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Update Newsletters
10 June 2007 Issue

1. CVA Blog

2. Torturing Bulls

3. Christianity and Violence: Ideological Certainty versus the Quest for Truth, part 2

1. CVA Blog
Check out the CVA Blog at:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/blog/, updated weekly.

2. Torturing Bulls
During a festival to honor St. John in Coria, Spain, the crowd tortures and kills a bull in a rite known as “Toros de Coria.” Readers of my Christianity and Violence essay series will likely agree that this activity constitutes scapegoating.

This is another terrible example of the church failing to speak against, and in some locations sponsoring, animal torture. In the US, such collective violence by our churches against animals occurs, but it tends to be less transparent. For example, pig roasts celebrate the killing and consumption of an animal. Less obvious, but in my opinion related, are other church functions that feature meat-eating. Other examples of church-sponsored cruelty and callousness abound and include hunting on church property and preachers making light of our culture’s ruthless exploitation of animals in agriculture, experimentation, entertainment, etc.

For information about the “Toros de Corea,” and how to contact the Spanish embassy to express one’s outrage, go to: http://all-creatures.org/alert/alert-20070601.html

WARNING: This page has photos of animals being tortured, and many will find it disturbing.

3. Christianity and Violence: Ideological Certainty versus the Quest for Truth, part 2

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

The quest for truth should not be a quest for certainty. Recognizing the limits of our knowledge is crucial for gaining understanding about ourselves, our communities, and the nature of God, because uncertainty renders people receptive to new ideas. We need new ideas and fresh perspectives, because each of us has a very limited view of the world. Further, our unconscious needs and fears can cloud our views. Much greater potential for personal and intellectual growth comes from sharing experiences and ideas with each other. This sharing is far more valuable and productive if we have covenantal relationships with each other.

The covenants, which typically feature promises of mutual respect and commitments to truth, are often implicit rather than explicit. The scientific community, at least in theory, illustrates such covenantal relationships. Scientists expect each other to truthfully report their data, to respectfully consider novel theories, and to favor theories on their merit, not on the authority of those who back the theories. In practice, of course, scientific enterprises are human activities that are influenced by human desires, including desires for self-esteem. However, scientists understand that reverence for truth should guide their research, reporting, and deliberations, even if they sometimes fall short of this ideal.

Similarly, covenantal relationships among people of faith are crucial to the quest to understand God’s will and to incorporate this understanding into our daily lives. As Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). If, as Christian faith teaches, God is about love, then faith communities must be grounded in love in order to gain a greater understanding of God’s love.

Consequently, these communities cannot originate from the scapegoating process, because scapegoating involves violence and injustice. Signs that communities have been bound by scapegoating, and not by their love of God, include harsh, merciless, punitive laws that they attribute to God, an intolerance of “heretical” points-of-view, a conviction that God loves members of the community more than the rest of God’s Creation, and a belief that God hates the same people that community members hate. In contrast, communities guided by the faith of Christ are dedicated to love, respect, compassion, and truth. Therefore, Christianity shows how dedication to truth, love, and community reinforce each other.

James articulated this well: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insecurity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:17-18). This is God’s wisdom, and it is the wisdom which we should seek. Because humans are fallible, I am convinced that certainty reflects only a state of mind – not a state of knowledge.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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