Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - March 9, 2021
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)


  1. Dangers of Social Media
  2. Food for Thought
  3. All-Creatures.org Ministry

1. Dangers of Social Media

It seems that today many people have markedly different versions of reality. For many people, their version of “the truth” seems so obvious that those with whom they disagree must be arguing in bad faith. Without a common understanding of basic facts and with a conviction that “their” opponents are evil, we have become highly polarized. It seems that this condition is a grave threat to any effort to address the social, political economic, and environmental challenges of our day. How did this happen?

As described in the documentary The Social Dilemma, competition between rival social networks has favored whatever algorithms keep people on a given social network’s site. The money is in connecting people to advertisers. However, those algorithms do not respect truth or societal well-being. If an algorithm determines that a person who believes one unfounded conspiracy hypothesis is likely to stay on site by clicking an article about another, equally unsubstantiated conspiracy hypothesis, the second site will be highlighted. The algorithms refine the recommendations continuously, starting with the general demographics of a user and then modifying recommendations according to the actual “clicks” of individual users. The social networks even incorporate data from users’ web site visits, “likes,” and e-mails.

Because outrage tends to generate views and clicks, people are offered increasingly outrageous material, as long as they “take the bait.” It does not matter if the news stories, web sites, etc. are truthful. Meanwhile advertisers know that intellectually engaged viewers more less likely to doubt their contrived messages, so they have the social network offerings encourage viewers to go to sites that dull critical thinking.

We are rapidly approaching a time when computer programs powered by artificial intelligence understand our minds better than we do. Clever algorithms can even entice good-hearted people to make hard-hearted choices when it comes to humans and nonhumans. I will continue to explore the dangers next week, but I do think there are ways that our faith can help us resist the threats.

Stephen R. Kaufman, MD


2. Food for Thought

The time of COVID-19 lock-downs and social distancing has been hard for many of us, but it could also be a gift in that it has given us as a chance for reflection. As the Sabbath rest involves spiritual study and reflection, we can this period to consider how to make our lives more peaceful, healthier, and less harmful to God’s creatures. In doing so, we might also significantly reduced risk of future pandemic illnesses.

The CDC has found that most known and emerging diseases come from animals.1. These include swine flu, avian flu, poxes, and plague; and there is evidence linking COVID-19 to a Chinese wet market. In many cases, these diseases originated from human contact with farmed or otherwise harmfully exploited animals.

We treat animals so dismally that theologian William Ralph Inge observed, “We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” Why do people do this?

During the lockdown I have had a lot of time to reflect upon possible answers. I think Numbers 11 (and the corresponding passages of Psalms 78 and 106 and Paul’s mention of this event in 1 Corinthians 10) is very apt for the situation we are experiencing. God provided all the food the Israelites needed for their testing in the desert. Instead of being satisfied, they “lusted” to eat animal flesh. God reluctantly gave into their demands, but punished them for it by bringing a plague upon those who ate the flesh. If God punishes evil, will not God punish humanity for its devilish treatment of animals? Perhaps COVID-19 and other pandemics is a kind of divine retribution.

Pandemics are not the only health consequences of eating animals. Humans are not designed to consume flesh,2. and many major health problems are related to eating animals, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and many kinds of cancer. Further, the massive use of antibiotics needed to keep highly stressed farmed animals alive promotes antibiotic resistance among bacteria, further endangering human health.

This lust has a host of negative consequences. Feeding grains to farmed animals rather than people contributes to world hunger. Flesh has a much higher environmental impact than plant foods. And, we should not forget slaughterhouse workers, who have very high injury rates doing bloody, violent, soul-destroying work.

If we want to live in the peace God promises us in Isaiah (or in any number of other sacred texts) – where the wolf will lay down with the lamb and all will live peacefully together – we need commit ourselves to peace, justice, and mercy for all of creatures of the world. During this time of reflection, and as society gets back to “normal,” we should reflect upon our actions. Perhaps we should start with the simple question: ‘When I eat do I do so mercifully and peacefully?’

By Chris Grant

  1. Zoonotic Diseases
  2. Dr. Milton Mills shows that our anatomy resembles that of an herbivore: The Comparative Anatomy of Eating

3. All-Creatures.org Ministry

Newsletters: These are recent editions of our all-creatures Newsletter, which we hope you like and share with others to help end the exploitation and killing of animals:

Recipes:

Sermons:


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