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Update Newsletters
10 December 2006 Issue

1. CVA Membership and Donation

2. Regarding Pet Food

3. Leafleting Feedback

4. Peaceable Kingdom (Online)

5. Christianity and Violence: Healing a Broken World - The Man Born Blind

1. CVA Membership and Donation
Please consider making a Christmas season donation to the CVA, an important and growing ministry that spreads Christ's message of love, mercy, and compassion for all of God's Creation. Those who donate $25 or more become "sustaining members" and receive the Take Heart! daily e-messages, which include inspirational comments, biblical commentary, health tips, an advice column, and recipes.

To become a Sustaining Member, go to
www.christianveg.org/freemembership.htm 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. Regarding Pet Food
Greg writes: Cats need Taurine, which is an amino acid you can buy as a supplement. Cats are pretty much carnivorous, unfortunately, and I wouldn't want one as a pet. All the protein amino acids humans and canines need to thrive can be found in plant foods (although many vegetarian dog foods also contain a taurine supplement).
I heard a while ago that the longest living dog in the world is vegan.

A 29 year old pooch who ate a bowl of lentils every day.
My dog Noodle is healthier, better tempered, and more athletic than her meat eating friends. She's sooo cute!

Veronica writes: No matter how many times I revisit the issue of making my two dogs and one cat 'veggie', I am confronted with similar information.

We've also relied upon animal experts outside the vet community for advice and information regarding dogs, and particularly cats, becoming veg, and thus far we are unconvinced that we should make the switch completely.
It continues to be a conflict for many of us who have animal companions in our homes, particularly those of us who are also in close physical contact with rescued farm animals on a regular basis as well.

I know a fellow vegan who refuses to rescue any more dogs or cats, and now prefers only to rescue rabbits/birds and other non-carnivores.

3. Leafleting Feedback
Carol writes: My leafleting events included Joel Osteen in Key Arena and the Women of Faith Conference in Vancouver BC. I was going to both events anyway and would recommend them to others for both spiritual growth and leafleting.

The majority of people at both events were very receptive - I simply could not pass them out fast enough as the crowd passed by. People seemed to like them and wanted to try the recipes. I had 2 boxes [600 booklets] and passed out all but about 100 leaflets. It was great fun and my hope is to recruit a few people from the Seattle Vegan Meet-up group to get involved again - perhaps at the Women of Faith Conference in Seattle in June 2007.

4. Peaceable Kingdom (Online)
The December issue of The Peaceable Table is now online. It has a theme of change of heart - awakening from a situation of emptiness and catastrophe, and returning to one's true state.

* The Editorial, "He Came to Himself," compares the story of the Prodigal Son with a similar concept in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. It shows how abuse of animals is part of a pattern of emotional numbness in the powerful.

* The NewsNotes section includes reports of two victories for animals in the recent election.

* One of the Reviews deals with the movie Happy Feet, featuring a remarkable penguin with a mission.

And more . . . You can read this issue

God Bless Us, Every One!

Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor

5. Christianity and Violence
Healing a Broken World - The Man Born Blind

[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions]

In John chapter 9, Jesus healed a man born blind.1 I would like to highlight several remarkable features of this story, which relate to how Jesus' ministry was fundamentally a healing ministry.

The text reads, "And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him'" (John 9:2-3). Jesus rejected the commonplace notion that disease is a sign of sin, which accords with Paul's observation that all of us fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

If God were wrathful and punished sinners, there would be no good reason to spare any of us. The "good" among us are merely "good" in relation to others; if everyone were much better, the person judged "good" by peers today would then be regarded by fellow people as "bad."

Jesus then said that he was doing the works of God, indicating that Creation is not complete. This recalls the episode in John chapter 5, in which Jesus healed the paralyzed man and said, "My Father is working still, and I am working." Interestingly, Jesus healed the blind man with dirt, which harkens back to Genesis 2:7, in which God created man with "dust from the ground." Jesus participated in God's work of completing Creation.

Completing Creation involves reconciling the world to God's original intentions, which was that all Creation would live peacefully and harmoniously (Genesis 1:29-30; see also Isaiah 11:6-9). In order to reconcile Creation, Jesus would need to "take away the sin of the world."
Informed by Girardian mimetic theory, I have been asserting that the "sin of the world" is scapegoating. We need culture to be grounded on something other than scapegoating in order to heal a broken world, and our faith teaches us that love and forgiveness is the proper foundation for a community of love and peace. In the crucifixion and resurrection stories, Jesus demonstrated the power of God's forgiveness, which, according to Christian faith, is greater than the power of all armies.

As Christians, I think we are called to help heal a broken world, and by doing so we join Jesus in reconciling Creation. Healing involves restoring spiritual, as well as physical, wholeness. Spiritual wholeness requires acceptance into community, partly because we are social creatures; partly because, in order to serve God, we need others to serve; and partly because our participation in and acceptance by community reminds us that we are all God's beloved children. Therefore, Paul wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

If it is true that our calling is to participate in the reconciliation of Creation, the universal fear of death (see essays 25-27) is often a major stumbling block. Jesus recognized this when he said, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25; see also Matthew 10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33).

Throughout history, people have readily sacrificed others in a desperate, yet ultimately futile, attempt to save their finite lives. It can be difficult to see how this occurs, because the mechanism is usually indirect.

As discussed earlier, self-esteem is a salve against the universal fear of death. If we do not ground our self-esteem in our relationship to God, we can only gain self-esteem by being superior to other individuals. In practice, being superior often involves victimizing vulnerable individuals in an attempt to gain power, wealth, or whatever one's culture regards as "valuable."

However, no amount of self-esteem can fully eradicate the fear of death. While humans can repress their fear of death from consciousness, death's inevitability haunts the subconscious mind. Consequently, the typical human response to mortality fears has been to compulsively, relentlessly seek more self-esteem. Never having enough self-esteem to quell death anxieties, even those who "should" be happy with their degree of "success" tend to find themselves perennially unsatisfied with their lives.
Therefore, the human desire to save one's life (i.e., gain enough self-esteem to overcome fear of death) causes one to fall into conflict with and become disconnected from God's Creation, which in turns alienates one from God. The desperate attempt to save one's life distances the person from the God - the source of life - which increases one's sense of mortality. Therefore, as Jesus taught, the project to save one's life results in one's losing it. One may find life only by trusting in God's love and goodness and surrendering one's life to God.

The stories about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus demonstrate that we do not need to fear death. If we believe in a loving God, it follows that, whatever happens to us when our physical body dies, we should not expect death to be bad. If fear of death does not rule our lives, we can become confident healers of a broken world, unafraid of the inherent dangers that accompany being healers and peacemakers in a violent world. We should not squander our God-given lives, but we do not need to fear that, should we perish, all is lost.

1. For insightful commentary, see Alison, James. Faith beyond Resentment.
New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001, pp. 3-26.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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