1. CVA Podcasts
2. Leafleting Feedback
3. Sustaining Membership
4. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Original Sin, part 1
1. CVA Podcasts
Thanks to Kathy and Chris Vander Kaay, the CVA now has a weekly
podcast, using material from the weekly e-newsletter and other CVA
materials. To hear the podcast, go to
www.christianveg.com and use
the link on the bottom left of the home page.
2. Leafleting Feedback
Sara, leafleting at Denver Jars of Clay in Denver on July 10, writes:
Just wanted to let you know how the leafleting went. Robert, Mark, Ann &
I handed out a lot of brochures (I only had about 30 left over) and the
crowd seemed receptive. Although some people didn't want to take one,
many people seemed genuinely excited to get the information. A few women
thought it was really funny, like being a Christian & a vegetarian is
incompatible, but they took the info anyway. Glad we can challenge
people's assumptions! Overall people were very nice & the event went
Regarding the Women of Faith conference this weekend in St. Louis,
Joe Stephens writes: Pamela and I were able to give the booklets very
easily. The location Savvis center is in public access and very leaflet
friendly. Many said "Thank you," and some took extras for their friends.
I heard one of them saying we were talking about this and glad to get a
booklet about Christianity and vegetarianism.
3. Sustaining Membership
The CVA offers Sustaining Membership to those paying our $25 annual
subscription. In addition to the weekly e-newsletter available to all
members, Sustaining Members receive daily messages that consist of
inspirational comments, biblical commentary, health tips, an advice
column, and recipes.
To 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.
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.
4. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence - Original Sin, part 1
[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It
is being archived at
Throughout the ages, Christians have struggled to understand why
humans sin, the consequences of sin, and how we might overcome sin. A
popular contemporary theology is that everyone is sinful because
everyone inherits Adam’s “Original Sin” of disobedience in the Garden of
Eden. They hold that only the ritual killing of a sacrificial victim can
mollify God’s wrath at human sinfulness. Jesus, who was totally
innocent, was the perfect sacrifice to atone for humankind’s depravity.
This satisfied God’s demand for sacrifice, and further animal sacrifices
became unnecessary. I will discuss difficulties with this atonement
theology shortly, but here I want to look at the notion of “Original
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was central in developing the theory
that everyone inherits Adams “Original Sin” of disobedience. One
difficulty with Augustine’s theory has to do with the mechanism of
transmission of Adam’s sin. Augustine maintained that human sexuality
was the outward manifestation of human sinfulness (perhaps because he
struggled greatly against his own sexual desires), and he asserted that
the overpowering passions associated with sexual intercourse transmit
human sinfulness to infants.1 With our better understanding
of the biology of inheritance, Augustine’s theory – or any theory that
posits inheritance of Adam’s sin of disobedience – seems unreasonable.
I think mimetic theory offers a more reasonable framework: Humans, as
mimetic creations, inherently desire what others have or want, which
strongly predisposes us to sin. In other words, according to this view,
we do inherit a propensity to sin, but we are not sinful at birth. As we
grow and develop mimetic desires that incline us towards sin, we still
can choose whether or not to sin. We still sin, because humans have
great difficulty overcoming all temptations, but our degree of
sinfulness tends to reflect the strength of our will. I think that
divine grace involves our gaining self-esteem in ways that do not
involve acquisitive mimetic desire, which reduces our desire to engage
in sinful behavior.
As discussed in essays 9 and 75, I regard the Garden of Eden story
anthropologically and as allegory, rather than historically and as
literal truth* I find that overwhelming scientific evidence from fields
such as geology, paleontology, archeology, biology, and astronomy
contradict the literal biblical account that the universe is only about
7500 years old.
Since I am unable to disregard things I believe are true, I am forced
to regard the Genesis creation account in symbolic terms, or to reject
the validity of the Bible. My perspective leads me to conclude that Adam
was not created innocent or without sin. Rather, becoming human is what
inclined Adam to sin. Adam became human by virtue of his
self-consciousness, and self-consciousness made Adam aware of that his
sense of self exists not only in the present (as animals experience) but
also will exist in the distant future (something that, evidently, other
animals cannot imagine).**
Consequently, anxious that harm might befall the self at some future
time, Adam sought to know what would be good for his self and what would
be evil. As a human, Adam regarded as evil scarcity (which threatens the
self with deprivation or even death) and the inevitability of death
(which terrifies the self with the prospect of the self’s extinction).
His fear of scarcity encouraged him to hoard, generating communal
scarcity and making harmonious coexistence with the rest of Creation
impossible. His fear of death fueled acquisitive mimetic desire to gain
self-esteem, which has led to rivalries and violence ever since.
Next week, we will explore Original Sin further, focusing on
Augustine’s understanding of Romans 5:12.
1. Eugene Webb, René Girard and the symbolism of religious Sacrifice,
Anthropoetics vol. 11 no. 1, 2005,
http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap1101/webb.htm; Donald Sensing, A
short history of Original Sin, 3/11/04,
* I would like to emphasize that either way of regarding the
Bible – literally or allegorically – encourages a plant-based diet as a
biblical ideal, and the Bible teaches that love and compassion should
guide our choices.
** Many animals can anticipate, with anxiety or eager
anticipation, the consequences of current conditions for the near
future. For example, a dog can fear the consequences of having just
urinated on the carpet. However, I am doubtful that the dog is anxious
about the possibility that the dog might urinate on the carpet tomorrow.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.