Weekly Newsletter - September 15, 2016
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. Reflection on Comments by Jonathan Sacks in Not in God’s Name, part 3
  2. The September Issue of “The Peaceable Table” Is Now Online
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Reflection on Comments by Jonathan Sacks in Not in God’s Name, part 3

Sacks wrote: “Fundamentalists and atheists share the same literal approach to texts; the single most important fact is that the meaning is not self-evident.”

I’ve heard many say that the “Bible interprets itself,” but this claim makes no sense to me. The Bible is a collection of words, and words are meaningless without human interpretation. Indeed, people trying to ascertain the Bible’s teachings have come to very different conclusions when it comes to interpreting specific passages and identifying biblical themes.

Tragically, many people have been so certain of their own interpretations that they have felt justified in harming innocent individuals. The problem is that our own biases, often emanating from unconscious hopes or fears, color our interpretations of the Bible and other religious texts. If people recognized this, perhaps they would exhibit more humility, and they would be less inclined to abide by self-serving biblical interpretations, including those that, they believe, entitle humans to treat nonhumans any way humans want.

As Sacks observes, those who deride people of faith tend to make the same mistake. They take the Bible literally, and they highlight sections that endorse abhorrent behavior, such as the command to stone a stubborn son or a woman who loses her virginity before being married. They tend to discount or ignore those sections that encourage greater compassion and justice.

It seems to me that most people emphasize and take more literally those teachings that reflect their own deep convictions. I find that the Bible generally tries to bring out the best in us. Indeed, there is little value in a faith that tells us to be selfish and hard-hearted – humans tend to be self-centered and don’t need religion to confirm that bias. Religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is at its best when it reminds us of our commonality with and obligation toward others who can experience joy and misery just as we do. As I discuss in Guided by the Faith of Christ, Seeking to Stop Violence and Scapegoating, I think the Bible can inspire us to dedicate our lives toward compassion and justice.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. The September Issue of “The Peaceable Table” Is Now Online

Contents include:

  • "I Love Pigs – I Think," the Editor's Corner Essay, narrates a surprising encounter with a vendor wearing a T-shirt reading "I [heart] Bacon" at the local Farmers' Market. Some people are half-open to the message, others combative, but those of us who truly seek Peace cannot regard anyone as an enemy.
  • Jesus counselled us to "Be shrewd as snakes, and innocent as doves," one of the September Unset Gems.
  • The September Recipe is for a delicious pinto enchilada dish from the vegetarian Feast of Friendship recipe book a group of us produced in Orange Grove Meeting in 1986. It is fit for a feast.
  • Our Poetry selection this month is "The Ad-Dressing of Cats," by none other than T.S. Eliot. "Always bear in mind that he / Resents familiarity. . . ." Not all cats resent familiarity, just as not all dogs are the hail-fellow-well-met type, but it's all presented so delightfully, one enjoys the stereotypes.

Read your favorite sections (or the whole issue) at www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue128.html

Toward the Peaceable Kingdom,
Gracia Fay Ellwood

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

Heavenly Instruction

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