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


Review By Conor Gearty of
Animals on the Agenda: questions about animals for theology and ethics
By Eds. Andrew Linzey and Dorothy Yamamoto

From The Tablet dated 3 October 1998

Despite its suggestively political title, Animals on the Agenda is also more closely involved with the theology than with the politics of "animal rights". Its 20 essays offer a comprehensive insight into the current state of the relationship between animal matters and theological issues, with chapters on the relationship between Jesus and animals (two good contributions from Richard Baukham) as well as on such complexities as whether animals are fallen (Michael Lloyd) or capable of redemption (Petroc and Eldred Willey). Readers of The Tablet might be particularly stimulated by James Gaffney's piece, trenchantly entitled, "Can Catholic Morality Make Room for Animals?"

As its title suggests, there is a strong idea lying behind Animals on the Agenda, informing its whole approach to its subject. What this is precisely is made clear in Andrew Linzey's excellent and immensely stimulating introduction, in which he asks, "Is Christianity irredeemably speciesist?" (He claims to have invented this word himself, to describe the idea entertained by humans that they are the species.)

His penultimate paragraph deserves to be quoted: "My particular hope is that in, say, 10, 20 or 30 years, most authors will be pleased but also embarrassed by their contributions to this collection. Pleased because most are pioneering essays. Embarrassed because what true pioneers most love is for others to go even further than they have done and leave them behind. That we are still at the beginning of asking theological questions that matter about animals is painfully obvious."

As Hilda Kean has shown, we are if anything back to the beginning as far as animals are concerned. Andrew Linzey, Dorothy Yamamoto, Stephen Webb and their fellow contributors to these opinion-forming works stand in a longer tradition than is commonly supposed, even sometimes by themselves. They are in the moral vanguard of what may yet prove to be our new "Victorian" century.

Conor Gearty

Return to Reviews


Homepage/About Us

What's New








Your comments are welcome

This site is hosted and maintained by The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
Thank you for visiting