I owe you something more, however — something darker — on the subject of meat: The minor leads inexorably to the monumental. Lamb has set our feet in a large room indeed. Man not only dines: he also kills and sacrifices. The room in which he relishes the animal orders lies between slaughterhouse and temple. There are death’s heads at each end of the table of the world.
In The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection Robert Farrar Capon introduces what is perhaps the most poetic chapter with this paragraph. He explores our human proclivity to hunting and butchering and the Jewish temple sacrifices in a long poem that I mostly didn’t have the patience for, though I liked its division into sections named for the categories of the car game:
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral;
Testing the textures of creation,
savoring the styles of its coinherence.
After describing the neat and clean Mineral parts of our world, he moves on to the Vegetable, “the kingdom of seed, birth, life….And for the first time,/ the reek of death.” But
Onions die quietly,
Cabbages shed no blood;
All plants forgive:
By the waters that comprise them
They wash man’s hands
And let him walk away.
Eating vegetables is so innocent. But Capon doesn’t want to ignore the reality of our place as carnivores, so he unapologetically moves on to the Animal kingdom
each man owning the honest interchange by which he steals his livelihood; each woman’s hand intimate with the crack of wrung neck and severed spine….
It is not possible or even desirable to distill the writer’s poem into a fully satisfying theology, but I wanted my readers to know that he does satisfy himself with the mysteries of God’s plan of salvation, of which the temple sacrifices were a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
The world awaits
The unimaginable union
By which the Lion lifts Himself Lamb slain
And, Priest and Victim,