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Update Newsletters
11 November 2009 Issue

1. Activist Outreach

2. Weekly Reflection: Religious Faith and Three Fundamental Existential Questions

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

4. VegVoyages Adventures Announcement

1. Activist Outreach

A. Carol plans to adopt-a-highway in Fort Worth. She will keep a two-miles stretch of highway free of litter, and the organization credited with this public service will be the Christian Vegetarian Association. Great idea, Carol!

B. Tabling at Boston Vegetarian Festival

Linda and Neil relate:

The Boston Vegetarian Association's 14th annual Food Festival was a huge success. We haven't heard yet how many people showed up over the weekend, but it must have been thousands. The huge hall was mobbed – just wall-to-wall people – both days. The booklets were very popular and everything was gone by 2PM on Sunday. We stayed anyway until the festival closed, talking to people and giving out website information. People were still there talking to us as we packed up. 45 people (many were couples/families) signed up for the newsletter. What a weekend!

Two theology students came by at separate times, one from B.U., one from Andover-Newton. Both were thrilled to learn that CVA existed because they wanted to inject vegetarianism as a Christian concept into their classes. Both took several brochures for their classes. Another student from Gordon College (a small Christian college in Hamilton, MA, not Gordon Conwell) had recently started the school's first compassionate living group and was also thrilled to know there was CVA support and literature available.

Most of the people at the Festival were already vegetarian. But so many people came up to us with some version of the question "What do I say to my friend or relative who says God told us to eat meat/gave us dominion/Jesus ate meat . . .?" They were all so happy to be helped with answers and most took a booklet for their friend or relative, spreading the word beyond the convention center.

Thanks for the opportunity to do this.

C. Upcoming Activist Opportunities   

11/16 OK Oklahoma City Switchfoot Christian Rock Concert

11/17 TX Dallas Switchfoot Christian Rock Concert

11/18 TX Austin Switchfoot Christian Rock Concert

11/19 MA Boston EcoLogic: The Taste of Sustainable Food

11/19-20 AL Mobile Fire Conference - Benny Hinn

11/20-21 AL Mobile Miracle Service - Benny Hinn

11/20-21 FL Ft. Lauderdale Women of Faith Conference

11/20 TX Houston Switchfoot Christian Rock Concert

11/21 LA New Orleans Switchfoot Christian Rock Concert

12/4-5 CA Long Beach Fire Conference - Benny Hinn

12/6 CA Long Beach Miracle Service - Benny Hinn     

Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com  if you can to help. 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/  

2. Weekly Reflection: Religious Faith and Three Fundamental Existential Questions

[Occasionally I offer thoughts not strictly related to the week’s Lectionary reading. This is the first of a three-part series.]

As self-reflective creatures, we cannot avoid thinking about three fundamental existential questions: Where did I come from? What will happen to me when I die? What is the purpose my life? I will argue that answers to the first two questions tend conflict with each other, and both have implications for the third.

Science cannot answer these three questions, because the questions relate to the individual psych, which cannot be measured or tested scientifically. Science might show correlations between brain activity or neurotransmitter levels and contemplation of these questions, but the experience of life and the questions that this experience generates is outside the purview of science. Some atheists argue that human consciousness is an artifact of nature and what many people of faith regard as the “soul” is a brain phenomenon that ceases when the brain ceases to function. I see this as a denial of the mystery of existence rather than an explanation. Further, this atheistic position does not resonate as true or relevant for many people. Consequently, many people, including people who put considerable stock in science, have often sought out religious traditions for answers to these existential questions. Indeed, I doubt that the dream of some atheists to see an end to “religious superstition” will ever come to pass, because religion aims to address fundamental human needs, including the need for answers to these three existential questions.

Where did I come from? We find ourselves situated in a certain place and time, and we have no idea how or why that happened. We note that we are products of two parents, who are themselves products of parents, and our ancestry relates us to countless other people. We are also products of the earth, because our bodies are made of the earth and parts of the earth continuously cycle in and out of our bodies. Further, we find that our feelings and desires are shared by other individuals (human and animal), and this commonality encourages us to look to others in an effort to find out where we came from. So, trying to understand our origins yields knowledge and insights that connect us to the earth and its inhabitants, which in turn promotes empathy, compassion, and concern for the world and those who live in it.

The biblical creation story bears this out. The Bible describes all creatures living in peace and harmony, which God found “very good.” This account reminds people that the ideal world is nonviolent, a theme that Isaiah 11:6-9 reiterates in the “realm of God” vision.

Of course, people of faith don’t have a monopoly on compassion, and some of the most compassionate people I know are atheists. Meanwhile, many people of faith are hard-hearted, particularly when it comes to animal issues. Next week, I’ll explore how our effort to address the question what happens when I die influences our degree of empathy and concern for others.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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

Our Struggle Is Not against Flesh and Blood http://www.all-creatures.org/sermons97/s11nov90.html 

4. VegVoyages Adventures Announcement

Vegetarian & vegan small group adventures in India www.vegvoyages.com.

Your question and comments are welcome

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