The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


REFLECTION: Bishop John Baker

'Most of us are becoming familiar with the idea of the 'Big Bang': that some fifteen billion years ago a point infinitesimally small but infinitely dense exploded, and that from that explosion developed our vast, amazing universe.

At first it was very simple. There were only two substances, hydrogen and helium, but out of them came forms of incredible variety and complexity, culminating in life itself. On one island of Earth alone, Hawaii, in just a few thousand years, hundreds of new species have evolved. In one human brain more than 2,000 chemical agents enable us to learn, think, create.

Because of our greater powers we humans tend to forget how little separates us from other creatures. DNA is the transmitter of inheritance for us all; and 98.4% of a chimpanzee's genetic material is the same as ours. We know about evolution, but all we read about it is that we are superior and, like some Nazi 'master race', have the right to exploit all other creatures for our wants and whims.

What the Christmas story displays is the exact opposite of such an attitude. It tells of a God so great that he is responsible for this wonderful cosmic process, yet so humble that he lives within it as a mere human, simply to help us bring good out of it, not evil. This pattern of reaching down in love to care for lowlier forms of life is revealed as the nature of Ultimate Reality; and we humans are the ones on earth capable of understanding that pattern and of fulfilling it on God's behalf for the good of our fellow creatures, so much of whose nature we, like Jesus, share to our great enrichment.

Thank you, CIWF, and bless you for displaying and fostering this, the true spirit of Christmas, all the year round.'

Bishop John Baker was Bishop of Salisbury 1982-93. He was an Oxford Don for 14 years and for many years Chairman of the Church of England Doctrine Commission. During his time in the House of Lords (1987-93) he was a member of the All Party Animal Welfare Group and was Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. He is a Patron of CIWF.

From the Winter '95 edition of the Compassion In World Farming journal Agscene. Reproduced with Thanks.

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