Sarah Bowen’s spiritual work as an animal chaplain and multifaith educator includes supporting all sentient beings, regardless of species.
This week’s guest is Sarah Bowen. Bowen is an award-winning author, multifaith spiritual educator, animal chaplain, and is completing postgraduate work at Chicago Theological Seminary on the intersection of human spiritual values and animal welfare. We are also fortunate enough to have her as a frequent contributor to Spirituality & Health. She has written several books, most recently Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective and Higher Purpose (Monkfish Publishing).
She and Rabbi Rami discuss how we humans tend to categorize animals into groups, such as the ones we love, the ones we eat, the ones we wear... Bowen says, “Those of us who are interested in theo-ethics are really keen on trying to have conversations and figure out how far do we extend compassion, rights, relationships,” to animals other than ourselves. We then become, basically, less species-centric.
Theo-ethics, in case you are wondering, is an academic term, Bowen explains, and is defined as your own particular spiritual system and how your spiritual values affect your decisions.
A lot of people’s theology leaves out many sentient beings, Rabbi Rami and Bowen discuss, but if we expand compassion outward from ourselves, it is inevitable that we need to examine our behavior and ethics toward animals.
For example, we can drive more carefully. Human motorists in the U.S. kill nearly 400 million animals, leaving them to die on the road. That’s over a million a day. We can also reduce the amount of animals we eat. Bowen says if you are not ready to go vegan or vegetarian, try being a “spiritualtarian.” For example, skip meat until 5 p.m., or choose not to eat animal products at all on Fridays. These small steps do add up, helping reduce our overall consumption of animal products as a human race.
Read more of Bowen’s stories; click her author page here on our website.
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