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Update Newsletters
December 28, 2011

  1. Summary of CVA Activities
  2. Christmas Songs
  3. Reflections on the Lectionary: Luke 2:22-40; Does God Want Sacrifices?
  4. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Summary of CVA Activities

We have several people who receive our e-newsletter twice a year. (Please let us know if that’s your preference.) For these people, we summarize CVA’s 2011 activities.

This year, CVA volunteers leafleted and tabled at 72 events, distributing approximately 75,000 booklets. I think this is impressive, but it’s a less than in past years, and we hope that more of our 6000+ members will volunteer a few hours next year to get the word out. We get new members every day, and it’s amazing the range of ways they find out about us. Many hear about us at Christian events having received a booklet from a volunteer, and a large number first learn about the CVA from a bumper sticker on a car, from a booklet at a store thanks to our Adopt-a-Shop program (contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com for details), and other ways.

The animals, the environment, and the world’s poor and hungry people are weak, vulnerable, and profoundly harmed by contemporary animal agriculture. If we don’t vigorously oppose this cruel, wasteful, ungodly, satanic institution, then nothing will impede its mindless destruction of the earth and its inhabitants. Jesus sided with those who are weak and vulnerable, and calling ourselves Christian is meaningless self-indulgence unless we do likewise.

2. Christmas Songs

CVA member Larry Brown has two clever Christmas songs, and you can see them performed at YouTube.com. Just search for them by title: “Please Daddy Don’t Eat Meat This Christmas” and “Santa’s Going Vegan This Christmas.” Enjoy.

3. Reflections on the Lectionary

Luke 2:22-40; Does God Want Sacrifices?

Included in this section is the description of Joseph and Mary offering a sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” according to “the law of the Lord” (2:24). These instructions refer to Leviticus 12:8. Luke 2:24 is one of the passages frequently highlighted by those who assert that God does not have much concern for nonhuman beings. Is it possible to reconcile this story with the notion that Christianity calls us to show compassion and respect for animals?

I think there are several ways to regard this story that are compatible with a Christian animal-friendly ethic, and I will explore them over the next few weeks. A first theory is that animal sacrifices were not desired by God, but they were unavoidable in the times of the ancient Hebrews.

Perhaps animal sacrifices were a necessary alternative to human sacrifices. Numbers 31:30 and 31:40 describe human sacrifices ordained by God, and Abraham was on the verge of sacrificing his first-born son to God. Several passages condemn human sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:31, 18:9–12; 2 Kings 16:3; Psalm 106:38; Jeremiah 19:4–5), indicating that child sacrifice was commonly practiced in the ancient world, including among the ancient Hebrews (2 Kings 3:27; Judges 11:30–40; Jeremiah 32:35; Micah 6:7). People would have regarded a prophet who called for an end to all sacrifices as absurd or satanic.

Perhaps abolition of human sacrifices but permission of animal sacrifices was an unavoidable step toward a world in which there would be no sacrificial violence. Indeed, many of the later prophets condemned sacrifices. (See, for example, Micah 6:6-8; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Amos 5:22-24; Hosea 6:6; and Isaiah 1:11-13, 16-17.) Jesus called for an end to all sacrifices (Matthew 9:13 and 12:7) and drove out the animals from the Temple (John 2:15). Arguably, this view indicates that God cares more for humans than non-human beings, but it is still compatible with the notion that God cares deeply about animals as well.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

4. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Seeing Jesus

Your question and comments are welcome

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