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Update Newsletters
10 September 2006 Issue

1. CVA Sustaining Membership

2. Fall Season CVA Materials

3. CVA Outreach

4. More Comments on Seventh Day Adventists and Vegetarianism

5. Christianity and Violence: Atonement Theologies,
part 3

1. CVA Sustaining Membership

The CVA offers Sustaining Membership to those paying our $25 annual subscription. In addition to the weekly e-newsletter available to all members, Sustaining Members receive the Take Heart! daily e-messages, which include inspirational comments, biblical commentary, health tips, an advice column, and recipes.

Here is what Betsy Wosko, of Portland, OR, says: "I look so much forward to reading "Take Heart" every day. The quotes are inspiring, and the information given not only edifying, but representative of the breadth of the animal rights movement and all the work that still needs to be done, on so many fronts, but united by a common ethic to minimize suffering and do justice. The references and citations, and links for further information, are on point for anyone who wants to further review issues. And the frequent inclusion of recipes are great and, I would add, important - as often the first question people on the "standard American diet" ask is, "but what would I eat"? Empowering readers through recipes to show others that vegan food is not only nutritious, but delicious, is a great and sometimes necessary starting point to enable vegans to empower others to try to assume a diet consistent with Christ's message. Thank you for your good work, Lorena!

2. Fall Season CVA Materials

Now is the time to stock up on CVA long-sleeve t-shirts and comfortable sweatshirts for the fall season. You can find those as well as literature and other materials at www.christianveg.com/materials.htm.

3. CVA Outreach

Justin, tabling at the Vegfest 06 in Syracuse, writes: The event was amazing. So many people came out and I hand out a lot of literature to people and sold almost everything. I want to talk to you about setting up a charter out here, because a lot of my friends and I want to help this organization.

Some Upcoming Events
9/30 VA Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival (table)
9/30 Ontario Toronto Just Give Me Jesus
9/30-10-1 B.C. Vancouver Taste of Health Festival (table)
10/9 CA San Francisco Power to the Peaceful Festival

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. More Comments on Seventh Day Adventists and Vegetarianism

There is some sympathy to concerns for animals within Seventh-day Adventism. I would point for example to this contribution by an Adventist theologian in an Adventist-affiliated journal: B. Casey, "A Radical Case for Vegetarianism", Spectrum 11.3 (1981), 7-17.
I am an Adventist myself and, although Adventism's emphasis on vegetarianism is primarily expressed in terms of health, I adopted vegetarianism 35 years ago due to a philosophical concern for animal creation.

David Thiele
Pacific Adventist University
Papua New Guinea

Stacey Jackson writes:

I have been an Seventh Day Adventist for less then a year now, and that is how I was introduced to the Vegan life style. My church encourages vegetarian and vegan eating it is not a rule but a choice. I know that not all of the members are vegan, but not everyone walks the path at the same speed. My church has had a focus on health for 9 months and the main focus is a meat free life - eat as Adam and Eve fruits nuts and grains. My husband and children are vegetarian (they still eat cheese) and I am vegan I am so sorry you had such a bad experience, but my understanding is that a majority Seventh Day Adventists are vegan, and maybe some don't understand that non-cruelty to animals and eating healthy are a closely related. I never gave it a thought until I signed up for CVA.

Regarding one person's difficulty getting permission from SDA school principals, Freeman writes:

I have been a humane educator for seven years, and I've never dealt with principals. It may be different in Australia, but here in the states, I always work with and give materials to sympathetic teachers and librarians in the schools. If you have a child in the school system, they can help you to find out who is sympathetic. If not, talk to the school librarian. They are often the most open-minded and knowledgeable about all the departments and teachers in the school. After you find those who are sympathetic, cultivate a relationship with them by speaking to them about the importance of humane education and by offering them the free materials. Keep plugging away, and the results are bound to come. :-)

5. Christianity and Violence

Atonement Theologies, Part 3: Further Problems with Satisfaction Atonement

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

Last week, we considered how satisfaction atonement theory and moral influence theory attribute Jesus' death to God, which is problematic. Satisfaction atonement theories have additional difficulties. They assume that justice and righting of wrongs involve some kind of retribution. According to this framework, the problem with sin is that it causes an imbalance, a disturbance of the moral order of the universe. The only way to restore balance is through punishment, which may involve death.

J. Denny Weaver has noted that this framework, articulated by Anselm in 1098 and later modified by the Protestant Reformers, has parallels with the medieval worldview. The feudal king's power resided in a belief that the king had divine authority. Those who dishonored the king must be punished in order to restore the moral order, because to offend the king was tantamount to offending God. Sinning against God caused the greatest disturbance to the order, which occurred repeatedly on account of human sinfulness. Only the most extreme punishment could restore the moral order, and the Son, as God incarnate, fulfilled this need. So it seems that Anselm's satisfaction atonement theory evolved out of the medieval worldview.

Often people describe violent retribution as "justice" or "upholding the law," but retribution undeniably involves violence. Therefore, Weaver has concluded, "any and all versions of atonement . assume the violence of retribution or justice based on punishment, and depend on God-induced and God-directed violence." With God involved in violence and punishment, it becomes easier for Christians to justify their own violence and punishment. In addition, satisfaction atonement theories accommodate violence, because they treat humankind's sinfulness in terms of humankind's relationship with God.

Satisfaction atonement theories treat sin as a legal problem - humankind's offense against God - rather than as a social problem. The theories do not articulate the problem in terms of society's institutions or events of human history (other than Original Sin).

Consequently, satisfaction atonement theories do not challenge unjust human institutions, making it easier for Christians to countenance violence and/or injustice. With the rise of satisfaction atonement theology, Christianity's focus changed from what Jesus did and taught to what was needed to preserve "Christian society." Since Christians have regarded the Church as the embodiment of God, defending the Church has often taken precedence over defending vulnerable individuals.

Furthermore, there have been many times when kings and other despots have subverted the notion of "Christian society" to serve their own selfish desires. In such settings, the Church itself has become the "principalities" and "powers" (Ephesians 6:12) that have worked against God.

Although Jesus taught that we should show love and mercy in all our relationships, satisfaction atonement theories have changed the focus of sin from injustice against individuals to offense against God and "God's Church." Consequently, Christianity evolved into a religion that has (at various times in history) accommodated slavery, subjugation of women, cruelty to animals, and other unjust social arrangements.

Social reformers have pointed out another difficulty with satisfaction atonement theories. These theories portray Jesus as one who was innocent yet voluntarily submitted to suffering. This has often been an obstacle to people who suffer as a consequence of unjust social structures, because victims of abuse have often been told to model their behavior on Jesus' voluntary suffering.

For example, some religious authorities have advised victims of domestic violence to bear their burden rather than to pursue paths that might alleviate their situation.

Additionally, satisfaction atonement theories are problematic in that they adopt the logic of Caiaphas, who, in trying to convince chief priests and Pharisees to call for Jesus' execution, said, "it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish" (John 11:50).

Satisfaction atonement theories posit that it is indeed better for one innocent man to die in order to save everyone else, which has been the logic of sacrificial violence throughout human history. Indeed, one might wonder whether satisfaction atonement theory presents Christianity as a new revelation, or whether it presents Christianity as a minor variation on the perennial religious theme that God (or the Gods) demands "sacred" sacrificial violence.

Finally, satisfaction atonement theories focus on Jesus' death and do not require a theology about his life, teachings, or resurrection. Seeing the Bible through a Girardian lens, Jesus' death is a critically important component of a broader message that God wants us to love each other and to cease scapegoating the innocent. Jesus' entire ministry points to the centrality of God's love, which we can overlook if we focus on a single, violent event.

Next week, I will discuss an atonement theology articulated by J. Denny Weaver (Cross Currents July 2001).

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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