ReviewsAnimals and Christianity
A book of readings edited by Andrew Linzey and Tom Regan. Published
It would be a mistake to suppose that these readings are confined to
Christianly reminders of our obligations toward non-human life. The
editors' own commentaries are predictably excellent and there are
welcome contributions to compassionate commonsense from such as C.S.
Lewis, Cyril Joad, Fritz Schumacher and Stephen Clark.
(The omissions are glaring. Why, for instance, no Henry Salt, whose
Creed of Kinship showed he had a far higher religious awareness than
Many of the remainder are bile-inviting excerpts of such arrogance,
insensitivity and irrelevance as almost to invite pity for such easily
destroyed Aunt Sallies.
Indeed, while I welcome this handy condensation of the barbarous and
illogical myths that have been perpetuated over the centuries by
orthodox churchmen, and are still seen as 'gospel' by many today, I feel
the selection is contributory to the animal rights debate mainly as an
exercise in demolition. Surely by now we have enough texts from Singer,
Clark and the present editors, exploding the untenable position of those
who, denying souls to non-humans, see no case for treating animals as
other than useful and insensate tools created for humankind's wanton
use? Do we need more evidence of how readily exploration of theodicy has
been turned into glorification of the theo-idiotic?
What is lacking is not books giving the intellectual giants of the
rights movement the chance once more to score off the shallow thinking
of past theologians and the minor academics and clerics who have
followed them, but a fundamental examination of the roots of the
Christian religion, and of how those roots have been deformed by faulty
nourishment. For make no mistake, the Church's attitude to animals will
last for as long as it subscribes to the primitive doctrines that remain
The decline of Christian teaching, and invasion by the worst aspects
of secular humanism, has been traced in a book, The Philosophy of
Compassion, that does not even get into the 'further reading'
list of Animals and Christianity. Yet what that book says
is vital to an understanding and hope of reversal of that betrayal of
the Christian religion and Western idealism of which Dean Inge wrote:
"History seems to show that the powers of evil have won their
greatest triumph by capturing the organisations which were formed to
defeat them, and that when the devil has thus changed the contents of
the bottle he never alters the label."
Also from the prolific Regan/Linzey team has come Song of
Creation (Marshall Pickering), an anthology of poems in praise
(sometimes a little faint) of animals. A very welcome selection that
deserves to be in every classroom and pew.
From the May/June 1989 edition of Agscene - journal of
Compassion In World Farming.
Reproduced with Thanks
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