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CVA Weekly Newsletter
June 20, 2012

  1. Essay: A Christian Path to Self-Esteem
  2. Blog of Interest
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
  4. The June Peaceable Table Is Online

1. Essay: A Christian Path to Self-Esteem

Last week, I argued that the attempt to gain self-esteem by dominating others individuals – human or nonhuman – is a zero-sum game that invariably results in harm. Is there another path to self-esteem?

I think Christianity offers one such path. We are taught that God is the creator. I think it is reasonable to attribute to God subjective experience and the sense of identity and self which, evidently, many people regard as a manifestation of the soul. The sciences can tell us much about how atoms, molecules, cells, organs, and bodies work. But they have offered little insight into how inanimate objects can generate subjective experience.

It is reasonable to hold that God, as creator of all such human and nonhuman “souls,” cares about them. Consequently, we may finding meaning and purpose by serving God by helping those souls who God created. Our abilities to help vary, depending on our skills and our positions in society, but everyone can be part of this process. All of us can gain a sense of self-esteem if we believe in what I think is a reasonable position that, by helping God’s living beings, we are serving God.

We can do much more collectively than individually, and this can be a basis for generating and maintaining communities. Throughout history, humans have generated and maintained communities through the scapegoating process, in which exclusion of certain individuals is crucial to community identity. However, Jesus taught that we should include everyone, including widows, orphans, tax collectors and others who society had ostracized. In my view, this is a radical and powerful teaching – so much so that it makes a strong case for divine inspiration for Scripture.

I think we should care about all God’s creatures, but should we care about them equally? I will consider this question next week.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. Blog of Interest

Franceen Neufeld has a very nice blog about Christianity and animals:

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

Father? Father! Abba! Father!

4. The June Peaceable Table Is Online

Contents include:

*  Every era has its taboos; today In many educated circles, talk about life after death (particularly for animals) makes people about as uncomfortable as talk about sex would at a Victorian tea party. But taboos do not determine truth or falsehood, although they do tend to keep people ill informed.  This month's *Editor's Corner* essay, "The Living and the Deceased, Part I:  A Cloud of Witnesses," broaches the modern taboo to present the idea that prayers for the deceased, both human and animal, may both help individual beings and further spiritual evolution.
*  One of the *NewsNotes* tells of the series of bans of animals in circuses in South America, the latest being in Paraguay, with two others in the works.  This welcome development followed upon some much-publicized exposes by Animal Defenders International.
*  Benjamin Urrutia reviews the children's documentary film “Chimpanzee,” which tells the moving story of an orphaned youngster who persuades an unlikely member of his extended family to be his foster parent.
*  This month's *Recipes* by Angela Suarez offer an interesting and refreshing Ginger Walnut Pasta for humans, and a "Just Peachy" cake for four-legged diners.
We welcome letters and other submissions, particularly "My Pilgrimage" and "Pioneer" narratives.

To see this issue, go to http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue88.html

Toward the Peaceable Kingdom,
Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor 

Your question and comments are welcome

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