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CVA Weekly Newsletter
July 4, 2012

  1. Activist Feedback
  2. Guest Essay by CVA Member Paul Hansen
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Activist Feedback

John, who tabled with Akisha at the Richmond Vegetarian Festival on June 23, writes:

I was impressed with both the venue as well as the size of their Vegfest. We distributed 87 “Would Jesus Eat Meat Today?” 25 “A Jewish Case for Vegetarianism,” 42 “Vegetarianism and the Major World Religions,” 25 Fr. John Dear’s “Christianity and Vegetarianism,” 18 Vegan Outreach’s “Even if You Eat Meat,” and we sold several DVDs and bumper stickers. We made some great contacts and enjoyed talking with those involved with a vegetarian lifestyle and Christianity as well as other Christians about vegetarianism. One highlight was a friendly atheist lady interested in talking with friends of hers about how a vegan life can be a good choice to adopt as part of their faith. There was also a young wife who became vegan about 6 months into her marriage and her husband not only has supported her but began to explore vegetarianism himself.It was a great day to share two of my favorite things in a great setting, Jesus and veganism. Thanks for the opportunity!

Upcoming Outreach Opportunities

7/11-14 MN Willmar Sonshine Festival
7/11-15 WI Oshkosh LifeFest 2012
7/12 IN LaPorte Building 429 @ LaPorte County Fair
7/13 OH Cleveland Joel Olsteen Ministries
7/14-15 CO Olathe Night Vision Festival
7/14 WI Oshkosh Building 429 @ The County Fair
7/21-22 IL Schaumburg Ignite Music Festival
7/21-22 SD Rapid City Hills Alive 2012 FREE Christian Music Fest
7/28 OH Loveland TABLE Heaven Fest
7/28 AZ Phoenix Girls of Grace Teen Conference
8/1-4 NH Gilford HUGE - SoulFest
8/2-4 PA Hershey Joyce Meyers Conference
8/3-4 OH Columbus Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/4 PA Phoenixville TABLE Green Earth Festival
8/10-11 OK Oklahoma City Women of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/11 MS Jackson Girls of Grace Teen Conference
8/17-18 WA Spokane Women Of Faith Celebrate What Matters
8/20 DE Harrington Casting Crowns @ Delaware State Fair
9/21-23 NC Hickory "Momentum" The Conference Newsboys
8/24-9/3 MO Branson Silver Dollar City - Southern Gospel Picnic
8/24-8/28 UK Lincolnshire One Event Christian Conference
11/17 NY Albany TABLE NY's Capital Region Vegetarian Expo

2. Guest Essay by CVA Member Paul Hansen

In arguing for “human exceptionalism” and against abortion, pro-life advocates often assert that we are created “in the image of God” without clarifying what that concept means. For instance, in reviewing the 39-year battle against Row v. Wade, Christian commentator Chuck Colson recently mentioned belief in “the sanctity of human life, and the Imago Dei being implanted in every human being.”

However, some relevant questions need to be asked. Precisely WHAT is it that gets “implanted in every human being” and WHY does that give “sanctity” (orgreatersanctity?) to preborn humans, but not to the preborn of other species? In other words, where does ‘pro-life theology’ draw the line separating those who have “sanctity” and those who do not (or those who havelessof it?)? Is ‘sanctity’ a category (either-or) concept, or does sanctity come in degrees (more and less)?

Defenders of “human dignity” or the “sanctity of human life” seldom bother to define precisely what it means to be “in the image of God” or why it should be the sole criterion for a creature’s value and respect. The suggestion that being made in the image of God somehow entitles humans to act in selfish, cruel ways toward everyone else on the planet is what Norm Phelps calls “the aristocracy theory” of creation, because it portrays humans as a privileged class “whose position in the divine scheme entitles us to reduce the rest of the earth’s population to serfdom.”¹ The Apostle Paul says that Christ is “the image of the invisible God,” for he created all things and “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15–20). But if “God is spirit,” as the Apostle John tells us (John 4:24), then the “image of God” after which Adam was created cannot refer literally to a physical or visual likeness, but must refer metaphorically to certain qualities and capacities. The Medieval philosophers called themqualia.

In light of Genesis 1:26–28, various expositors have suggested that theimago deimay refer to one of three things: (1) being a plurality (“us”) made for fellowship; (2) being “male and female” or gendered; and (3) being capable of exercising “dominion” over nature, as symbolized by Adam’s subsequent act of naming the animals. Since neither fellowship nor gender are unique to humankind, the first and second construals are unlikely. Nicholas Wolterstorff favors the third interpretation—allowing, of course, for the obvious possibility that some humans are in fact too malformed, malfunctioning, or immature to exercise dominion.²

I suspect that the ‘image of god’ entails having heightened (though not necessarily exclusive) capacities for self-reflection, knowledge, understanding, rationality, volition, creativity, communion, and emotion (love or hate, joy or sorrow)—in fact, those very capacities that allow us to exercise “dominion” within Creation, including the ability to discern right from wrong, to adjudicate, and to empathize. Other mammals exhibit both caring and aggressive behavior, but we appear to be the only species that is free to beresponsiblefor nature. However, that such agents as ourselves should, in virtue of those capacities, deserve to be the sole subjects of value or objects of respect in Creation is both a non-sequitor and a stretch of hubris. Indeed, if we fail to respect other creatures who are valued by God, we neglect our stewardship responsibility and our God-like “image” becomes tarnished.

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

Lord, Help Us End the Corruption of Your Creation

Your question and comments are welcome

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