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24 February 2010 Issue

1. Activist Feedback
2. Book Review
3. Commentary on the Lectionary

1. Activist Feedback

Casey writes: I just wanted to let you know that on Wednesday I gave out 600 CVA HGC booklets at Texas A+M in a couple hours of class changes. Several of those who had gotten it earlier provided positive feedback.

I found only a few in the trash, which I then reused. I think it went over very well since it is a religious area and fairly new literature to them.

Jeff writes: We had a great night of outreach in Phoenix, AZ at the RAGE Music Festival. Bill, Jone, and I distributed 650 CVA brochures. The crowd was mostly young and super friendly.

2. Book Review

Andrew Linzey. Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 206 pp, $29.95 hardcover.

Andrew Linzey’s latest book, like his previous writings, is thoughtful, articulate, tightly argued. Using logic and rational argument, he demonstrates that humans do not have the right to cause animal suffering. Linzey closely examines the justifications for harming animals, and he finds that they generally involve claims of animals’ supposed “inferiority.” In particular, he notes that people have asserted that animals are naturally slaves, that they are non-rational, that they are linguistically deficient, that they are not moral agents, that they lack souls, and that they are not devoid of the divine image. Many of these claims about animals are dubious or false. And, to the degree that they are true, both ethical theory and Judeo-Christian tradition form foundations for arguments in favor of animal protectionism, not in favor of animal abuse. Linzey then applies his ethical framework to three contemporary activities that harm animals: hunting with dogs, fur farming, and commercial sealing.

For many of us, protecting animals from human mistreatment is a largely matter of the heart – compassion alone dictates that we should show kindness and respect. Linzey shows that cold logic leads to the very same conclusions.

Reviewed by Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

3. Commentary on the Lectionary

February 28: Luke 13:31-37

This passage includes Jesus declaring, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…” I have heard preachers remark that the hen is feminine image of God, stressing the care and concern that people often associate with mothers. What I rarely hear is people noting is what this metaphor says about Jesus’ thinking about animals.

If Jesus thought that hens were mindless or acted on “instinct,” this metaphor would be meaningless. Jesus must have recognized that hens genuinely care about their young, because this is how he felt about those who had fallen away from godly ways. Though perhaps not the main point of the passage, Jesus’ using this metaphor demonstrates that Jesus understood that animals have feelings and that they act in ethical ways.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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