The whole creation owns Thy power
An Animal Rights Article from


Susan Hill Clay
Submitted by the author - 7 Mar 2005

(To enlarge the photos, click on the photos or links)

Take a peek over my shoulder at three of my favorite photo series. They’re on my computer screen. There’s Annie, a feisty Australian feline perched on a fence

(Tigger and Annie - 01)

(Tigger and Annie - 02)

(Tigger and Annie - 03)

(Tigger and Annie - 04)

Another shows Owen, a baby hippopotamus orphaned by the Indian Ocean tsunami, cuddling up to his adopted “mom,” a century-old male tortoise in a Kenyan animal

(Owen and Mzee - 01)

(Owen and Mzee - 02)

The third features a doe-eyed Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, Hogan, resting next to a napping fawn named Bella.

(Hogan and Bella - 01)

(Hogan and Bella - 02)

(Hogan and Bella - 03)

Photos of Hogan and Bella © Jennifer Aftanas

Such scenes of inter-species compatibility and compassion warm my heart —and the hearts of millions worldwide.

There are other pictures that trouble me: of animals being experimented on in research labs, of farm animals being force-fed or forcibly confined, and especially of horses being trucked off to slaughterhouses.

Most people love horses, from racetrack heroes like Smarty Jones and Seabiscuit to no-longer-rideable pasture pets. But it’s a sad fact that every year thousands of American horses are bid for at auctions by traders, and then sold to slaughterhouses. Their meat is considered a healthier alternative to beef in some countries. When I learned of this practice two years ago, I joined with thousands of horse lovers to oppose it. Horses are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and strength, and I felt instinctively that slaughtering them for meat mocked those virtues.

My experiences on the frontlines have forced me to pray more diligently and expansively for all creation. At first, my stand for horses came out of sheer revulsion over their treatment. But I wanted a deeper, spiritual basis for action. I realized that I needed a better grasp of God’s gift of dominion over the earth, as it’s described in Genesis 1 — the spiritual account of creation that precedes the Adam and Eve allegory. As I took my own concept of dominion higher, it no longer worked to think of it only in terms of humanity’s moral obligation to be a caretaker of all creatures and our common habitat. All too easily, such a “stewardship” role can be distorted, and dominion is taken to mean domination — the exploitation and oppression of so-called lesser beings for profit or pleasure.

As I now understand it, the human family’s dominion over earth is like a mirrored image — we simply reflect the Creator’s ultimate and loving authority over His all-good creation. This kind of dominion is embodied in our innate capacity to see and value all living beings from the divine standpoint — as spiritual ideas. Just as human beings are infinitely more than flesh and bones with a mind inside, animals are not just flesh with fur, feathers, or fins. Rather, they actually consist of the attributes of God in varying degrees.

Animals exhibit intelligence, and intelligence is a quality of God as divine Mind. Their vitality, grace, and gentleness have their source in the God who is Life, Soul, and Love. The Psalmist must have sensed this unity: “O Lord, thou preservest man and beast” (Ps. 36:6). A hymn based on Psalm 36 ends on the uplifting note, “The whole creation owns Thy power” (Christian Science Hymnal, Hymn 130). Our “beast” friends, powerful and permanent creations of their Maker, cannot be forever helpless in the face of exploitation.

As the Christian healer and humanitarian Mary Baker Eddy once observed, “The heart that beats mostly for self is seldom alight with love” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160). To empathize with all living beings is to care about the treatment of every creature in God’s kingdom — whether it be a horse or a hog, a dolphin or a dove. As one’s affection for animals deepens, it’s natural to examine one’s motives across the board. Prayer leads each of us to our own conclusions. In my case, the idea of eating the flesh of animals — of creatures I love — soon became unacceptable to me. I stopped that practice effortlessly. I find comfort in knowing that every time we take a single step toward expressing more love for each and every living being, the spillover effect doesn’t injure anyone, but blesses all.

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