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Update Newsletters
3 June 2007 Issue

1. CVA T-shirts, etc.

2 . CVA Sustaining Membership

3. Upcoming Leafleting Opportunities

4. Christianity and Violence: Ideological Certainty versus the Quest for Truth, part 1

1. CVA T-Shirts, etc.
Summer is coming, so it’s time to break out CVA t-shirts, which tells the world that we think that vegetarianism honors God’s Creation. To order t-shirts and other CVA supplies, go to www.christianveg.org/materials.htm.

2. CVA 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 the Take Heart! daily e-messages, which include 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.

3. Upcoming Leafleting Opportunities
6/21 OH N. Lawerence Alive Festival Kutless 6/22-23 OH Cleveland Women of Faith Conference 6/22-24 NC Raleigh Harvest Festival (huge) 6/23 VA Richmond Richmond Vegetarian Festival 2007 (table) 6/23 NC Hickory Apologetix Christian Rock Concert 6/23 CA Adelanto Phil Wickham Christian Rock Concert 6/24 SD Casper Casting Pearls Casper Mountain Music Festival 6/28 CA Lake Forest Phil Wickham Christian Rock Concert 6/29 PA Wexford Apologetix Christian Rock Concert 6/30 NC Charlotte Salvadore Christian Rock Concert 6/30 AL Mobile Promise Keepers 6/30-7/1 SD Sioux Falls Casting Pearls Tour 07 6/30 WA Seattle Women of Faith Conference 7/1 NY Orchard Park Benny Hinn Special Event

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 christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you might be able to help.

4. Christianity and Violence - Ideological Certainty versus the Quest for Truth, part 1

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

We are symbolic creatures, and our symbolic desires often conflict with our biological desires. We want people to obey our commands, but we also want mutually respectful, covenantal relationships; we want our sexual activity to be desired by our partners, but this can result in our biological desire for sex sometimes going unfulfilled; we want to feel at peace with all of Creation, but many of us don’t want to forego the taste of animal flesh; we want to relieve death anxieties by heightening self-esteem, but we don’t want to alienate other people by gaining self-esteem at their expense.

Perhaps even more troubling for the human psyche, what we perceive seems to conflict with what we want to believe. Our innate fear of death encourages us to believe in some kind of immortality, but we known that all biological organisms die and decay. We desire to gain self-esteem by pointing to our own accomplishments or the accomplishments of “our” group, but our own failures and the obvious limitations of the members of our group stare us in the face. One response to these internal conflicts is to adhere to a religion that can tell us, clearly, unequivocally, unambiguously, what our place in the universe is, and how we should lead our lives.

We desire certainty about the great existential questions, such as our origins, our post-mortem destinies, the meaning of our lives, and how we are supposed to relate to each other, but such certainty can be dangerous for individuals and communities. A sense of certainty can blind us to strategies that can help us learn, grow, and adapt to change. In order to make a difference in the world, it is essential that we commit ourselves to what we believe, even to the point of great personal sacrifice. However, as long as a sense of certainty does not accompany such commitments, we can change commitments if overwhelming evidence demonstrates that our actions or beliefs have been misguided.

A second problem with ideological certainty is that it can readily lead to injustice. Because those who hold beliefs with certainty tend to resist contravening logic or external evidence, they tend to ignore information that might expose victimization and scapegoating. Third, because novel perspectives might show weaknesses in a given ideology, those attempting to maintain ideological certainty often have difficulty coexisting with those who hold alternative views. Such ideologues often respond to conflicting perspectives by sequestering themselves in separate communities; by becoming hostile toward those who express differing views (which discourages people from challenging their beliefs); or by eliminating, by murder or banishment, those individuals whose views threaten to “contaminate” their community.

Those manifesting ideological certainty tend to divide answers to some of the most challenging existential questions into two absolute categories – true or false. Girardian theory indicates that such divisions are grounded in the scapegoating process, in which violent scapegoating has generated the division between true, divinely ordained belief and false, tabooed, satanic belief. Violence, or threats of violence, maintains taboos, and historically those aiming to maintain a sense of ideological certainty have often responded to critics with violence.

If the divisions that underlie ideological certainty are grounded in the scapegoating process, they are grounded on lies that always accompany scapegoating, such as that those who espouse contrary views deserve punishment because they are evil and threaten to instigate communal crises. This helps explain why those claiming to defend the “one true faith” – whatever that faith may be – have often participated in scapegoating violence. Their commitment to their ideological certainty favors legalism and rigidity and often blinds them to love and compassion.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Your question and comments are welcome

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