Leslie Fields had passed through Hollywood before, but she never stopped to take in the glamarous Los Angeles district — until she won the William Wilberforce Award for her Christianity Today cover article.
Fields, a speaker, professor, fisherman and writer, received her award at the Genesis Awards, a high-profile event hosted by the Humane Society that honors those who produce works promoting public awareness of animal issues. The Wilberforce award is specifically for faith-based publications.
“They call the Genesis Awards the Oscar night for animals,” Fields said.
The article she won the award for, “A Feast Fit for the King: Returning the Growing Fields and Kitchen Table to God,” looks at the treatment of animals in the food industry.
On the big night, Fields was a little unsure about receiving the award because of one thing — she fishes.
“I was concerned that they knew that I live in Alaska and that I kill fish for a living and that my freezer is full of dead meat,” Fields said.
When she met the “charismatic” president of the Humane Society, she told him on the awards night about killing fish for a living.
“I just felt like I needed to make sure I wasn’t receiving the award under false pretense,” she said.
The president laughed it off as one of those things people do when they live in Alaska.
Fields’ article deals with topics very different from fishing.
“It examines the whole question of ethical eating and looks at the new food movement through a faith perspective,” Fields said. “Just all kind of facts and figures about our industrialized system of food production that creates food that not only is brutal to animals — calves kept in crates they can’t turn around in, chickens are in battery cages they can’t move in. It also creates a lot of disease. Animals are being fed things they should never be fed.
“I’m saying, basically, wake up, here’s what’s going on,” she said. “We need to pay attention to this. This isn’t an environmental animal rights movement. This is something we should all be concerned about.
“And we should be concerned about, especially as Christians, because if we really believe that this earth was made by God, and animals made by God, then that means we need to nurture and tend and care for them compas-sionately, not exploit and destroy and plunder.”
The award-winning November 2010 article was her third cover story for the magazine, and she will now be a regular columnist and a regular writer for Christianity Today, a popular magazine she has been reading for 35 years.
“Christianity Today is like the Newsweek of the Christian world,” Fields said. “It has a very large national circulation.”
On a night when movie stars and people like Oprah Winfrey and Anderson Cooper were in attendance, Fields said she had fun. The acceptance speech, a Genesis perspective on caring for the animals and earth, was her highlight. It was the only one from the night to make it onto YouTube.
“I think people were really surprised to hear that,” Fields said. “They shouldn’t be. But I think the Humane Society has moved away from its original foundation, which was more of a faith-based foundation.”
Fields’ work as a writer doesn’t stop with her award and new gig as a regular at Christianity Today. She has a new book (her eighth) coming out this summer that tells the personal stories of fishermen. The book, “Hooked: True Stories of Obsession, Death and Love from Alaska’s Fishing Men and Women,” is a collection of essays about commercial fishing.
Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via email at email@example.com.