Book Review: A Faith Embracing All Creatures: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals
By: Katherine Annemarie
A Faith Embracing All Creatures: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals edited by Andy Alexis-Baker and Tripp York, The Peacable Kingdom Series. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012.
A couple months ago, the church I attend held a men’s barbecue event. I can’t remember exactly what was cooked, but it was something that required hours on the grill. The gathering’s host saw this extended time as an opportunity for fellowship. I don’t doubt his good intentions or his generous spirit. However, my husband (who keeps a vegan diet) felt alienated by the event, and we were both troubled and saddened by the deeper implications present. The idea that somehow consuming the flesh of another creature reinforces and bonds masculinity is troubling, as is the fact that a church that has a consistent nonviolent history is still so wedded to traditional dietary practices that are steeped in environmental and intersubjective violence. Yet, we remained silent. It can be difficult to broach this issue because it encroaches normal thinking and behavior and engages people in their own complicity with systems that utilize sexism, racism, speciesism, violence, power, and oppression. I am pleased that a book like A Faith Embracing All Creatures is now available to assist in bridging this divide, offering some assistance, and hopefully beginning some conversations grounded in love and compassion.
By: HH Brownsmith
Last month, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to move forward with Dorothy Day’s canonization process.1 These proceedings are notoriously slow but Dorothy’s has been rightfully measured. Throughout her life, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement expressed resistance to being recognized as a saint. She had a myriad of reasons for being uncomfortable with the title, including the belief that all people are called to be saints and that the canonized are easily written off. She feared sainthood would both trivialize her work and make it seem impossibly difficult.
For a long while, members of the Catholic Worker movement made her opposition to canonization known and fought against the process. However, in the last 15 years some Workers have stepped forward to promote the cause of canonization with the reasoning that what is done posthumously is not for the dead but is for the living. I find this reasoning irreverent and as a person who spent time living in a CW house I strongly oppose canonization for Dorothy. But I do not intend to expound on her “Don’t call me a saint” quotes. Dorothy was clear about her wishes.
The histories and motives of clergy members who have promoted Dorothy’s formal recognition are in need of further analysis. National Public Radio touched on this topic briefly last week but failed to go into detail about the lives of the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.2 Both men have done substantial work to put Dorothy in the Church spotlight.
By: Gregory Williams
In the Church where I was baptized, I was taught that Advent was for those of us who are too depressed to do Christmas. Every year, for these four weeks, we were reminded that one of the spirit’s greatest gifts to a Christian community is that community’s ability to live with weakness, to admit its need for grace, to name the absence of God in our lives in the midst of a culture characterized by triumphalism and willful blindness to pain. One year the pastor demonstrated this quite dramatically in a sermon. “There are many Churches,” he said, “that, in order to accommodate those who mourn the loss of loved ones at Christmas or who cannot be with family for other reasons, hold a “blue Christmas” service.” He then held up his (blue) stole and exclaimed, “we don’t need to do that because we already have a blue Christmas. It’s called Advent!”
While I have since moved away from this Church, I believe that its emphasis on periods of mourning and lamentation has political significance, particularly for those of us who integrate anarchist praxis into our path of discipleship.
One of the major defensive mechanisms of Imperial Religion is its ability to rob us of our tears. We live amidst an interlocking set of globe-spanning political, social and cultural systems founded upon the colonial dispossession of land and displacement of people, particularly low income people and people of color, making room for the capitalist transfiguration of every person place and thing into a commodity to be marketed, used and thrown away. Our life together in creation is also marred by the heteropatriarchal scripting of gender and sexuality that rests on oppressive dualisms of culture and creation, rationality and affect, mind/spirit and body and male and female. This social system is responsible for the deaths of millions, for historic and ongoing genocide and for the near-constant burning of the bodies of children, women and men upon the fiery altars of imperial war.
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Nekeisha Alayna Alexis
Liza Minno Bloom
Eda Ruhiye Uca