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7 October 2009 Issue

1. Activist Feedback

2. The October Peaceable Table Is Now Online

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

4. Lectionary Commentary: Job the Scapegoat

1. Activist Feedback

Donna and Bobby, who tabled at the El Paso Veggie Fare, write:

We enjoyed working at the Veggie Fare again this year. We had many good and positive conversations with a steady stream of people. One lady took a handful of brochures to distribute at her Russian Orthodox church. We were blessed by this opportunity to serve you at the Veggie Fare. We would be happy to do it again sometime.

2. The October Peaceable Table Is Now Online

Contents include:

Wearing the editor's hat this month, Benjamin Urrutia writes about professional animal-rescuer Avi Kuzi. Most of Avi's adventures to free trapped animals would be applauded by all, but how about his underwater dives to slash fishing-nets?

We get a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom in two video clips of a parrot affectionately caring for a kitten.

Not everyone knows that the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln (who shares his first name with Avi Kuzi) loved animals. See the Review of this children's book.

The Recipe section features the "Happier Black Bean Soup," which started out in The Joy of Cooking. This new version is bound to make for healthier humans and happier pigs.

Our October Pioneers, Robert and Sherry Madrone, caught a vision of harmony among human beings, animals, and the earth in their days in the late 1960s counterculture. But unlike many who abandoned it for conventional life (and diet), the Madrones have continued to "follow the Gleam," realizing the vision more and more deeply in their daily life.

To see this issue, go to http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue58.html

Toward the Peaceable Kingdom,
Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Will You Eat of My Flesh, and Drink of My Blood? http://www.all-creatures.org/sermons97/s7oct90.html 

4. Lectionary Commentary: Job the Scapegoat

Job 42:1-6

Oct. 11

In most Christian translations, this passage describes Job recanting after challenging God’s right to cause Job to suffer. The reader knows that Job, who had been described as a righteous man, was a victim of great suffering, similar to countless humans and animals through history. Job had lost his sons, his fortune, and his health. He maintained that his treatment had been unjust, but his uncharitable friends asserted that Job must have somehow deserved his suffering. They told Job that he must have sinned against God, though Job (and the reader) knew otherwise.

Job’s “friends” treated him as a scapegoat. They could not believe that God would allow a righteous man to suffer, so they cruelly accused him of wrongdoing, despite having no evidence to substantiate their claims. They needed to scapegoat Job to convince themselves that Job, not they, deserved such misery.

Job, convinced that he had been treated wrongfully, demanded an explanation from God. Job was determined to assert his innocence, even if doing so might prompt God to kill him (Job 13:15). God eventually responded to Job but never fully explained why Job had suffered such misfortune. God asserted his power and majesty but did not contradict Job’s claims of innocence and unjust treatment. Nevertheless, after God declares God’s power and greatness (but does not explain why God made Job suffer), traditional Christian translations vindicate God by having Job declare, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:6) Jack Miles (A Biography of God) disputes the notion that Job has recanted his claim of innocence.

Miles notes that Job has maintained his innocence throughout his ordeal, and God has failed to meet Job’s challenge to either demonstrate Job’s sin or admit that God had mistreated him. Therefore, it does not appear that Job needed to recant. Miles takes issue with this Christian translation of Job 42:6. My Jewish Bible translates Job 42:6 as, “Wherefore I abhor my words, and repent, Seeing I am dust and ashes.” To my reading, Job, recognizing his limited, mortal perspective, regrets challenging God, but Job does not recant. Therefore, the book of Job illustrates how people readily scapegoat innocent individuals to preserve their own notions about God and God’s will.

How does this apply to vegetarianism and animal issues? A rather popular – and self-serving – belief is that God cares about the welfare of humans much more than that of other creatures. While the Bible describes Adam’s “dominion” over creation, there are many stories and passages that relate God’s concern for nonhuman beings. Nonetheless, many Christians are convinced that animals were created for the purpose of human consumption. While it is likely that a taste preference for animal flesh has influenced such views, I strongly suspect that many Christians have closed their hearts to animal pain, suffering, and death in order to maintain a view of God that endorses humanity’s exploitation of animals and that God desired animal sacrifices (a disputable conviction). Similarly, Job’s friends hardened their hearts and added to Job’s suffering in order to maintain their notions about God.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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