1. CVA Sustaining Membership
2. Leafleting Feedback
3. Vegetarian Retreat Center
4. Children’s Animal Prayers
5. Seeking Vegetarian Priest in Texas
6. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence:
The Theodicy Problem: God and Evil
1. The CVA is
offering Sustaining Membership to those paying our $25 annual dues.
Everyone will continue to receive the weekly e-newsletter, and
Sustaining Members will receive daily messages that will consist of
inspirational comments, biblical commentary, health tips, an advice
column, and recipes.
What are the Benefits of Sustaining Membership?
Members get a daily inspirational and/or informative e-mail. Members
contribute to CVA's ministry, which addresses pressing problems of world
hunger and resource depletion, as well as the massive brutality against
animals due to factory farming.
How do I become a Sustaining Member?
Go to our membership page, and fill out the form, which will take you
to the dues-paying section. Or, you can send a check to CVA, PO Box
201791, Cleveland, OH 44120. Donations to the CVA are tax-deductible.
Ritchie leafleting at the Joel Osteen Concert in Columbus on May 11
writes: It went extremely well. The people couldn't have been nicer – no
rejections, no negative comments, no wrinkled noses or frowns. I said
"thank you." They said "thank you" and 500 pieces of CVA literature
moved in a matter of minutes.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org if you might be able to help.
email@example.com has spiritual retreats at the Church
of Saint John, Retreat Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Montgomery,
Texas, about 60 miles north of Houston. She writes, "All meals are
vegetarian. This is a church were people ask questions and the majority
of our congregation members eventually go vegetarian. All our Ministers
and Deacons are vegetarian - from choice. We also specify the NEED to
care about animals (as well as children etc.)."
Rev. Diane Ryder has written two nice children’s prayers for animals.
They are at
Vegetarian Priest in Texas
Margaret Moran seeks a vegetarian priest and/or vegetarian Catholic
family in the Dallas Fort Worth area. In addition, The Texas Catholic,
the newspaper of the Catholic church in Texas, had offered to do a story
if she could locate a vegetarian priest in Texas.
6. Christianity and
the Problem of Human Violence - The Theodicy Problem: God and Evil
[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It
is being archived at
Part 17 (Job) raised the theodicy problem, which has
challenged theologians since the time of the ancient Hebrews. At most,
only two of the following premises can be true:
God is righteous.
God is all-powerful.
There is injustice.
In other words, if there is injustice in the world, then God cannot
be both righteous and all-powerful. Let us briefly consider how
theologians have resolved this dilemma.
One approach has been to deny that the world is unjust. Even though
there is suffering, this is nonetheless the best of all possible worlds.
It is impossible to prove or disprove this theory, but I don’t think it
is reasonable. There is so much suffering in the world, so much of it
seemingly meaningless, that it is hard to believe that a righteous,
all-powerful God could not have done better. Is it really necessary that
children should die? Must so many older people suffer chronic pain? Does
the widespread pain, hunger, and early death of animals in nature really
serve a greater good?
A related approach to the problem is to posit that we often regard
suffering and death as unnecessary and undesirable only because we have
such a limited view.
However, if we had God’s much broader view of time and space, we
would recognize that it is good. While such a view is plausible, I do
not find it compelling. The degree of suffering for which there is no
discernible benefit raises doubts in my mind. Also, this theory suggests
that God’s notion of good is very different from our own, which raises
another problem: How should we behave? If God’s views differ so much
from our own, how do we direct our lives? If we are relatively clueless
as to what constitutes “the good,” how do we discern what to do? The
ancient Hebrews had the Law, but Jesus fulfilled the law and, most
Christians agree, Christians are not bound by the Hebraic Law. Many
Christians seem certain that they know God’s wishes for nearly every
facet of life, including sexual conduct, gender relationships, and human
domination and exploitation of animals and nature. However, their views
often seem grounded on selective and dubious interpretations of
Scripture that, to my reading, often involve taking specific verses out
of context. I think it is more reasonable to live according to the
principles of love, compassion, and mercy that Jesus illustrated through
his actions and teachings. This approach can work, as long as what we
regard as love, compassion, and mercy resembles God’s notion of these
principles. If we only have a vague and often mistaken notion of what
God regards as good, then we are ill-equipped to make good moral
Some have maintained that God is not necessarily righteous. There is
no reason, they assert, to assume that God had benevolent reasons for
creating the universe. Maybe the creator God derives pleasure from
watching us struggle and suffer. Again, this is theoretically possible
but, Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of Why Bad Things Happen to Good
People, has asserted that he would not praise such a God. One might
perform rituals to appease such a malevolent deity, but one would not
love and respect such a God.
Rather than arguing that God is totally in charge of this often
tragic world, Kushner has held that God is not all-powerful. For
example, when a plane crashes, God is unable to save the kind and decent
people who perish along with hateful people. Some people have pointed
out that, if God directly intervened in human affairs and violated the
physical laws of nature, this would deprive humans of free will. Our
praising God, and our receiving God’s calling, are meaningful only
insofar as we have free will. However, if God permitted such massive
suffering in the world primarily in order to receive meaningful praise
from humans, I would question God’s righteousness. I also find
unsatisfactory the position that human free will makes this “best of all
possible worlds.” While human free will may be necessary for human
existence to be meaningful, this strikes me as an insufficient reason to
justify the massive suffering of fellow humans and animals at human
hands. Furthermore, countless humans and animals suffer for reasons that
have little, if anything, to do with human free will, including natural
disasters and the commonplace suffering of animals in nature.
I think that, if God were to intervene in any human affairs, it would
raise doubts about God’s righteousness. Let us say that God miraculously
saved a child who had climbed out a 10th story window and fallen onto
the sidewalk. The reason this would be a miracle is that people don’t
survive such falls. In other words, it is only because God does not save
all the other people (including good people) who fall 10 stories that we
would recognize this intervention as miraculous. Here’s another example.
After an airplane crash, the TV news often features a stunned airline
passenger who missed the plane. That person often concludes that God has
a special plan for him or her. However, nearly every flight has at least
one person who changed plans or missed the flight, and that is the
survivor who ends up before the television camera if the plane crashes.
If God had really spared that person for a reason, then one must also
conclude that God chose to allow the rest of the passengers to die for
God’s reasons. Since many of those people were probably good, caring
people who played important and valuable roles in others’ lives, God’s
allowing them to die would raise real doubts about God’s righteousness.
I don’t know why God created the universe. By faith, I believe that
God cares about it. The alternative to this faith, I think, is nihilism
and despair. Perhaps, God created a universe full of possibility that,
once created, was beyond God’s power to change. However, we do have the
capacity to choose, and our faith suggests that God has the power to
help guide us. Next week, we will explore the passage “For God so loved
the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in
him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.