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Update Newsletters
29 October 2006 Issue

1. Survey to Improve Our Booklet

2. Reply to Last Week’s Commentary

3. CVA Outreach

4. Leafleting Suggestion

5. Features at the Website www.christianveg.org

6. Christianity and Violence: Holistic Healing – The Man with Leprosy

1. Survey to Improve Our Booklet
In a few months, we will print a new edition of our booklet Honoring God’s Creation.

Please help us by completing a survey at: www.christianveg.org/survey-hgc.htm.
It takes about 5 minutes.

2. Reply to Last Week’s Commentary
Last week, we had a commentary suggesting that there would be no serious moral problems raised by employing animal parts for food, sports, and other uses, if animals were treated humanely and died a natural death in old age. Gracia Fay Ellwood responds:

"This would certainly be a different story from the hellish suffering and massacres that now take place. But psychologically/spiritually, I don't think it could work. The idea of eating or making products from the bodies of our deceased companion animals is odious to us, and something very similar applies to, say, unclaimed human bodies. It is taboo in the sense that respect for the deceased forecloses doing such things, though it would be more practical from a purely financial standpoint than the expense (or at least effort) of burial or cremation. I think that using up the flesh or hair or skin of the deceased, human or animal, implies that they are primarily means to ends rather than ends in themselves."

3. CVA Outreach
CVA board of directors member DeRonda Elliott writes: Last week I did a program entitled Vegetarianism and Christianity in a large (and notably liberal) Baptist Church in Raleigh (Pullen Baptist, on the campus of NC State University). It was very well received - people hung on to my every word. This church actually has an established "Vegetarian Encouragement Group" (VEG). About 15 people attended, and I handed out the new CVA booklet and told them all about us.

4. Leafleting Suggestion
A person who leaflets for Vegan Outreach has offered some useful advice for dealing with people who resist the message. He writes:

A simple response I now use that seems to work pretty well is "That's okay, I just want you to read this." This works whether people are being rude or they simply just don’t want to take the leaflet.

As in...

"I love meat!"

Me - "That's okay, I just want you to read this."

Leaflettee - "I just ate McDonalds"

Me - "That's okay, I just want you to read this."

Leaflettee - "I would never be a vegetarian"

Me - "That's okay, I just want you to read this."

I think people make rude comments for two reason - They think they're being funny (not realizing that we've heard the same thing a few hundred times before) and trying to offend us. When you just reply seriously, but without anger, they realize that A) their joke wasn't so funny and B) I'm not offended. They usually end up taking one.

5. Features at the Website:
 www.christianveg.org 

Weekly Podcast:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/podcast/index.htm 

Weekly Blog:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/blog/index.html 

Featured Discussions:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/dis.htm 

6. Christianity and Violence - Holistic Healing – The Man with Leprosy

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

Scapegoating invariably involves having “insiders” and “outsiders.” According to Girardian theory, all distinctions are grounded on scapegoating. Jesus challenged the legitimacy of these distinctions by healing in the synagogues (where only “clean” people were welcomed) and by going so far as to touch an “unclean” man with leprosy (Mark 1:40-45).

The ancient Hebrews believed that disease reflected God’s judgment, and consequently they saw leprosy as a sign of sin. The man with leprosy was rejected by his community, and Jesus was “moved with pity”, “stretched out his hand and touched him”, and made him clean. Jesus told him to go directly to the priest “and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.1

In ancient Hebrew culture, similar to other primal cultures, touching an unclean person rendered one unclean and, consequently, an outsider. Thus, the people believed that, when Jesus touched and healed the leper, Jesus became unclean (an outsider). Jesus had told the man with leprosy that, having been cleaned, he should “say nothing to any one” but “he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter” (Mark 1:45). After Jesus touched a person with leprosy, people regarded Jesus as unclean, and Jesus was forced to reside in the countryside. Those who recognized their need of healing (unlike the members of the crowd) still sought Jesus’ ministrations.

The instruction to offer at the temple “what Moses commanded” might relate to the sacrifices involved in the ritualistic cleansing of people with leprosy described in Leviticus 14. If so, I still do not think that this passage shows Jesus’ endorsement of animal sacrifice. Jesus likely knew that the man would not comply with Jesus’ instruction. I offer as a theory that the man, having been cleansed by Jesus, would not want to go to the temple. In the temple, the cleaning ritual involved shaving the head and eyebrows, as well as performing animal sacrifices. Since the eyebrows grow back very slowly, the man would not want to be marked for years as a former-leper.

Most contemporary medical professionals rely heavily on the “biomedical” model, which understands disease in terms of dysfunction of one or more body parts. However, the biomedical model does not lend itself well to completely healing afflicted people, because it does not address the psychological, spiritual, and social aspects of illness. Jesus exemplified holistic healing, which includes eradicating shame and social isolation. Jesus reintroduced the man with leprosy into the community by several means: Jesus first touched the man, signaling Jesus’ regard for the man’s worth; Jesus then healed the man’s visible lesions; finally, Jesus declared him clean, making shaving unnecessary.

Many healing stories relate Jesus’ compassion and concern for afflicted individuals (Matthew 14:14, 20:30-34; Luke 7:12-15; Mark 1:40-42). For example, Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:33-44). Remarkably, Jesus twice defended his healing on the Sabbath by pointing out obligations to treat animals humanely on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-16; 14:1-5).

1. The Greek here can also be translated to them (i.e., the priests), which makes more sense to me. The RSV is distinctive in using “the people” here.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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