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Update Newsletters
2 April 2006 Issue

1. CVA Member Featured in Article

2. Utopia Today - Reality Tomorrow book

3. Sustaining CVA Membership

4.  April 21 Conference: Violence Prevention & Intervention

5.  Response to Last Week's Commentary

6.  "Are We Called to Save All the Animals?"

7.  Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: "It Is Finished"

1. CVA member
Gretchen Littlefield had a very nice article about how her vegan diet is an expression of her faith published in the Fort Wayne, IN News Sentinal.

2. Utopia Today - Reality Tomorrow
The European Vegetarian Union has published a book Utopia Today - Reality Tomorrow - A Vegetarian World, a collection of short essays including one by me (Steve Kaufman), available at the EVU web site.

3. Sustaining CVA Membership
The CVA is offering Sustaining Membership to those paying our $25 annual dues. Everyone will continue to receive the weekly e-newsletter, and Sustaining Members will receive daily messages that will consist of inspirational comments, biblical commentary, health tips, an advice column, and recipes.

What are the Benefits of Sustaining Membership?

Members get a daily inspirational and/or informative e-mail. Members contribute to CVA's ministry, which addresses pressing problems of world hunger and resource depletion, as well as the massive brutality against animals due to factory farming.

How do I become a Sustaining Member?

Go to our membership page, and fill out the form, which will take you to the dues-paying section. Or, you can send a check to CVA, PO Box 201791, Cleveland, OH 44120. Donations to the CVA are tax-deductible.

4.  April 21 Conference:
"Violence Prevention & Intervention: How to Help Children and Animals."

The conference will be in Shepherdstown, WV, and its cost is $50, which includes continental breakfast and a vegetarian lunch, ($25 student rate).

Dr. Frank Ascione, the leading expert on the violence link, will be the keynote speaker. Also speaking will be Kenneth Shapiro, Director of Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. With an audience of law enforcement, social workers, teachers, shelter personnel and parents, we will also have a beneficial networking session at the end of the conference day.

Registration should be received by April 8, 2006.

5.  Leafleting Feedback
Elizabeth, leafleting at Third Day Christian Rock in Chattanooga, TN on March 31 writes: Libby I went to the Chattanooga Memorial auditorium last night for the concert. The night was a perfect temperature, raining a little, but all in all it went really well. We gave out a total of 2 + boxes [of 300 each]. I have to say this was my first time for doing this, and I found it to be one of the most pleasurable handouts I have done. The people are great and very eager to actually stop and talk. Others were very eager to take the handouts without our even asking. I really enjoyed myself and look forward to doing it again.

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.

Upcoming Events

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

6. Response to Last Week's Commentary "Are We Called to Save All the Animals?"
By Gail Garza

I, too, felt so overwhelmed by the cause and it made me feel so terribly frustrated, discouraged, and worse, small, weak, and helpless. It seemed that nothing would ever change, and the more I tried, the more I felt that I was getting nowhere. That was exactly twenty years ago when I was eighteen. Being a young person, I wanted results and I wanted them NOW!!!

Thankfully, I at least had the wisdom to ask God to give me strength. Did I make HUGE breakthroughs in society? Did I change the world? No I didn't, but guess what? Because I lived according to the way that I felt was right (not eating meat, not wearing fur, not wearing leather, writing letters to politicians, picketing, volunteering at animals shelters, caring for stray animals, buying cruelty-free products, etc.), I made a difference. I also learned that all you can do is present the information in an informative, respectful, and kind way. Shoving it down someone's throat won't work.

Within those twenty years, I have family members, friends, students, and now my fiancé, who do not eat meat, who buy cruelty-free products, who write letters to politicians pertaining to humane issue, who volunteer at animal shelters, etc.

Remember something else...twenty years ago, at least in Chicago, there were hardly vegetarian items on a menu, very few vegan restaurants, no Whole Foods, no real laws against animal cruelty, no prison time for animal cruelty.

WE ARE GETTING A VOICE! WE ARE EXPANDING! The pioneers of a cause always get frustrated...but persistence, love, and a real belief in saving animals from atrocities caused by ignorance and cruelty will make this world a better place for EVERYONE...in its own time.

Remember, they will know we are Christians by our love.

7. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence :  “It Is Finished”

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

In the Gospel According to John, Jesus’ last words were “It is finished.” (John 19:30) According to mimetic theory and the scapegoating mechanism, what is finished is the logos (logic) of violence. What replaces it, as we will see, depends on us.

John’s Gospel begins with the Word (Greek Logos) of God, which is the Logos of love. This Logos created the universe and was made flesh in the personage of Jesus Christ. However, humankind was not satisfied to live harmoniously and contentedly in God’s perfect Garden of Eden. Our human nature is mimetic, so the serpent enticed Eve, and then Eve enticed Adam, to be rivals of God by eating the forbidden fruit. Mimetic desire eventually led to violence, which befell Abel. Countering God’s Logos of love is humankind’s Logos of violence.

The Logos of violence, according to mimetic theory and the scapegoating mechanism, is as old as human civilization. The murdered scapegoat is what brings human communities together. Rituals evolved in all primal cultures, recalling the camaraderie that collective violence brings. Most commonly, the seemingly miraculous peace and cohesiveness generated by scapegoating violence encourages the development of myths that convert the scapegoating victim into a god, to whom further sacrifices must be made. All of this may sound speculative, but compelling evidence that scapegoating violence lies at the foundation of human culture is the anthropological observation that all primal cultures either engage in blood sacrifice or have rituals that harken back to such sacrifices.

As previous essays have discussed, Jesus’ life and teachings undermined sacrificial, “sacred” violence. Since he was truly innocent, his sham trial and public execution illustrated the scandal of scapegoating violence. Indeed, those who had witnessed the collective murder went home beating their breasts. (Luke 23:48) The Logos of violence had lost its divine power, though history has shown that scapegoating violence has persisted. What was finished, as a consequence of the Judeo-Christian revelation, was the ability of scapegoating to generate and maintain community. Try as we sometimes might, we can’t help but see things from the victim’s perspective. We hear their cries, recognize their suffering, and realize that they can’t be blamed for their suffering.

This reminds me of the parable of the good shepherd, who endangered the entire flock in order to save the one lost sheep. It was more practical to sacrifice the one sheep than to risk the welfare of the entire flock. Similarly, from a practical standpoint, Caiaphus was correct that “it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” (John 11:50) If we don’t follow Caiaphus’ advice and scapegoat, how can we restore peace in communities divided by mimetic rivalries? The answer is not to try to reject mimetic desire – we are mimetic creatures by nature. The answer is to have God as our model. But God is far away from human experience, which is why we needed the Son to show us how to live according to God’s desires.

Christianity, then, is an incredibly subversive and even dangerous faith. It challenges us to live according to the Logos of love rather than the more socially stabilizing Logos of violence. If scapegoating violence loses much of its power to unite communities, people are left with two choices. One response, which we have tragically seen many times, is to try to compensate with scapegoating on a far grander scale. For example, as an extreme, the Nazis scapegoated and tried to exterminate large groups of people, including Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals. The other choice is to put one’s faith in God and to live compassionately and nonviolently. I will explore this choice further in next essays.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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