake, whose value as their guide is dubious, since he flirts with Bianca and tries to ditch Bernard.

Cody is taken in by a trick and unknowingly leads McLeach to the nest. More hair-raising captures and last-second rescues follow, leading eventually to the triumph of God over Evil, sealed by the happy engagement of our dauntless heroes. The final note is comic: Wilbur, very much against his will, becomes a mother, hatching the golden eagle eggs.

The Australian terrain is exaggerated, with impossible cliffs and mile-high waterfalls, the semitropical north next to the arid plateau. But one doesn't demand too much realism in an animated adventure story. Except for McLeach's particularly nasty sidekick Joanna, the goanna lizard (a type of predatory monitor), the uniquely Australian animals have only bit parts. Australia does have massive eagles, but the Giant Golden Eagle is mythical. In short, the story is genuinely Australian--more or less.

The talking animals are not merely disguised human beings. By casting the villain as a sadistic, rapacious poacher, and one of the heroes as a human child willing to sacrifice all for his magnificent bird friend, the film achieves a genuinely meaningful animal-human story. We find ourselves applauding even Joanna in the amusing scene in which McLeach lectures her about how humans are mentally superior to animals, after which she quietly proceeds to outsmart the human.

At the other end of the spectrum of comedy vs. poignancy, there is a scene in which Bernard--at great risk to himself--has just saved Cody, who then hugs his mouse friend with his hand and cheek. Pure, unconditional love between the bravest of humans and the bravest of mice.

If you missed this film--or even if you saw it twenty-one years ago--it is very much worth seeing now.
-Benjamin Urrutia and Gracia Fay Ellwood


Tempeh Seafood Salad
serves 2 -3

1 package (8 oz.) tempeh (3 grain variety), cut into ½ inch cubes
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. kelp powder
1 T. dulse flakes
½ - ¾ tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
¼ cup Vegenaise® or other vegan mayo substitute
2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 T. fresh chopped dill
1 clove garlic, minced

½ lb. mixed salad greens
lemon wedges, for garnish
In medium size skillet warm the olive oil and add the tempeh; cook over medium-high heat until cooked through. Add the kelp, dulse, salt, pepper, and Bragg’s Aminos, and cook over medium heat for 1 – 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and place in ceramic or glass mixing bowl; add the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, dill, parsley, and Vegenaise. Toss well to mix, allowing the tempeh to become broken into pieces. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve over a bed of greens. Drizzle with additional olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

---Angela Suarez


Vanilla Lemon Cheezecake

For the Crust

2 cups raw macadamias or almonds soaked overnight
1/2 cup moist dates, pitted (about 7 or 8)
1/4 cup non-sweetened coconut flakes
Place almonds and dates in a food processor and mix until chopped and well incorporated. Cover the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form cake pan with the coconut flakes (this prevents the cake from sticking t0 the pan). Pour the almond mixture on top of the coconut flakes, spread out, and mold into the cake pan.


For the Filling

3 cups raw cashews soaked for 3 hours
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup raw agave nectar
3/4 cup raw coconut oil, warmed (not
in microwave) if necessary
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
To make the cheeze mixture, blend the cashews, lemon, nectar, coconut oil, vanilla, and sea salt until smooth and adjust to taste. (For best results use a high speed blender)

Pour mixture on top of the crust and carefully tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.


For the Topping

1 bag of frozen raspberries
1/2 cup dates
1/4 cup water to thin mixture if needed
Place berries and dates in a food processor and process until smooth. Pour over cheeze mixture.

Place the pan in the freezer for at least three hours or overnight. Before serving, thaw slightly. This is best served semi-frozen, soft enough to run a serrated knife through.


--Emily Lee Angell

With special thanks to Angie Cordeiro and Priscilla Soligo (pictured, with her son. For Priscilla's website see Rawthentic ; for her Facebook page see Rawthenticfood .

Pioneer: Brian Greene, 1963-



Brian Greene, a New York City native, is now a well-known physicist, mathematician and author of books explaining string theory and its various implications to a general audience. As Greene explained to interviewer Bradley Jay of Atlantic, when he was a child, his father, Alan, taught him to look at the world in new ways by means of a game they played together. For instance, if Brian saw a coin fall out of someone's pocket while they were walking the streets, he might imagine and describe how the world would look if he were an ant spiraling downward on that copper disk. Then Alan would take his turn with a new perspective.


One of the ways that Brian showed this openness to new viewpoints, for heart as well as mind, appeared at the dinner table when he was nine years old, according to an interview he did for the Supreme Master Ching Hai News. That day his mother served spare ribs for dinner--and the child suddenly saw this thing on the platter as once having been a being like himself, with ribs. "I was horrified and declared I'd never eat meat again. And I never have." He does not say anything about meeting opposition to this resolution from his parents (and his father hardly seems the rigid type), so we may probably assume that they supported him. Considering the ignorance and wrongheaded attitudes throughout the culture at this time, about 1972, their stance says much for them.


A prodigy in math, Brian had left his teacher behind by the time he was a sixth-grader. Wanting to do the best by the gifted youngster, the teacher gave him a note explaining the situation and sent him to the math department at nearby Columbia University. With his sister, Brian wandered over the campus from office to office, and finally found a graduate student in math named Neil Bellinson willing to tutor him. Bellinson continued this good work until Brian graduated from high school in 1980.


He went to Harvard University, majoring in physics, not only absorbed by its intricacies, but participating in drama (he acted in musicals) and cross country running as well. After graduating in 1984, and winning a Rhodes scholarship, he studied at Oxford, where he devoured everything he could find about the new "theory of everything" which posits that the tiniest building blocks of the universe are strings, minute filament loops that vibrate at different frequencies. He took his Ph.D. in 1987. In 1990 he joined the faculty at at Cornell, and in 1996 took a position as full professor at Columbia, where he still teaches.


He continues to take acting lessons, enjoying the different perspective on the world that drama provides. His involvement in drama contributes to his great success in making abstract material clear and enjoyable in the classroom. His classes are thronged with students and nonstudents enraptured by physics, thanks to Greene's charismatic style and novel metaphors. He sometimes uses characters derived from popular culture, such as Lisa from The Simpsons and Chewie from Star Wars. These gifts carry over into his popular-education books, The Elegant Universe, 1999 (on string theory) which has been made into a Nova film; The Fabric of the Cosmos, 2005 (on space and time); and The Hidden Reality, 2011 (on parallel universes).


Not only has Greene maintained his commitment to vegetarianism, during a visit to Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York he " learned much about the dairy industry which was so disturbing that I could not continue to support it. Within days I gave up all dairy." In fact he became a vegan. He lives on an old farm in New York, which he hopes to develop into an animal sanctuary eventually. When asked about a possible link between cutting-edge minds and vegetarianism, he said "Vegetarians typically are people who are willing to challenge the usual, accepted order of things. Moreover, they’re often people willing to sacrifice their own pleasures in pursuit of what they believe is right. These same qualities are often what’s needed to make great breakthroughs in the arts and sciences."


In the 2007 time-travel film The Last Mimzy (see review, PT 34 ), for which Greene served as physics advisor and had a cameo role, there is a scene in which the major characters, children Emma and Noah Wilder, are having lunch and watching the Cooking Channel. Little Emma, as she bites into her hamburger, is upset at seeing the cook kill a lobster, and protests the cruel act. Her brother Noah retorts "How about that ground-up cow you're eating?" As horrified as the nine-year-old Brian Greene, Emma spits out the cow flesh. I don't know whether Greene is responsible for this exchange, but he certainly would have approved.

--Gracia Fay Ellwood


Greene, Brian: The Fabric of the Cosmos

Online Sources: World Biography; Wikipedia; Eminent Scientists and Inventors on Vegetarianism.

Poetry: James Montgomery & Faith Bowman

Be known to us in breaking bread,
But do not then depart . . . .
Abide with us, Beloved, and spread
Thy table in our heart.

There may we eat ambrosial food
And drink nectarian wine;
There taste thy Garden's highest good
And on thy heart recline.

From the rich bounty of thy board
May all thy creatures feast. . . .
May purple-flowing streams afford
Pleasure to first and least!

The Peaceable Table is a project of Quaker Animal Kinship / Animal Kinship Committee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Pasadena, California. It is intended to resume the witness of that excellent vehicle of the Friends Vegetarian Society of North America, The Friendly Vegetarian, which appeared quarterly between 1982 and 1995. Following its example, and sometimes borrowing from its treasures, we publish articles for toe-in-the-water vegetarians as well as long-term ones.

The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the August issue will be July 27, 2011. Send to or 10 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. We operate primarily online in order to conserve trees and labor, but hard copy is available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked, if their funds permit, to donate $12 (USD) per year. Other donations to offset the cost of the domain name and server are welcome.

Editor: Gracia Fay Ellwood
Book and Film Reviewers: Benjamin Urrutia & Robert Ellwood
Recipe Editor: Angela Suarez
NewsNotes Editors: Lorena Mucke and Marian Hussenbux
Technical Architect: Richard Scott Lancelot Ellwood