1. Leafleting Feedback
2. An Urgent Call to Action: Scientists and Evangelicals Unite to
Christianity and Violence: Questions Raised by Parabolic Teaching
1. Leafleting Feedback
Jackie, leafleting at a AZ Phoenix 1/25 Chris Tomlin Christian Rock
Concert in Phoenix, AZ on 1/25 writes: I leafleted the concert Thursday
Things went smoothly and it was easy to hand out the 500 booklets.
Featured Upcoming Events
2/10 AL Mobile Steven Curtis Chapman Winter Jam 2/10 FL Palmetto Bill
Bailey' 2007 Winter Gospel Music Convention 2/10 WV Beckley Barlow Girl
Christian Rock Concert
2/13 CA Sacramento CeCe Winans Christian Concert
2/15 OH Mansfield CeCe Winans Christian Concert
2/15 VA Roanoke Steven Curtis Chapman Winter Jam
2/15 MI Detroit Newsboys Christian Rock Concert
2/16 MI Detroit Living Proof Live with Beth Moore
2/16 HI Kailua Kona Sonic Flood Christian Rock Concert
2/16 SC Greenville Steven Curtis Chapman Winter Jam
2/16 SC Greenville Steven Curtis Chapman Winter Jam
2/17 NC Greensboro Steven Curtis Chapman Winter Jam
2/18 FL Tampa CeCe Winans Christian Concert
2/18 VA Norfolk Steven Curtis Chapman Winter Jam
2/18 MI Kalamazoo Newsboys Christian Rock Concert
2. An Urgent Call to Action:
Scientists and Evangelicals Unite to
Protect Creation January 17, 2007 National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
Scientific and evangelical leaders recently met to search for common
in the protection of the creation. We happily discovered far more
concordance than any of us had expected, quickly moving beyond dialogue
shared sense of moral purpose. Important initiatives were already
on both sides, and when compared they were found to be broadly
We clearly share a moral passion and sense of vocation to save the
living world before our damages to it remake it as another kind of
We agree not only that reckless human activity has imperiled the
Earth-especially the unsustainable and short-sighted lifestyles and
policies of our own nation-but also that we share a profound moral
obligation to work together to call our nation, and other nations, to
kind of dramatic change urgently required in our day. We pledge our
commitment to this effort in the unique moment now upon us.
This meeting was convened by the Center for Health and the Global
Environment at Harvard Medical School and the National Association of
It was envisioned as a first exploratory conference, based
a shared concern for the creation, to be held among people who were in
ways quite different in their worldviews. It now seems to us to be the
beginning point of a major shared effort among scientists andevangelicals
to protect life on Earth and the fragile life support systems that
it, drawing on the unique intellectual, spiritual, and moral
that each community can bring.
Our Shared Concern
We agree that our home, the Earth, which comes to us as that
beautiful and mysterious gift that sustains our very lives, is seriously
imperiled by human behavior. The harm is seen throughout the natural
including a cascading set of problems such as climate change, habitat
destruction, pollution, and species extinctions, as well as the spread
human infectious diseases, and other accelerating threats to the health
people and the well-being of societies.
Each particular problem could be
enumerated, but here it is enough to say that we are gradually
the sustaining community of life on which all living things on Earth
The costs of this destruction are already manifesting themselves around
world in profound and painful ways.
The cost to humanity is already
significant and may soon become incalculable. Being irreversible, many
these changes would affect all generations to come. We believe that the
protection of life on Earth is a profound moral imperative.
without discrimination the interests of all humanity as well as the
the non-human world. It requires a new moral awakening to a compelling
demand, clearly articulated in Scripture and supported by science, that
must steward the natural world in order to preserve for ourselves and
generations a beautiful, rich, and healthful environment.
For many of
this is a religious obligation, rooted in our sense of gratitude for
Creation and reverence for its Creator. One fundamental motivation that
share is concern for the poorest of the poor, well over a billion
who have little chance to improve their lives in devastated and often
At the same time, the natural environments in
which they live, and where so much of Earth's biodiversity barely hangs
cannot survive the press of destitute people without other resources and
with nowhere else to go. We declare that every sector of our nation's
leadership-religious, scientific, business, political, and
act now to work toward the fundamental change in values, lifestyles, and
public policies require to address these worsening problems before it is
late. There is no excuse for further delays. Business as usual cannot
continue yet one more day.
We pledge to work together at every level to
our nation toward a responsible care for creation, and we call with one
voice to our scientific and evangelical colleagues, and to all others,
join us in these efforts.
Religion and Climate Change
3. Christianity and Violence: Questions Raised by Parabolic Teaching
[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It
being archived at
Jesus' speaking in parables raises several challenging questions.
First, if it is true that people have always ignored or killed true
who have revealed the scandal of scapegoating, how did their writings
parts of the Jewish Holy Scriptures and, later, the Bible
ancient Hebrews were starting to recognize the scapegoating process, in
which case prophetic writings with non-sacrificial messages resonated
them. The Bible relates that God gave the Hebrews the revelation of
monotheism, which was enshrined in the First Commandment. If a
important aspect of monotheism is that it envisions God as having one
essence, and if that essence is love (see 1 John 4:8, 4:16, the ancient
Hebrews would have recognized truth in prophets who decried the violence
injustice of scapegoating.
Monotheism also works against scapegoating by
discouraging idolatry, which involves projecting human desires onto the
divine. People have always attributed their own scapegoating to divine
will, but monotheism makes it harder to engage in such idolatry, because
God with one essence cannot both love Creation and want to see parts of
As much as other people, the Hebrews were discomforted by prophets
revealed the scandal of "sacred" violence. However, the Hebrews differed
from other people in that their monotheism provided a dim awareness that
prophets may have grasped some profound truths.
This view would help
explain why they saved and revered the prophetic writings, even as they
shrunk from fully internalizing the later prophets' claims that God does
want sacrifices (Hosea 6:6; Jeremiah 6:20, 7:22; Amos 5:21-22; Micah
The Hebrews' recognition of the scapegoating process reached a peak with
Songs of the Suffering Servant. It is not remarkable that the Suffering
Servant was a victim of scapegoating, which has been a universal phenomenon.
What is striking is that Isaiah recognized the scapegoating process at
an insight that qualifies Isaiah as a true prophet.
Second, what did Matthew mean when he said that Jesus spoke in
"to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet" (Matthew 13:35)?
to Psalm 78, in which the prophet Asaph wrote, "I will open my mouth in
parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have
and known, that our fathers have told us" (78:2-3). Asaph then described
God's anger at the Hebrews' lack of faith after the Exodus from Egypt,
they lived in the wilderness.
The Hebrews experienced much violence and
death, which Asaph attributed to God. According to Asaph, the people's
craving for flesh so angered God that God ". . . slew the strongest of
and laid low the picked men of Israel" (78:31). This likely relates to
Numbers 11:31-33, in which the Hebrews in the desert craved meat, even
though there was plenty of manna. God provided abundant quail, and
the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger
the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people
a very great plague" (11:33).
Perhaps the term "plague" was meant to describe a rash of violence
occurred because everyone attempted to grab as many quail as possible.
is possible that God was particularly displeased that the Hebrews craved
flesh when there was ample non-animal food available.
Just as Adam and
were not satisfied by the plant foods God had provided in Eden, the
in the desert desired what God did not want them to have.
According to Asaph, recalling the "dark sayings from of old" will
identify the Hebrews' past faithlessness and remind the Hebrews of the
importance of keeping God's commandments (78:7-8).
A Girardian reading
indicates that faithlessness involves not trusting in God's judgment.
Consequently, people "punish" according to their own human judgment,
invariably leads to scapegoating.
Third, how can we recognize our own scapegoating
People have always
found it easy to recognize when other people scapegoat; it is much more
difficult to identify their own scapegoating, because they tend to
their own violence as righteousness and justice.
Perhaps the best way to
avoid participating in scapegoating is to listen to the voice of the
victims, but we resist hearing their stories, because doing so can make
aware of our personal failings and our own contributions to the strife
plagues our communities. It is easier to look upon past generations and
condemn their victimization (e.g., America's crimes against Native
Americans) than to acknowledge contemporary scapegoating (e.g.,America's
crimes against animals). A second way that we can avoid scapegoating is
remain mindful that it happens. If we find that our anger is growing, we
must step back and, as detached as possible, assess the situation.
excellent strategy is to mentally put oneself in the place of those with
whom we are angry and ask, "How would they describe the situation? How
would they defend their actions?"
Fourth, if the scapegoating process has been hidden since the
of the world, how have we come to recognize it? Girard has said that we
have a book that fully articulates the scapegoating process - the Bible.
Without it, we might be unable to recognize our participation.
Fifth, why has it taken so long for us to recognize the scapegoating
process, if the Bible so clearly describes it? Perhaps, because people
intuitively known that scapegoating has helped keep communities
they have resisted internalizing Jesus' teaching that scapegoating is
universal and scandalous.
Christianity's non-sacrificial message has
more obvious as modern anthropologists have shown that analogous myths,
rituals, and taboos have existed throughout the world, all of which have
involved or related back to blood sacrifices. Upon recognizing that
scapegoating is universal, we may more readily see how the Bible speaks
us when it exposes the scandal of scapegoating.
Sixth, if Christianity has revealed the scapegoating process, why
Christians so often participated in scapegoating, e.g., against people
color, indigenous peoples, homosexuals, and animals? I think that,
individually, we find it tempting to project our own anger and violence
other people and believe that "punishing" them is just. Collectively,
Christian communities have been drawn to myth, ritual, and taboo for
reasons as other people throughout the world.
Last, if scapegoating keeps communities together, are we doomed to
widespread chaos and violence without scapegoating? I do not think so.
addition to revealing the problem - scapegoating - the Bible also offers
ways that we may transcend this universal human tendency. For insight,
will look at several parables over the next few weeks.
1. Does the Flood contradict the view that God does not want to see
destroyed? To my reading, God was dismayed by violence and saw no
alternative to destroying most of the earth with a great flood. God's
regret about taking such drastic measures was so great that God made a
covenant with humankind and all the animals never to flood the earth
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.