The Mary T. and
Frank L. Hoffman
Letters and Responses
You are right about one thing: my private letter to you should have said that I understood you were simply "playing a video game" of duck hunting.
Nonetheless, your quote in the article about that game in Tanglewood Buzz made it sound like you couldn't wait to translate your practice session into reality! It makes you sound a bit defensive not to admit that.
Now, as for fishing (yes, I discovered somewhere on your blog that you like to fish), I can see why you don't equate killing or even visual violence with that pastime. After all, there's little blood involved, there's no sound of a bullet or even a scream from the fish. Angling is so, well, almost antiseptic, you could easily be fooled into thinking its just as fun for the fish as it is for you.
But if you would please put yourself in the fish's feelings or in the fish's family or in the fish's fin (the closest part to feet and shoes!) for a minute, and ask yourself: How would I like to be yanked around by a hook that is gouging a hole in my cheek or mouth? How would I like to suffocate to death in the air, if I were designed to breathe only in water?
Like most people, including the former "me," you've been culturally indoctrinated and desensitized to the violence inherent in fishing (yes, it's a horribly violent death for the victim, and even if you catch-and-release, it is still painful and traumatic for fish, who, scientists have proved, are intelligent, social, and sensitive, both emotionally and physically).
For you, it's simply relaxing recreation -- or a way to bond with friends and family or a competitive sport (sorry, I'm having to guess as to your rationale for fishing, because you haven't yet told us why you fish).
Now that this new perspective on fishing has come to your attention, I trust you'll reflect on it, toss it around in your active mind, ask your heart if you've been unwittingly unsympathetic toward creatures of the deep, and reconsider your stance on the subject.
I can't sign off before responding in advance to the natural comeback of a Christian: "But Jesus ate fish. He multiplied them, he baked them on a fire, he gave advice on how to fill nets, and his disciples were fishermen."
Here are the thoughts that have come to me thus far concerning Jesus and fish:
~ he lived in times when eating fish was apparently necessary for survival; it is not so today, at least not in developed countries
~ he took a "suffer it to be so now" approach toward many practices of the day, knowing he was not on earth to reform each and every one of society's ills; he didn't comment on slavery, on women's second-class status, or even on the horrific practice of animal sacrifice (though he was probably disgusted by the animal abuse when he overturned the moneychangers' tables in the temple just before he was arrested)
~ all his actions involving fish were designed to make the point to his followers that our needs are abundantly met when we righteously and humbly appeal to God
~ as to what Jesus would do today, I'm convinced that he, as a hater of iniquity, would not look favorably on the selfish practices that have destabilized and desertified nature, as evidenced by our overfished, polluted, poisoned oceans and waterways. The devices that commercial fishermen (and even sport fishermen) use to land their catch are devastating to many species of sea life. Whole populations of species, including intelligent mammals like dolphins and whales, are disappearing before our eyes. (Have you heard of the new indie doc titled "Cove"? It was one of the highly touted films at this year's Sundance Festival. You can Google and find out what it's about.) Anyway, Jesus would call those who defend such desecration of nature and its inhabitants "whited sepulchres," I'll warrant.
Finally (I know, I write tomes), may I draw your attention to an essay by a friend, titled "I was a fish killer."
You clearly have great empathy, Scott. You can learn how to expand it further, to include ALL of God's creatures. That's what I've done in the past decade, as I've increasingly awakened to the countless species on Earth -- and to our Father's tender love and desire for peace for each individual who inhabits it.
See Susan's letter to Pastor Endress about his promotion of a duck-hunting video game.
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