11 May 2009

Eating Mercifully

The Humane Society of the US has created this short film (26 minutes) about the importance of stewardship of animals as part of God's creation. Apparently they are realizing the value of enlisting the help of people of faith in this important work, and people of faith are waking up to their responsibility to care for their fellow creatures. This is good news!

Thanks to Matt Humphrey, one of the TAs for the Food Course I'll be taking later this month, for the pointer to this video. I'll repeat his caution:

WARNING: There are some disturbing images here of the treatment of animals. I think it is essential that we become people of truth-telling, which means to face the facts rather than hide behind slogans like "that can't be true - farmers wouldn't do that." This is a call to action and faithfulness which demands thoughtful reflection and creative action.

Watch and pray.

I should point out that at about 13:49 in the video, Rev. Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster relates a story about Jesus stopping a man from beating his mule. This is extra-biblical (it's from the Coptic Gospel found in the Nag Hammadi library). It's a nice story and quite in keeping with what Jesus might well have done, and surely many of the stories written down about him by others besides the Gospel writers really did happen. But it's non-canonical. However there are in the Bible passages that clearly talk about taking good care of animals, e.g. Proverbs 12:10 ("The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."), Deuteronomy 22:4 ("If you see someone’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help the owner get it to its feet."), Deuteronomy 25:4 ("Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."), and of course the extending of the Sabbath command to animals in Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

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