Likelihood of Animals Having Souls and Spirits Spurs Growing Interest In Vegetarianism

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Likelihood of Animals Having Souls and Spirits Spurs Growing Interest In Vegetarianism

The Catskill Daily Mail
Saturday, May 2, 1992
By Annabar Jensis
Managing Editor

Animals have souls or spirits, but mankind often attempts to deny this to make it easier to eat them, pastor Frank Hoffman told a group of senior citizens at the Adult Learning Institute's "lunch and learn" program recently.

Hoffman, a resident of Sleepy Hollow Lake, is president and chief executive officer of F. L. Hoffman Corp., a Rensselaer-based construction management firm. He describes himself as a Messianic Jew and a vegetarian (vegan). He spoke at the staff cafeteria of Columbia-Greene Community College.

He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in chemistry, and said his faith developed gradually over the years.

"Did you ever consider having a hot dog with real dog meat or cat served over a bed of rice?" he asked. His audience shuddered, and he asked, "Is this because you have developed a relationship with a cat or dog? They become a member of the family, and it would be as repugnant as eating a child."

And he added, "Is it because you have recognized something in that animal that makes it more than just a thing? The soul and spirit comes from God. If we all came from primeval ooze then we would have no soul or spirit."

Hoffman said he grew up in a Jewish family and had religious education, "but I never began to understand my own or other persons' or beings' relationship to God. I had no concept of soul or spirit. I began to drift away from God and became an evolutionist."

The turnaround came one day when he was flying Ė he is a licensed pilot. "I asked God to let me know and I began to change my thinking process," he said. "I looked at things in a new way and I began to get answers."

He said creation is described three times in the first two chapters of Genesis.

"God tells the animals to go forth and multiply as if they have understanding and reason, which is partly the definition of spirit," he said. "God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. We became living beings ... living souls," the same Hebrew words that are used to describe the animals that God made.

According to the Bible, "whatever a man called a living creature, that was its name," Hoffman said. "The giving of names in the Bible was a symbol of lordship. If we don't give them names and let them just wander around in the fields in herds and flocks, it's easier to kill them and eat them and then we feel no remorse for killing them and eating them. And this led to the extremely cruel treatment of animals on factory farms.  We say they have no souls."

The Bible speaks of giving man plant life to eat, he said. "There is no mention of eating flesh before the Flood."

And he said it was not until the fall of Adam and Eve that death was mentioned. "If an animal had no soul its death would have been of no value to the ancient Hebrews as a sacrifice...a soul for a soul," he said.

"It took intellect for the snake to connive Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil," he said.

He noted that animals dream, test us and make up games. They are capable of sensing a humanís emotional state. And he wondered if some of the creatures that have "evolved" are "Godís idea of having fun."

Hoffman said he would not be totally opposed to medical experiments using animals Ė if they were absolutely necessary to save human beings and other animals, and were conducted in a truly compassionate and humane manner. But, he said, "They don't have to use animals in some of the ways they do. There is an extreme amount of cruelty. They repeat the same experiments. There is a horrendous additional amount of suffering. And, they have never proven that such experiments are absolutely necessary"

"We can learn from people that actually have the illness," he said. "AIDS studies don't work on animals. If we did things in a lovely, compassionate way we might get different results." The misery inflicted upon the animals can actually skew test results, he said.

And he said studies of prison inmates show that youngsters who exhibit cruelty to animals often end up abusing people.

Hoffman serves as pastor for the Athens and High Hill United Methodist Churches.

He was also instrumental in virtually salvaging Sleepy Hollow Lake after it ran into serious financial problems during the middle 1970ís under former ownership. An organization of property owners that he led forced the state to protect the interests of those who had purchased lots.

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