Essay: On the Need for Community
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Essay: On the Need for Community

Two weeks ago I talked about how many people need community for spiritual healing. Many people experience a crisis of faith when, having had faith in a loving, compassionate, just God, they experience something that seems terribly unjust, such as a great loss or a false accusation. What kind of God would allow this? They have the sense that, if God is good, God is not great. If God is great, then God is not good.
We have all been wounded by life, though obviously some have been wounded much more deeply than others. A community of people who have suffered yet maintained their faith in a God who loves all of God’s creation can offer crucial support during the darkest moments of those who suffer. In hard times, a community of believers can give strength and direction that is difficult to find if one chooses a solitary path of “being spiritual.”
In my opinion, the most helpful community of faith, and perhaps the one that best reflects the faith of Christ, is one that does not try to heal by reciting dogmas. In other words, it doesn’t try to force a certain biblical or theological view upon those seeking spiritual support. Instead, it offers personal presence and a witness to a faith that God cares about all victims.
Those who care about animals need community as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, they have often found that their opposition to cruelty to animals – a stance that reflects the love, compassion and mercy of Christ – alienates them from their brothers and sisters in Christ. This has been one of the great failures of institutional Christianity – churches have valued more the “right” to participate (directly or indirectly) in animal abuse than the calling to side with victims of human selfishness or the obligation to minister to those whose sensitivities to pain and suffering don’t stop at the species border.
The Christian Vegetarian Association tries to help address this problem in several ways.  We have a moderated Internet discussion group [email protected]. We respond to all questions and comments we receive. And we have literature, DVDs, and other materials that make it easier for people to make a significant impact on the world through leafleting, tabling, lecturing, and other forms of outreach.

Go on to: Response to Comment about Dogmas
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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