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Update Newsletters
8 June 2006 Issue

1. From Christian and Vegetarianism by Fr. John Dear:

2. Leafleting Feedback

3. Nuns and Priests Are Needed to Support Alternatives to Animals in a Course

4. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence - Abundance Versus Scarcity: The Miracle of Feeding the 5000

[I will be traveling for the next two weeks, so there will be no update on June 11 or 18.]

1. From Christian and Vegetarianism by Fr. John Dear:
Vegetarianism proves that we’re serious about our belief in compassion and justice, that we’re mindful of our commitment, day in and day out, every time we eat. We are reminded of our belief in mercy, and we remind others. We begin to live the nonviolent vision, right here and now. (pg. 10)

For copies of this booklet, you may contact the CVA at cva@christianveg.com.

2. Leafleting Feedback
Bruce Friedrich writes: Leafleting the Basilica for Easter Mass, we gave out 600 pieces of literature in about 25 minutes.

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.

3. Nuns and Priests Are Needed to Support Alternatives to Animals in a Course
At St. Joseph Hospital & Medical Center (a Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) affiliate, an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training course involves cutting open live animals and operating on them for demonstration purposes – despite the availability of an approved and validated non-animal simulator that is being widely used at other reputable institutions.

The Christian message is one of compassion and respect for all life, and the notion that this includes animals seems to be ignored in CHW’s ATLS syllabus. The following are excerpts from portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Paragraph 2416 – “Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless Him and give Him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.”

Paragraph 2418 – “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”

Five years ago, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) approved the TraumaMan simulator as a replacement for the use of live animals in ATLS courses. And in a landmark move last January, officials at the American Board of Surgery and ACS confirmed that revised guidelines for surgical skills training programs will include the recommendation that simulators and other non-animal methods replace the use of live animals.

To help end the use of animals in this course, please contact Shalin Gala at ShalinG@peta.org or 757-962-8325.

4. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence - Abundance Versus Scarcity: The Miracle of Feeding the 5000

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

Many people think that the important thing about the miracle in which Jesus divided the fish and bread was that it proved the power of Jesus to perform miracles, thereby confirming his divinity. However, there is much more to the story.

For one thing, the story offers an image of a God of abundance, which seems to contradict everyday impressions that scarcity besets the world. God’s love and compassion is limitless, and Jesus taught that we should trust in God. This is why Jesus so often said, “Fear not,” even though his Disciples lived in a world in which there seemed to be pervasive scarcity, violence, and danger.

How can one reasonably envision abundance when scarcity seems ubiquitous? The answer, I think, is that humans have the capacity to participate in God’s redemption of the world. We can show love and compassion, and one way we do this is by sharing, thereby alleviating scarcity.

Mimetic rivalry invariably leads to a worldview of scarcity. If our desires are defined by what our neighbor has, then the objects of desire will soon become scarce. Indeed, since a fundamental desire is for self-esteem and since we often believe that self-esteem requires our having things that are difficult to obtain, scarcity in inherent to acquisitive mimetic desire. Girard contrasted such acquisitive mimesis, which invariably leads to conflicts and violence, to “good mimesis,” in which we model our desires on those of Christ, who wanted us to love each other.

It is difficult for us to avoid thinking in terms of scarcity, since notions of scarcity are central to capitalism. A fundamental principle of a market economy is that the price of a given good or service reflects its availability. However, believing in a God of scarcity, with limited love and generosity, is one way to define our Original Sin. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed that God had not given them enough and that they needed more. This attitude led to Cain’s murder of Abel (in which Cain perceived God’s favorable regard as scarce) and to countless killings ever since.

Getting back to the miracle of the feeding of 5000, it is hard to imagine that so many people traveled a great distance and forgot to bring enough food. However, as time wore on, many people’s supplies started to diminish. It is reasonable to suppose that, envisioning scarcity rather than abundance, they were loath to share with those who had not prepared as well and were now hungry. Only The Gospel According to John identifies a “lad” who provided the loaves of bread and fishes, which were divided and miraculously fed thousands of people (6:1-14.

Children have acquisitive mimetic desires like adults, but children are simpler, more trusting, and less cynical. I think this story illustrates one way in which it is true that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17). We explore this passage further next week.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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