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Update Newsletters
18 March 2007 Issue

1. Activist Outreach Opportunities

2. Lectures on Ethics, Animals, and Vegetarianism

3. New CVA Podcast

4. Christianity and Violence: Relationships in Literature and Covenantal Relationships

1. Activist Outreach Opportunities
Step It Up

Lorena writes: The CVA is going to "Step It Up" and we need you!

This April 14th thousands of people are going to gather at more than 900 events around the country to call for action on climate change. Factory farming contributes to 17% of global warming gases emission and is among the top most polluting industries. The CVA urges all members to participate at "Step it Up 2007" events in their areas by either tabling or leafleting with CVA material. This is a prime time to raise awareness and spread the word about the transition to a plant-based diet as good stewardship of all of God's Creation: humans, animals and the environment.

Please visit http://events.stepitup2007.org/ to find events in your area and contact Lorena Mucke at lmucke@bellsouth.net if interested in participating. We would like to hear from you by the end of the month to have enough time to send you material. Thank you!

Activist Feedback

Susan writes: Four of us were holding up signs outside the main gate of the Houston rodeo today. We got all sorts of rude comments from adult cowboys and cowgirls and sometimes even from their "cow-children." It caused a couple of my protester friends (lovely ladies) to feel depressed and worn out and maybe a tad resentful. Because I had already decided to follow Jesus' advice to love one's enemies, I found it increasingly natural to look for -- and find! -- good in every passerby. It was a joy to respond to the remarks gently, calmly and smilingly. I also offered flyers to some of them in a way that caused them to reply politely, even if they declined to accept. I think the love that pours out from God to and through His happily obedient children is the ONLY influence that's going to renew minds, purify hearts, and change actions.

Upcoming CVA Leafleting Opportunities

3/29-31 FL Waldo Bill Bailey's 2007 Spring Gospel Jubilee!
3/30 TX Dallas Acquire the Fire Christian Rock Conference 3/30 AL Ozark Audio Adrenaline Christian Rock Concert
3/30-31 NC Winston-Salem Acquire the Fire Christian Rock Conference
3/31 TN Johnson City Audio Adrenaline Christian Rock Concert

If you can help at these events, or want a complete list of upcoming events, contact Paris at Christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com.

2. Lectures on Ethics, Animals, and Vegetarianism Nathan Nobis writes: Here are some recent lectures on ethics and animals, specifically vegetarianism, by Dr. Matt Halteman, an excellent philosopher from Calvin College, a Christian College in Michigan. These were recently given at Wheaton College, a Christian College in Illinois:

MP3: " Animal Rights & Christian Responsibility "

MP3: " Living Toward the Peaceable Kingdom"

Notes: " Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation "
Notes: " Animal Rights and Christian Responsibility "

3. New CVA Podcast
Kathy Vander Kaay writes: The latest episode of the CVA podcast, dated March 11 is up. It has a great interview with Vasu Murti, author of They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy.

To listen, go to http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/podcast/index.htm and link to the itunes podcast subscription page.

4. Christianity and Violence: Relationships in Literature and Covenantal Relationships

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

The stories about Jesus and his community lend important insights into how to establish and maintain healthy relationships. The development of loving relationships is a frequent theme in many fictional stories, which almost always describe obstacles.

Girard has shown that, in classic novels, love is grounded in acquisitive mimetic desires, and consequently the rivals for an object of love are obstacles to each other.1 In contrast, in romantic novels, people tend to love each other because they recognize inherently good qualities in each other.

The obstacles to love in romantic novels generally involve rigid cultural barriers or evil people. In romantic novels, evil people may have mimetic desires such as envy and greed, but, in contrast to classic novels, the protagonist's desire is typically motivated by the object of love, not the rival. While mimetic rivalries create obstacles to love in many classic novels, romantic novel writers erect obstacles in order to generate interest, but the obstacles are not inevitable consequences of romantic desire.

Classic novels often end with the death or banishment of one or more protagonists; otherwise, the conflict and rivalry would persist and the novel would seem to lack a proper "ending" in which order and stability prevail. In romantic novels, the ending sometimes involves death, but it may simply involve clarification of misunderstandings or a willingness of a character to accept the tragic fate of living without the object of love.

Why is this important? If love were romantic (i.e., were grounded in romantic desire rather than acquisitive mimetic desire), then it would not necessarily cause conflict. However, if the classic novels are correct, and their lasting power is testimony to their accuracy about human desires and relationships, then human love typically arises from acquisitive mimetic desire, which generally leads to conflict and violence.

What kind of love does God desire? I think God desires agape love, a complete and unconditional love that Jesus manifested in all his relationships and that Jesus sought from Peter (John 21:15-16). Such love accords with God's desire for peace and harmony throughout Creation.

Agape love is grounded in neither the specific attributes of the beloved nor is generated by others' desires. With love grounded on acquisitive mimetic desire, one or more people mediate the desire for the object of love; with agape love, the mediator is God. Regardless of the loved person's faults, God loves that person. Consequently, in agape love, one's love for another is grounded in one's love for God. Since God cannot be our rival, God's love for a person does not generate envy, resentment, or hostility.

The Bible describes covenantal relationships as models for agape love.

Examples include God's covenant with all Creation to not flood the earth again (Genesis 9), with Abraham (Genesis 17) and the other patriarchs (Genesis 17:21, Leviticus 26:42), and with the Hebrews, granting them the Promised Land (Exodus 6:4) and the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). All of these covenants were gifts, but in certain instances the Hebrews were obliged to accept the gifts (e.g., the Ten Commandments) or suffer the consequences (e.g., dissolution of their community).

In the New Testament, at the Last Supper, Jesus took the wine and said, "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28; see also Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20).2

All of our relationships should model Jesus' covenantal relationship with his disciples, which was characterized by love, caring, compassion, and forgiveness. This is why Jesus said to his disciples, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

If we loved each other as Jesus loved his disciples and as God loves all Creation, we would always seek respectful, compassionate, nonviolent solutions to conflicts.

1. Girard, René. Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1965.

2. I thank Lorena Mucke for astutely asking why this passage relates Jesus saying that his blood was poured out for "many" rather than for "all." I offer a response, though I do not claim that this is the full answer. Jesus died (and his "blood was poured out") for those who sought forgiveness. For those who refused God's forgiveness, Jesus' blood had no influence on their propensity to scapegoat and to victimize innocent individuals.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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