It therefore became Beard’s aim as Editor to convey a Christian, spiritual and dietic message within an attractive modern journal. The style and structure of the articles which appeared in The Herald lent themselves easily to reproduction in the form of leaflets, pamphlets or booklets. Several books were also published by Beard and other O.G.A. members, particularly the physician Dr. Josiah Oldfield (1864-1953) M.A., D.C.L., L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S. Sidney Beard’s 1899 manual: A Comprehensive Guide-Book to Natural, Hygienic and Humane Diet was reprinted on several occasions and became one of the most influential (5)
The Aims and Objects of The Order of the Golden Age were lengthy yet essentially intended:
“…to hasten the advent of that promised Era, when love, mercy and goodwill towards all fellow creatures shall reign in every human heart.” (6)
Or as Beard himself articulated it with some subtlety:
“…to introduce a leaven into society which will go on working silently.”
The Herald of the Golden Age, Vol.1, No.1. January, 1896.
It was a leaven which would have much to contend with ideologically and depended upon an organisation whose every member “…must become a centre of influence.” For Beard realised that:
“The thinkers and writers of to-day are shaping the opinions and destinies of men in the coming future.” (7)
Sidney Beard typically sought to motivate the readership of The Herald through passages of positive thought which could appear both sublime and prone to over-confidence. (8) It was the Editor’s aim nonetheless to emphasise certain prerequisites which the new society would need to cultivate, if it was to have any prospect of fulfilling the awesome challenges which had been embraced:
“We want every Member of the Order to be a worker and not merely an adherent, so that our society may be a strong and aggressive fighting force, a brotherhood of earnest reformers.” (9)
The second edition of The Herald featured an essay from the agnostic Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) on Morality in Diet which characteristically came to the crux of the matter:
“Well indeed would it be if all kindly Christian people, who say ‘grace’ over their food, would think of the history of such a meal! If they would reflect on the agony of terror endured by imported cattle during the journey by sea or land; the disease too often engendered by the filth and misery of the voyage; the thirst, hunger, and despair, and, finally, the horrors of the slaughterhouse, if they would think of this, they would ask God to pardon them, at the end of their meal, and not to “make them truly thankful.”
The Herald of the Golden Age, February, 1896.
The same edition disclosed that a copy of the periodical would be sent:
“…to most of the leaders of modern religious thought and philanthropic endeavour, to the Editors of a large number of journals, to the Y.M.C.A.’s throughout the country etc.”
Whilst the everyday implications of the task which lay before the organisation were considered in the following terms:
“Whilst the children of Christian parents are brought up from infancy to witness daily on the dinner table a demonstration of an idea – that it is justifiable for Christian people to sacrifice their fellow-creatures, for their own benefit or pleasure, – there is very little hope of the coming generations growing up imbued with the opposite conviction – that the real spirit of Christianity involves self denial and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.”
A Threefold Strategy
At the second Convention of The Order of the Golden Age which was held on 14th September 1897, Sidney Beard pronounced that:
“To accomplish this great work, we need leaders – men and women who possess administrative, literary or platform ability…
Each member should qualify himself to answer in a logical and convincing manner every objection which can be made to the ideas we advocate.”
The Herald of the Golden Age, November, 1897.
The O.G.A. were soon active along all three of the lines of advocacy which had been envisaged by Beard. However, an early Administrative venture which was intended to instigate activity on the part of the O.G.A.’s churchgoing membership bore little fruit:
“To members of Christian Churches
Would you please ask your pastor to give some consideration to the subject of ‘Flesh eating, its morality and its results upon individual and national welfare and progress.’ And then to give to his congregation the benefit of his investigation.” (10)
The O.G.A. soon gave rise to several notable speakers, in particular, the Rev. J. Todd Ferrier (1855-1943) – a Minister based at the Macclesfield Congregationalist Church. During the latter part of 1903 and the spring of 1904, Rev. Ferrier took part in a nationwide lecturing tour of forty-five venues which included Church Halls, Theosophical, Spiritualist and Temperence meeting places.
The O.G.A. provided a bold blueprint for the Platform protocol of its speakers in The Herald of the Golden Age of March 1898:
“…go straight to the point with some such question as “Is Flesh Eating a Sin.” Hostility is better than indifference and the more ‘dust’ we can stir up the better, provided that we do it in a courteous manner – say as you think, and speak it from your souls!”
By 1903, Sidney Beard was able to note that:
“During the past eight years our public challenge to carnivorism upon moral and spiritual bases has been carried from town to town and city to city, but never yet have I been able to find a Christian Minister who has dared to get upon his feet and defend this barbaric and degenerate custom by sound argument, or by claiming that this wholesale butchery for the purpose of providing a needless and injurious type of food is in harmony with the spirit of Christ.
“If we proclaim error to their congregation why do they not refute our teaching in an open and straightforward manner?”
The Herald of the Golden Age, September, 1903
Yet the O.G.A. had already formed the view that their lectures were barely having an appreciable effect upon the Churches. For the most part:
“They do not sit down in the attitude of being willing to learn. If they were willing to be convinced they would have to change their method of living, and would have to modify many of their sermons and enlarge their theology – and this means much personal trouble, and therefore it is easiest to jog along in the old style and ever leave new teaching to the next generation.”
The Herald of the Golden Age, November, 1902.
At an Administrative level the organisation remained focused on a strategy of direct overture to the Churches. During the early 1900’s the International Headquarters of the O.G.A. issued a circular which was initially sent to Pastors of the Unitarian Church. The Open Letter was signed by thirteen Ministers of the denomination and read:
“We are convinced that very few of our Ministers have realised the importance of the Ethical argument in favour of a bloodless diet. To our mind the present custom of killing animals for our consumption, when food equally nourishing (to say the least) can easily be obtained without the sacrifice of life at all, the constant degradation of thousands of our brethren by contact with