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Update Newsletters
26 March 2006 Issue

1. CVA tops 3000

2. Commentary -- Are We Called to Save All the Animals

3. Coupon for free Tofutti (vegan ice cream)

4. "Theology and Animals" at Xavier University

5. Leafleting and Tabling Feedback

6. Arizona Animal Welfare Initiative

7. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence:  Can Satan Cast Out Satan?

1. CVA tops 3000
The CVA now has over 3000 members. Help us grow throughout the world by telling family, friends, and Internet colleagues about our ministry.

2. Commentary -- Are We Called to Save All the Animals
Many activists feel overwhelmed by the amount of animal suffering and death that is a consequence of human callousness and greed. They are determined to stop the horrors, yet they find that most people seem relatively unconcerned and many people are unwilling to even hear about how humans treat animals on factory farms.

The activists often feel discouraged by their inability to change the world, and many give up activism (and sometimes even vegetarianism) in despair. I think the activists err in thinking that they are called to save all the animals. We activists did not create the problem, so it's now our fault. The forces backing cruelty are far greater than we are (but we're growing!), and it is unreasonable to expect that we can do more than chip away at the problem.

As Christians, we are called only to serve God, not to save the world. Of course, an important part of that service is to honor God's creation by protecting God's earth and God's creatures. However, whether or not we change the world substantially is beyond our control. We should be practical and pragmatic, choosing those strategies that have maximum effect, but ultimately we should not hold ourselves responsible for the state of the world. With that in mind, we may proceed with determination and confidence, recognizing that service to God is what gives life purpose and meaning.

3. Coupon for free Tofutti (vegan ice cream) http://www.tofutti.com/coupons.asp.

4. "Theology and Animals" at Xavier University.
Dr. Elizabeth J. Farians is teaching this course at Xavier University this spring. Contact the CVA for further information.

5. Leafleting and Tabling Feedback
Elizabeth Farians and three of her students in her Theology and Animals class at Xavier leafleted at a Casting Crowns concert in Cincinnati on 3/18. She writes: Our leafleting was very successful. We distributed about 1250 booklets in a little over an hour. Almost all concert-goers said, "Thank you."

B.  Lorena, tabling at a Helping Animals 101 conference in Atlanta, writes: PETA people were very welcoming and the audience was very receptive. There were about 70-80 attendees. Today 9 people signed-up for the newsletter and among them was a pastor who wants to hear more about the CVA.

The conference itself was incredible. First, there were presentations on the major issues regarding animals: food, entertainment and experimentation. They had warned the audience that it was going to be a tough day and boy it was! There was no one there without tears and heavy hearts. All the videos were powerful and heartbreaking. People left very hopeless and feeling impotent, and I believe with a lot of anger in their hearts. The next day was very empowering as people learned how they can make a difference in this world.

For more information about Helping Animals 101 conferences, visit http://www.helpinganimals101.com/.

C.  Upcoming Leafleting Opportunities

3/31 TX Plainview Kutless Christian Rock

3/31 LA Shreveport/Bossier Women of Faith Conference

3/31 TN Chattanooga Third Day Christian Rock

3/31 OK Tulsa Gaither Homecoming

3/31 TX Dallas Acquire the Fire

4/1 FL Orlando Christian Rock Festival

4/1 LA Angola Franklin Graham Festival

4/1 OH Columbus Reliant K Christian Rock

4/1 NC Charlotte Acquire the Fire

4/6 SC Greenville Casting Crowns

4/7 VA Lynchburg Casting Crowns

4/7 TX Dallas Dare 2 Share Revolution Youth Conference

4/8 TX Houston Dare 2 Share Revolution Youth Conference

4/8 KY Louisville Casting Crowns

4/15 FL Jacksonville Casting Crowns

4/21 MO Kansas Casting Crowns

4/22 CO Denver Casting Crowns

4/24 TX Abilene Casting Crowns

4/28 IA Ames Casting Crowns

4/29 MN St. Paul Casting Crowns

To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group.christian_vegetarian/. Read the home page, and then join. You will then be able to log in anytime to identify upcoming events in your region. Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you might be able to help.

6. Arizona Animal Welfare Initiative
There is an Arizona statewide initiative for the November 2006 ballot to ban the current confining gestation crates in which pregnant sows are inhumanely held and to do the same to the veal crates that confine veal calves. For more information, visit http://www.yesforhumanefarms.com/.

7. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence:  Can Satan Cast Out Satan?

[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It is being archived at http://www.christianveg.com/violence.htm]

The Gospel of Mark reads, “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.’ And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.’” (3:22-26)

I think that a Girardian reading of this passage lends some helpful insights. From the foundation of human civilization, people have projected their own anger and hostility onto scapegoats, claimed that those scapegoats were possessed by satanic demons, and then expelled or killed the scapegoats. The scapegoating mob has always believed that their actions were just and the will of God or the gods (the divine).

In truth, the human forces that have tried to eradicate Satan from their midst have been satanic. “Satan casting out Satan” describes the scapegoating mechanism. When people call someone Satan, they have assumed the role of Satan the accuser, and invariably they come to participate in scapegoating. Jesus taught that the way of Satan is accusation, while the way of God is forgiveness.

Accusation is Satanic because it attempts to absolve the accuser of guilt while simultaneously ascribing too much guilt to the accused. However, forgiveness breaks the cycle of accusation, and it is through forgiveness that Satan falls from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18), because Satan loses all of his power.

Jesus did not deny that Satan casts out Satan. In the short term, satanic forces can cast out the perceived Satan in a community’s midst. However, Jesus taught that it doesn’t ultimately work, because attempts by Satan to cast out Satan merely divide the house between the satanic forces that scapegoat and the victims of the scapegoating mechanism. People are never fully innocent, given that nobody is without sin. Indeed, as long as the scapegoating mechanism is the glue that holds communities together, the main difference between the victims and the victimizers is who happens to have power at the moment. As long as the scapegoating mechanism pervades human communities, the victims would readily become victimizers, if they could.

While the victims of scapegoating violence are rarely completely innocent, they are never as guilty as perceived by the scapegoating mob. Meanwhile, the mob never recognizes its own satanic desires, because it always attributes its own hate and violence to the divine. Consequently, the peace created by the scapegoating mechanism is always temporary. Invariably, hostilities build up until, once again, Satan attempts to cast out Satan with the scapegoating mechanism. According to René Girard’s anthropologic analysis, this happens perpetually because all cultures are grounded on the scapegoating mechanism (see essays 6 & 7). The only way to break the endless cycle of violence is to develop a new culture grounded in love and forgiveness, which is what Christ offered.

Jesus taught that satanic violence is ultimately self-defeating, because a house divided against itself cannot stand. Scapegoating violence is only a temporary “solution” to the problem of human violence in that it substitutes a small dose of sanctioned, “sacred” violence for the widespread “profane” violence that would otherwise occur. By exposing the scapegoating mechanism as a scandal, Jesus facilitated reconciliation and offered a way to stop the cycle of violence. Inspired by Jesus and, perhaps, assisted by the Holy Spirit, we can refuse to participate in the scapegoating mechanism. If necessary, we may assume the role, like Christ, of the willing and forgiving victim. Whether or not satanic violence is self-defeating, as faithful Christians we should do our best to imitate Christ and participate in the reconciliation of Creation. This includes living prayerfully and peacefully. If we find ourselves victims of the scapegoating mechanism, I think our faith calls us to willingly submit to its powers. If we forcibly resist, the mob will regard our resistance as satanic, and the house will remain divided against itself.

I think this helps explain 1 Peter, which encourages slaves to obey their masters and wives to submit to their husbands. Christians, by their examples of love, should encourage others to reform their hurtful ways. If Christians responded to injustice with violence, they would not help heal a broken world. Tragically, many Christians have applied 1 Peter’s teachings from the perspective of the victimizer, rather than the victim, to justify slavery, mistreatment of women, and other abuses.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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