This month we received a letter from someone who ordered a copy of The Slaughter of Terrified Beasts through the PETA catalog, and then wrote Viatoris Ministries to share some details of her own spiritual journey with us.
Like most of us who have come to understand the sinfulness involved in our treatment of nonhuman creatures, the writer did not learn this in her church, or through her association with other Christians. She learned it through direct experience, and a willingness to accept what that experience was trying to teach her.
But not everyone is as open as she was to this inner prompting. Not everyone is willing to make the changes that such insights require. As with any area of spiritual evolution, those who first respond, do so on an individual basis.
This puts those of us who understand where God's Spirit is trying to lead, in the position of being spiritual pioneers. We are walking a road less travelled and, as with any pioneering effort, it is often a difficult and discouraging journey. So it is important to remember that in the very act of committing ourselves to this path, the ill-defined road becomes better marked and easier to travel. As we journey on, and our numbers increase, the road less travelled becomes more visible and more accessible. The few become many; the many become a multitude. And when this comes to pass, neither the churches nor the general public will be able to dismiss the issue of animal rights and welfare as a matter of concern only to special interest or fringe groups.
What was a pioneering effort will become a highly visible issue within the larger society. And when it does--as it surely will--it will be understood that the need to extend God's concern and compassion to all creatures is crucial for the well- being of human beings, as well as for the animals. Man, himself, will never have the blessings of a millennial world until he stops his abuse of other human beings, and of all other creatures.
Reprinted from the March/April 1998 issue of Humane Religion. Copyright 1998 by Viatoris Ministries.