Reflection on the Lectionary: Amos 7:7-15
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: Amos 7:7-15
(July 12, 2009)

Amos prophesied the destruction of Israel on account of its sinfulness. Previously, Amos had envisioned locusts, fire, and ruthless invaders, but in verse 7 he describes a plumb line, which is a benign entity. Most likely, the plumb line represents definitive judgment, because the plumb line is steady, direct, and definitive as it hangs for purposes of measurement.
Amos was speaking to a community that was similar to our own. Amos’ people were focused on self-indulgence and thought little about the sinfulness in their own lives or in their communities. They were sowing the seeds of self-destruction, and they had little patience for a prophet of gloom and doom. By analogy, for decades scientists have warned that contemporary lifestyles have been depleting natural resources and raising global temperatures. Yet there has been little more than token efforts to avert catastrophe. Even Al Gore, perhaps the leading voice on the dangers of the greenhouse effect, finds himself unable to leave a small carbon footprint on the earth. He is not even willing to give up eating meat and other animal products – a simple and important step toward curbing global warming. Though we should not judge humanity on the choices of one person, I think it is remarkable that, as best I can tell, 1) those who deny that humanity is contributing to rising world temperatures (or that global warming is even real!) are among the leading critics of Gore’s lifestyle, and 2) few environmentalists (except those are also animal advocates) have called for plant-based diets as important responses to the problem.

Like Amos, we (as faithful Christians) have been called to prophesy. Even though we cannot force people to listen, we must warn a self-indulgent, hard-hearted populace that they must repent and change their ways or face the wrath. The wrath doesn’t come from God; the wrath is the misery we cause each other. Christianity teaches about God’s love and forgiveness, which should inspire us to act with love, compassion, and mercy. Expressing God’s love and forgiveness is the path toward personal and communal salvation. In contrast, when we seek to domineer over weaker individuals (human and nonhuman) in order to satisfy sensual desires or give “our” group a sense of superiority, we are sowing the seeds of humanity’s destruction just as assuredly as the plumb line points directly to the ground. 

Go on to: Reflection on the Lectionary: Mark 6:30-34
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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