Saturday, August 20, 2005

Animals Need Not Apply

P.E.T.A, was reexamining its plans in light of the criticism they had received, according to an Associated Press article on 14 August. P.E.T.A. stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The organization had managed to offend the NAACP ( National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ) and earlier in the year some Jewish groups. I found the article worthy of note for what it did not say.

On a nationwide tour the group used images of animal abuse alongside pictures of black people in chains or being lynched, clearly trying to draw similarities. As well, PETA compared Jewish suffering during the Holocaust to what currently happens to "factory animals."

The NAACP was angered by what they claim was drawing comparisons between black people and animals, something that has occurred all too often in the U.S. and elsewhere for hundreds of years. Without a doubt this was not the most effective way to persuade people of the very real abuses inflicted upon animals--by humans. But does this bring to light an even larger, more important point? I think so.

More than thirty years ago Lynn White Jr., a professor of Medieval History, said, "We shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man." This one sentence in a short essay the professor wrote started a spirited debate. Sides can easily be staked out. Professor White went on to say that "Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny--that is, by religion." Of course.

The theological explanations are lengthy, the "spiritual" theme versus the "ecological" theme, meaning in simple terms those folks that can't wait to escape to the ether and commune with the entity, and those other people that believe God's presence can be celebrated in the world of nature--in the here and now--right on planet Earth. The latter would fall into the stewardship camp.

At the present time the stewardship crowd, certainly within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, is largely invisible, impotent, and probably irrelevant. Professor White, however, believed that the "answers" to our ecological problems will likely come from religion, because these problems result from particular religious viewpoints. Hope does spring eternal.

Some 600 years ago Henry II of England said, in reference to his former friend and drinking companion Thomas a Becket, "Will no one rid me of this priest?" The rest is history. I would offer the following plea: Will no one rid this planet of putrid fundamentalism? We are all animals.


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