Weekly Newsletter - March 8, 2017
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. On Faith, part 1
  2. The March “Peaceable Table” Is Now Online
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. On Faith, part 1

This week I begin a series of thoughts on the nature of faith. Of course, faith means different things to different people. These are my own, personal reflections. They certainly do not constitute “official positions” of the CVA.

I don’t think faith should mean believing impossible things or believing things for which there is very weak evidence. And, I don’t regard as admirable having strong belief (or even claiming certainty) for tenets that are unreasonable to hold. I think all kinds of mischief derive from people whose faith is derived from authority (such as a “holy book” or a spiritual leader), particularly when evidence contradicts their beliefs. The 9/11 attackers did not lack faith; they simply had very unreasonable beliefs.

For faith to be a positive rather than a destructive belief, it need not involve adherence to specific tenets about God or the world. Rather, it should involve a willingness to commit oneself to truth and justice. Implicit in such a faith is a belief that our actions matter and that we can be a force for good. I think such convictions are reasonable, but they rest on faith. The alternative to such a faith is hopelessness and despair, and the consequences of hopelessness and despair extend beyond an individual person’s state of mind. If kind-hearted people do nothing, those in need of protection and care remain vulnerable and continue to suffer in a world where violence flourishes.

I do not think that having and acting upon a faith that our actions matter requires any particular view regarding God’s nature or even God’s existence. Christians do have a faith in God’s existence (though Christians have different about what it means for a supernatural being to exist) and faith that Jesus had divine attributes (though Christians differ on the nature of Jesus’ divinity). I think that religious faith can be grounded in the existence of consciousness and, in particular, one’s own consciousness (see Guided by the Faith of Christ, 2nd Ed., p. 93). If one attributes the existence of consciousness to God, there remains the challenging question of God’s intention for Creation. I will consider this next week.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. The March “Peaceable Table” Is Now Online

Contents include:

  • The Editor's Corner Essay deals with the related but sometimes contrasting issues of comforting and being comfortable. Most people, wanting to be comfortable, shut out the painful facts behind the animal flesh and "products" they eat; they don't want to take the adventure of facing it, going out on the margins, and making the change. But should we, who are on the adventure, sometimes shut it out as well?
  • In one of the NewsNotes we read of the animals' loss of a great champion in philosopher Tom Regan, who died last month at the age of seventy-eight.
  • This month's Unset Gems are a collection of newspaper bloopers dealing with animals, e.g.,  "Dyke stated in his complaint that the defendant owned a large dog that walked the floor most of the night, held noisy midnight parties, and played the radio...."
  • Robert Ellwood Reviews Jonathan Balcombe's book What a Fish Knows, reporting a great deal of up-to-date research on the remarkable capacities of our marine cousins. For instance, would you have thought that that a honeymooning (human) couple getting amorous underwater would attract curious piscine onlookers?
  • Many persons like to categorize activist vegans as young, New Age-y and politically liberal. But Jim Weiland, devoted vegan and writer of this month's Pilgrimage narrative, shows how narrow and inaccurate the stereotype is.
  • Ready for some comfort food for lunch? Throw together the ingredients for "Chickpea and Fingerling Potato Soup," a Recipe by cookbook author Randy Graham.
  • The March Poetry selection features a work by (relatively) new poet Richard Lehnert; it tells the story of a giant sea turtle who saved the life of a shipwrecked woman, giving her a two-day ride to safety. The narrator chooses to believe that the turtle's remarkable feat was motivated by real thought, real compassion.

Read this issue here online.

Toward the Peaceable Kingdom,

Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Obeying God Promotes World Peace

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