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Selectively Sacred Lives: The Ethics of Institutional and Commercial Animal Use



Selectively Sacred
The Ethics of Institutional and Commercial Animal Use

Lisa Shaw

Presented to Dr. Bryan Froehle
St. Thomas University
12/8/10





Observing:
The treatment of commercially and industrially used animals, held against their will and acted upon by human beings who wield power under the banner of biblically assigned dominion has perpetuated a society in which nearly all of us by virtue of our surface innocence are in fact complicit in their suffering by our blind consumption of products. Who has never taken a pharmaceutical drug to combat a physical condition? What woman has never used mascara? How many of us have indulge with delight in a Thanksgiving feast of tofurkey? In the past 25 years the public has been made more aware of our speciesism, negligence, and abuse of animals who are bred and held captive to serve human need by radical organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, who often go to extremes and wind up inadvertently declaring war even on those people who love and care for animals. Pouring blood on a woman carelessly wearing a fox coat or freeing lab animals in the middle of the night or mandating vegetarianism for all people provides good shock effect but alienates the general populace and offers no alternatives for people motivated by both compassion and reason. Beyond this, many of the radical animal rights organizations view animals in a purely scientific way, as do their enemies, denying them not only reason and consciousness but compassion and soul. For this reason, it is incumbent upon more spiritually-directed animal advocates develop an ethic that incorporates a Divine message that should elevate us to higher moral standards in our treatment of the animal world.

Universal Complicity

When we examine the total picture and often dire consequences (to the animals)of human-animal relationships, we have to look beyond cruel industrialized farming conditions or casual sport hunting and to see that we are all complicit in the situation. It is our comfort with the utilitarian philosophy that permits us to use the earth for our gain, often without conscience or awareness of the results. Almost every pleasure and comfort we enjoy on a daily basis is somewhere rooted in the use of animal life. The scope of ways in which animals have been used without consent for human benefit and profit include
Medical research: The use of animals in the name of medical science ranges from mice and rats to domestic dogs. Animals are injected with chemicals, fed poisons,
raised in completely unnatural conditions, wired, surgically altered, severely restricted, all in the name of science. As a matter of fact, recent research indicates that despite growing public awareness of such conditions, while behavioral research with animals has declined in research(e.g. large scale clinical testing of animal organs, genetically engineered food products), which will require continuous dialogue and ethical approval of the public” psychology departments, it has increased in neuroscience departments. [1] What is commonly called vivisection in the name of scientific advance has pain and cruelty as part of its definition: 1. “the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation; broadly : animal experimentation especially if considered to cause distress to the subject” and 2. pitiless examination or criticism.[2] Hagelin et al predict that “most likely the future will see animals used in new areas of[3]


Product testing: Household products and consumer cosmetics are routinely tested on animals despite the availability of alternative methods. The painful cosmetic test that pours chemicals into a rabbit’s eyes has been gradually abandoned by a few manufacturers but the consistent use in the industry has spurred natural cosmetic companies like “Beauty Without Cruelty,” Aubry, and Jason cosmetics. However availability is limited to natural food stores and not widely accessible in the typical grocery or drug store. One of the most obscene tests of household products involved animals drinking Drano to monitor their reaction. Despite the large number of companies that have suspended animal testing, a surprising number of prominent manufacturers still retain the practice, Clorox, Unilever, Clairol, Dial, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Max Factor, Olay, Pantene, Ponds, and Arm & Hammer S.C. Johnson, makers of Pledge, Off, Glade, Raid, Windex, and Drano.[4]

Agriculture: Factory farming routinely involves a number of practices harmful to livestock but beneficial to the consumer because they produce tastier meat. Such practices include overfeeding, starvation, unnatural diet, chemical and hormonal injections, and severely restricted movement. When the method of raising calf for veal production was publicized in the early 1980s, a public outrage caused Burger King to drop its veal parmigiana sandwich from its menu. A disturbing scene in the film Baraka shows a modern factory whose works cull tiny yellow chicks as objects on a conveyor belt, burning off the tips of their beaks to prevent cannibalizing and then dropping the undesirables as refuse down a deep conical chute. Croney identifies the Orwellian doublespeak the industry uses: “The term euthanasia (literally translated as ‘‘good death’’), for instance, is used to describe the killing of piglets by slamming their heads against facility floors or walls (referred to within the animal industries as ‘‘blunt force trauma’’.[5] To combat growing public discomfort with the slaughterhouse the animal production industry “ has adopted the use of the term harvested) rather than murdered and
Dismembered.” [6]

Wildlife tracking and domesticated animal security: In the interests of preserving wildlife, scientists routinely tag and monitor samples of species such as wolves, whales, dolphins. This involves invading the animals’ natural habitat and traumatizing the animals. Electronic tagging is physically invasive and permanently alters the animals. In terms of using electronic tracking devises for the security of domestic animals, veterinarians have linked the common practice of micro-chipping pets to cancers at the insertion site with fatal metastasis. There have been many reports of the microchip itself found at the core of the cancerous tumor.

Commercial breeding: Puppy mills commodify dogs and bred them until they are left ragged and near death, forcing one breeding after another. Countless dog rescue organizations from around the country nurture, rehab, and then adopt both the physically compromised breeding stock and the often frail puppies resulting from inbreeding and over-breeding. Pet stores that sell puppies with AKC papers and verify that they are breeders are most often seeing enormous profit margins by drastically escalating prices of abused and substandard animals who never fully recover.

Territorial displacement: Even an activity as apparently harmless as choosing a place to live links us to domination over natural animals because in essence we have stolen their natural habitat. Clearing land, building roads, invading the wilderness to accommodate suburban sprawl leaves many species homeless and unable to survive. In other cases it produced feral populations that depend on human handouts. Palmer affirms that when she calls overlooking this problem an omission of “important issues about relationship and responsibility.”[7]

Entertainment: Zoos, circuses, sporting venues (paritcularly parimutuels) and theme parks such as Lion Country Safari, Sea World, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom contain animals in a manner contrary to their nature. Under the guise of species conservation or preservation, such facilities are not rob animals of habitat but of the natural characteristics, abilities, and behaviors that traditionally define them: the ability to roam and forage for food as is the way of their species. In their confinement and dependency on humans for living space and sustenance, they often become physically and psychologically disturbed. Two local examples are the white tiger in Metro Zoo, who, without the thick canopy of Asian jungle, developed eye cancer, and Tilikum, the orca at Sea World who aggressively drowned his trainer in 2010 and who had been involved in two previous deaths. [8]

In our innocence, and even more ironically, in spite of our best intentions to properly raise and care for animals whether as companions or preservationists, by participating in mass market trade and recreation we are complicit in their mistreatment. DeGrazia calls us all complicit to “some extent” by using “products that are connected with mistreatment of animals.” [9]

Reflecting:

Much attention is given to social, political, and economic oppression of marginalized groups. It is politically correct not only to be green but to enact global fair trade policies among nations to lift those marginalized populations out of poverty and oppression. Christian ethicism Miguel DeLaTorre devotes a powerful section in his book to this. Environmental activists have joined the international chorus of saving the planet for plant and human species. However, both agendas seem to overlook our four legged and winged counterparts. D. DeGrazia is stingingly precise in his declaration that if we take reflect on the enormity of animals used for human purpose and profit, “the degree of harm they undergo, and the triviality of some of the human interests for the sake of which animals are harmed, there is a good case that animals are the most oppressed group on the planet.”[10]
In fact, they are perhaps, along with infants and children, the most voiceless of all oppressed groups. They are acted upon without their consent and often by humans who perform such actions not for the animals’ benefit but for human benefit and more disturbingly, profit, often, as in the case with experimentation, resulting in suffering and ultimately death.[11] Medical experimentation causes suffering and pain to the animals. The conditions under which they are tested are confining, sterile and artificial, environments to which human beings under study would not be subjected . Levy, knowing that most people would strongly disapprove of medical experimentation on developmentally deficient human beings, understands that would not express the same disapproval if such research were imposed without consent upon higher order animals like primates. He poses a question that challenges our ethics: “ What ethically relevant difference is there to account for opposing using humans in a dangerous experiment, involving risk of life without informed consent, which also does not hold say for chimpanzees? Does their different legal status entail a morally relevant difference?” [12]
As we act upon animals without consent we become wielders of absolute power. We do this as we have been conditioned to believe – erroneously -- that the dominion given humans over animals in Genesis is synonymous with domination, a belief which until recently remained unchallenged. Contemporary animal rights activists have employed extreme methods to direct attention to the problem, and the more reasonable animal welfare advocates (who cite love of animals as their primary motivation) have drawn attention to the problem of institutionalized animal suffering. In fact, Croney and Reynolds report that such uncompassionate attitude is reinforced academically as “many introductory chapters of such texts characterize animals as existing solely to serve humans “ exposing the “The political nature of the relationship between humans and animals thus becomes clear—humans domesticated animals and subsequently maintain control over how they are used. Animals are therefore viewed as subordinate to humans.” [13]
This can be attributed as well to a “pervasive and hierarchical dualism dominates our perceptions: “either/or, self/Other, culture/nature, man/woman, human/animal which renders the “Other subordinate.[14]” According to Steeve, if we examine human history, we will see that at various points all oppressed others in have been denied the basic characteristics of life most humans claim for themselves. “Nature, animals, and women,”he continues, have been depicted as “ lacking mind or soul” and “stand as irrational Others to culture, human beings, and men.” [15] This illustrates an imbalance power analogous to other such struggles tackled by Miguel De La Torre shows us that in God’s realm, power structures are reversed: “i\It was not Rome, the most powerful city of the known world, where God chose to perform the miracle of the incarnation, nor was it Jerusalem, the center of Yahweh workshop; it was impoverished Galillee. He calls Jesus' hometown of Nazareth "insignificant." [16] Isn't a manger the most insignificant place in the most insignificant town? There’s a deep lesson here about power and authority that contradicts society’s perception of animal lives which are not assigned value equally to human lives. DeGrazia explains, “equal consideration implies that the presumption against causing animal suffering is as strong as that against causing human suffering. Very few animal-using practices currently meet this standard.” [17] Here we see an imbalance power analogous to other marginalization and disempowerment addressed by Miguel De La Torre, who emphasizes the fact that in God’s realm, power structures are reversed “it was not Rome, the most powerful city of the known world, where God chose to perform the miracle of the incarnation, nor was it Jerusalem, the center of Yahweh workshop; it was impoverished Galilee. He calls Jesus' hometown of Nazareth "insignificant."[18] Isn't a manger the most insignificant place in the most insignificant town? We learn an important lesson here regarding power and authority.

Our treatment of animals in the agriculture industry does violate the Christian ethics we have claimed for ourselves, the most obvious being a respect for natural law. “The chief ethical issue with regard to animal welfare is not so much the killing of animals for food,” writes Levy, “ but the horrible factory like methods that achieve this purpose by the most profitable means. Fattening and force-feeding (of geese, calves, turkeys, etc.) are in flagrant contradiction to their nature” in addition to causing them suffering .[19] The most oft-quoted animal rights theologian Rev. Andrew Linzey addresses this with striking imagery: “Confining a de-beaked hen in a battery cage is more than a moral crime; it is a living sign of our failure to recognize the blessing of God in creation."[20]

But we are all not industrial farmers or slaughterhouse managers controlling the lives of animals, are we? In real life, we confront more subtle situations that test our ethics regarding animal treatment. Consider how our ethics are challenged by the following scenarios suggested by DeGrazia.[i]
(A) A family dyes its white terrier green for the local St. Patrick’s Day parade.
(B) Zoo visitors mimic and ridicule the gorillas, who are unable to see this behind one way mirrors.
(C) A captively bred research rat lives “a comfortable, healthy life with full access to his family” provided appropriate activity. He is given simple blood tests but he lives dies a natural death and is posthumously used for further research.
(D) Free range farm turkeys die naturally and if they are disease free are used for food.
(E) A large zoo constructs animal-friendly allow them to live peacefully and comfortably. However, the zoo’s mission is admittedly public education and entertainment. [21]

Most people would not experience a conflict of values with these issues since none of the animals in these situations are technically or intentionally harmed. However, a deeper consideration brings forth ethical questions that test our faith relative to sacred lives, God’s creation. Would we treat the Lamb of God this way? Joseph Campbell provides examples of how Western civilization has de-mystified the natural world, citing the greatest animal slaughter perpetrated against the buffalo, an animal sacred to the plains Native Americans. The offense isn’t the killing of the animal itself; the offense is the disrespect respect for what was to the Plains Indians holy. Littering the prairie with thousands of rotting buffalo carcasses and hoarding the just skins for profit was an act of irreverence that exceeded the parameters of careless greed and heralded the systematic destruction of a people. It brutally rendered the sacred ordinary and reduced the spiritually reverent to the earthly mundane. Understanding historical human-animal relationships, Thomas Berry called our treatment of the planet and its inhabitants a” destructive entrancement that has taken possession of the Western soul.” [22]

DeGrazia discusses the conflict between the utilitarian view, that animals are her for our use, and the rights view, which maintains that as living, feeling beings, animals have rights that must be respected and given equal consideration, which “implies that the presumption against causing animal suffering is as strong as that against causing human suffering. Very few animal-using practices currently meet this standard.” [23]
In a study examining attitudes toward animal use in research, Hagelin, Carlsson, and Hau found that respondents associated Christianity positively with the acceptance of the use of animals in research. Christians “differed significantly from Buddhists by being more supportive of animal research.”[24] What would account for these differences? Buddhism, like Native American spiritual beliefs, take very seriously the unity of all creation. Whether it’s the Buddhist acceptance of all sentient beings endowed with consciousness or the Native American philosophy that “we are all related,” it appears that the Judeo-Christian ethic has omitted from their traditional teachings those same principles. However, it is the selective teaching of thousands of years of Western religion that resulted in the human-animal divide. A closer investigation of our traditions brings us to a different reality that sits more comfortably amid the Eastern and Native traditions.

On the surface we have not given much attention to animals in religion, but not because our sacred relationship doesn’t exist in our Holy documents. The consensus among both theologians and secular environmentalists is that animals Western culture not been given animals high priority even recently as we consider our crucial roles as caretakers of the earth. De la Torre goes further: If the creation story describes humanity’s appointment as stewards of the earth's resources, then as caretakers" we must protect those resources .[25]

Palmer writes, “In much ecological theology, if animals appear at all, they are viewed as part of ‘earth’ or ‘the earth community’ and not given consideration as a separate entity relegating them to subspecies.[26] She calls them “relatively invisible.” [27] Levy calls for creating ethical codes that consider animals more equally. As we develop such codes for ourselves as human beings, he asks, “Is it not incumbent upon us to extend this ethics to other living beings as well, and thus to contribute to a better and more harmonious relationship with our surroundings?” [28] Such ethics would naturally entail elements of the virtuous circle as N.T. Wright advocates, the most applicable being Right Relationship with God, Transformation of the Mind and Heart, and Imago Dei.

Right Relationship with God: It is the governing utilitarian philosophy that interferes with a full relationship with God. If by our practice and attitude we do not show reverence to all God’s creation, then we in turn do not show complete reverence to God. Thomas Berry addresses the prevailing utilitarianism, writing, “The difficulty in out relation with the animals comes from the sense of use as our primary relationship with the world about us. Hardly any other attitude so betrays ourselves and the entire universe in which we live. [29] “By failing not only to live harmoniously with the animal kingdom but by not taking extra measures to strike that balance, we demean God’s universe and ourselves. Kemmerer adds that the world of which we are a part is a reflection of our Creator, Christians, in making their hearts “right,” , need to “ treat the world (and all its myriad creatures) with loving care, they acknowledge each creature as God’,…and thereby express reverence for God’s works, for God’s sovereignty.” De La Torre calls "our refusal to recognize the damage being committed to the environment constitutes the ultimate form of oppression , for it brings destruction to life." [30]

Willis reiterates how right action is dependent upon God: “God’s action claims, guides, and measures right human action with regard to other creatures” (Willis 81). Significant for the Christian , Wright reminds us, is to remember the at Jesus was well versed in Scripture and fully aware of the covenant between God and his people. [31]But the ecological theologian would made a correction to red “between God and his creation,” which includes animals. De La Torre, focusing on the marginalized in relation to the environment, makes it a point to say “all creatures” are have a right to enjoy the fruits of the earth. “"Creation as a gift means that all living creatures have a basic right to its products" [32]

Inaugurated Eschatology: Further, we must also consider the narrative of our human experience as we strive to be people of faith, applying theological ethics to all creation. This is the intention of the God’s reign on earth. It is through our virtue that God will reign, and we must learn to believe our own Biblical references to that earthly kingdom that relies heavily on animal imagery:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobraAnd the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. (IS 11:6-8)

Paul Wadell relates this to our faithfulness to the story of God, linking Christian prudence with wisdom through good actions that make the reign of God “visible” and “consistent with the new way of life Jesus makes possible.”[33] Linzey points to Mark 1:13, when Jesus is “with the wild beasts He explains the use of the word “with” in almost Buddhist terms , simply being: “Jesus does not fight the wild beasts or seek to tame them. He is just ‘with’ them.” He references this as a “messianic” line that hearkens to the Isaiah passage heralding the coming of Jesus which entails “the eschatological possibility of living peaceably with animals.” [34]Wright shows us that the challenge is to begin to live “eschatological authenticity,” learning a “new way of being human."[35]

Imago Dei: We should strive to live our lives in the image of God. What God saw as good in his creation we should see as well. Northcutt discusses the created order and natural law in the Jewish and Christian traditions, both of which “affirm” creation as re flections of God’s “being.”[36] Wright uses the phrase “put on Jesus,” which requires enacting the virtues of Christ. This means we must not exercise power “ by oppression but by serving those who are weak.” [37](Palmer 165). Paul Wadell articulates the core of the Imago Dei teaching as recognizing the inherent dignity in all people, that “ the wealthy and the powerful have no more dignity than the poor and the weak” (77). Having established that animals are the most marginalized of the earth’s creatures, we can as Christians extend that dignity and respect to all living creatures. He goes further saying that “as God’s images, human beings are called to live in relationship with God, one another, and all life” (78). God loved God’s creation in its entirety. To live authentically in the image of God, then, so must we love.

Renewal of the Mind: Wright maintains that “the key to virtue lies precisely in the transformation of the mind,” [38] which certainly takes into account Paul’s call for transformation in Rom; 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Respecting the lives of animals, for many, requires a complete renewal of both the mind and heart. It is common experience for those are introduced to animal suffering to have a change of heart and create a new awareness of animal consciousness. Renewing the heart and mind also involves paying close attention to the word we read in Scripture rather than glossing over them. Whenever we read the words earth and creation we must make a conscious effort to move away from our anthropocentric understanding and widen the circle of inclusion. Wright assures us that “when the heart is renewed, it has a fresh set of tasks,” notably “the avoidance of all manner of wickedness.” [39] Imposing unnatural conditions that cause suffering on animals is a manifestation of wicked behavior that has become habit. We need to acquire new habits that more fully embrace non-human creation.

The Pauline call for renewal takes center stage in St. Basil’s prayer, “Oh, God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.”[40] Enlarge within us, he asks, open our hearts and minds to encompass God’s love for all creation. In “The Environment and Christian Ethics,” Northcutt the quest for depth and wisdom in their lives through “relations with the natural world, the animals world”[41] and sees this manifesting in the increasing number of vegetarians among today’s youth. Add to that the numbers of people who seek Eastern paths to enlightenment that embrace a spiritual union between human and non-human creation. Jenkins’ almost mournful assessment expresses Western culture’s failure to develop the unity of life principle: “When Christianity fails to recognize the triadic relationship among humanity writes, creation, and God’s presence,” he writes, “Christian experience loses its sense of the world.” [42]
Praying

Christian ethicists such Wright and Wadell caution against isolation in living the virtuous life. Wright calls for a community of like-minded people, and Wadell emphasizes seeking counsel from the Christian community, consulting” their “moral teachings and traditions .”[43] Where do we best find such counsel? In the central instrument through which God’s will becomes known to us: Scripture. From the very beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures, we see a Divine contradiction to the current utilitarian world view that governs our attitude toward animals. Kemmerer takes us to Genesis 1:24-15 to illustrate this. “ God makes the animals before man, and pronounces them good without man.” [44] Additionally, both man and animal are made from the earth: “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name” (Gen. 2:19). Misinterpretations of earthly dominion given humans in Genesis have given false license to many who exercising unjust power over animals. As Hiers observes, perhaps in Genesis God was giving dominion over animals to Adam and Eve only, not to all future generations. He continues, proposing that this responsibility was given before the flood; after the flood, our relationship with animals was “radically altered.” [45] That relationship appears over and over throughout Old Testament as we bear witness to the covenant between God and creation, a covenant not limited to God and human. The story of Noah and the Ark is frequently referred to by animal activists as the first animal rescue on record. When the flood waters subsided, it was a dove who brought the message that land was near. After the flood, God enters into a covenant with Noah and all the inhabitants of the earth. “I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you” (Gen. 9:10). Willis calls the ark a vehicle of “ecological salvation” which very clearly exemplifies God’s giving humankind an “ active preservationist responsibility.[46]” Levy points out that animals received equal punishment from God who saved only one pair of each species and one human family[47] .
God promises never to destroy the earth by water is clearly extended to the animals: “never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood” and repeats with the appearance of a rainbow, the triangular covenant that is “between me and you and all living beings.” In fact, between Genesis 9:8 and 9:17, God repeats his promise no fewer than six times. Hiersl writes, “Clearly this was not an anthropocentric covenant, rather it was made with and for the benefit of all kinds of living creatures” and” precedes the other covenants Abraham and his descendants.” [48]

In multiple instances in the Scriptures we see parity of animal and human life. For example, in Jonah 3:9, animals are instructed to mourn along with their human masters. "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may )turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.” In Psalms 36:7 animals and humans are addressed in one breath: "O Lord, thou preservest man and beast." In Isaiah 43:20, God also expects the "beast of the field, the dragons and the owls" to "honor me [...] because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert" (Levy). Levy writes that animals in distress also appeal to God in Psalms 104:21-27, 147:9, and Job 38:4. He continues to identify passages that show equal expectations of humans and animals under God’s Law. EX 20:10 reveals the inclusion of animals in the law commanding Sabbath rest. Moses obtained water from the rock, so that "the congregation and their beasts drink" (Numbers 20:8) Also, both men and animals were forbidden from climbing Mount Sinai or touching its border; punishment for violating this law was death. (Exodus 19:12-13).[49]
In some Scriptural passages we see animals who act as protectors of human beings by either their very nature or by direct instructions from God. In Num. 22 we read us how Balaam’s donkey, seeing an angry angel standing in their way and knowing the angel is a physical threat, acts three times to block Balaam from moving up the road. Each time the donkey ran interference by blocked him, pinned him, and stepped him, he saved saving Balaam, but Balaam beat him for not moving forward.

The angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was .contrary to me. But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live. (Num 22:32-33)

God directs ravens to feed Elijah in the wilderness and we see Jonah safely delivered to shore delivered safely by a fish. Animals also petition God for mercy. Levy writes that animals in distress also appeal to God in Psalms 104:21-27, 147:9, and Job 38:4. Kimberly Patton cites animal prominence in the Scriptures “in the biblical eaglehood of the Lord… in the breath of the ox, donkey, and sheep who blew on the shivering Christ child in Bethlehem…in the Holy Spirit descending ‘like a dove.[50] Just look at the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth: a “king” born among barnyard animals in a manger. While the mass consciousness interpretation sees this as a lowly birth, perhaps the opposite is more of the truth. God choosing to deliver the Messiah among natural and innocent four-legged creatures is evidence that God considers animals sacred.
Linzey advocates living life through the model of Christ teaches us that power must be used “not by oppression but by serving those who are weak.”[51] This is the missing link in any practice we endeavor. Purely secular approaches will yield purely secular results, and the purpose of this discussion is to put God in the center of any discourse on human ethics. Theologians have addressed the significance of defending the voiceless creatures with whom we share the planet. In 1842, John Henry Newman delivered a sermon comparing Christ to "a lamb that is led to the slaughter. That metaphor, indeed, the entire passion of Christ, stirs people’s emotions and elicits a life changing compassion. It is precisely that compassion we hold for Christ as the slaughtered lamb, Linzey says, that we must transfer to all innocent and mistreated animals. [52] The lamb image repeats throughout New Testament, with Jesus telling his disciples to “feed my lambs” in John 21:15. Shepherd references abound in the New Testament, confirming power of metaphor as caretaker of the innocent and less powerful. In Luke we read of the shepherds tending their flocks when they are visited by an angel of the Lord announcing Christ’s birth:
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "(Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ (the Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (LK 2:8-12)

Praxis

At least a few times a year we read about a rampaging captive elephant who kills its trainer. The most recent cases were in a Pennsylvania circus in April when an elephant stomped and dragged its trainer to death, and in May of 2009, the same thing happened on a Bollywood movie set. We all remember the horror of the tiger attack during a Sigried and Roy show at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Such tragedies continue as consequences of human-designed oppression, of forcing animals to live contrary to their nature.

Writing about animals and ethics, Fraser, who appears more sympathetic to the agricultural industry than to the animals claims we have no resolution to the problem because we have not yet agreed on a “ genuine understanding of how animal agriculture affects animals, the environment, and the good of the public.” [53] It feels simplistic on any level, though, to call for understanding the effect of animal agriculture on animals. We know how it affects them. They live unnatural lives. They suffer. They die. We eat them. He is correct in attributing at least part of the problem to the polarization of both sides of the argument, however. In areas where passionate supporters of each don’t see negotiation room. While to animal rights activists that might seem conciliatory and to farmers, breeders, and researchers it appears compromising, no movement can be made in favor of animals unless both sets of extremists step closer to the center. Palmer suggests we abandon the black or white approach of “either they have rights or they don’t” and examine the specific relational contexts that call for ethical determination that take into account: recognition of the very different natures of different animals; sensitivity to the different kinds and origins of human-animal relations; engagement with a much wider range of aspects of the context in which any particular relation is located; consideration of human-animal power relations, including kinds of domination and the nature and possibility or animal actions, reactions, and resistance. [54]

Hagelin’s survey indicated a link between childhood pet ownership and compassion for non-domesticated pets as well as for human beings[55] (84) which corroborates the former studies that link disregard for animals with greater violence toward humans. We also know that prisoners who are provided pet visitations and taught animal husbandry develop deeper compassion for human life as well. Their study also showed that using use of dogs and cats as research subjects was more distressing to pet owners than to veterinarians and medical students, who are perhaps desensitized to the institutional use of animals. In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell discusses the psychological shift we must make in order to wage war against a people. It is the duty of the media, he says, to turn a people into an it to make it conscionable to kill them. The same can be said for our contemporary mass culture attitudes toward animals. We shut our hearts and devalue the beingness of non-human creatures to justify their mistreatment, distancing ourselves from their suffering, saying “it’s only an animal.” How convenient for us to dismiss the reality that to God, all life is sacred. It is not a human prerogative to determine which lives are more sacred than others.

Reassessment

Among our ongoing challenges, Wadell writes, is to “enlarge our capacity for….compassion” [56] The more we grow in friendship with God, the more we enlarge our capacity to love others” [57] or, more appropriately in the context of animals, to love the other. This is distilled in DeLa Torres conclusion that “when the sacredness of profits replaces the sacredness of life, we must reassess.”[58]

We can begin with simple change of consciousness at the smallest levels.
Meditative breathing is a good example. We are first taught to cultivate an awareness of the breath. In deeper meditation, we are taught to control our thoughts not by ignoring them or pushing them aside but by acknowledging them. Awareness is the first significant step in changing one’s behavior. Recognizing and accepting our complicity is the first move away from that complicity. How small must an action be for it to effect change? Levy tells the story of Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria , who in teaching peace, instructed his students not to kill annoying insects, and relates the Albert Schwietzer’s deliberate choice to close windows lest an insect enter his house and meet death. [59]

Along with admitting our responsibility in the treatment of animals, we must assume responsibility for the devastating consequences of our actions. Northcott holds up Jeremiah as an example connecting “ ecological devastation and the abandonment of the worship and commands of the Lord. Because Israel had turned from the Lord their land, its mountains and streams, animals and crops would be laid waste, polluted and destroyed.”[60] We need to reexamine and redefine our relationship with the earth and honor that triad of God, human and animal. DeLaTorre warns us that “the abundant life of Christ came to give cannot be accomplished within a depleted earth.” [61] Berry calls forth a reference to Exodus as we leave an era of destruction and enter what he has named the “Ecozoic” era.[62] We stand at a critical threshold and must view the animal world as part of the earth, lest we fall victim to the same ends as those against whom we wage violence. The Bible tells us for every action there is a reaction. The Buddhists and Hindus know and honor the power of karma, which has some manifestation in many cultures. Chief Seattle warned us that whatever happens to the beasts happens to man. All things are connected.” Berry shares with us the Chinese concept of “Jen,” a word difficult to translate in isolation but which in different contexts means “ love, goodness, human-heartedness, and affection.” He shows its compatibility with Paul’s teaching that “all things are held together in Christ.” [63] When we can live with compassion toward all living things, we will have truly renewed our minds and transformed our hearts. When we act in compassion with all living things, we must honor and respect “the least of these” the animals. Only then will we be aligned with the spirit of Christ.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” ( Mat. 25:40).
Works Cited
Berry, Thomas. “The Ecozoic Era” Eleventh Annual E.F.Schumacher Lectures, Oct. 1991,
Ed by Hildegarde Hannum.
Berry, Thomas. Prologue,”Loneliness and Presence.” In A Communion of Subjects: Animals in
Religion Science, & Ethics, edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberly PattonColumbia
University Press: 2006.
Berry, Thomas. “The Spirituality of the Earth.” In Liberating Life: Contemporary Approaches in
Ecological Theology, edited by William Eaken and Jay B. McDaniel.
http://www.religiononline.com/
Croney, Candace C. “Words Matter: Implications of Semantics and Imagery in Framing Animal-
Welfare Issues. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 37:1 (2010), 101-106.
Croney, C.C. and R.D. Reynnells. “Bioethics—Livestock and Poultry: The Ethics of Food
The Ethics of Semantics: Do We Clarify or Obfuscate Reality to Influence
Perceptions of Farm Animal Production?” Poultry Science 87:2 (2008) 387-391.
Degrazia, D. “Animal Ethics Around the turn of the 21st Century.” Journal of Agricultural and
Environmental Ethics 11 (1999) 111–129.
De La Torre, Miguel. Doing Christian Ethics From the Margins. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2004.
“Elephant Kills Trainer at Pennsylvania Circus.: CNN.com 10 Aril 2010.
Fraser, D. “The New Perception of Animal Agriculture: Legless Cows, Featherless, Chickens,
and a Need for Genuine Analysis.” Journal of Animal Science 79 (2001) 634-641.
Hagelin, Joakin, Hans-Erik Carlsson , and Jann Hau. “Factors that may influence the Outcome
An Overview of Surveys on How People View Animal Experimentation.” Public
Understanding of Science 2003; 12 (2003). 67-81.
Hiersl, Richard H. “Reverence for Life and Environmental Ethics in Biblical Law and
Covenant.” Forum on Religion and Ecology.
http://fore.research.yale.edu/religion/christianity/essays/richard_hiers.pdf.
Hyland, J.R. God’s covenant with Animals: A Biblical Basis for the Humane Treatment of All
Creatures. New York: Lantern Books, 2000.
Holy Scriptures. NIV. www.biblegateway.com
Jenkins,Willis. Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology. Oxford
University Press 2008.
Kemmerer, Lisa. “Christian Ethics and Nonhuman Animals.” TheandrosL An Online Journal of
Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy. 5:3 (2008). http://www.theandros.com/ethicsanimals.html
Levy, Ze’ev. “Ethical Issues of Animal Welfare in Jewish Thought.” In Judaism and
Environmental Ethics: A Reader edited by Martin D. Yaffee. Latham:Lexington Books, 2001. 321-330.
Linzey, Andrew. “Brute creatures and the Passion: Why Christians Should Care About Animals.” The London Times. 2 Sept. 2009. 102.
Linzey, Andrew. “Living Peaceably.” The Oxford Center for Animal Ethics. 6 Oct. 2009.
http://www.oxfordanimalethics.com/what-we-do/commentary/living-peaceably/
Palmer, Clare. “Animals in Christian Ethics: Developing a Relational Approach. Ecotheology 7.2
(2003) 163-185.
Patton,Kimberly. “Caught with Ourselves in ithe Net of Life and Time: Traditional Views of
Animals in Religion. In A Communion of Subjects: Animals in
Religion Science, & Ethics, edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberly PattonColumbia
University Press: 2006, 27-3.
Northcott, Michael S., The Environment and Christian Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
http://assets.cambridge.org/97805215/76314/frontmatter/9780521576314_frontmatter.pdf
“Sea World: Trainer Dragged Into Water.” http://www.wesh.com/r/22659996/detail.html. 24
Feb. 2010.
Steeve, H. Peter. Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life. State University of
New York Press, 1999.
“Vivisection.” Merriam-Webster. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vivisection).
Wadell, Paul J. Happiness and the Chrisitan Moral Life. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
Publishers, 1991.
Waldau, Paul, and Kimberlry Patton, eds. A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion
Science, & Ethics. Columbia Unviersity Press: 2006.
“What Companies are Still Testing Products on Animals?” http://www.thegoodhuman.com/.
Wright, N.T. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York: Harper Collins,
2010.


[1] Hagelin, Joakin, Hans-Erik Carlsson, and Jann Hau, “Factors That May Influence the Outcome: An Overview of Surveys on How People View Animal Experimentation, “ Public Understanding of Science (2003) 12: 67.
[2] “Vivisection. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
[3] Hagelin, Carlsson, and Hau 12
[4] “What Companies are Still Testing Products on Animals?” http://www.thegoodhuman.com/
[5] Croney, Candace C. “Words Matter: Implications of Semantics and Imagery in Framing Animal- Welfare Issues, Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 37:1 (2010), 102.
[6] Ibid, 105.
[7] Palmer,Clare, Animals in Christian Ethics: Developing a Relational Approach, Ecotheology 7.2 (2003), 173.
[8] “Sea World: Trainer Dragged Into Water.” http://www.wesh.com/r/22659996/detail.html. 24
Feb. 2010.
[9] Degrazia, D. “Animal Ethics Around the turn of the 21st Century.” Journal of Agricultural and
Environmental Ethics 11 (1999), 17.
[10] Ibid, 12
[11] Levy, Ze’ev. “Ethical Issues of Animal Welfare in Jewish Thought.” In Judaism and
Environmental Ethics: A Reader edited by Martin D. Yaffee. Latham:Lexington Books, 2001, 329.
[12] Ibid, 330
[13] Croney, C.C. and R.D. Reynnells. “Bioethics—Livestock and Poultry: The Ethics of Food, The Ethics of Semantics: Do We Clarify or Obfuscate Reality to Influence Perceptions of Farm Animal Production?” Poultry Science 87:2 (2008) 388.
[14] Steeve, H. Peter. Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life. New York:State University of New York Press, 1999. 55.
[15] Ibid
[16] De La Torre, Miguel. Doing Christian Ethics From the Margins. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2004, 93
[17] DeGrazia, 112
[18] De La Torre, 93
[19] Levy 329
[20] Linzey, Andrew. Christianity and the Rights of Animals
[21] DeGrazia, 18
[22] Berry, Thomas. “The Ecozoic Era” Eleventh Annual E.F.Schumacher Lectures, Ed by Hildegarde Hannum Oct. 1991.
Ed by Hildegarde Hannum, 5.
[23] DeGrazia 22
[24] Hagelin, Carlsson, and Hau, 73.
[25] DeLaTorre, 132
[26] Palmer 163
[27] Ibid 164
[28] Levy, 220.
[29] Berry, Thomas. Prologue,”Loneliness and Presence.” In A Communion of Subjects: Animals in
Religion Science, & Ethics, edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberly Patton, Columbia
University Press: 2006, 8.
[30] DeLaTorre, 133
[31] Wright, N.T. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York: Harper Collins,
2010, 133.
[32] DeLaTorre, 132
[33] Wadell, Paul J. Happiness and the Chrisitan Moral Life. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield
Publishers, 1991, 190
[34] Linzey, Andrew. “Living Peaceably.” The Oxford Center for Animal Ethics. 6 Oct. 2009
[35] Wright, 102
[36] Northcott, Michael S., The Environment and Christian Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
http://assets.cambridge.org/97805215/76314/frontmatter/9780521576314_frontmatter.pdf
[37] Palmer, 165
[38] Wright, 259
[39] Ibid, 131
[40] Hyland, Hyland, J.R. God’s covenant with Animals: A Biblical Basis for the Humane Treatment of All
Creatures. New York: Lantern Books, 2000
[41] Northcutt 37
[42] Jenkins,Willis. Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology. Oxford
University Press 2008, 17
[43] Wadell,177
[44] Kemmerer, Lisa. “Christian Ethics and Nonhuman Animals.” TheandrosL An Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy. 5:3 (2008).
[45] Hiersl, Richard H. “Reverence for Life and Environmental Ethics in Biblical Law and Covenant.” Forum on Religion and Ecology. http://fore.research.yale.edu/religion/christianity/essays/richard_hiers.pdf. 2.

[46] Jenkins, 81
[47] Levy, 326
[48] Hiersl, Richard H. “Reverence for Life and Environmental Ethics in Biblical Law and Covenant.” Forum on Religion and Ecology. http://fore.research.yale.edu/religion/christianity/essays/richard_hiers.pdf. 4-5
[49] Levy, 326
[50] Patton, Kimberly. Caught with Ourselves in the Net of Life and Time: Traditional Views of Animals in ReligionIn A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion Science, & Ethics, edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberly Patton, Columbia
University Press: 2006, 34.
[51] Palmer, 165
[52] Linzey, Andrew, “Brute creatures and the Passion: Why Christians Should Care About Animals.” The London Times. 2 Sept. 2009. 102.

[53] Fraser, D. “The New Perception of Animal Agriculture: Legless Cows, Featherless, Chickens,
and a Need for Genuine Analysis.” Journal of Animal Science 79 (2001) 640.
[54] Palmer 171-172
[55] Haglein, Carlsson, and Hau, 84
[56] Wadell, 29
[57] Ibid, 36
[58] DeLaTorre, 123
[59] Levy 331
[60] Northcott, 170
[61] DeLaTorre,134
[62] Berry, Thomas. “The Ecozoic Era” Eleventh Annual E.F.Schumacher Lectures, Oct. 1991, 8.
[63] Berry, Thomas. “The Spirituality of the Earth.” In Liberating Life: Contemporary Approaches in
Ecological Theology, edited by William Eaken and Jay B. McDaniel.
http://www.religiononline.com/
[i] DeGrazia provides similar models. I have modified his examples while retaining the ethical questions.

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