Books

October 17th, 2010

For a broad spectrum of books click the Library Thing widget in the sidebar.

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. Matthew Scully. 2003

Best overall introduction to the issues from a Christian Republican author.

From Google Book review: “Throughout Dominion, Scully counters the hypocritical arguments that attempt to excuse animal abuse: from those who argue that the Bible’s message permits mankind to use animals as it pleases, to the hunter’s argument that through hunting animal populations are controlled, to the popular and “scientifically proven” notions that animals cannot feel pain, experience no emotions, and are not conscious of their own lives.

The result is eye opening, painful and infuriating, insightful and rewarding. Dominion is a plea for human benevolence and mercy, a scathing attack on those who would dismiss animal activists as mere sentimentalists, and a demand for reform from the government down to the individual. Matthew Scully has created a groundbreaking work, a book of lasting power and importance for all of us.”

Animals on the Agenda: Questions about Animals for Theology and Ethics. ed. Linzey and Yamamoto 1998

from Google Book Review: “This encyclopedic volume is the most comprehensive collection of original studies on animals and theology ever published. Contributors from both sides of the Atlantic tackle fundamental questions about theology and how it is put into practice.

Do animals have immortal souls? Does Christ’s reconciling work include animals? Contributors address these issues and more in the context of scriptural perspectives, the Christian tradition, historical disputes, and obligations to animals.

As Andrew Linzey points out in his introduction, it cannot be right for theological practitioners to carry on their business as though the world of animals were invisible. Mainstream Christianity still propagates a range of ideas about animals that are hugely detrimental to their status and welfare. This important volume argues that it is time for a change.”

Why Animal Suffering Matters. Andrew Linzey 2009

from Google Book review: “In Why Animal Suffering Matters, Andrew Linzey argues that when analyzed impartially the rational case for extending moral solicitude to all sentient beings is much stronger than many suppose. Indeed, Linzey shows that many of the justifications for inflicting animal suffering in fact provide grounds for protecting them. Because animals, the argument goes, lack reason or souls or language, harming them is not an offense. Linzey suggests that just the opposite is true, that the inability of animals to give or withhold consent, their inability to represent their interests, their moral innocence, and their relative defenselessness all compel us not to harm them.

Andrew Linzey further shows that the arguments in favor of three controversial practices–hunting with dogs, fur farming, and commercial sealing–cannot withstand rational critique. He considers the economic, legal, and political issues surrounding each of these practices, appealing not to our emotions but to our reason, and shows that they are rationally unsupportable and morally repugnant.
In this superbly argued and deeply engaging book, Linzey pioneers a new theory about why animal suffering matters, maintaining that sentient animals, like infants and young children, should be accorded a special moral status.”

Creaturely Theology: On God, Humans, and Other Animals. ed. Celia Deane-Drummond & David Clough.  2009

Theology conscious of the theologian’s own creatureliness.

Animal Theology. Andrew Linzey. 1995

The most comprehensive treatment of the status of animals from a theological perspective.

Thanking The Monkey: Rethinking the way we treat animals. Karen Dawn. 2008

Just because it’s a serious topic doesn’t mean it can’t be discussed with a little snap, nice job Karen!

Good Eating (The Christian Practice of Everyday Life). Stephen H. Webb. 2001

The book that should be on the church bookshelf.

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World. John Robbins. 2001

Robbins, as in Baskin-Robbins.  Despite the title, this isn’t a diet book, more of a food politics book from the heir to the ice-cream throne.

Is God a Vegetarian?: Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights. Richard A. Young. 1998

Took me a while to get around to reading this one because I thought the title was cheesy, but it’s worth a peep.

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet. Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina. 2000

All the nutritional questions you could ever ask about vegetarian and vegan diets, written by nutritionists.

Mad Cowboy: The Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat Howard Lyman, Glen Merzer. 2001

What can I say.  my hero.  Go Howard.  Another insider tells it like it is.

Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust.*  Charles Patterson

From Publishers Weekly
“Isaac Bashevis Singer first suggested that “for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.” Charles Patterson (Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond) expands on that risky analogy in his latest book, Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust. Patterson hypothesizes a risky causal relationship, too, when he writes, “since violence begets violence, the enslavement of animals injected a higher level of domination and coercion into human history by creating oppressive hierarchical societies and unleashing large-scale warfare never seen before.” Was human “enslavement” of animals the first step on the road to the Holocaust? Patterson doesn’t say as much, but it’s clear that he feels our inhumanity to the nonhuman is one of our greatest evils.”

* If the title of this one alone hasn’t completely freaked you out, you might want to consider two other essays before you jump into Patterson’s book.  Never mind the fact that the very word holocaust originally comes from the complete destruction by fire of an animal, in sacrificial religion.  Anyway.  You’re on your own for sourcing these but access to any decent library should suffice.  1) Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “The Slaughterer”, which you can get a taste of here, and 2) David Sztybel’s “Can The Treatment of Animals Be Compared to the Holocaust“, in Ethics and the Environment, 11(1) 2006.

Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry.  Gail Eisnitz.

inhumane of course to the animals but to the people who have to work there too ….  want some fries with that?

Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and the Global Order. Noam Chomsky.

(from the introduction)

… democracy is a non-negotiable cornerstone of any post-capitalist society worth living in or fighting for.  At the same time, he has demonstrated the absurdity of equating capitalism with democracy, or of thinking that capitalist societies, even under the best of circumstances, will ever open access to information or decision making beyond the most narrow and controlled possibilities.  I doubt any author, aside from perhaps George Orwell, has approached Chomsky in systematically skewering the hypocrisy of rulers and ideologues in both Communist and capitalist societies as they claim that theirs is the only form of true democracy available to humanity.

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Marion Nestle.

From Library Journal
Nestle (chair, nutrition and food studies, NYU) offers an expos‚ of the tactics used by the food industry to protect its economic interests and influence public opinion. She shows how the industry promotes sales by resorting to lobbying, lawsuits, financial contributions, public relations, advertising, alliances, and philanthropy to influence Congress, federal agencies, and nutrition and health professionals. She also describes the food industry’s opposition to government regulation, its efforts to discredit nutritional recommendations while pushing soft drinks to children via alliances with schools, and its intimidation of critics who question its products or its claims. Nestle berates the food companies for going to great lengths to protect what she calls “techno-foods” by confusing the public regarding distinctions among foods, supplements, and drugs, thus making it difficult for federal regulators to guard the public. She urges readers to inform themselves, choose foods wisely, demand ethical behavior and scientific honesty, and promote better cooperation among industry and government. This provocative work will cause quite a stir in food industry circles. Highly recommended. Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll., NY

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