It’s been awhile, so I’m trying to resist a lengthy 3 month update and instead fill you in on a current issue.
As most of you know it’s Lent right now… meatless Fridays for practicing Catholics. Here, the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians take Lent a bit further by making every day Friday. No meat, no animal products… strictly vegan for two months. I’m not Orthodox, but my lack of veil means everyone generally assumes or accepts that I’m Christian. Being a non-Orthodox Christian, I don’t need to fast. Apparently though, I do need to pay attention to the symbols outside of restaurants. A look of shock and hurt came over my poor Orthodox friend’s face when I told him where I had my lunch. I guess I missed the crescent moon and star outside. It was a Muslim place, and Christians do not eat Muslim meat.
I feel bad for disappointing my friend, and for the confusion that I probably sent around town. At the same time, I feel unfairly held to their religious expectations. Meat is meat in my religion. Should I pretend that it’s not? Boycott all the Muslim restaurants in town for some fake display of Christianity? I respect their culture in every way possible (just check out the farmer’s tan on these shoulders!) but this is one issue I’m drawn on. Rumors fly here faster than Hollywood. Do I apologize for my oversight and refrain from Muslim restaurants? Or do I follow my own heart in not pretending?
Honestly, I’ll probably avoid Muslim meat from now on; I don’t like it enough to face the drama. But it’s got me thinking: Where do we draw the line between adapting to culture and following our own beliefs? Isn’t pretending, in a way, also a lie?