Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

“as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”

October 16th, 2010 No comments

(Luke 13:34, Mat 23:37)

The background sound for the Virtual Battery Cage came from the undercover video “Inside an Egg Factory Farm” from Compassion Over Killing.  Turn the sound off this one (bottom right corner) before you watch the one below.

If you care about animal welfare, please consider this perspective on “humane” egg production, from the Faces of Free Range Farming, presented by Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary who asks these two questions:

1. What happens to ALL of the male chicks – not just few token roosters – but ALL of them?  Here’s a Hint. More here.

2. What happens to the hens when they are no longer laying enough eggs for this facility to be profitable?

What are you actually paying for at the grocery store?  Take a look at the state of “organic” and egg labeling generally from these links:

–  the Cornucopia Institute

–  the Humane Society

Why not like a Rooster?

September 24th, 2010 No comments

First a poem. (via)

Poor Patriarch
The rooster pushes his head
high among the hens, trying to be
what he feels he must be, here
in the confines of domesticity.
Before the tall legs of my presence,
he bristles and shakes his ruby comb.
Little man, I want to say
the hens know who they are.
I want to ease his mistaken burden,
want him to crow with the plain
ecstasy of morning light as it
finds its winter way above the woods.
Poor outnumbered fellow,
how did he come to believe
that on his plumed shoulders
lay the safety of an entire flock?
I run my hand down the rippled
brindle of his back, urge him to relax,
drink in the female pleasures
that surround him, of egg laying,
of settling warm-breasted in the nest
of this brief and feathered time.
from Quickening; Slate Roof Press, 2007
Then …

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  (Luke 13:34, Mat 23:37)

In this passage the very Son of God chose a female, mothering, nurturing metaphor to express how he desired to relate to Jerusalem.   I like the combination of that and of urging the Poor Patriarch to “drink in the female pleasures … of egg laying, of settling warm-breasted in the nest of this brief and feathered time.”   Beautiful.

That’s My King! Do You Know Him?

August 17th, 2009 No comments

How would Jesus tip?

August 11th, 2009 No comments

I’m on vacation and admittedly not at all in the mood for actually writing about the things I have on the list to write about.  So today I’m mooching off of my other favorite blog (besides Suicide Food).  Richard Beck, in a post generally about Christian witness,  just posted a little blurb about the experience of waiting tables on Sunday afternoons, i.e., for the Church crowd.

The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd.  Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth.

I exaggerate of course. But I hope you see my point.

Having spent a few good years as a waitress I can say this is an axiom of restaurant life.  Much like having nightmares about the table you forgot to get the ketchup to, I thought the dread of having to work the Sunday lunch shift was relegated to the secrets only servers know about the human condition, but, alas, there you have it.  He must have spent some time in the front of the house or knows a lot of people who have. When I’m President, I think I’ll make it a rule that nobody gets to vote until they’ve had to clean public bathrooms for a week and spent time as a server in a restaurant.

Darwin, Jesus, Nietzsche, and the Pope

August 1st, 2009 No comments

What does not kill me makes me stronger.  ~ Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.  ~ Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Nietzsche.   I can’t believe it took me so long to put my finger on what’s been bugging me but that’s it.   As someone who came to church with evolution already installed, I’m particularly interested in how Darwin and evolution get discussed in that context.  Before I go any further let me admit that I’m open to being totally wrong, I’m open to the fact that Genesis absolutely can be read in a way that precludes the evolutionary process completely.   I also admit that pre-Fall animal pain and suffering is a problem for theists.   On the other hand, post-Fall animal pain and suffering is also a problem for theists who bother to examine it closely.   When addressed fully, that’s a huge topic that I’m not yet comfortable tackling here.  This post, then, is about one aspect of the church meets evolution relationship, and basically it comes down to telos, or ultimate aim. Read more…

Books: Why Animal Suffering Matters

July 16th, 2009 No comments

I’ve just finished reading Andrew Linzey‘s latest book “Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics”.

General impressions first.  Christians who believe “the earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it” (Psa. 24) will wrestle with how to rightly represent Him as image bearers; how, as new creations in Christ, we reflect Christ’s lordship over us in our lordship over that which we’ve been given dominion.  Thinking Christians will want reasoned arguments and will find them here.   If you’re a Christian and you are new to the topic theologically, if you’re reading this and thinking something like, “God put them here for our use”, then I’d start with any of the books on the Resources page.  If you want to investigate the philosophical and ethical standpoints too then this book will serve you well.

I am particularly grateful for the format of the book.  Rational arguments laid out in clear style.  Counter-points addressed at every turn.  Not since Matthew Scully’s Dominion have I felt like such a reasoned and precise case has been made for the serious, thoughtful consideration of animals and against the positions of the powers allied against them.  Linzey’s latest book furthers that project and condenses the case.  He notes in the introduction that the text is aimed at students in high school and undergraduate classes that consider such topics as animal welfare, animal rights, human-animal studies, animal ethics, animals and philosophy, animals an religion, animal law, and even animal theology at the university level (6).   It’s laid out like a textbook with summary points at the end of the sections and generous notes for digging deeper.  For anyone interested in these topics at this level it is an easy and satisfying read.  You know what to do.

I especially enjoyed the way in which the author lays out six of the most common arguments against the moral relevancy of animal suffering and shows that these arguments actually imply precisely the opposite conclusion; they make a stronger case for the moral relevance of animal suffering rather than weaker.  (40-42)

The six most common premises and basics (my own interpretation unless otherwise noted) of the alternative stance:

1) animals are naturally slaves (via Aristotle and Aquinas) … since when does power provide its own self-justification, especially for Christians?  might makes right?  that’s  Nietzsche not Jesus.

2) animals are non-rational beings … this only matters if lack of rationality can be proven to decrease suffering, and it is completely plausible that non-comprehension of pain and anxiety and stress and the situations that cause them lead to increased suffering in animals, as well as humans.  take babies for example … they don’t yet understand what’s causing their pains and fears, do they therefore suffer less or more than an adult who can?  the first step to managing your stress, anxiety, and pain is understanding what’s causing it … if animals don’t have that they’re short  the most important tool we use to lessen our own suffering.

3) animals are linguistically deficient … so what?  pain occurs at a pre-verbal level in humans … if I put a hot iron to your face you don’t experience that moment in language, you just experience pain and horror … even if they don’t have semantics like we do that doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer in their own ways.  how about this study that shows one way in which we use language to lessen the experience of pain.  if we use it to lessen pain and animals don’t have that ability then what?

4) animals are not moral agents … that is the most twisted argument that I ever see being made … we are moral agents and it isn’t about the victim it’s about us and how we behave, surely our morality isn’t limited to those beings who can be expected to reciprocate?  That seems a lot like the notion of do ut des … giving to get ... that whole notion strikes me as selfish (cf. Luke 12-13, not to mention the ways God gives to us and yet we can’t really “give” anything in return)  If we are the morally superior beings we claim to be then it would seem that we should act towards lesser creatures (whether we consider them to be of ‘our own family/tribe/race/kind’ or not) from that morality, as Christ did and does for us,  … to suspend it is to deny the principle we begin with.

5) animals are soulless … (if you assume this to be true, scholars differ) “beings that will not be recompensed in another world for their suffering in this one logically deserve more, not less, moral solicitude”.  See also:

But the Torah does more than acknowledge physical life, briefly describing also its inception. As a result of God’s creative activity, both animals and people are “living creatures.” In this sense, all of animate nature is on similar standing. While most translations imply that Gen 2:7 is in some way different from 1:20, 24, the Heb. is the same in each instance (chayya nephesh). What separates human beings from the animal world is not that they are living souls rather than living creatures, but that they have been created “in the image of God.” ~New International Dictionary Of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, “chayya”

6) animals are devoid of the divine image … “if a Christological understanding of power is engaged, human power over animals means responsibility, even service”.   So it seems a good bit rests on agreeing to what “image of God” means.  Linzey addresses this specifically as well elsewhere in this book.

Scary God?

April 2nd, 2009 No comments

I got this from Greg Boyd’s website, he highlighted it in a recent blog entry.   Thanks, Brad Cole, whoever you are, for this article.

an excerpt

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-44 – GN)

I’m tempted at this point to take this article in a different direction and to ask, “What should a Christian look like?” This is radical stuff and sadly it shows that Christians do not often follow the teachings of Christ, but the point to make for now, with regards to the Old Testament is this. Jesus’ repeated words in this sermon “You have heard it said….BUT NOW I tell you…” suggests something critically important to our understanding of the Old Testament. This may sound strange and perhaps even wrong, but please wrestle with this statement. Here it is: There is a hierarchy of truth in scripture.

Why does that sound wrong? Well, one view of inspiration is that since the scripture is God-breathed everything is on an equal plane of truth whether we are in the book of Judges or the gospel of John. But what did we just hear Jesus say? He said that the rules such as ‘eye for an eye’ were not the ideal. That rule is a very, very dim light compared to the very bright light of loving your enemies. In Jesus we can say that Gandhi was right, that “an eye for an eye makes the world blind.”

the whole enchilada here.

Sadism Is As Sadism Does

March 7th, 2009 No comments

I’m reading the book “What Was God Doing on the Cross” by Alister McGrath,  which is essentially a short discussion of the major atonement theories.   Anyway.  The first chapter begins in a conversational tone, getting into the cultural location of the execution of Jesus.  The author is setting the scene, gearing up to tell the reader about how the Romans are oppressive, about how cruel they are, etc.  Here are some of the highlights from his description of the scene at Calvary from pages 12-13 …

(The Romans) call the preferred way of execution ‘crucifixion’.  The word, which sounds neat and clinical in its precision, refers to nothing other than legalized sadism.  It is probably one of the most depraved forms of execution ever devised. … they begin by … whipping him … it tears the victim’s backs to shreds … usually they nail them through the wrists; if you nail them through the hands, they fall off, and you have to start again … it is a horrifying and pitiful scene … there have to be limits to the length of time it takes to crucify … they devised a neat way of speeding up the process … and, as we watch, such a pathetic scene seems to be happening in front of our eyes … victims are stumbling past … one of them seems to be in a really bad way (and) just collapsed, it’s a sickening sight.

Legalized Sadism.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.   Read more…

N.T. Wright on the Authority of Scripture

November 4th, 2008 No comments

Such a staggering point from a tiny phrase …

…did we ever imagine that the application of biblical authority ought to be something that could be done by a well-programmed computer?

The full article is here.

For further reading, Wright expounds on this article in his subsequent book, “The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God–Getting Beyond the Bible Wars“.

Keeping the Sabbath

November 2nd, 2008 No comments

Because nobody believes it’s there …  and it’s in both.    

Ex. 20:1   And God spake all these words, saying,  2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.  7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:  11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 

Ex. 20:12   Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  13 Thou shalt not kill.  14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.  15 Thou shalt not steal.  16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.  17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Ex. 23:12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. ~ KJV


Deut. 5:6   I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.  8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:  9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,  10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.  11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.  13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:  14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.  15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.  16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  17 Thou shalt not kill.  18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.  19 Neither shalt thou steal.  20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.  21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.  ~ KJV

No Idolatry. No killing. No adultery. No working your animals on the Sabbath.  The God of the Universe put an animal welfare clause in the big 10 contract.  Most people would deny it has anything about animals in it at all.   Nothing about animals, really?  Even though the words actually are right there on the page? Even though the examples Jesus gave of what kinds of work are acceptable on the Sabbath were about continuing routine care for animals (Luke 13:15) and helping an animal in need (Matt. 12:11, Luke 14:15)? 

The point was that it’s ok to do good on the Sabbath and the examples he used were about caring for animals.  Consider this comment in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (1992), in the Ethics of Jesus (ethics and the law) section, about the role of the Sabbath … 

There was also a divine necessity for healing on the Sabbath, insofar as the Sabbath was divinely ordained to be for Israel a foretaste of the kingdom of God. By healing those bound by the kingdom of Satan, Jesus had enabled the kingdom of God to break in upon human life (Lk 11:20; Mk 3:27). Thus, since the Sabbath was a foretaste of the kingdom, there was no better day for him to perform his acts of mercy. Since the kingdom had arrived, the Son of man (see SON OF MAN) was Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 2:28). 

In context, the point Jesus was making was about the fact that his questioners would not have hesitated to do these things for animals but then questioned him about helping a person … but this whole discourse is based on the assumption that doing good for animals is understood to be a good thing, that’s the reason the argument works.  If A, then how much more B … it depends on both sides agreeing on A; A is the given from which you expound to B.  

  • The Sabbath commandment specifically includes a rest for the animals that serve man. 
  • The Sabbath is a foretaste of the kingdom.  
  • Jesus has inaugurated his kingdom.  
  • The prophets tell of a time when there will be a reconciliation not only among the animal kingdom but also between man and animal – as it was in the beginning, before we messed it up.
  • Paul says the whole creation longs for the children of God to be revealed.  

I think you have a pretty good argument for the people of God to be renouncing the ways of this world and our own history as it relates to animals.  

We’ve been happy to focus on the biblical descriptions of how much more “valuable” we are than animals but it’s avarice to ignore the part that animals are valuable to God in their own right.  With a greater understanding of how our  value is based on the idea of our greater capacity to serve and reflect Jesus in his plan of redemption for all of creation we’ll eventually come to terms with the full extent of our arrogance in this respect.  Sackcloth and ashes will be in order.  

Prov. 12:10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal, 

But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. 

“Compassion for animals is an indication of one’s character.  The righteous are kind to all God’s creation (see Deut 25:4) because they have received his bounty. Toy suggests the analogy that if one is kind to the lower animals, he will surely be kind to humans (p. 248). Greenstone adds that even when the wicked are moved to compassion, they often manifest it in a cruel way (p. 129)”. ~ The Expositors Bible Commentary