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Update Newsletters
7 May 2006 Issue

1. CVA Video Feedback
2. Seeking a Catholic Priest
3. Christian Concern for God's Creatures Conference
4. Leafleting Feedback
5. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Further Reflections on Christian Faith

1. CVA Video Feedback
Susan writes: The combination of watching those beautiful little faces and hearing that soulful cello music made me break down in tears instantly. Such a beautiful video. All of you express your compassion for God's little ones so eloquently. I do not see how ANYONE would not be moved, whether they are nominally a Christian or of another faith or no faith.

I will be sending my request to my group of interfaith friends now, asking that they please watch this with me to see if they will do a presentation on it.

Really, it seems so logical that EVERY Christian church pastor would purchase this video and show it to their congregation. There are certainly LOTS of churches down here to get the message out to.

Blessings to you for producing this film and for every single act you take on behalf of our innocent little friends.

[The CVA video is available on DVD or VHS and can be purchased at www.christianveg.com/materials.htm. Now is the time to contact your Christian Education coordinator to see if the video can be shown in your church next fall.]

2. Seeking a Catholic Priest
Ambuja Rosen ambuja_rosen@yahoo.com is doing a story on teaching kindness to animals in Catholic churches seeks to interview a priest. Please contact her ASAP, because the deadline for the story is Wednesday.

3. Christian Concern for All God's Creatures Conference Saturday, June 3rd at Caldwell College, Caldwell, NJ.

Speakers include:

*Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman, founders of The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation host many Christian websites for animals' rights (www.all-creatures.org).

*Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Chair of the Christian Vegetarian Association and Co-chair of the Medical Research Modernization Committee.

*Deborah Jones, General Secretary of Catholic Concern for Animals (based in England) will be on video and video-conferenced. She is also Editor of The Ark, CCA's journal.

*Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings will share on how churches can start an animal ministry.

*Jan Fredericks, MA, LPC, founder of God's Creatures Ministry and Chairperson for Catholic Concern for Animals-USA.

Many tables, speakers, great vegan food and more. (We are hoping Rev. Hyland will be able to attend.)

Registration fee is $35.00. For more information please email Jan at Godscre@msn.com).

Sponsored by God's Creatures Ministry and Coalition for Animals.

4. Leafleting Feedback
Eric and three friends leafleting in Athens, GA at the 'Indescribable Tour' writes: We distributed 725 Honoring God's Creation booklets, and had some positive interactions with a few people who were vegetarian or were interested in the issues. And one girl who mentioned that she'd previously received one of the Vegan Outreach booklets we've been distributing on the UGA campus.

Featured Upcoming Events

IL Chicago Gaithers Homecoming Tour May 13, 2006
MT Billings Benny Hinn Domestic Crusade May 13, 2006
Port of Spain, Trinidad Benny Hinn Crusade May 19-21, 2006
TN Gatlinburg Gaithers Homecoming Tour May 25-28, 2006
CA Concord Table -- KidFest 20,000 expected! May 27-29, 2006

To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group.christian_vegetarian/.  Read the home page, and then join. You will then be able to log in anytime to identify upcoming events in your region. Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you might be able to help.

5. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence - Further Reflections on Christian Faith

[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It is being archived at http://www.christianveg.com/violence_view.htm.]

Many Christians hold that failure to believe in Christ will result in permanent damnation to Hell. This theology holds that a principle motivation for belief is fear of a wrathful God. As discussed in essays 57-59, I think the notion of God as wrathful is mistaken. John wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). We live among people who are judgmental and wrathful, and we find it difficult not to project such sentiments onto God. Indeed, while Luther emphasized God’s grace, he still believed in the “hidden God” that had dark, wrathful, violent attributes. I think John had a more accurate description of God when he said, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This, as I have argued previously (See essays 12 & 51), is a monotheistic image of God in that it describes God as having one nature. An image of God that involves multiple personal traits has similarities to polytheistic religions, except that such a multi-faceted “monotheistic” God unifies a multitude of personality traits into one personage, while polytheistic religions tend to attribute each of a multitude of personality traits to individual gods.

Does an image of God as loving mean that God does not make judgments? The Bible frequently describes God rewarding some people and condemning others, yet it also describes God’s love for everything that God has created. Indeed, these diverging images of God often divide Christians today. Those who see God as wrathful often feel obliged to participate in God’s wrath, and they often endorse policies that uphold “God’s justice,” even if those policies may strike others as lacking in compassion. Those who regard God as full of love, forgiveness, and grace often favor public policies that reflect compassion for dispossessed individuals and avoid harsh punishment. Consequently, I think these diverging images of God account for how faithful Christians can populate both ends of the political spectrum.

I do not deny that God judges people, but I do not know how God makes those judgments, or what God does with those whom God judges favorably or harshly. The Bible describes many things that God does not want us to do, such as lie, kill, and commit adultery. The Bible clearly shows God caring about our actions, but I do not think it is our place to punish for transgressions. Any punishment that God might desire is the province of God. We may rightly restrict the ability of people to harm others (e.g., imprisonment), but we should regard such restrictions as regrettable and needed for public safety, not righteous vengeance. I think that Jesus taught that our calling is to reflect God’s love and not to judge other people. With our biases, prejudices, and tendency to join the scapegoating mob, we are ill-equipped to determine who deserves punishment. Any punishment, if appropriate, should be left to God.

Those who have the faith of Christ (see the two previous essays) will naturally strive to participate in the redemption of all Creation. Their works will reflect their faith. Therefore, I am convinced that vegetarianism is a natural and obvious expression of Christian faith, given the inherent cruelty, the environmental destructiveness, and the harmful health effects of eating animals. As science teaches us more, our works may more effectively serve God and God’s Creation. I think this is one reason that Jesus was correct in teaching, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

It seems to me that, for many Christians, faith means doing whatever it takes to get to Heaven. As Rev. Neuchterlein has written, “If Christianity remains for us primarily about getting to heaven, then we will find ourselves, sooner or later, descending into the Hades of our violence.” The reason is that we will repeatedly find ourselves accusing others of evil in order to feel justified ourselves. We natural feel ourselves and our associates lifted up whenever we condemn other individuals, regarding ourselves as closer to God in comparison to those we condemn. This is human-centered faith; Jesus’ God-centered faith regards God as loving and ready to forgive. True faith, Robert Hamerton-Kelly has noted, involves leaving the accusatory crowd and following Jesus, whose ministry encouraged love, compassion, service, and nonviolence.

How do we know that our faith genuinely reflects the faith of Christ? The theology I have been discussing offers a rather simple answer: We are aligned with Christ when our choices are compassionate and nonviolent.

This discussion begs the question of why there is violence and suffering in the first place. Next week, we will explore why there is evil.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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