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Update Newsletters
14 January 2007 Issue

1. We Need You!

2. Meat and the Planet

3. Christianity and the Problem of Violence: What is Violence?

1. We Need You!
Our ministry relies on the volunteer efforts of our members to distribute our booklet Honoring God's Creation at Christian events. Our members have almost always found this very effective and rewarding. If we don't speak up for God's animals and God's earth, who will? (See editorial below, which emphasizes the urgency of the problem.

Please contact Paris at Christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you might be able to help.

Featured upcoming events:
1/28 CA San Jose Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert
1/29 NV Las Vegas Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert 1/30 CA Anaheim Northern & The Myriad Christian Concert
1/31 CO Colorado Springs Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert
2/1 KS Topeka CeCe Winans Christian Concert
2/2 IN Indianapolis Christian Booksellers Assn. "Advance 2007" Conference
2/2 IL Belleville Sandi Patty Christian Concert
2/2 TX Grand Prairie Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert
2/3 KY Paducah CeCe Winans Christian Concert
2/3 TX Houston Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert
2/8 WI Milwaukee Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert
2/9 MO St. Louis Dare 2 Share: Game Day-Starfield and Superchic
2/9 MN St. Paul Chris Tomlin Christian Rock Concert
2/9 MO St. Louis Starfield Christian Rock Concert

2. Meat and the Planet (New York Times editorial)

Dec. 27, 2006
When you think about the growth of human population over the last century or so, it is all too easy to imagine it merely as an increase in the number of humans. But as we multiply, so do all the things associated with us, including our livestock.

At present, there are about 1.5 billion cattle and domestic buffalo and about 1.7 billion sheep and goats. With pigs and poultry, they form a critical part of our enormous biological footprint upon this planet.

Just how enormous was not really apparent until the publication of a new report, called "Livestock's Long Shadow," by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Consider these numbers. Global livestock grazing and feed production use "30 percent of the land surface of the planet." Livestock - which consume more food than they yield - also compete directly with humans for water. And the drive to expand grazing land destroys more biologically sensitive terrain, rain forests especially, than anything else.

But what is even more striking, and alarming, is that livestock are responsible for about 18 percent of the global warming effect, more than transportation's contribution. The culprits are methane - the natural result of bovine digestion - and the nitrogen emitted by manure. Deforestation of grazing land adds to the effect.

There are no easy trade-offs when it comes to global warming - such as cutting back on cattle to make room for cars. The human passion for meat is certainly not about to end anytime soon. As "Livestock's Long Shadow" makes clear, our health and the health of the planet depend on pushing livestock production in more sustainable directions.

3. Christianity and the Problem of Violence: What is Violence?
[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It is being archived at http://www.christianveg.org/violence_view.htm.]

For purposes of this discussion, I will take "violence" to mean harmful, volitional, unnecessary use of force. Therefore I would generally not regard as "violent" destructive acts of nature, animal aggressiveness, or human activities that are essential to preserve one's life.

A God who loves all Creation would not want to have any creatures harmed, though sometimes it is necessary for humans or animals to cause physical or emotional harm.

Most of us would agree that there is a moral difference between "violence" and causing harm as a necessary step in obtaining sustenance or in defending oneself. Nevertheless, it is often difficult to distinguish between legitimate use of force and illegitimate violence, since people generally regard their own violence as "necessary" for "justice" or "self-defense."

Perhaps the actor's frame-of-mind can provide helpful guidance. Those who genuinely regret any harm they cause and do their best to limit harm probably act out of necessity. One can be more confident that one's use of force is not "violent" if one is trying to protect other individuals, rather than protecting one's own "interests."

Those who take pride in their triumphs over what they call "evil" and grab the spoils of victory have likely engaged in acts of violence.

We should always be uncomfortable with activities that harm other individuals. We should question our own motives repeatedly, and we should constantly seek to view situations from victims' perspectives. If we have convinced ourselves that our harmful activities deserve a name such as revenge, purification, or divine sacrifice, then it is likely that we have obscured our violence behind mythological stories that attribute our violence to God or to a secular ideology, such as nationalism. S. Mark Heim has written, "But to veil it [violence] under euphemism and mythology, to be piously silent before its sacred power, is to make its rule absolute."1

Was Jesus ever violent? The only biblical story in which Jesus used physical force against adversaries was in the Temple, when he confronted the money-changers. All three gospel accounts (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; John 2:14-16) relate Jesus turning over the tables of the money-changers and denouncing their trade. Importantly, though Jesus' words and actions suggest anger, Jesus did not hurt anybody. Why did Jesus disrupt their activities?

The money-changers provided an essential service, since many people traveled great distances and could not bring sacrificial animals with them. Since the pilgrims needed to buy animals for sacrifices and since they only had foreign currency, they needed the services of money-changers.
It is possible that some money-changers cheated unsuspecting pilgrims, but would Jesus have taken such aggressive measures to prevent petty crimes?

Jesus' actions were very dangerous, because Roman authorities objected to anyone who disturbed the peace (particularly during the Passover period, when emotions often ran high among the Jews), and the powerful chief priests relied on the sacrificial cult for their livelihood.

Remarkably, in John's account, Jesus also drove out the animals slated for sacrifice, raising the possibility that Jesus' aim was to stop the sacrifices themselves. Therefore, it seems that Jesus' actions constituted a necessary use of force to protect innocent and vulnerable individuals and was not violence, because Jesus' intent was not to cause physical or emotional harm.

1. S. Mark Heim. Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2006, p. 102.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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