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23 April 2006 Issue

1. Sustaining CVA Membership

2. Leafleting Feedback

3. Vegetarian Friends

4. Commentary: Food and War

5. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Christian Faith

1. 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.

2. Leafleting Feedback
Delphine, Casting Crowns, FL: Our event went really well last week (Saturday) in Jacksonville, FL (Casting Crowns). We were a total of 11 activists!! I had asked everyone to arrive early so that I could position each activist and set them up with a box of fliers. I made sure that every corner around the arena was covered with an activist. We passed out A LOT of fliers: a total of 10 boxes [3000 booklets].

3. The April issue of Vegetarian Friends is available at http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue20.html.

4. Commentary  - Food and War
Kudos to Colman McCarthy for his thoughtful article "Cruelty-free eating is the only way to go" (National Catholic Reporter, March 17), in which he shows the inconsistency of "[dining] on other creatures while working for peace and justice." It's no coincidence that the peace movement and the vegetarian movement have the same slogan: "All we are saying is give peas a chance." More seriously, there are strong connections between dietary choices and the potential for war.

The Hebrew word for war, milchama, is derived from the word locham, which means both "to feed" and "to wage war." The Hebrew word for bread, lechem, comes from the same root. This led Jewish sages to suggest that lack of bread and the search for sufficient food and other resources tempt people to make war. Hence, feeding tremendous amounts of grains to animals destined for slaughter, instead of feeding hungry people, can increase the potential for war. And over 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and over a third produced worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually. In addition, animal-based diets and modern intensive livestock agriculture also have major negative effects on human health, animals and our imperiled planet.

Richard H. Schwartz
Staten Island, N.Y.
(Mr. Schwartz is president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America.)

5. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence:  Christian Faith

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

Receiving Christ’s ministry as loving and nonviolent takes profound faith. It is tempting to take an aggressive, acquisitive attitude, hoarding resources as a hedge against life’s vicissitudes, rather than sharing with those in need. In addition, most people, when hit, would prefer to strike back than to offer the other cheek. Christians often try to have it both ways – making modest personal sacrifices that don’t seriously threaten their safety and well-being while avoiding situations that expose them to serious loss or harm. Their faith may prompt them to charity (as much as one is comfortably able) and trying to not be unkind (though feeling entitled to avenge perceived offenses and finding excuses for lifestyle choices that harm other individuals). Jesus’ faithfulness took him all the way to the cross. How many of us are prepared to do that?

Jesus’ faith did not stop at the cross. After the Resurrection, he returned as a forgiving victim rather than the character we so often see in action movies – the avenging victim. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he faithfully expressed God’s love.

However, as discussed previously (see essays 81-84) having faith is a gift of grace, not something God expects of us. Therefore, Jesus criticized Saul (later Paul) for his persecution of Christians, not for his lack of faith in Christ. Paradoxically, much Christianity tends to focus on faith, and many theologians have asserted that faith, rather than works, justifies us. As Rev. Paul Neuchterlein has noted, this theology is actually a revised “works righteousness,” in that one must do the work of believing in Christ. This may sound simple on the surface, but it can be very difficult for those who struggle with life’s challenges.

Neuchterlein has also pointed out that, if believing in Jesus is the main thing about getting to heaven, there is little reason to come to church. Church is important because it is through the collective faith of the church community that people express the “faith of Christ,” supporting and inspiring each other.

James wrote, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (2:17) I think that he meant to communicate that, if our faith fails to inspire us to do works of love, it is a dead faith. Indeed, James further explained, “I by my works will show you my faith” (2:18), and Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16, 20) How we live ultimately demonstrates what we believe. Consequently, what we eat (as well as many other choices we make) reflects what we believe. Next week, we explore Christian faith further.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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