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Update Newsletters
28 May 2006 Issue

1.  Sustaining Membership

2.  Leafleting Feedback

3.  Upcoming Events

4.  Book Review

5.  Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence - Death

1.  Sustaining 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
Tony, who leafleted at Promise Keepers in Denver, writes: Promise Keepers was, to mix a couple of metaphors, "easy as cake" or "a piece of pie" at the Pepsi Center in Denver. There were ticket scalpers right out in front of the main entrance instead of consigned, as usual, to the side areas. Response was excellent. All I had to say was: "Hey, have a great day you guys!" (or, as many of us former Youngstown, Ohioans would say: "yooze guys") and they grabbed them like "hotcakes." If anyone at all hesitated, I said "Just a little health information for you", which almost always ensured a positive response. Only a few times did I need to say: "Just let G-d talk to your heart about it", if they seemed to think it was of dubious value.

Also, inner happiness (due in great measure to vegetarianism) and nice smile just work wonders, don't they? "On the other hand, the fruitage of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice He said FRUITAGE there! (lol)

Only a smattering of people refused a leaflet, and only two people came back to me returning it, with neither one speaking negatively. In fact, the second fellow was actually apologetic, saying: "I'm sorry, sir, I work for the livestock industry." And he really did seem to be genuinely sorry, as if he was hurting me a whole bunch by saying that to me. I guess I should have said: "Well, could you just let G-d talk to you about it", but didn't think of it in time. Drat! He certainly would have been a good person to have had read the leaflet!

3.  Upcoming Events:
6/4 IN - Indianapolis CeCe Winans Christian Music Concert
6/4 TN - East Ridge J-Fest
6/8 TX - Dallas Joyce Meyers Conference
6/9 MI - Gaylord Casting Crowns Big Ticket Festival
6/9 NY - Rochester Women of Faith Conference
6/10 IN - South Bend Casting Crowns Christian Rock Concert
6/10 MN - Minneapolis Benny Hinn Ministries Youth Service
6/17CA - Del Mar CeCe Winans Christian Music Concert
6/23-24 GA - Atlanta Women of Faith Conference
6/24 PA - Philadelphia FREE EWTN 25th Anniversary Family Celebration

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.

4.  Book Review
Utopia Today - Reality Tomorrow: A Vegetarian World

Reviewed by Eve Spencer in Vegan Voice magazine www.veganic.net 

This little book comprises articles by various authors responding to the question, "How do you envisage the reality of a vegetarian world?"

While all the writers are either vegetarian or vegan, it is quite revealing how diverse the responses to the question are. There are 24 European writers, and some from the US (Neal Barnard, Marc Bekoff, Alex Hershaft, Richard Schwartz, Elsa Spencer, S. Kaufman, and Ingrid Newkirk), two from India, and one from Japan.

Muriel Arnal (France) writes first, and one cannot help but empathise with her initial belief that people keep eating meat out of ignorance. Then she slowly came to realise they didn't care and were indifferent to the immense suffering of the animals they ate, too focused on self-satisfaction or afraid of rocking the boat in taking a stand. "It feels so good to be vegetarian," she says.

Marc Bekoff (US) is incredulous, as are many of us, that so-called environmentalists can even eat animals from factory farms. He refers to the ecological destruction and incredible waste of resources that go into producing factory-farmed food. As he points out, there are compelling environmental reasons not to eat other animals. Bekoff is ashamed of how humans abuse nonhumans and says unapologetically, "Shame on you."

Some of the essays point out, with plenty of data, that a vegetarian diet is healthier than one with meat. It is true that people are increasingly adopting a vegetarian diet or reducing their meat intake. At the same time cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity are increasing among those on a non-vegetarian diet. Moreover there are now over 6 billion people on earth - how can the earth continue supporting so many on a meat-based diet when such a diet requires 20 times more land and 14 times more water than a plant-based diet?

Some of the writers imagine a vegetarian future, and also point to an ethical, universal sense of transcending aggression when this barbarism ends.

Two German writers, Eck and Hohensee, referred to Martin Luther King's historic words, "I have a dream .", and they say that we also have a dream - a worldwide animal rights movement based on harmony and mutual respect.

S. Kaufman (US) writes that until there is a grand crisis that demands our culture evolve or perish, only a minority will embrace peaceful lifestyles; and that the materialistic lifestyle, while attempting to protect the body, damages the soul.

This reviewer found the essays set in a happy vegetarian future, and the fairy stories, too difficult to accept. I have insufficient optimism to conceive such a utopia, I guess, or a lack of imagination to visualize humankind's spiritual evolution.

I did like Richard Schwartz's article because it makes common sense, and I wish everybody in the world could read it.

I was also impressed by Tony Wardle's (of Viva!) essay; it sensibly stresses that far from indulging ourselves in the fantasy of life where the lion lies down with the lamb, a hard-campaigning organisation such as Viva! knows that a huge amount of work needs to be undertaken before a utopia can arrive. Wardle goes into detail about current practices, EU proposals, labeling, and pharmaceutical giants bestriding the world with agribusiness. He writes a lengthy article where every word is a gem. Do read it. [See page 9 - Ed.]

This book ends with a small essay on the background of the EVU 1985-2005, and has heaps of valuable info.

Its website is www.european-vegetarian.org - and the book would make a valuable gift for a friend.

5.  Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence - Death

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

Why is our culture obsessed with death? As discussed in Essay 25, we share with animals innate fears related to vulnerability and death. Consequently, all human cultures have needed to address the problem of anxiety related to death. However, our culture is particularly obsessed with death, likely for several reasons. First, we know that dying tends to be slow and painful, and its inevitability is frightening. Second, many people doubt that there is an “afterlife,” and the prospects of the extinction of the self conflicts with our innate desire to live. Third, science seems to have answered nearly every mystery except that of death, and we dislike not having confident answers to important questions about our existence.

To the degree that death is mysterious, life is also mysterious. The question, “Where did I come from?” is just as mysterious as the question “Where am I headed?” Without a clear understanding of our origins or our destinies, the purpose of our lives becomes a central existential problem. Indeed, a major function of all religions is to try to answer difficult questions about life and death.

Christianity is similar to many other religions in that its hero died and was resurrected, demonstrating the hero’s status as a divine entity and suggesting that an afterlife awaits those who adhere to the religion’s myths, rituals, and taboos. Christianity is distinctive in that its hero returned not to mete out vengeance against evildoers, but rather to forgive those who betrayed him. The forgiving victim participates in love and reconciliation, while the avenging victim sets the stage for future vengeance.

The stories relating to Jesus’ resurrection and return demonstrate that Jesus was very concerned about earthly existence and the well-being of earth’s inhabitants. Indeed, throughout his ministry, Jesus tended to those who were weak, vulnerable, and rejected by the culture’s mainstream, and he showed compassion for everyone. In his “Lord’s Prayer,” he prayed, “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Recalling the previous essay’s discussion about “eternal,” I think it is reasonable to suggest that Jesus’ ministry was not about life and death, but rather eternal life. Jesus showed a way by which one may transcend concerns about the fate of the “I” and attain a state of existence that has no beginning, end, or boundaries. In such a state, we are attuned to God’s infinite love, which transcends time and space, allowing us to feel at one with the timeless, boundless universe.

Those who experience such a oneness with God describe complete contentment, though many people never fully experience this. However, there are degrees of this experience, and I think that we move towards this state of existence when we serve others and love everything. This perspective accords with the views of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Father Zossima who, in The Brothers Karamazov, teaches, “Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery of things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with all-embracing love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble them, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you – alas, it is true of almost every one of us!”

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D

Your question and comments are welcome

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