The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics 9781138592728, 1138592722

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The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics
 9781138592728, 1138592722

Table of contents :
Half Title
Notes on Editors and Contributors
Introduction: Toward a New(er) Religious Ethic for Animals
PART I Traditions
1 African Religions: Anthropocentrism and Animal Protection
2 Anglican Christianity: Animal Questions for Christian Doctrine
3 Buddhism: Paradox and Practice – Morally Relevant Distinctions in the Buddhist Characterization of Animals
4 Confucianism and Daoism: Animals in Traditional Chinese Thought
5 Evangelical Christianity: Lord of Creation or Animal among Animals? Dominion, Darwin, and Duty
6 Hinduism: Animating Samadhi – Rethinking Animal–Human Relationships through Yoga
7 Islam: Ants, Birds, and Other Affable Creatures in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sufi Literature
8 Jainism: Animals and the Ethics of Intervention
9 Judaism: The Human Animal and All Other Animals – Dominion or Duty?
10 Mormonism: Harmony and Dissonance between Religion and Animal Ethics
11 Native American Religion: Restoring Species to the Circle of Life
12 Orthodox Christianity: Compassion for Animals
13 Rastafarianism: A Hermeneutic of Animal Care
14 Roman Catholicism: A Strange Kind of Kindness – On Catholicism’s Moral Ambiguity toward Animals
15 Sikh Dharam: Ethics and Behavior toward Animals
PART II Issues
Human Interaction with Animals
16 “Nations like Yourselves”: Some Muslim Debates over Qur’an 6:38
17 Invoking Another World: An Interreligious Reflection on Hindu Mythology
18 A New Ethic of Holiness: Celtic Saints and Their Kinship with Animals
19 Franciscan Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation: A Creation without Creatures
Killing and Exploitation
20 Animals in Christian and Muslim Thought: Creatures, Creation, and Killing for Food
21 “You Shall Not Eat Any Abominable Thing” (Deut. 14:3) – An Examination of the Old Testament Food Laws with Animal Ethics in Mind
22 Eden’s Diet: Christianity and Vegetarianism
23 Religion, Ethics, and Vegetarianism: The Case of McDonald’s in India
24 The Sacred and Mundane Cow: The History of India’s Cattle Protection Movement
25 Exposing the Harm in Euthanasia: Ahimsa and an Alternative View on Animal Welfare as Expressed in the Beliefs and Practices of the Skanda Vale Ashram, West Wales
Religious and Secular Law
26 Animals in Western Christian Canon Law
27 Catholic Law on Bullfighting
28 Legal Responses to Questions of Animal Ethics and Religious Freedom
29 Veganism as a Legally Protected Religion
Evil and Theodicy
30 Gratuitous Animal Suffering and the Evidential Problem of Evil
31 How Good Is Nature? The Fall, Evolution, and Predation
32 Evolution, Animal Suffering, and Ethics: A Response to Christopher Southgate
Souls and Afterlife
33 Buddhist Rebirth, Reincarnation, and Animal Welfare
34 A Spark Divine? Animal Souls and Animal Welfare in Nineteenth-Century Britain
35 The Difference Bodily Resurrection Makes: Caring for Animals While Hoping for Heaven

Citation preview


The ethical treatment of non-human animals is an increasingly significant issue, directly affecting how people share the planet with other creatures and visualize themselves within the natural world. The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics is a key reference source in this area, looking specifically at the role religion plays in the formation of ethics around these concerns. Featuring thirty-five chapters by a team of international contributors, the handbook is divided into two parts. The first gives an overview of fifteen of the major world religions’ attitudes towards animal ethics and protection. The second features five sections addressing the following topics: • • • • •

Human Interaction with Animals Killing and Exploitation Religious and Secular Law Evil and Theodicy Souls and Afterlife

This handbook demonstrates that religious traditions, despite often being anthropocentric, do have much to offer to those seeking a framework for a more enlightened relationship between humans and non-human animals. As such, The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics is essential reading for students and researchers in religious studies, theology and animal ethics as well as those studying the philosophy of religion and ethics more generally. Andrew Linzey is the director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics; an honorary research fellow at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford; and a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. He is a visiting professor of animal theology at the University of Winchester and a professor of animal ethics at the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana. Clair Linzey is the deputy director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She holds an MA in theological studies from the University of St Andrews and an MTS from Harvard Divinity School. She is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of St Andrews on the ecological theology of Leonardo Boff, with special consideration of the place of animals.


The Routledge Handbook of Muslim – Jewish Relations Edited by Josef Meri The Routledge Handbook of Religious Naturalism Edited by Donald A. Crosby and Jerome A. Stone The Routledge Handbook of Death and the Afterlife Edited by Candi K. Cann The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics Edited by Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey For more information about this series, please visit:


Edited by Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey

First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-59272-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-48984-6 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Apex CoVantage, LLC

For Justus George Lawler, pioneer of the religious basis of animal rights


Notes on Editors and Contributors


Introduction: Toward a New(er) Religious Ethic for Animals Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey





1 African Religions: Anthropocentrism and Animal Protection Kai Horsthemke


2 Anglican Christianity: Animal Questions for Christian Doctrine Lucy Gardner


3 Buddhism: Paradox and Practice – Morally Relevant Distinctions in the Buddhist Characterization of Animals Alex Bruce 4 Confucianism and Daoism: Animals in Traditional Chinese Thought Deborah Cao



5 Evangelical Christianity: Lord of Creation or Animal among Animals? Dominion, Darwin, and Duty Philip Sampson


6 Hinduism: Animating Samadhi – Rethinking Animal–Human Relationships through Yoga Kenneth Valpey




7 Islam: Ants, Birds, and Other Affable Creatures in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sufi Literature Neal Robinson 8 Jainism: Animals and the Ethics of Intervention Joseph A. Tuminello III 9 Judaism: The Human Animal and All Other Animals – Dominion or Duty? Tony Bayfield 10 Mormonism: Harmony and Dissonance between Religion and Animal Ethics Christopher Foster





11 Native American Religion: Restoring Species to the Circle of Life Sidney Blankenship


12 Orthodox Christianity: Compassion for Animals Kallistos Ware


13 Rastafarianism: A Hermeneutic of Animal Care Adrian Anthony McFarlane


14 Roman Catholicism: A Strange Kind of Kindness – On Catholicism’s Moral Ambiguity toward Animals Kurt Remele 15 Sikh Dharam: Ethics and Behavior toward Animals Jagbir Jhutti-Johal






Human Interaction with Animals


16 “Nations like Yourselves”: Some Muslim Debates over Qur’an 6:38 Tim Winter


17 Invoking Another World: An Interreligious Reflection on Hindu Mythology Michael Barnes




18 A New Ethic of Holiness: Celtic Saints and Their Kinship with Animals Edward C. Sellner


19 Franciscan Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation: A Creation without Creatures Andrea Barone


Killing and Exploitation


20 Animals in Christian and Muslim Thought: Creatures, Creation, and Killing for Food Carl Tobias Frayne


21 “You Shall Not Eat Any Abominable Thing” (Deut. 14:3) – An Examination of the Old Testament Food Laws with Animal Ethics in Mind Deborah W. Rooke


22 Eden’s Diet: Christianity and Vegetarianism Samantha Jane Calvert


23 Religion, Ethics, and Vegetarianism: The Case of McDonald’s in India Kay Peggs


24 The Sacred and Mundane Cow: The History of India’s Cattle Protection Movement Kelsi Nagy 25 Exposing the Harm in Euthanasia: Ahimsa and an Alternative View on Animal Welfare as Expressed in the Beliefs and Practices of the Skanda Vale Ashram, West Wales Samantha Hurn



Religious and Secular Law


26 Animals in Western Christian Canon Law Simon Pulleyn


27 Catholic Law on Bullfighting Margarita Carretero-González


28 Legal Responses to Questions of Animal Ethics and Religious Freedom Rachel J. Wechsler




29 Veganism as a Legally Protected Religion Lisa Johnson


Evil and Theodicy


30 Gratuitous Animal Suffering and the Evidential Problem of Evil Max Elder


31 How Good Is Nature? The Fall, Evolution, and Predation Ryan Patrick McLaughlin


32 Evolution, Animal Suffering, and Ethics: A Response to Christopher Southgate Neil Messer


Souls and Afterlife


33 Buddhist Rebirth, Reincarnation, and Animal Welfare Alex Bruce


34 A Spark Divine? Animal Souls and Animal Welfare in Nineteenth-Century Britain A. W. H. Bates


35 The Difference Bodily Resurrection Makes: Caring for Animals While Hoping for Heaven Margaret B. Adam






Margaret B. Adam is a visiting tutor and an honorary academic associate at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford. She also teaches for the Scottish Episcopal Institute, the Oxford Programme for Undergraduate Studies, and Advanced Studies in England. She is on the Committee of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics and on the Advisory Council of CreatureKind. She received her PhD from Duke University in Christian theological studies and taught at Loyola University Baltimore and at the University of Glasgow before moving to Oxford. Her first book is Our Only Hope: More Than We Can Ask or Imagine (Wipf and Stock, 2013). Her current research is about theological ethics shaped by bodily resurrection. Michael Barnes, SJ, is a professor of interreligious relations at Heythrop College at the University of London, where he is also dean of research students. He studied theology at the University of London and Indian religion and culture at the University of Oxford. The dissertation for his PhD, from the University of Cambridge, was an application of the thought of Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas to the theory and practice of interreligious relations. He lectures, researches, and writes on a number of interreligious topics – especially the hermeneutics of cross-religious reading and comparative theology. Andrea Barone, SFO, is a Secular Franciscan and a former faculty member at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where she taught writing and literature. She previously held teaching appointments in English and the humanities at Strayer University in Washington, DC, and Empire State College in New York State. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Bonaventure University and two master’s degrees: in English literature from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia and in the humanities from SUNY at Buffalo, both awarded summa cum laude. She serves as a consulting editor for the Journal of Animal Ethics. Her articles, interviews, poetry, and book reviews have been published in many journals, including Array, The Cord, Metropolitain, St. Andrew’s Press, Olympus, and the Journal of Animal Ethics. She is the former educational coordinator for the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York. Alan William Hugh Bates is an honorary senior lecturer in pathology at University College London. After teaching anatomy and pathology in London for eight years, he trained as a medical xi

Notes on Editors and Contributors

historian at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine in Bloomsbury. Through his study of the Victorian anatomist Robert Knox, he became interested in transcendentalism and the medical antivivisection movement. His books include Emblematic Monsters: Abnormal Conceptions and Deformed Births in Early Modern Europe (Rodopi, 2005) and The Anatomy of Robert Knox: Murder, Mad Science and Medical Regulation in Nineteenth-Century Edinburgh (Sussex Academic Press, 2010). Tony Bayfield is president of the Movement for Reform Judaism and a professor of Jewish theology and thought at Leo Baeck College in London. As a young congregational rabbi in Surrey, he first became interested in animal ethics through meetings with a young Andrew Linzey. Since then, he has published extensively in the fields of Jewish theology and the theology of dialogue between the three Abrahamic faiths. His doctorate – a substantive degree in divinity – was awarded in 2006 by Archbishop Rowan Williams, making him only the third Jew to receive a Lambeth degree since 1533. Rabbi Bayfield has three children, the youngest of whom, Rabbi Miriam Berger, has followed him into the family business. Sidney Blankenship holds an MA in theology from the University of Oxford. He is member of the Cherokee Tribe and is a Charter Member of the National Museum of the American Indian (Cherokee Tribe). In September, 2004, he participated in the inaugural procession on the Mall in Washington, D.C. with the Cherokee tribe at the Grand Opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. He has undertaken ongoing research on animals in the Bible and his The Animals of Deuteronomy 14 and Leviticus 11 is being readied for publication. This work has been undertaken concurrently with research for the first Concordance of Biblical Animals. He has been a vegetarian for thirty-five years and a vegan for the last fifteen, and he has spent thirty-five years living with bison, dogs, lions, bears, deer, and javelinas in west Texas. Alex Bruce is an associate professor at the Australian National University College of Law and a Buddhist monk ordained in the Tibetan tradition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He teaches and researches in the areas of competition law, consumer protection law, and animal law and is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Alex has published leading texts in all three areas of law, and his PhD thesis investigated the potential for competition and consumer policy to benefit animals who are farmed. His text Animal Law in Australia: An Integrated Approach (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2012) is one of Australia’s first animal law textbooks studied by students of animal law both in Australia and internationally. As a Buddhist monk, Alex has a particular interest in the relationship between the world’s religions and animals and has regularly appeared in the Australian print and television media commenting on this relationship. In addition to privately teaching meditation and Buddhist philosophy, Alex is currently working on a second PhD at the University of Oxford on the discipline of comparative theology. His thesis is exploring the way seekers integrate and progress through Christian and Buddhist spiritual paths. Samantha Jane Calvert, an independent historian, completed her PhD in 2013 through the University of Birmingham with a dissertation on the relationship between Christianity and vegetarianism from 1809 to 2009. Her publications include “A Taste of Eden: Modern Christianity and Vegetarianism” in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History (July 2007), and “‘Ours Is the Food That Eden Knew’: Themes in the Theology and Practice of Modern Christian Vegetarians” in Eating and Believing: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vegetarianism and Theology, edited by Rachel Muers and David Grumett (T&T Clark, 2008). She is also the author of several encyclopedia entries on vegetarian history. Samantha is an associate fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Christian Vegetarian Association


Notes on Editors and Contributors

UK (CVAUK). She recently completed a period as researcher in residence for the Vegan Society (UK), researching a history of the society’s first seventy years, and is currently head of communications for the Vegan Society. Deborah Cao is a professor at Griffith University, Australia. She is a linguist, legal scholar, and animal advocate. She has published in such areas as legal theory, legal semiotics, legal translation, animal law, and the philosophical and linguistic analysis of Chinese law and legal culture. She is a leading advocate for the legal protection of animals in China and the editor of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. Her books include Chinese Law: A Language Perspective (Ashgate, 2004); Translating Law (Multilingual Matters, 2007); Animals Are Not Things (China Law Press, 2007); Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand (Thomson Reuters, 2010); While the Dog Gently Weeps (China Jilin University Press, 2012); Animals in China: Law and Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); and Language and Law in the Chinese World (Lexington Books, forthcoming). Margarita Carretero-González is a senior lecturer in English literature in the English and German department of the University of Granada (Spain). She holds a PhD in English literature (cum laude with distinction), and her research focuses on the relationship between human culture and other-than-human nature as presented in literature and other artistic discourses. She regularly participates in national and international forums on ecocriticism and is the author of Fantasía, épica y utopia en The Lord of the Rings: Análisis temático y de la recepción (Granada: Servicio de publicaciones de la Universidad de Granada, 1997) and the coeditor of Beyond the Veil of Familiarity: C. S. Lewis (1898–1998) (Amsterdam: Peter Lang, 2001). Her most recent publication is “Another Cassandra’s Cry: Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘Universal Benevolence’ as Ecofeminist Praxis” in the journal Feminismo/s (2013). Max Elder is a researcher in the Food Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a 50-year-old think tank in Palo Alto, California. At IFTF, he works to make sense of emerging technologies, social behaviors, and scientific breakthroughs that will transform the global food system – building toward a more resilient, equitable, and delicious future of food. Max is also an associate fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, an international think-tank pioneering ethical perspectives on animals. He studied philosophy at both Kenyon College and the University of Oxford, and has published journal articles and book chapters on topics ranging from animal ethics to the future of food. Christopher Foster is an assistant professor of philosophy at Ashford University. He received his doctorate from the University of Kansas, with a dissertation defending Alfred Tarski’s analysis of the concept of logical consequence. In the field of logic, he has suggested new approaches to resolving paradoxes, including “Overview of a Tarskian Solution to the Iterated Prisoners Dilemma” (Logica, 2013). In the field of animal ethics, he is working on a meta-ethical approach that attempts to explain that a moral obligation to respect the experiences of animals can be rooted in the concept of rationality. He lives in Utah with his wife, two daughters, and three cats. Carl Tobias Frayne has a master of arts in divinity from the University of Chicago, where he pursued his interests in ancient ethical thought as well as non-Western philosophical traditions. He spent a year at St Peter’s College, University of Oxford, reading philosophy and theology and graduated first in philosophy with First Class Honours from the University of Melbourne. His recent academic work includes an article developing Schweitzer’s concept of reverence for life forthcoming in Animal Theologians. He also wrote an essay on the Christian view of animals and


Notes on Editors and Contributors

vegetarianism for Aedificamus, the journal of Queen’s College, Melbourne. Besides his academic life, Carl is somewhat of an aesthete: passionate about all art forms, he is an amateur photographer, poet, painter, and musician. He is currently working on his first novel, a work of dystopian fiction exploring Nietzsche’s project of a transvaluation of all values in which the relations between humans and other animals will not be neglected. Lucy Gardner is a tutor in Christian doctrine at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford, and an associate member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include revelation in Schleiermacher, gender and Mary in Balthasar, relationships between feminist and Catholic theologies, sacrifice, atonement and eucharist, and Derrida and theology. Her publications include “Difference: The Immaculate Concept?” with David Moss in Modern Theology (July 1998); “Balthasar and the Image of Mary” in Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar (Cambridge University Press, 2004); “Listening at the Threshold: Christology and the ‘Suspension of the Material’” in Radical Orthodoxy? A Catholic Inquiry (Ashgate, 2000); “Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza: A Christian Feminist Responds to Betrayals of the Tradition” in Tradition and Modernity: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (Georgetown University Press, 2013); and “Unity and Disunity in the Life of the Community: Perspectives on Christian Desires for Communion and Experiences of Division” in The Community of Believers: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (Georgetown University Press, 2015). Kai Horsthemke was educated in both Germany and South Africa, and he was awarded his PhD in applied ethics from the Department of Philosophy, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. After working as a professional musician for several decades, he joined the Wits School of Education in a full-time capacity in 2002, where he was an associate professor. He is currently chair of philosophy and systematic pedagogics at Catholic University of EichstättIngolstadt, Germany. He has published extensively since 2004, including The Moral Status and Rights of Animals (Porcupine Press, 2010) and Animals and African Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Other animal-related publications include “Rethinking Humane Education” in Ethics and Education (2009) and “Animal Sacrifice” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection (University of Illinois Press, 2013). Samantha Hurn is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Exeter, where she is also program director of the MA course in anthrozoology and codirector of the Exeter Anthrozoology and Symbiotic Ethics (EASE) Working Group. Dr. Hurn is a social anthropologist who has conducted fieldwork exploring a diverse range of human–animal interactions in the United Kingdom, Spain, and southern Africa. She is the author of Humans and Other Animals: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Human–Animal Interactions (Pluto Press, 2012) and the editor of Anthropology and Cryptozoology: Exploring Encounters with Mysterious Creatures (Routledge, 2016). Jagbir Jhutti-Johal is a senior lecturer in Sikh studies at the University of Birmingham. Her research encompasses a range of related topics in Sikh studies, such as gender and Sikhism, science and Sikhism, and contemporary Sikhism. Her publications include Sikhism Today (Continuum, 2011); “How Parties to Sikh Marriages Use and Are Influenced by the Norms of Their Religion and Culture When Engaging with Mediation” in Managing Family Justice in Diverse Societies (Hart, 2013); “Sikhism and Mental Illness: Negotiating Competing Cultures” in Modern Science and the Construction of Religious Meaning (Brill, 2012); and “The Role of Women in Their Religious Institutions: A Contemporary Account” in Sikhism and Women: History, Texts and Experience (Oxford University Press, 2010).


Notes on Editors and Contributors

Lisa Johnson is an associate professor at the University of Puget Sound, where she teaches environmental law and animal law. She is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Professor Johnson is the author of “The Religion of Ethical Veganism” in the Journal of Animal Ethics (2015); Power, Knowledge, Animals (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); and is the coauthor of Environmental Law (Cengage, 2016) and The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business (FWK, 2014). She works in the area of animal law and for the abolition of the property status of animals. Andrew Linzey (editor) is the director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics; an honorary research fellow at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford; and a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. He is a visiting professor of animal theology at the University of Winchester and a professor of animal ethics at the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Animal Theology (SCM Press/University of Illinois Press, 1994); Why Animal Suffering Matters (Oxford University Press, 2009); and The Global Guide to Animal Protection (University of Illinois Press, 2013). In 2001 he was awarded a doctor of divinity (DD) degree by the archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his “unique and massive pioneering work at a scholarly level in the area of the theology of creation with particular reference to the rights and welfare of God’s sentient creatures.” This is the highest award that the archbishop can bestow on a theologian and the first time it has been awarded for theological work on animals. Clair Linzey (editor) is the deputy director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She holds an MA in theological studies from the University of St Andrews and an MTS from Harvard Divinity School. She is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of St Andrews on the ecological theology of Leonardo Boff, with special consideration of the place of animals. She is the associate editor of the Journal of Animal Ethics and the associate editor of the Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series. She is also director of the annual Oxford Animal Ethics Summer School. Adrian Anthony McFarlane is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv) and Drew University (MPhil, PhD). He did his doctoral dissertation on the interconnections between Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological analyses of experience and meaning and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ordinary-language analyses of language use and context. Professor McFarlane later revised and published his dissertation under the title A Grammar of Fear and Evil: A Husserlian-Wittgensteinian Hermeneutic (Peter Lang, 1996). In addition to numerous articles and invited papers, Professor McFarlane coedited (with S. Murrell and D. Spencer) a best-selling university textbook on the Rastafarian movement: Chanting Down Babylon – The Rastafarian Reader (Temple University Press, 1997). Arising from this publication, he has spoken at over seventeen university campuses and academic conferences dealing with African retentions in Caribbean religions. Professor McFarlane was a visiting fellow at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, in 1999. He has been the vice president of the International University of the Caribbean (Montego Bay, Jamaica) since 2006. Ryan Patrick McLaughlin received his PhD from Duquesne University. He is currently lecturer in religious and theological studies at Merrimack College. His central research interest is nonhuman theological ethics. He has published two books: Christian Theology and the Status of Animals: The Dominant Tradition and Its Alternatives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and Preservation and Protest: Theological Foundations for an Eco-Eschatological Ethics (Fortress Press, 2014). In addition to these works, McLaughlin has published several articles in journals such as Modern Theology, the


Notes on Editors and Contributors

Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, and the Journal of Animal Ethics. His additional research interests include Christian social ethics, bioethics, and interreligious dialogue. Neil Messer is a professor of theology and the head of the Department of Theology, Religion and Philosophy at the University of Winchester. Before his move to Winchester, his career included research in molecular biology, service in pastoral ministry for the United Reformed Church, and the teaching of theology and ethics at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham, and at the University of Wales in Lampeter. He is the author of many academic publications concerned with theological and ethical issues raised by the biosciences and health care, including Selfish Genes and Christian Ethics: Theological and Ethical Reflections on Evolutionary Biology (SCM Press, 2007); Respecting Life: Theology and Bioethics (SCM Press, 2011); and Flourishing: Health, Disease and Bioethics in Theological Perspective (Eerdmans, 2013). Kelsi Nagy is a doctoral candidate in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. She is an editor of the collection Trash Animals: How We Live with Nature’s Filthy, Feral, Invasive, and Unwanted Species (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). She is also an associate fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Her research for her doctoral thesis focuses on the welfare of street cattle in India, which is an extension of her previous research on cattle welfare in various cultural contexts in different parts of the world. Some of this research on cattle welfare in Spain, India, Argentina, the United States, and England can be read on the blog, which received a 2012 Culture and Animals Foundation grant. Her current writing interests combine critical animal studies with cultural geography. Kay Peggs is a professor of sociology at Kingston University, London, and a former reader in sociology at the University of Portsmouth. She is also a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Her publications include Animals and Sociology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and a series of journal articles in Sociology, the Sociological Review, the Journal of Animal Ethics, Sociological Research Online, Society and Animals, and Humanimalia. She is a section editor of The Handbook of Practical Animal Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and is coauthor with Barry Smart of “Suffering Existence: Nonhuman Animals and the Question of Ethics” in the same volume. She is coeditor of both Observation Methods (Sage, 2013) and Critical Social Research Ethics (Sage, forthcoming), both with Barry Smart and Joseph Burridge. Simon Pulleyn studied classics at Balliol College, University of Oxford in the 1980s and completed his doctorate on prayer in ancient Greek religion at Merton College, University of Oxford, where he taught until 1999. He then qualified as a solicitor and practiced in the City for some years. He recently received an LLM in canon law at the University of Cardiff and has a particular interest in the medieval period. He has published two books with Oxford University Press: his thesis on Greek prayer and a commentary on Book I of Homer’s Iliad. He has written a number of articles and reviews in the classical field. He has also written on the law, often with an emphasis on using historical insights to understand the shape and meaning of contemporary legal rules. Kurt Remele is an associate professor of ethics and social thought in the Department of Catholic Theology at Karl-Franzens-University in Graz, Austria, where he has taught since 1992. He was a lecturer at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany (1984–90), a Fulbright scholar at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (2003), and a visiting professor in the


Notes on Editors and Contributors

Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota (2007) and in the Department of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA (2011–12). He is particularly interested in the contribution of various religions to animal protection (see his chapter in the book Tierrechte: Eine interdisziplinäre Herausforderung [Harald Fischer, 2007]), in particular the ambivalent tradition of the Roman Catholic Church (see his chapter in the book Tier – Mensch – Ethik [LIT, 2011]). He taught courses on animal ethics and animal theology both in Austria and in the United States and has voiced his concern for animals in numerous lectures and newspaper articles, on the radio, and on TV. He is a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. His latest book is Die Würde des Tieres ist unantastbar: Eine neue christliche Tierethik (Butzon and Bercker, 2016). Neal Robinson studied Arabic and Islam in Tunis, Fez, and Paris. He became a senior lecturer at the University of Leeds and then, consecutively, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Wales Lampeter, a professorial research fellow at the University of Louvain Belgium, a professor of religious studies at Sogang University Seoul, and a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the Australian National University. He is an acknowledged expert on the Qur’an, to which he has devoted two books, Christ in Islam and Christianity (SUNY Press, 1990) and Discovering the Qur’an (Georgetown University Press, 1996), as well as numerous journal articles, book chapters, and contributions to encyclopedias. He has also written a textbook, Islam: A Concise Introduction (Georgetown University Press, 1999), and selected and translated The Sayings of Muhammad (Duckworth, 1991). He has traveled extensively in the Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia and has firsthand experience of Muslim minorities in Europe, Australia, and China. Recently, he has focused on Islam in the former Soviet Union, especially in Kazakhstan and Russia, where he has held visiting professorships. Deborah W. Rooke is a research fellow in the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture and an associate lecturer in Old Testament hermeneutics at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford. She is also a visiting lecturer on the Old Testament at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford. She holds degrees from the Universities of Cambridge (classics) and Oxford (theology; Old Testament), and prior to her current employment, she was a lecturer in Old Testament studies at King’s College London, where among other things she taught a course on the environment and the Old Testament. Her other areas of research interest are cult and ritual in the Old Testament, feminist and gendered readings of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, and the use of the Old Testament in Handel’s oratorios. Philip Sampson received a degree in mathematical physics and retains an active interest in this area. He subsequently gained a PhD in discourse and institutional change, working in both applied and academic settings. He practiced as a family psychotherapist and was a research fellow in social sciences at the University of Southampton. He is currently an independent scholar. He gave a keynote address on postmodernity at the 1993 Lausanne Conference and coedited the proceedings. His Six Modern Myths was published in 2000 (IVP). His articles, reviews, and journalism have appeared in a variety of publications, including Faith and Thought, Third Way, Kunstforum International, and Intersections in Christianity and Critical Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). Edward C. Sellner is a professor of pastoral theology and spirituality at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he has taught graduate and undergraduate students for over thirty years and has administered pastoral ministry, spiritual direction, and master’s degree programs. He was also instrumental in founding the Wisdom Ways Spirituality Resource Center in St. Paul and was national chairperson of the National Association for Lay Ministry from 1986 to 1988.


Notes on Editors and Contributors

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and a former chemical dependency counselor, he did his postdoctoral work at the St. Theosevia Centre of Christian Spirituality in Oxford, England, in the fall of 1988, when he also taught at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland. His publications include Christian Ministry and the Fifth Step (Hazelden Foundation, 1981); Mentoring: The Ministry of Spiritual Kinship (Cowley, 2002); The Celtic Soul Friend (Ave Maria Press, 2002); Pilgrimage: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice (Soren Books, 2004); Stories of the Celtic Soul Friends: Their Meaning for Today (Paulist, 2004); Wisdom of the Celtic Saints (Bog Walk Press, 2006); Finding the Monk Within: Great Monastic Values for Today (HiddenSpring, 2008), and The Double: Male Eros, Friendships, and Mentoring – from Gilgamesh to Kerouac (Lethe Press, 2013). Joseph A. Tuminello III is a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Texas. He received his master of arts in philosophy at Colorado State University, writing his thesis on the ethics of invasive species management. Joey’s interests lie at the intersection of animal ethics and environmental philosophy and also include aesthetics, Asian philosophy, and the philosophy of food. His dissertation project is an examination of the relationship between the ontological categories of “food” and “drug,” using a hermeneutic approach to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various interpretive lenses regarding this relationship. Joey has published two encyclopedia articles, “Eating Invasive Species” and “Animal and Environmental Pragmatism” in the Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, edited by Paul Thompson and David M. Kaplan (Springer, 2014). He also works as a program coordinator for the nonprofit animal advocacy group Farm Forward, where he has worked on numerous projects and education initiatives. Kenneth Valpey is a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies at the University of Oxford, and has also been a regular visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, with a professorship in Indian religions. In addition to his book Attending Kṛṣṇa’s Image: Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Murti-sevā as Devotional Truth (Routledge, 2005; Recensia, 2013), he has published articles on Hindu and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava thought and practice in the Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies, the Journal of Hindu Studies, and the Beide Journal of Philosophy (University of Peking). His chapter “Iconology and Worship” was published in the Continuum Companion to Hinduism in 2011, and in collaboration with Ravi M. Gupta, he produced the edited volume The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (Columbia University Press, 2013). As a practitioner of bhakti yoga in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition since 1972, he studies and teaches Indian classical philosophy, including the Yoga Darśana. Kallistos (Timothy) Ware taught Orthodox theology at Oxford University from 1966 to 2001, and is an emeritus fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1982 he was consecrated titular bishop of Diokleia (in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople), and he serves as an assistant bishop in the Greek Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. In 2007 he was elevated to the rank of metropolitan. He is Orthodox cochairman of the International Commission for Dialogue between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches. His publications include The Orthodox Church (Penguin Books, 1993); The Orthodox Way (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1979); and The Inner Kingdom (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1979). Rachel J. Wechsler is acting assistant professor of lawyering at New York University and is a doctoral student in criminology at the University of Oxford. Prior to coming to Oxford, she practiced law in New York for several years. She also holds a master’s degree in evidence-based


Notes on Editors and Contributors

social work from the University of Oxford. Rachel takes an interdisciplinary approach to her research interests, which focus on the exploitation of vulnerable populations. She is conducting her doctoral research on human trafficking and the criminal justice process. Tim Winter gained his first degree in Arabic from Cambridge University in 1983, after which he studied for six years in traditional Islamic institutions in the Middle East, before returning to take up his present post in Cambridge as Shaykh Zayed lecturer in Islamic Studies and dean of the Cambridge Muslim College. He is also director of studies at Wolfson College, Cambridge. His publications include translations of ethical and mystical texts by al-Ghazali (d.1111), a series of articles on Islamic theology and Muslim–Christian relations, and two theological books in Turkish. In 2006, he published Abraham’s Children (T&T Clark, 2006), coedited with Bishop Richard Harries and Rabbi Norman Solomon. He is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2008).


INTRODUCTION Toward a New(er) Religious Ethic for Animals Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey

I In 1975, Peter Singer published his well-known book Animal Liberation. The original subtitle of the book – A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals – is, however, often overlooked.1 A “new” ethic by definition means something original, unparalleled elsewhere. Although Singer seldom makes the point explicit, his thesis necessarily implies a negative judgment on previous moral philosophy. Such is the peril, of course, of using the arguably most enticing word in the English language – namely, “new.” Since then we have witnessed “new politics,” “new theology,” “new philosophy,” “new social movements,” “new physics,” “new ethics,” “new literature,” and “new age” thinking, to name but a few. Singer is dismissive of the Jewish and Christian traditions in particular: “Concern for animal suffering can be found in Hindu thought, and the Buddhist idea of compassion is a universal one, extending to animals as well as humans, but our Western traditions are very different. Our intellectual roots lie in Ancient Greece and in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Neither is kind to those not of our own species.”2 Further, Singer writes, “it is beyond dispute that mainstream Christianity, for its first 1,800 years, put non-human animals outside its sphere of concern.”3 These broad brushstrokes hardly do justice to the complexity of the religions concerned (or Ancient Greece, for that matter4) or indeed to the analytical abilities of Singer himself. The irony is that although Singer castigates the Christian tradition in particular, older forms of religious thought come close to articulating much of what Singer and other animal advocates argue for. We are not supposing for a moment that all religious traditions have a good record on the protection of animals. On the contrary, some religious lines of thought have clearly been detrimental to the enlightened treatment of animals: what we might call being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Without overlooking the negative aspects (which also are explored in the handbook), it is important to recognize the major pro-animal ideas that emerge from a study of religious traditions worldwide. We highlight here seven of these fundamental ideas variously expressed in most of these traditions. We cannot claim that these are “new” insights, but perhaps we can claim to offer a clearer, “newer” articulation of these ideas and their relevance to the moral status of animals.


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II The first idea may be described as the good beyond the human Despite the moral anthropocentrism that has influenced many religious traditions, it is important to grasp that religious insight is, by its very nature, an appreciation of the other-than-human. That insight may focus on God or the transcendent or ultimate reality, but however we characterize that being or Being, it is beyond the confines of the human. This rather elementary point has considerable moral significance. In any religious system that is truly religious, humans cannot claim to be the only beings of worth in the cosmos or the source of all meaning. The Pythagorean maxim that “man is the measure of all things” cannot be a religious starting point. God or the transcendent, not human beings, is the Creator or origin of all things. When this is grasped, it will be seen immediately that the widespread view (admittedly encouraged by some theistic traditions) that animals are “made for us” cannot be a truly theological perspective – that is, a viewpoint that begins with God’s own perspective. Creatures have a primary value to their Creator; in theistic terms, animals are made not for us but for the glory of God. No theological account that views animals solely on the basis of their use or value to human beings can be regarded as satisfactory. Christianity, which is arguably the most anthropocentric of all world religions, has begun to distance itself from many previous theo-humanistic positions. The archbishop of Canterbury’s 1975 commission on the environment declared that “while it cannot be denied that man is very much at the centre of biblical teaching on creation, this teaching does not hold that nature has been created simply for man’s sake.” And quite specifically, it reverses what some have regarded as the essence of the instrumentalist tradition within Christianity: “To imagine that God has created the whole universe solely for man’s use and pleasure is a mark of folly.”5 It follows from this that much of human thinking and behavior comes close to idolatry. By “idolatry,” we mean the attempt to deify the human species by regarding the interests of human beings as the sole or exclusive concern of God the Creator. Perhaps the most important contribution that religion can make to debates about how we should treat animals is simply to insist that humans are not God. It is not our world; we do not own animals. That last line is of immense importance. The Aristotelian view of animals as essentially belonging to us and made for us,6 which has given birth to the legal classification of animals as human possessions, bedevils their true status. From a Muslim perspective, Tim Winter (“‘Nations like Yourselves’: Some Muslim Debates over Qur’an 6:38”) reinforces this point by arguing that Islam has avoided the worst of the instrumentalist traditions by accepting that animals have rights over and against the human: “The language of animal rights, a term still contested by some in our day, is naturally at home in the Islamic scriptural, legal, and prophetic universe,” he claims. Because “animals are in a real sense ‘like ourselves,’” according to the Qur’an, “they are to be resurrected and shown justice by an all-loving God. These rights are intrinsic, not instrumental: whether or not an animal is someone’s possession is disregarded.”7

The second insight concerns our relatedness to fellow beings Given that we originate in what is beyond ourselves, it follows that that common source similarly endows all other beings with their own lives, purpose, meaning, and destiny. Often we cannot comprehend their meaning or what precise purpose other beings may have in the universe we did not make. But what we have to say is that they belong in the first place to their originating 2


power (as we do) and have their own telos (as we do). Moreover, as we are related to our source of existence, so we are related to all other beings. The proper religious response should, therefore, be one of awe, astonishment, and amazement at the existence of other beings around us. D. H. Lawrence once spoke of the sixth sense of wonder. We are not alone in the universe; there are other worlds to be explored and appreciated. For secularists, other beings may be classed simply as background or theater, even simply as things, tools, or commodities, but religious people are on shaky ground if they try to argue in this way. It is wonderment that should correspondingly impel responses of gratitude, humility, and celebration. As one of us has written elsewhere, “the central point is that celebration involves the recognition of worth, of value, outside of ourselves. Human beings are not the sum total of all value; outside of ourselves there is something – and someone – to discover.”8 At first sight, this might appear to be a notion that relates peculiarly to theistic traditions, but in fact the Buddhist doctrine of interdependency (in Sanskrit, pratītyasamutpāda) is foundational in all Buddhist traditions. At its most basic, it is a theory about how things come into and go out of existence – a causal theory – but to see it as nothing more than this is a mistake, for it has wide-ranging ethical and salvific ramifications. In practical terms it means that there is no essential difference between humans and nonhumans because all are marked by the characteristic of being dependently originated. It is this fact that explains why humans might be nonhumans in another life and vice versa.9 In traditional Chinese philosophy, Deborah Cao (“Confucianism and Daoism: Animals in Traditional Chinese Thought”) reminds us, “animals were not segregated and excluded from the moral cosmos as in Western classical philosophy.” Indeed, “in traditional Chinese philosophical ideas or practical philosophy, such as Confucianism and Daoism, animals were given consideration as part of the moral and ethical pursuit in search of the betterment of life and society,” in contrast to mainstream Western philosophy. “More generally, in early China, animals were considered creatures who functioned as signifying exponents of a larger cosmic pattern rather than creatures conceived as a purely biological species.”10 Cao further explains that “one of the most important and enduring ideas in traditional Chinese philosophy is the notion of tian ren he yi (heaven and humans as one, or humans and nature as one),” and because of this, “human and animal worlds lie in a continuum, with no firm or essential divisions between the two.”11 The rejection of a clear division between humans and animals is also exemplified in Hindu mythology. Michael Barnes (“Invoking Another World: An Interreligious Reflection on Hindu Mythology”) argues that “theriomorphic figures – from Hanuman to Ganeśa and Narasimha – remind us that human and nonhuman creatures are all part of one great continuum.” And the rationale is telling: “there is something of the nonhuman in each of us because, in the Hindu account of things, human animals were once nonhuman – and vice versa.”12 Even in heavily anthropocentric African religions, there is not only an ubuntu (fellowship) among humans but also the notion of ukama, the idea that animals are also part of the community and relationality that bind humans together. As Kai Horsthemke (“African Religions: Anthropocentrism and Animal Protection”) points out, ukama emphasizes “mutual dependence and a sense of unity” but also (at its best) “the moral imperative of respect.”13 That imperative of respect and fraternity with other creatures has not been entirely lost in Christianity. It is perhaps best illustrated in the lives of the saints, St. Francis of Assisi in particular. St. Francis championed our kinship with all creatures and regarded them as our “brothers and sisters” (see Andrea Barone, “Franciscan Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation: A Creation without Creatures”). St. Bonaventure (Francis’s biographer) famously said that “when he [St. Francis] considered the primordial source of all things, he was filled with even more abundant piety, 3

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calling creatures, no matter how small, by the name of brother and sister because he knew that they had the same source as himself.”14 Many passages of hagiography illustrate St. Francis’s practical care for animals, including his acts of befriending a wolf, saving worms from being crushed underfoot, and even buying back a lamb destined for slaughter. In other words, the source of all being and beings sets us in a relationship to other beings. The important link here is between the notion of kinship and practical acts of kindness.

The third insight is the experience of reverence for life Albert Schweitzer famously described how, when traveling down the Ogowe River to his hospital in Lambarene, the idea of reverence first came to him: “Struggling to find the elementary and universal concept of the ethics . . . there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase ‘reverence for life.’ The iron door had yielded. The path in the thicket became visible.”15 In fact, as his biographer Ara Paul Barsam indicates, Schweitzer encountered the doctrine of ahimsa much earlier during his explorations into Indian religion.16 Schweitzer gave pride of place (surely justly) to the Jain articulation of “the commandment not to kill and not to injure as one of the greatest events in the spiritual history of mankind.”17 Perhaps we might best say that what Schweitzer notionally encountered years back came to him as personal revelation years later. And “revelation” is not too strong a word. The concept was for him the crowning experience of his life and thought and also his guiding virtue, as it was also for the Jains. As Barsam explains, “for Jains, ahimsa is not simply the first among virtues but constitutes the supreme moral virtue (ahimsa paramo dharma).”18 It is to ahimsa in its Jain and Buddhist manifestations that we principally owe the long tradition of ethical vegetarianism in India. The early Jains and Buddhists who were contemporaries with each other put pressure on Hindus to adopt more animal-friendly approaches to the idea of sacrifice (though some animal sacrifice still continues within Hinduism). For example, in the Kūṭadanta sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya (Pali source), the Buddha intervenes to prevent a Hindu animal sacrifice and instead proposes “bloodless” sacrifices.19 The founder and first Guru of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib, was adamant in his commitment to vegetarianism, maintaining that “whosoever eats flesh, fish, etc. and takes wine and hemp, all his religious acts will go to waste” (Guru Granth Sahib 1376).20 As Jagbir Jhutti-Johal explains in “Sikh Dharam: Ethics and Behavior toward Animals,” although Sikh practice is variable, all baptized Sikhs are required to be vegetarian. But it is not only in Indic traditions that vegetarianism has historical provenance. As Cao points out, unlike Confucianism, Daoism “advocates vegetarianism and promotes divine vegetarianism for deities, ritual vegetarianism for priests and community leaders, and complete vegetarianism for others.” And even though this is in reality a minority practice, Daoism “emphasizes the importance of freedom and wildness for animal flourishing, recognizing animals and other dimensions of nature as potential teachers of human beings,” and not least of all, “people are urged to imagine a world free of cages, corrals, hooks, lures, nets, pens, snares, and traps.”21 The vision then of a more peaceful world – what Plato himself described as “the Golden Age”22 in which animal life is respected – has deep religious origins, and not only in Indic and Chinese metaphysics. Jewish and Christian commentators often focus on how humans are given “dominion” in the Hebrew Bible (Gen. 1:28–29), supposing that this means animals are entirely at the disposal of humans, who can use them as they wish. But as Tony Bayfield (“Judaism: The Human Animal and All Other Animals – Dominion or Duty?”) notes, “dominion” is most properly defined as responsibility. Those created in God’s image have a responsibility to care for other creatures. Bayfield cites Louis Jacobs’s authoritative statement that human beings “have an 4


absolute obligation to exercise our power in relationship to fish, birds, and animals in a way that both is consonant with responsible stewardship and testifies to the glory of creation.”23 We can, however, go further. When the first creation saga (Gen. 1–2) is examined as a whole, it becomes clear that the dominion supposed is actually a vegetarian – or more properly, vegan – dominion since in Genesis 1:29–30 humans and also animals are prescribed a vegan diet. The idea then that dominion means the right to kill is belied by the text itself. The climax of the first creation saga takes place when all creatures rest and enjoy Sabbath harmony. It is that creation, and only that creation, that God describes as “very good” (Gen. 2:2–4). It is a picture of mutual harmony and peaceableness.24 Of course, such a state of peaceableness does not persist. After the Fall and the Flood (symbolizing humanity’s descent into wickedness), God gives humans permission to eat meat and also to kill for sacrifice (Gen. 9:3f.). So there we have the biblical paradox about killing. Killing does not represent God’s original will, yet it is permissible. In her contribution to this book, Deborah W. Rooke (“‘You Shall Not Eat Any Abominable Thing’ [Deut. 14:3] – An Examination of the Old Testament Food Laws with Animal Ethics in Mind”) sums up the situation as follows: It is true that the biblical laws not only permit animal slaughter and consumption but also link it to divine worship, so that the God of Israel requires animal sacrifice. This does not appear very animal-friendly. On closer examination, however, there are strict limitations on which animals are permitted for consumption and sacrifice and on human interaction with all types of animal life. Though these stipulations may not be ideal from a modern animal-ethics perspective, they can be read as embodying a sense of respect for animal life that opposes indiscriminate exploitation and destruction of such life and that warns against taking even permitted animal consumption lightly.25 But the ideal of biblical vegetarianism has not been lost in Judaism or Christianity. The Jewish vegetarian movement,26 particularly seen in reformed and liberal Jewish circles, remains a small but significant minority, spurred on by the view of Isaac Kook that the true purpose of the Torah was to limit killing and lead to vegetarianism.27 And even within Christianity, there is a subtradition espousing vegetarianism that has had considerable historical influence. As Samantha Jane Calvert (“Eden’s Diet: Christianity and Vegetarianism”) demonstrates, the modern vegetarian movement was effectively heralded by the Bible Christian Church founded in 1809. The church made vegetarianism (in conformity with Gen. 1:29–30) compulsory among its members. Thus, Calvert writes, “vegetarianism is one of the many areas in which sectarian Protestants have made a contribution to British and American life that is out of proportion to their numbers.” She continues, “It is something of a paradox that although the modern vegetarian movement has little connection with Christianity today, the Vegetarian Society in Britain was founded by a group of Christians whose founding minister was a former Anglican clergyman, the somewhat appropriately named Reverend William Cowherd.”28

The fourth insight found in religious traditions concerns the intrinsic value of each sentient individual being Philosophers such as Tom Regan have argued that individual animals who are the “subject-ofa-life” should be accorded intrinsic or inherent value.29 Regan’s work in particular has been celebrated by many academics and has been influential among many animal advocates. But in fact, the idea that individual animals have value in themselves, as distinct from human needs or wants, is not new to ancient religious traditions. Indeed, the notion that animals have an individual soul 5

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predominates in Eastern religions (Jainism and Hinduism) especially. Animal souls are caught up, as we are, in the cycle of samsara, or the transmigration of souls, in which souls move through one species to another. Such movement would be impossible unless each individual being had an “inner” being beyond sheer physicality. Each animal, one might say, has a subjective self, resulting not just in a biography but in an ancestry. At the very beginning of Indian philosophy, one finds a celebration of the individual soul. Consider, for example, these lines from the Chāndoyga Upaniṣad: Whatever they are in this world, whether tiger or lion or wolf or boar or worm or gnat or mosquito, they become That (Existent). What that subtle essence is, a state-of-having-that-as-its-nature is this universe; that is the Real, that is the Soul (ātman), THAT ART THOU.30 Here we find not only the identification of individual beings of all sorts with an individual soul (or the soul) but also an identification of the individual ātman with nothing less than the world soul, the essence of the universe. Paradoxically, it is also true that Buddhist traditions deny the coherence of the concept of “intrinsic” and yet still are able to preserve the sense of compassion toward nonhuman animals, which is in fact generated by the very fact that there is no essential characteristic. This is the very thing that allows for change and thence for the spiritual progression of all beings toward enlightenment.31 Of course, the Buddhist tradition itself found the reconciliation of these ideas somewhat problematic, which led in Chinese Buddhism to the emergence of the concept of “Buddha Nature,” which is the idea of potentiality of Buddhahood in all creatures.32 Some may think that the comparison between religious conceptions of the soul and the modern philosophical emphasis on the intrinsic worth of animals is far-fetched. But as A. W. H. Bates (“A Spark Divine? Animal Souls and Animal Welfare in Nineteenth-Century Britain”) shows, the concept of the soul was sometimes at the center of debates about obligations to animals in the early humanitarian movement. And demythologized, that debate was about the worth of animals in themselves, separate from human wants or needs. They mattered in themselves as shown by their own unique cognitive capacities. The eternal status of animals as loved creatures of God impelled a connection between how we treated them and their hope for a better life. Mind you, the argument could work both ways, as some humanitarians noticed. It also followed that if animals were not to be recompensed with a life after this one, then their suffering in this world should be of even greater moral significance. Bates cites the view of humanitarian James Lawson Drummond, who saw the connection only too clearly. Surely more to be pitied was the animal who “has no heaven to look to, no bright anticipation of a period when misery shall cease . . . Its life is its little all.”33 Notwithstanding Drummond, the debate about the interior worth of animals has continued until the present day. Although Roman Catholicism, following St. Thomas Aquinas, has maintained a largely instrumentalist view of animals (see Kurt Remele, “Roman Catholicism: A Strange Kind of Kindness – On Catholicism’s Moral Ambiguity toward Animals”), a recent statement by Pope Francis maintains that “every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures.”34 Such language suggests a breakthrough in terms of reenvisioning how the moral claims of animals may be subsequently judged by the Roman Catholic Church.35 It follows that if animals have worth in themselves, separate from human utilitarian calculations, animals have their own interests that should be properly taken into account in moral thinking. It is difficult to believe that the church can maintain the recently reaffirmed view of animals as intrinsically valuable in the 6


long run without seeing its inconsistency with treating sentients as machines, tools, commodities, or resources here for us.

The fifth insight concerns sensitivity to animal suffering It is rather odd that Singer should think the view that the suffering of individual animals should be taken into account is somehow a discovery pioneered by utilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and J. S. Mill. In fact, compassion for animals has variously been regarded as a religious virtue. Consider, for example, Father Zossima’s advice in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov: Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand . . . Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery in things . . . Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and untroubled joy. Do not, therefore, trouble [them], do not torture them, do not deprive them of their joy, do not go against God’s intent.36 Dostoevsky here picks up on one traditional feature of Christian Orthodoxy, what Vladimir Lossky calls its cosmic vision inclusive of animals.37 This may be an overly generous view of Orthodoxy, but it is certainly true that many Orthodox saints exhibited kindness and befriended animals. Kallistos Ware (“Orthodox Christianity: Compassion for Animals”) explains how there are also prayers for animals within Orthodox liturgies, notably Vespers and the Evchologion in Greek, or Trebnik in Slavonic, otherwise known as the Book of Needs.38 Dostoevsky’s passage also includes a rebuke to human hubris: “Man, do not exalt yourself above the animals: they are without sin, while you with your majesty define the earth.”39 The recognition that animals cannot sin – and are therefore morally innocent – makes their experience of suffering especially significant theologically and Christologically. It is written of the mystic Margery Kempe that “when she saw a crucifix, or if she saw a man with a wound, or a beast, or if a man beat a child before her, or smote a horse or another beast with a whip, she thought she saw our Lord beaten and wounded.”40 This is a view taken up by John Henry Newman, who specifically compared the suffering of innocent animals with the innocent suffering of Christ himself.41 The Qur’an emphasizes how God’s providential care extends to animals as well as humans and how animals “glorify God and have their own form of prayer” (see Neal Robinson’s chapter, “Islam: Ants, Birds, and Other Affable Creatures in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sufi Literature”).42 Similarly, humans are to care for animals. Shiite sources describe how a camel came to the Prophet Muhammad to complain about his treatment, and the Prophet admonished the animal’s keeper to spare the camel’s life after years of faithful service.43 Not least of all, the Prophet specifically commended kindness to animals, explaining that such actions “will be rewarded.”44 In Indic traditions, such sensitivity has karmic warrant. In his chapter “Buddhist Rebirth, Reincarnation, and Animal Welfare,” Alex Bruce is clear that “deliberately killing or harming an animal is likely to generate negative karma that will later ripen in the form of suffering, including rebirth in the lower realms of existence.”45 Kenneth Valpey (“Hinduism: Animating Samadhi – Rethinking Animal–Human Relationships through Yoga”) argues that important features of Sāṅkhya-Yoga can provide a valuable “map and mode of conceiving human well-being” that also involves increased sensitivity to animals. He cites the well-known story of the yogi Bharata, who takes birth as a deer during his human life as a yogi. Although this story is usually interpreted as a cautionary tale against squandering the possibilities offered in human birth, Valpey offers another interpretation. It is 7

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that “Bharata’s story represents a progression of consciousness that becomes complete only when one has gained empathic experience of animal existence through yoga.”46 Thus, yoga is seen as a spiritual discipline that extends human sensitivity to other creaturely lives.

The sixth insight concerns selfless living John Hick, the famous exponent of global theology, characterized all religious conversion as “the transformation of human existence from self-centeredness to Reality-centeredness.”47 As religion connects us with what is beyond us, so it variously encourages us to live for those other than ourselves. A Buddhist Jātaka tale from the Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra famously illustrates this. A prince called Mahasattva encounters a tigress with cubs, and the family is obviously starving and close to death. Overcome with compassion, he lays his body in front of the tigress so they may eat him, receive nourishment, and live. He prays, To benefit transmigrating beings, may I attain the peace of peerless enlightenment; my mind compassionate and steadfast, I give this body which others find hard to give up; may I achieve the flawless, priceless enlightenment that bodhisattvas so keenly seek. I shall free beings in the triple worlds from the intense fear of the ocean of existence.48 Such is the noble ideal of the bodhisattva – or “bodhi-sattva,” “enlightenment-being” – the one who delays his or her own final liberation for the sake of all other sentient creatures. The Mahayana tradition, which emerged around 200 CE primarily, created Sanskrit sources and with them the religious ideal figure of the bodhisattva. The act of supreme sacrifice, which the tale illustrates, is of course quite an obstacle for traditional anthropocentric ethics, which as a matter of course always puts human needs above those of every other creature. Buddhist thought gave rise to a remarkable historical figure as well – namely, Emperor Aśoka (literally meaning one who is without sorrow). His is also an incredible story of moral conversion. Formerly a bloody tyrant and warmonger, he converted to Buddhism, and his court was prohibited from royal hunting. He also established medical facilities for injured animals. His legislation on aspects of animal protection was perhaps the most ambitious and far-reaching in history.49 As noted previously, the idea that humans should live generously, even sacrificially, for animals and the earth has resonance even outside Indic traditions. It is often overlooked that in the Hebrew Bible, the second creation saga pictures God creating the garden replete with creatures and then creating human beings “to till and serve” the garden (Gen. 2:15–16). Humans have a diaconal, serving role in relation to God’s creation; indeed, that is their very function – to care for what the Creator has made. Similarly, the notion that lordship involves service – indeed, that lordship can only be defined as service – draws heavily on the Christian doctrine of the incarnation, which is the sacrifice of “the higher” for “the lower.”50 This is not a new idea; in fact, there are many passages in the New Testament that speak of the salvific work of Christ extending to all creatures. Colossians makes clear that God’s purpose in Christ was to reconcile “all things” to himself (1:15–21), and Romans suggests that the whole creation is in a state of bondage, awaiting the liberty of the children of God (8:18–24). From this perspective, care for other creatures is not an optional extra but rather is central to Christian discipleship: as God in Christ shows generosity to us, so we should live out that generosity in regard to other suffering creatures.51 Edward C. Sellner (“A New Ethic of Holiness: Celtic Saints and Their Kinship with Animals”) spells out how many who have followed Christ 8


and been celebrated as saints have demonstrated that generosity in their own lives, and he looks at the continuing challenge that they represent to the church: Instead of teaching that holiness is all about sexual continence and only a specific sexual orientation, the stories of the saints might remind us of the importance of developing an ethic of caring for creation in all its wondrous diversity. Instead of preaching or lecturing on the importance of rules and respect for the hierarchy or elders, the example of the saints might rather teach the need for engaging in ministries of service and servant leadership. Instead of concentrating attention on the wealthy and the privileged, the saints’ lives might affirm the importance of attending to the poor, the neglected, the marginalized, and all those who suffer, human and otherwise.52

The seventh insight concerns future (or eschatological) anticipation The word “eschatological” means “last things,” from the Greek word escha, meaning “last.” All religions have an eschatology – that is, a vision of a better future in this world or the next. Human beings along with other creatures are going somewhere. There is a telos, a purpose, and a meaning behind purely worldly phenomena, which are leading to a final point, whether that point be described as nirvāṇa, heaven, enlightenment, or redemption. It is worth pointing out that almost all religious traditions believe in a transfigured cosmos that is inclusive of animals. Qur’anic teaching accepts that animals are to be resurrected. In the Jain and Hindu scriptures, animals have a soul that moves beyond earthly life, and in Buddhism, enlightenment is the goal of every creature. Even within Christianity, which has formally denied immortal souls to animals, there are in the New Testament unmistakable indications of cosmic redemption. And in Judaism, the Isaianic vision (Isa. 11:1–10) of how the lion and the lamb will lie down together, ushering in universal peace, is the hallmark of messianic redemption. Given this eschatological orientation, there has been among religious believers a renewed stress on precisely how this better world is to be anticipated in the present. If the Creator’s will is to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10–11), the question is how we can at least partially realize this divine will in the present. The World Council of Churches famously spoke of how Christian ethics should be characterized by “eschatological realism”53 – that is, moving as far as practically possible in this world toward the achievement of universal peaceableness in the next. This imperative is well expressed by Ryan Patrick McLaughlin in his chapter “How Good Is Nature? The Fall, Evolution, and Predation”: “Humans must become eschatological witnesses to the created order by revealing, if only in fleeting sacramental moments, the kind of peace for which all creation yearns. Humans cannot end all suffering, eradicate predation, or defeat death – these feats can be achieved only by God and that in the transfiguration of the cosmos.”54 The point is that eschatological orientation should inform and empower a more radical peaceableness between all beings. If, as almost all religions teach, there is going to be no killing, exploitation, suffering, or misery in the next world, we need to find ways in which we can, as a matter of fidelity to that vision, express that peaceableness now. Notionally at least, animals are included in this better world, so it is only right that religious discipleship should be similarly inclusive.

III In the light of all these positive insights, one question might naturally be asked: why, then, do religious traditions appear to have such a poor record on animal protection? Providing anything like a complete and adequate answer to this question, which involves geopolitical, cultural, and 9

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sociological considerations, not to mention religious ones, is probably beyond the scope of one or many books. But perhaps we can identify some considerations that may provide illumination. Some obvious things need to be said. All religions are to some extent human creations. That does not mean that they are not the bearers of revelation, inspiration, or truth, but it means that we acknowledge the ineradicably human dimension of their formation, scripture, and doctrinal expression. Given this simple fact, it is not surprising that religion largely reflects human concerns about the world in addition to encompassing some human response to the perceived transcendent or the divine. We cannot eradicate this human dimension any more than we can make a square a circle or make an apple an orange. Moreover, religious traditions are themselves subject to human interpretation. Not only is the deposit of the tradition comprising certain experiences, texts, or symbols a human creation, but so is the way in which the deposit is subsequently taught, expounded, or developed. And even more, in the same way that we cannot eradicate this human dimension in the composition and exposition of the various traditions, neither can we eradicate the contexts in which the traditions subsequently develop. The meanings of words, symbols, and texts change over time as one context is replaced by another, and the original meaning may be overburdened by others or indeed lost altogether. And of course, it is always humans (however inspired) within their contexts who do the interpreting. Lucy Gardner (“Anglican Christianity: Animal Questions for Christian Doctrine”) admirably indicates the questions that animals might ask of human religion.55 Always, we are at the mercy of human perception. Consider that almost everyone who has heard of the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible knows that humans are given “dominion” over animals. But very few know that two verses later (Gen. 1:29–30), humans are given a vegetarian (actually, a vegan) diet. As Karl Barth says, “whether or not we find it practicable and desirable, the diet assigned to men and beasts by God the creator is vegetarian.”56 Humans feel good about holding God-given power over the world but seldom ponder what this power might mean. In the original context, we know that herb-eating dominion cannot be a license for tyranny, but that has not stopped theologians (including one of us57) from failing to see what is in fact in front of their noses. Worse still, both Jewish and Christian preachers and teachers have been spreading the maladroit interpretation of Genesis for centuries. And even now, animal protectionists continue targeting dominion as meaning human tyranny over animals.58 Even more tragically, very few theologians have grasped the context in which the first creation saga in Genesis was written, such that they fail to see its underlying revolutionary moral message. The people who envisaged that God originally created a peaceful world in which there was no violence were not themselves vegetarians, pacifists, or opposed to capital punishment. In other words, they wrote against themselves, believing that the God whom they worshipped could not have wanted to create a world in which creatures were violent toward each other. So there we have it: even when confronted with animal-friendly texts, we ignore them, misunderstand them, or fail to see their underlying significance.

IV Even with these necessary qualifiers, religious advocates for animals who value mercy and compassion have difficulty understanding how these great traditions can be indifferent or even oppositional to animal protection. The issue cannot be avoided and requires some serious soul-searching. The issue of animal sacrifice cannot be overlooked. Although many traditions have discontinued animal sacrifice, it is still widely practiced in African religions and in Islam, and it remains highly problematic from a protectionist perspective. For example, despite the injunction of the 10


Prophet Muhammad to kill animals humanely by using only sharp knives,59 it remains a fact that Islamic festivals such as Eid are not noted for their concern for animal suffering, and slaughter is often far from “humane.”60 The elevated status of the cow in India has not prevented cows from being ruthlessly exploited. Some of the reasons are not religious, of course. Kay Peggs (“Religion, Ethics, and Vegetarianism: The Case of McDonald’s in India”) shares the prediction of Keith Tester that given the commercial pressures, “vegetarianism itself is liable to become McDonaldized” in India. Peggs rightly questions whether “religious vegetarianism [is] being undermined and replaced by a corporate-engendered, commercialized lifestyle vegetarianism.”61 Hindus can hardly be blamed for the commercial expansionism of Western imports. But it seems that even iconic religious symbols are not impervious to political and religious ambitions. Kelsi Nagy reports on the paradox in her contribution (“The Sacred and Mundane Cow: The History of India’s Cattle Protection Movement”), maintaining that “there is a danger that cattle protection efforts could be used for Hindu nationalist ends, which at face value have been more successful at promoting intolerance toward Muslims than at improving the welfare of cattle.”62 An example of how a righteous tradition can go awry is provided by the Jewish practice of shehita. On one hand, Jewish tradition requires that animals be slaughtered in the most painless way possible; indeed, Judaism codified the biblical principle of tsaar baalei hayyim (not causing suffering), and it is certainly true that when first introduced, throat-slitting was the most humane of the options available for slaughter. As one of us previously wrote with a Jewish theologian, “historically the intention behind, and the actual practice of, shehita can properly and validly claim to be what it has historically claimed to be, namely the most humane method.”63 But as we went on to say, “the difficulty is . . . that during the last 40 years especially there has been a quite unprecedented amount of research on slaughtering techniques and the comparable susceptibilities to suffering through the various methods of killing.”64 For example, it has been shown by scientific work that animals who are not pre-stunned can endure up to sixty seconds of suffering before becoming fully unconscious.65 So the tragedy is that the tradition that has undoubtedly espoused animal welfare, and which even led the world in its enlightened principle of not causing suffering, has simply not updated itself in relation to the latest scientific evidence. In his chapter “Mormonism: Harmony and Dissonance between Religion and Animal Protection,” Christopher Foster illustrates the often stark dissonance between teaching and practice, which is all the more astonishing given the specific animal-friendly teachings of this tradition’s leaders. But perhaps the most egregious examples of support for culturally validated forms of animal cruelty are currently found within the largest Christian groupings. In Ireland, clergy (both Catholic and Protestant) support hare coursing.66 In the United States, clergy of many denominations support sport hunting, even to the point of creating an organization called Christian Bowhunters of America.67 (Bow hunting is, of course, especially cruel since it is very difficult to kill a large animal with one arrow). In Canada, both Catholic and Anglican bishops publicly support fur trapping.68 In the United Kingdom, twelve Church of England bishops either spoke or voted against the ban on foxhunting in the House of Lords.69 And in Spain, Portugal, southern France, and Latin American countries (Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru), Catholic authorities effectively support bullfighting.70 Pius V’s papal bull in 1567 officially forbade Catholics from attending bullfights (mainly on the ground that it harmed the sensitivities of the human onlookers), but as Margarita Carretero-González comments (“Catholic Law on Bullfighting”), the edict hardly has any force today: A look at the prevalent Catholic attitudes toward bullfighting is enough to dishearten any animal liberationist brought up in this faith. Books are published on the special 11

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relationship existing between God and bullfighters; priests openly express their enthusiasm for these spectacles, even accusing animal rights activists of anti-humanism; and priests contradict the opinion of earlier and contemporary Catholic theologians when they declare that attending a bullfight is not a sin. What importance do they give, then, to Pius V’s bull? Very little, if we are to believe José Guadalupe Martín Rabago, archbishop of León (Mexico), who considers it a “temporary” bull and certainly not as relevant as those that deal with more important issues such as – not surprisingly – abortion.71 Unsurprisingly, many people now discount religion as a force for animal protection, especially in the West. The telling evidence for this can be found in the European Treaty of Amsterdam (which came into force in 1999). EU member states agreed to recognize animals as sentient beings rather than just agricultural commodities. It was a small but significant step in the right direction. The treaty asked member states to “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals.” But it added one important caveat: member states should do this “while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating to religious rites.”72 Thus, religion has become a ground in European law for not respecting sentient animals. What other purpose could have been envisaged except to safeguard certain religiously validated “customs” such as bullfighting, fiestas, religious slaughter, and sport hunting?

V Some religious people may reply, “Well, what does it matter if religions are backward-looking as regards animal ethics and practice?” Well, the issue of animal protection should matter to religious people, and for at least three reasons. The first concerns religious authenticity itself. The very nature of religion is to offer insights and illumination that cannot be found elsewhere. If it cannot do that, its whole raison d’être is threatened. Despite the inevitable overlapping of religion and culture, it cannot be right that religion is merely the expression of culture or vice versa. What religion has to say must be understood in its own terms, and when that voice is overlooked or unarticulated, something fundamental is lost. That, we suggest, is largely what has happened in the field of animal ethics. It is not that the ideas and insights are not there; it is rather that they have hardly been articulated or their implications digested. What we have learned from our survey of positive religious insights is that the animal-friendly tradition of ideas has much more to it than Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, and Peter Singer. The second reason religious people should care about animal protection concerns intellectual truth-searching. Religious traditions are not like closed books, with all the pages numbered and the lines already written. Rather, they are more like rivers, taking turns here, swirling there, slowing down and sometimes even stagnating, always encompassing different geological features, and featuring many tributaries. The truth is something being sought alongside illumination discovered. Someone once described tradition as the seedbed of creativity. Religious traditions make different truth-claims and inevitably so, but they are just that: attempts to express the truth. That is why development of thought is often built into religious traditions themselves. Within the Abrahamic faiths, the Jewish tradition has both a written tradition (the Hebrew Bible or Torah) and an oral Torah (the Talmud), with new discoveries made possible through rabbinical exegesis. The Christian tradition comprises both written texts (the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) and a wide array of interpretations, from the church fathers to the present day. Indeed, the Catholic magisterium (authoritative teaching) develops from generation to generation.73 Likewise in other traditions, there are gurus, sages, exegetes, theologians, and saints who, through 12


their thoughts and writings, expand and innovate on what once appeared to be simple unalterable truths. Thus, all religious traditions are poised (to some degree) between tradition and discovery, between honoring the truth once given and yet always seeking its fullest expression in the present. To cut off discussion of the status and protection of other creatures from this reflective search for truth is to sell both animals and religious traditions short. The third reason concerns ethical credibility. Rowan Williams writes about how examples of transformation – of coherence between faith and action in the lives of individuals – can act as a spur to believing. He gives the example of the radical pacifist Dorothy Day: [Day] starts off as a Marxist and social activist in the United States in the post – First World War period, has an abortion, has an illegitimate child, goes in and out of an unsuccessful marriage and several other relationships, then fairly suddenly comes to a point where she says, “Why am I passionate about people?” And goes to a church, and something connects. After that she simply spends the rest of her very long life being an advocate and a companion for people who have no one else to be an advocate and companion. And she does it because of a sense that the most decisive and fruitful way of being human is to be an advocate and companion in the name of God.74 Impressive though Williams’s account of Day’s conversion is as an example of ethical consistency (even, as Williams notes, despite the hostility of the hierarchy of her own church), the argument cuts both ways. If examples of saintliness or moral goodness should count for religious belief, so should examples of wickedness and moral evil. What are we to say of cruel Christians, unmerciful Muslims, violent Buddhists, or steak-eating Hindus, to name only a few examples? Religious traditions are under moral scrutiny as never before. Once regarded as the heirs of unique moral revelation, religious believers are now often weighed in the balance and found wanting. Besides the awful history of clerical child abuse within many Christian churches, there are a range of religiously supported, countenanced, or tolerated cultural practices that rightly engender moral revulsion. These include child marriage, female genital mutilation, homophobia (including active discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and communities), subordination of women to men, and treating children as bearers of the demonic (so-called witch children). And this list is not comprehensive. It is somewhat ironic that Williams should rearticulate the moral argument for Christian theism at a time when homophobia and the denial of human rights was and is still prevalent within the Anglican Communion.75 It is important that our argument here is not misunderstood. We are not defending blind progressivism or blind conservatism. Being doctrinally light can be as harmful to animals as religious conservatism. Forgetting the principles of one’s own religious tradition can foster indifference just as remembering them can. What we are overwhelmingly arguing for is a process of discernment whereby religious traditions can rediscover, utilize, and rearticulate the positive features of each of their traditions in relation to animals as well as humans.

VI Conversely, some animal ethicists reading these pages may say, “Well, why bother with religion at all? Traditions may comprise some positive teachings on animals, but overall they are part of the problem rather than the solution. So much the worse for them.” Wrong though we think this judgment is (for reasons subsequently outlined), it is important to see the strength of this argument in both historical and contemporary terms. 13

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Buried somewhere in the archives of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lies an unpublished history of the society written by Edward Buffet. Buffet begins his chapter titled “Ecclesiastical Relations” by noting that “the aloofness of the clergy, with some exceptions, from active animal welfare work is a perennial subject of remark among humanitarians.” Buffet conjectures various explanations but finds none of them wholly convincing. He continues, “Their apathy can sometimes be by personal contact. Most ministers are good at heart, but they have some mental twist which needs to be straightened out. It still remains that there is something in their profession which forms a hindrance, rather than a help, to acquiring that sympathetic imagination which conditions pity for suffering animals.”76 This “mental twist,” if such it be, was evidenced not only in the history of the ASPCA. More than one hundred years earlier in 1824, the first national Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA, later to become the RSPCA) emerged in England. The SPCA declared itself to be “a Christian Society based on Christian Principles”77 and was supported by many Christian luminaries, such as William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury. But later, Pope Pius IX opposed the establishment of a similar society in Rome on the ground that humans had duties to other humans but none to animals.78 Although the achievements of the SPCA and the ASPCA, as movers and shakers of a new ethical sensitivity to animals, cannot be doubted, they may arguably be characterized as Christian protest groups against existing Christian indifference. This indifference has continued to characterize the church in England, such as when Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, unlike his four predecessors, declined to become a patron of the RSPCA.79 No wonder Schweitzer once lamented that he had opened a door (of reverence for life) that Christian theology did not want to enter. Unsurprisingly, but erroneously, some now regard religion in all its forms as the enemy of animal protection. In Kim Socha’s Animal Liberation and Atheism: Dismantling the Procrustean Bed, Socha denounces religious arguments for animal liberation as “intellectual gymnastics” that stretch and chop religious doctrines to suit their ends.80 Thus, she regards religious animal liberationists as involved in dissembling the truth: “I think religious arguments for animal liberation are dead ends if one is actually to pursue them fully rather than just choose select passages to come to conclusions [one] already hope[s] to find.” In her review of Socha’s book, Cassandra Williams carefully and ironically exposes how Socha does precisely the same thing in her selection of religious texts and their expositors.81 Here, then, are three arguments why animal ethicists and animal advocates should be concerned with religion. In the first place, however misunderstood, poorly articulated, or maligned, religious traditions hold the allegiance of around 84 percent of the world’s population.82 If animal protectionists wish to influence global societies and culture to be more animal-friendly, it would be strategically naive to overlook the sheer numerical force of religious believers today. That is surely why some animal-friendly organizations have appointed “faith outreach” officers, such as the Fund for Animals; the only problem with this development is that it comes so late. Religions are powerful forces for good and evil. Some people remark that religious appeals for animal protection, or appeals that utilize religious teachings, are “relevant” only to religious people. But not only is that view demographically and culturally otiose; it also ignores the fact that modern “animal liberation” – based, for example, on the secular utilitarianism of Singer – has very little appeal in religious contexts, and religion in one or more forms still holds sway over the minds of most people in the world. Secular utilitarianism, for example, is utterly out of place in modern India.



Second, the movement for the enlightened moral treatment of animals is, first and foremost, a movement of ideas. To advance ideas, it is necessary to engage with others, and that has to include religious ideas – even and especially those that are thought to be negative or indifferent to animals. At least such ideas should be challenged, and religion has always found itself under challenge in different contexts. Simply writing off ideas that emerge from our religious heritage is a failure to engage and therefore risks dismissal. But in order to engage successfully with differing religious traditions, it is essential to learn the grammar of each tradition. Moral denunciations from outside the tradition seldom have any impact for the simple reason that the protesters have seldom done their homework. Understanding theology – that is, understanding the inner logic of a faith position – is essential to being able to engage successfully. Animal advocates have still to appreciate the need for serious intellectual work in this regard. Even now, many advocates seek to approach religious traditions with only a scant understanding of how these traditions operate or their guiding frameworks. The truth is that understanding a faith position is a very demanding thing. It requires not just grasping one or two scriptural sayings or doctrinal positions, but understanding the controlling framework that determines their exegesis. And that refers only to intellectual propositions, whereas religion is much, much more than words in the text. Understanding a religion requires not only intellectual understanding but also moral awareness, as well as a keen appreciation of how it interacts within its social context. Partisan secular appeals for change with no understanding either of the inner intellectual logic or of the inner moral dynamic are often futile, if not counterproductive. That is why the best way of making the case for animals is knowing the tradition from inside as a believer (making the case as one insider to another) – or at least doing so from the perspective of having done the tradition the courtesy of thorough and painstaking study. Philosophers make free use of religious ideas – often wrenched out of their context – in a way that they would readily condemn if the ideas were drawn from philosophical discourse. Third, religion has a much greater relevance to ethical discourse than is commonly allowed, even by religionists themselves. The reason is that ethics is hardly an autonomous discipline. It does not stand by itself without a religious, or at least a metaphysical, foundation. We know how strongly rejected this view is by secular moralists, and especially by Singer,83 but the very fact that it is so hotly contested itself reveals an antireligious bias. By saying that ethics requires a religious foundation, we are not arguing that secularists cannot have a sense of right or wrong or cannot behave morally – indeed, the reverse is often the case. Neither is holding a religious belief in itself a guarantee that an individual will behave morally or know what morality is. But it is when one gets into the realm of meta-ethics – or rather, why we should behave morally – that religion becomes so central, indeed essential. As people who have taught ethics at Oxford, we know only too well the telling moment when one asks a student to explain, or provide a rational account of, why such and such an action is wrong. Having a sense that something is morally wrong is often easy, but providing a coherent account as to why it is wrong is another matter altogether. Experiencing a sense of moral obligation (other than trivial social conventions) is a difficult thing to explain and an even more mysterious thing to be able to account for in a rational way without a religious frame of reference. A good example is Iris Murdoch’s celebrated The Sovereignty of Good. Despite the fact that Murdoch disavows any religious belief or motivation, her text comprises a range of religious words and concepts, such as “prayer,” “soul,” and “the transcendent.” At the very point of needing to explain what “the Good” means, she is forced to employ metaphysical language. She writes, “Morality has always been connected with religion and religion with mysticism.” She


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continues, “The background to morals is properly some sort of mysticism, if by this is meant a non-dogmatic essentially unformulated faith in the reality of the Good, occasionally connected with experience.”84 Yes, of course there can be morals without religion, but it all turns out to be rather tendentious and weak as a system without some appeal to God as a transcendent source of value. We like the line from Charles Péguy stating that “everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.”85 Ethics has to begin with something given (call it inspiration, illumination, or insight), without which ethical discourse can have no basis.

VII This is the world’s first handbook on religion and animal ethics and comprises thirty-five original chapters representing almost all the major religious traditions of the world. We are proud to have helped pioneer a new field and to have broken new ground. We hope this will provide resources for the up-and-coming generations who want to look afresh at the relation between religion and ethical concern for animals. There are new courses in animals now emerging in many English-speaking countries, especially universities in the United States and Europe, including courses in animal law, animal philosophy, animals in literature, animals and political theory, animals and sociology, critical animal studies, animal theology, and not least of all, animals in religion. This is one of the heartening signs that new generations of students are beginning to address the topic of animal ethics and especially its grounding in religion and religious history. This book is divided into two parts. The first part consists of overviews of the various religious traditions worldwide. Of course, no one book can cover every religious tradition that has existed in the world, but we hope that we have at least covered the most important. We have deliberately chosen “insiders” – that is, believers or at least those who have spent a lifetime studying their chosen tradition – to provide these overviews. We have done this because we are convinced that only those who know these traditions personally from the inside can provide a faithful account of them. The second part examines some of the most contentious issues that arise within religious traditions. These include theological issues, such as theodicy and life after death, and moral issues about our interaction with animals, particularly killing and exploitation. We have also included a section on religious and secular law that addresses some issues about the interaction between religious beliefs and secular legislation. Since this is a book about animal ethics, we have had to pay attention to the question of ethical language. As we have written many times before, so much of our historic language denigrates animals as “beasts,” “brutes,” “subhumans,” or “dumb brutes” or deploys negative metaphors about animals, such as “snake in the grass,” “cunning as a fox,” “greedy as a pig,” and “stupid cow.” With these terms we libel animals – and not only animals, of course. Therefore, we have found it essential to pioneer an ethical or at least more objective terminology. We have used “he” or “she” instead of “it” for individual animals. We have used “free-living,” “free-roaming,” or simply “free” instead of “wild” because wildness has negative connotations. We have also used the term “companion animals” rather than “pets.” Needless to say, exceptions to ethical language have been made in the quotation of texts, particularly historical writings. This book is dedicated to scholar and theologian Justus George Lawler. He wrote the influential article that first awakened the theological community to the issue, “On the Rights of Animals,”86 way back in 1965. It is a delight to acknowledge such an important pioneer from whom we and others have learned a great deal.



This venture would have been impossible without the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, of which we are both directors. Early on in its history, the Centre decided to focus on animals in the world’s religions, and the present volume is the result of a great deal of discussion and work, especially by the fellows of the Centre. We would like to thank Katie Javanaud of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oxford for her insightful comments on an earlier version of this introduction, which we have made free use of. Needless to say, any errors or shortcomings are entirely our own. Our special thanks to Stephanie Ernst, who performed the huge task of copyediting the entire text with her customary skill, patience, and good humor. We would like to thanks Ross Armstrong for his excellent work indexing this volume. Finally, we are indebted to Joshua Wells, Jack Boothroyd, and Joanna Hardern of Routledge for their support and encouragement. Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics January 2018

Notes 1 Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals (London: Jonathan Cape, 1976). 2 Peter Singer, ed., In Defence of Animals (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985), 2. 3 Singer, In Defence of Animals, 3. 4 See Richard Sorabji, Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate (London: Duckworth, 1993). For a critique of the view that Jewish and Greek sources have contributed to indifference to animals, see Stephen R. L. Clark, How to Think about the Earth: Philosophical and Theological Models for Ecology (New York: Mowbray, 1993). 5 Hugh Montefiore, ed., Man and Nature, foreword by Michael Ramsay (London: Collins, 1975), 67. 6 For an account, see Andrew Linzey, Animal Theology (London: SCM Press, 1994), 140–43. 7 See 170. 8 Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah: Animals and the Liberation of Theology (London: Mowbray, 1997), 47. 9 The locus classicus for the doctrine of interdependency is the Mahānidāna Sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya, 15. See “Great Discourse on Causation,” accessed August 17, 2016, (The Pali spelling is paṭiccasamuppāda, whereas the Sanskrit spelling is pratītyasamutpāda.) Another famous version of the theory can be found in the Cūḷasakuludāyi Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya, 79. See Bodhi Bhikkhu and Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans., Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Somerville, MA: Wisdom, 1995). 10 See 57. 11 See 57. 12 See 179. 13 See 27. 14 St. Bonaventure, in The Life of St. Francis, ed. Ewert Cousins (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), 254–55; also cited and discussed in Andrew Linzey and Ara Barsam, “Saint Francis of Assisi,” in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment, ed. Joy A. Palmer (London: Routledge, 2001), 22–27. 15 Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography, trans. Antje Bultmann Lemke (New York: Henry Holt, 1990), 154–55. 16 Ara Paul Barsam, Reverence for Life: Albert Schweitzer’s Great Contribution to Ethical Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). 17 Albert Schweitzer, Indian Thought and Its Development, trans. C. E. B. Russell (Boston: Beacon Press, 1936), 83. 18 Barsam, Reverence for Life, 66. 19 “Long Discourses, Chapter on the Virtues – 5. To Kūṭadanta: The Wrong Sacrifice and the Right,” accessed August 17, 2016,


Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey 20 See the section on vegetarianism in Jagbir Jhutti-Johal’s chapter, “Sikhism: Dharam, Ethics, and Behavior toward Animals.” 21 See 59. 22 Plato, “The Statesman,” in Plato, trans. Harold N. Fowler and W. R. M. Lamb (London: Heinemann, 1925), 271d – 4c; extract titled “The Golden Age” in Andrew Linzey and Paul Barry Clarke, Animal Rights: A Historical Anthology (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 53–55. 23 See 103. 24 See discussion in section 11, “The Sabbath: The Feast of Creation,” in God in Creation: An Ecological Doctrine of Creation, ed. Jürgen Moltmann (London: SCM Press, 1985), 276–96. 25 See 220. 26 For example, see the Jewish Vegetarian Society, accessed August 17, 2008, 27 Abraham Isaac Kook, The Lights of Penitence, The Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems (New York: Paulist Press, Classics of Western Spirituality, 1979), 317–23. 28 See 223. 29 Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), 243. 30 Chāndoyga Upaniṣad, chapter 6 in Franklin Edgerton, The Beginnings of Indian Philosophy: A Summing-Up after a Lifetime of Philological Study and Reflection (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1965), 176, original emphasis. 31 A brilliant articulation of how the fact of non-intrinsic reality enables spiritual growth is in Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā 23.24–25, where he rhetorically says, “If someone had defilements that were intrinsically real, how would they be abandoned? Who abandons intrinsic essence? If someone had defilements that were intrinsically unreal, how would they be abandoned? Who abandons the non-existent?” 32 The idea of Buddha Nature that the Chinese developed first emerged in Indian sources around 200–250 CE. The Tathāgatagarbha Sūtras (which means “womb of the Buddha”) expound the idea in its nascent form. 33 See 366. 34 “Address of the Holy Father,” Meeting with the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, New York, September 25, 2015, accessed February 1, 2016, http://w2.vatican. va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/september/documents/papa-francesco_20150925_onu-visita. html. 35 Clair Linzey, “Animals in Catholic Thought: A New Sensitivity?,” in The Animals in Us: We in Animals, ed. Szymon Wróbel (Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang, 2014), 187–202. 36 Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. David Magarshack (London: Penguin, 1958), vol. 1, 375. 37 Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Easter Church, trans. members of the fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius (Cambridge, England: James Clarke, 1952), 111–12. 38 See 128. 39 Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 375. 40 Margery Kempe, cited in Ambrose Agius, God’s Animals, foreword by John Heenan (London: Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare, 1970), 46. 41 John Henry Newman, “The Crucifixion,” Parochial and Plain Sermons (London: Rivingtons, 1868), vol. 2, 136–37. Cited and discussed in Andrew Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 37–40. 42 See 82. 43 See 84. 44 See Neal Robinson, ed. and trans., The Sayings of Muhammad (London: Duckworth, 1991), 48–49. 45 See 357. 46 See 74. 47 John Hick, An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent, 2nd. ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 300. 48 “The Bodhisattva Who Would Become the Buddha and the Tigress – A Jātaka Tale from the Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra,” would_become_the_buddha_and/, accessed August 18, 2016. 49 See Romila Thapar, Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), especially the chapter on the policy of dharma. 50 Linzey, Animal Theology. See chapter 3, “Humans as the Servant Species,” 45–61. 51 Linzey, Animal Theology. See “The Generosity Paradigm,” Animal Theology, 30–33.


Introduction 52 See 187. 53 For an account see John Briggs, Ruth Rouse, Stephen Neill, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Harold Edward Fey, and Georges Tsetsis, eds., A History of the Ecumenical Movement (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 2001), vol. 3, 64. 54 See 334. 55 See 35–42. 56 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics,Vol. 3.2: The Doctrine of Creation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1958), 208. 57 Andrew Linzey, Animal Rights (London: SCM Press, 1976), in which the traditional and erroneous meaning of dominion is assumed. Later books – namely, Christianity and the Rights of Animals (London: SPCK, 1987) and Animal Theology – lament this baleful misunderstanding. 58 See Jim Mason, An Unnatural Order: The Roots of Our Destruction of Nature (New York: Lantern, 2005). 59 Robinson, The Sayings of Muhammad, 48–49. 60 For an example of opposition to animal sacrifice from a Muslim perspective, see Shahid ‘Ali Muttaqi, “An Islamic Perspective against Animal Sacrifice,” Animals in Islam, accessed August 18, 2016, www. 61 See 239. 62 See 257. 63 Linzey and Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah, 55. 64 Linzey and Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah, 55. For a full discussion, see chapter 3. 65 For a full discussion of this, see Anna Joseph, “Going Dutch: A Model for Reconciling Animal Slaughter Reform with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” and Simon Brooman, “In Search of the Missing Ingredient: Religious Slaughter, Incremental Failure, and the Quest for the Right to Know – A Response to Anna Joseph,” Journal of Animal Ethics 6, no. 2 (2016). 66 “Clergy Involvement in Hare Coursing Continues,” accessed August 19, 2016, https://banbloodsports. 67 See “Christian Bowhunters of America,” accessed August 19, 2016, 68 See “Bishops in Northern Canada: In Defence of Fur-Trapping” and Andrew Linzey, “A Reply to the Bishops,” in Animals and Christianity: A Book of Readings, ed. Andrew Linzey and Tom Regan (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007), 167–73. 69 See Andrew Linzey, Christian Theology and the Ethics of Hunting with Dogs (London: Christian Socialist Movement, 2003). 70 For a useful discussion, see Mike Widener, “A Papal Bull against Bullfighting,” Yale Law School News, December 17, 2014, accessed August 19, 2016, 71 See 291. 72 Treaty of Amsterdam, 1997. The treaty, with its protocol on “improved protection and respect for the welfare of animals,” was agreed to in June 1997. It was officially signed by the member states of the European Union on October 2, 1997, and entered into force on May 1, 1999. We are grateful to Wendy Smith for this reference. 73 See Maureen Fiedler and Linda Rabben, eds., Rome Has Spoken: A Guide to Forgotten Papal Statements, and How They Have Changed through the Centuries (New York: Crossroad, 1998). 74 See Rowan Williams, “Belief and Theology: Some Core Questions,” in God’s Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation, by Rupert Shortt (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2005), 2. 75 See Andrew Linzey and Richard Kirker, eds., Gays and the Future of Anglicanism (London: O Books, 2005). 76 Edward Buffet, “History of the ASPCA,” in “Bergh’s War on Vested Cruelty,” vol. 2 (ASPCA, unpublished manuscript, c. 1924), no page number. I am grateful to Berni Unti for this reference. This is also cited and discussed in Andrew Linzey, Animal Gospel (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998), 82–83. 77 RSPCA Minute Book, no. 1 (1824), 28, 40–41. 78 See the discussion in James Gaffney, “The Relevance of Animal Experimentation to Roman Methodology,” in Animal Sacrifices: Religious Perspectives on the Use of Animals in Science, ed. Tom Regan (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986), 149, 159–60. 79 See “Welby Wrong to Turn Down RSPCA,” Church Times, August 23, 2013, accessed August 19, 2016,‘wrong’-to-turn-down-rspca. See also Andrew Linzey, “Lambeth Folly,” The Tablet, August 24, 2014, 11. 80 Kim Socha, Animal Liberation and Atheism: Dismantling the Procrustean Bed (Minneapolis: Freethought House, 2014).


Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey 81 Cassandra Williams, “An Opportunity Preempted: Kim Socha’s Atheism versus Religious Animal Liberationists,” Journal of Animal Ethics 6, no. 1 (2016): 89–94. 82 Jennifer Harper, “84 Percent of the World Population Has Faith – A Third Are Christian,” Washington Times, December 23, 2012, accessed August 19, 2016, 2012/dec/23/84-percent-world-population-has-faith-third-are-ch/. 83 See the assertions in Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 3–5. 84 Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), 74. Of course, it is precisely the objectivity of “the Good” that makes the moral argument for God so compelling. See H. P. Owen, The Moral Argument for Christian Theism (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1965). 85 Quoted in Alan Ecclestone, Yes to God (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1975), 121. Original source not given. 86 Justus George Lawler, “On the Rights of Animals,” Anglican Theological Review, April 1965.




1 AFRICAN RELIGIONS Anthropocentrism and Animal Protection Kai Horsthemke

Introduction: African Creation Myths and the Hierarchy of Being This chapter investigates a few core aspects of African religions and explores how they impact positively and/or negatively on the treatment of animals. Before we proceed, however, two important questions need to be addressed. First, can we speak of African “religion(s)” at all?1 Second, should the singular or plural be used? In response to the first question, it might be pointed out that African religions have, until recently, existed in fairly isolated parts of the world. They do not belong to the major “families” of religions such as those that originated in the Near East or to the so-called Eastern religions.2 Unlike these religions, African religions (like African ethical traditions) emanate from small-scale communities and societies and are infused with values such as communalism (“communal social organisation”3 and ownership; application of “the communal spirit to life and work”4), fundamental preoccupation with the common good, harmony, and the “interconnectedness” of all life.5 Nonetheless, what they have in common is a predominantly monotheistic orientation. What they share is belief in either a single supreme being or a multitude of gods, belief in a realm of spirits (ancestral and nature spirits, as well as deities), and belief in the “sanctity of a unified society”6 – which, I submit, is sufficient for warranting the use of the word “religion,” in preference to the more neutral and general term “worldview.” A further commonality that sets African religions apart from the well-known global religious traditions is the absence of any scriptures or sacred texts. Transmission of beliefs and values, sacred stories, wisdom, and law follows a strictly oral tradition: “the sources of study and observation include language, stories and oral history, proverbs and sayings of wisdom, myths and legends, and values and customs.”7 These commonalities then give rise to the question of whether we can legitimately refer to “African religions,” in the plural. I believe,8 if we want to avoid what might be called the fallacy of the collective singular, the use of the plural (“African religions”) to be preferable or more appropriate. Even though African commentators, unlike “Westerners,” appear to prefer the singular (and to use capital letters for “African Religion”9), the best way to avoid any essentializing moves and to acknowledge the immense diversity on this vast continent is to refer to “African religions.” It should come as no surprise, for example, that a great diversity of creation myths have been transmitted over many centuries through the living, immediate medium of oral tradition. The Tswana myth of creation holds that our “first parents emerged [simultaneously, it would appear] 23

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as men with their wives, children, animals, cattle, sheep, goats and dogs.”10 Yet according to the Boshongo, also a Bantu tribe, the great god Bumba’s creation of some animals (such as the leopard, the crocodile, and the turtle) was preceded by creation of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but the creation of these animals itself preceded creation of some humans, one of whom, Yoko Lima, was white like Bumba. The Efik and Ekoi, in central and southern Nigeria, respectively, similarly believed that animals came before human beings. According to the former, the creator Abassi created two humans and then decided to not allow them to live on earth. His wife, Atai, persuaded him to let them do so. In order to control the humans, Abassi insisted that they eat all their meals with him, thereby keeping them from growing or hunting food. He also did not allow them to procreate. (What happened next comes as no major surprise.) The Ekoi, on the other hand, held that in the beginning there were two gods, Obassi Osaw and Obassi Nsi. After they created everything together, Obassi Osaw decided to live in the sky, and Obassi Nsi decided to live on the earth. The god in the sky produces light and moisture but also brings about drought and storms. The god of the earth nurtures and takes the people back to him when they die. One day a long time ago, Obassi Osaw created a man and a woman and found a home for them on the earth. They knew nothing, so Obassi Nsi taught them about planting and hunting to obtain food. The Yoruba11 also held that creation of animals preceded creation of human beings and indeed held that animals such as a white hen, a black cat, and a snail played a significant role in the creation of humans.12 The theme of the creator teaching human beings how to hunt also emerged further south. According to Zulu belief in South Africa, the Ancient One, known as uMvelinqangi (the one who first existed or appeared) or uNkulunkulu (the great-great one13), is the Zulu creator. He emerged from the reeds (uthlanga, meaning source14), and from them he brought forth the people and the cattle. He created everything – that is, mountains, streams, snakes, and so on. He taught the Zulu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food. He is considered to be the first man and is in everything that he created.15 A rather different picture emerged in Ethiopia: the creator god was Wak, who lived in the clouds and kept the vault of the heavens at a distance from the earth, having covered it with stars. He was a beneficent creator who did not punish. When man, after creation, tired of living alone, Wak extracted some of his blood, and after four days the blood became a woman, whom the man married. They had thirty children, but the man was ashamed of having so many, so he hid fifteen of them. Wak then turned those hidden children into animals and demons.16 In accordance with Fans (a Bantu tribe) belief, in the beginning there was nothing but Nzame. After creating the universe and the earth and bringing life to it, Nzame decided to create a ruler for the earth. So he created the elephant, the leopard, and the monkey but then decided that something “better” had to be created, a new creature in his own image, whom he called Fam (power) and to whom he gave dominion over the earth. Before long, the story goes, Fam became arrogant, mistreated the animals, and stopped worshipping Nzame. Angered, Nzame evoked thunder and lightning and destroyed everything that was, except Fam, who had been promised (and granted) immortality. After due deliberation, Nzame decided to renew the earth and try again. He applied a new layer of earth to the planet, and a tree grew on it. The tree dropped seeds that grew into more trees. Leaves that dropped from them into the water became fish, whereas those leaves that dropped on land became animals. It is believed that the old parched earth still lies below this new one: if one digs deep enough, it can be found in the form of coal. Nzame created a new man, one who would know the fate of death, and called him Sekume. Sekume fashioned a woman, Mbongwe, from a tree. These people were made with both gnoul (body) and nissim (soul). Nissim gives life to gnoul. When gnoul dies, nissim lives on. According to the myth, Sekume and Mbongwe produced many children and prospered.17 24

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Regarding the origin of death, the San (Bushmen) believe that the moon, filled with compassion for humankind, sent the hare to tell people they did not have to die but could know the same kind of renewal that the moon itself repeatedly experienced. However, the hare bungled the message simply owing to his haste. Instead he told people, “Unlike the moon, who in dying is renewed, you, in dying, will not be renewed.” Since the spoken word was irrevocable, the message could not be changed. In great anger the moon hit the foolish hare on the mouth, splitting his lip. To this day, the split lip remains a testimony to the frustrated desire of a deity to bless humankind with the assurance of the renewal of life.18 Here, then, is a novelty: an animal is blamed for the human condition. The Wahungwe of Zimbabwe believe, on the other hand, that the moon was the first man, called Mwuetsi and created by Maori. Maori gave Mwuetsi a ngona horn filled with ngona oil and told him he would live at the bottom of the waters. Mwuetsi objected and said that he wished to live on the land. Maori reluctantly agreed but said that Mwuetsi would surrender his immortality if he chose to dwell on the land. Before long Mwuetsi complained of loneliness, so Maori sent him a woman, Massassi (the morning star), to keep him company for two years. Each night they slept on opposite sides of a campfire, until one night Mwuetsi leapt over the fire and touched Massassi with a finger that he had moistened with the ngona oil. In the morning Massassi’s belly had grown huge, and she soon gave birth to plants and trees, until the whole earth was covered by them. After two years Maori took Massassi away. Mwuetsi wept for eight years, at which time Maori sent him another woman, Morongo (the evening star), saying that she too could stay for two years. On the first night Mwuetsi touched her with his moistened finger, but she explained that she was different from Massassi, that they would have to oil their loins and have intercourse. This they did, that night and every night thereafter. Every morning Morongo gave birth to affable animals and thereafter to human boys and girls, who became full-grown by the evening of the very same day. Maori expressed his displeasure with a fierce storm and informed Mwuetsi that he was precipitating his death with all this procreation. Morongo, ever the temptress (there are clear parallels with the biblical creation story here), instructed Mwuetsi to build a door to their hut so that Maori could not see what they were doing. Mwuetsi did this, and again they had intercourse. In the morning Morongo gave birth to dangerous animals – snakes, scorpions, lions, and so on. One night Morongo told Mwuetsi to have intercourse with his daughters, which he did, thereby fathering the human race.19 According to the Yao (Malawi) myth of creation, in the beginning God was living exclusively with animals, before the existence of human beings. During this prehuman time the chameleon was a fisherman. One day when the chameleon went to inspect his fish trap, he was surprised to find it filled with strange creatures. They were humans, a man and a woman, who asked to be released. The chameleon decided to take the creatures to his neighbor (God), so as to obtain advice about what to do with them. God told the chameleon not to kill them, so that they could grow and live to their maturity. He then called all the other animals to inform them about the new creatures, which marked the first encounter between animals and human beings. The following day the male creature started twirling sticks, and smoke started to gather. This caused fear among the animals, and they warned the man to be careful. However, fire was finally created, which set alight the grass-thatched roof of God’s hut. The chameleon managed to climb a tree, but God was very old and could not run, so the spider spun a web to rescue God. From that moment (it is believed), God decreed that when humans died, they would join him in heaven and serve him as slaves.20 The Chewa (Malawi) creation myth contains some interesting parallels and contrasts to the Yao story. In the beginning there was God, known as Chauta in ChiChewa. He lived in the sky, 25

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and below it was the inhospitably rugged and bare earth. The earth was parched and completely void of life. One day, dark clouds started to gather, with blazing lightning and roaring thunder. When the sky suddenly tore open with torrential rain, Chauta appeared in the form of a spider. On a silk thread, he descended to the top of Kaphiri Ntiwa mountain, together with the first human couple and all the animals ever created. Trees and plants flourished, providing food, and humans and animals lived in peace. Chauta had cautioned the humans never to play with sticks, since this might produce fire, but on one fateful day the man disobeyed God. By playing with two sticks, the man set the grass alight. The insignificant fire soon became a scorching inferno, resulting in total chaos. Only the domesticated animals whom we know today fled to the man for safety. But the free-living animals, in their fury and rage, fled from the man. God returned to the sky by woven silk thread, driven from the world by the man’s disobedience and recklessness. As he ascended, he decreed that from then on humans must die and return to the sky after death.21 These creation myths are diverse and distinct from one another. Yet there are not only certain parallels between the various myths (e.g., human disobedience and recklessness and God’s subsequent displeasure or even anger) but also some interesting commonalities between the various African religions. One of these is the hierarchy of beings, with God (uNkulunkulu or uMveliqangi – “the one who appeared or emerged first” – in the Nguni/Zulu tradition) at the apex and then, at different levels below, the ancestors (amadlozi)22 or “living-dead” (abaphansi), then human beings (bantu; singular: muntu), and finally, the rest of animate and inanimate creation, including animals (isilwane).23 The hierarchy of beings is a noteworthy commonality because it invariably places nonhuman animals in an inferior position to humans, despite animals’ predominant innocence and blamelessness for any disruption or chaos caused. Nevertheless, it is not they but rather humans who have been created in the image of God. In acting responsibly and morally, human beings are fulfilling their divinely allocated role. They have moral responsibilities and duties not only to God and the ancestors but also to the rest of creation. Thus, although evil originates with human beings and not with God, the former are perceived to be moral creatures. As a countervailing force in this regard, morality is seen to be a matter of human relationships with God, the ancestors, and nonhuman creation. The ancestors or living-dead play a vital role in the lives of Africans in that they act as a link between God and living human beings; that is, they bridge the chasm that exists between uMveliqangi and bantu. They are consulted regularly during ceremonies, at which animals (usually cows, bulls, goats, or sheep) are routinely slaughtered.24 Failure to engage in such sacrificial activities is believed to provoke the wrath not only of the ancestors but also of God.

Traditional African Perceptions – Isilwane: The Animal The most comprehensive account of traditional African perceptions of and interaction with the nonhuman world is contained in South African (Zulu) traditional healer Credo Mutwa’s book Isilwane: The Animal, where he stresses that in the past, African people did not regard themselves as being above the animals, trees, fishes, and birds. “They were all seen as part of ourselves, and nature was contained both within and without us. [Mutwa] castigates the arrogance of modern western society which has taken dominion over the earth . . . People in the modern western world have separated almost everything: white and black, man and woman, and they believe that we are separate from the Earth.”25 Mutwa takes on what he calls the “strange world of separatism” of “Western civilization,” “a world in which things that really belong together and which ought to be seen as part of a greater whole are cruelly separated.”26 Mutwa asserts that “the most dangerous and destructive view by far – one which has changed human beings into rampaging, destructive and mindless beasts – is 26

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that . . . man is superior to all other living things on earth, and that he was especially created to be overlord and custodian of all things, animate and inanimate.”27 The question is whether the traditional African worldviews are really that different from this “dangerous and destructive view.” It would appear to be so, at least given Mutwa’s testimony and advice: We must take a great spiritual step backwards. We must adopt the view of creation that was not only held by ancient Africans but also by Native Americans and many other people of the ancient world: that creation is one great and beautiful whole, one revolving sphere . . . and to be viewed from all sides as one things, instead of a number of shattered fragments.28 He continues, “In old Africa we . . . believed that we had nature within and beyond ourselves. By making us believe that the highest gods were part animal and part human being, we were taught to look upon animals with great reverence, love and respect.”29 Further, “the native people of Africa regarded [animals] as a blessing from the gods – as something unbelievably sacred and vital for the continued existence of human beings. Black people believed that animals were the blood of the earth and that as long as there were migrations criss-crossing the country, human existence on Earth was guaranteed.”30 Apart from emphasizing mutual dependence and a sense of unity, Mutwa invokes the moral imperative of respect. An important reason for respecting animals may be that they actually embody deceased human beings. “One of the important pillars upon which the traditional religion of African people rests is a belief in reincarnation and transmigration of souls . . . the belief that when you die, you are reincarnated immediately after death as that type of animal which your people regard as their totem.”31 Other reasons for respecting animals have more to do with human survival: “Africans did not hunt animals for fun. [Animals] were hunted for food and for religious reasons . . . The African people know, just as the native American people knew, that if you would destroy the environment, you will ultimately destroy the human race.”32 What is one to make of Mutwa’s account? Attesting to the “reality” of the tokoloshe and mantindane and accusing whites of unwarranted skepticism puts Mutwa’s views squarely in the realm of “superstition and fertile imagination” – and none of his anecdotes establish the “truth” of what he says.33 In what follows, examples of “superstition and fertile imagination” abound. “Cats guard against ‘alien creatures,’” Mutwa asserts.34 Bones of dogs are used in bone-transplant operations, on the basis of the belief that God created dogs especially to save human beings. As a corollary of this assumption, the maltreatment of dogs is believed to cause illness and disease.35 “African people have a deep love and respect for poultry,” he assures the reader, because of the “medicinal and magical purposes” to which they can put, such as combating misfortune, use in aphrodisiacs and celebration, and the like.36 This “love” and “respect,” however, is not extended to intensively reared and kept poultry. “Battery hens are regarded as soulless, lifeless creatures because they lay eggs which have not been blessed by the seed of the cock and are sterile.”37 Like poultry, “goats are believed to be born to be sacrificial animals. Their purpose in life is to serve human beings and to protect them with their lives. For this reason, a goat must be treated with the utmost respect and reverence.”38 Surely, “utmost respect and reverence” would involve treating them as valuable in and of themselves. These are examples of superstitious anthropocentrism and, in the case of the battery hens, (therio-)sexism. Mutwa certainly wants to avert the charge of irrationality: “Bestiality and Satanism have nothing to do with these rituals[,] contrary to what certain white anthropologists have concluded. This gross misrepresentation merely displays abysmal ignorance.”39 Yet the list of ritual practices continues without rational explanation – for example, an account of medical considerations. 27

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“Sheep are used for ceremonial and healing purposes – e.g., combating madness with half-cooked fresh sheep’s brains and . . . boiled freshwater fish.”40 Plausibly enough, cattle are regarded as indicators of wealth, used in gambling, sport, and economic transactions – Mutwa cites the traditional practices and customs of lobola, or “bride wealth,” and “cattle banking” – as well as means of meting out punishment, insofar as payment for one’s transgressions is expected to be made in cattle.41 Mutwa reports, “Although African people kept livestock in the form of cattle, sheep, goats and chickens, they were sometimes forced by necessity to go into the wilds in search of animals whose skins could be used for blankets, bags and items of attire.”42 Although the implication here appears to be that “livestock” did not matter in the same way as free-roaming animals, the custom of “respectful use” clearly extends to wildlife resources: “In olden days, waterbuck were greatly respected by our people, and their horns were used as the snouts for bellows which were used by blacksmiths . . . When a waterbuck was killed for its horns, a ceremony of apology was performed over the carcass.”43 Given Mutwa’s account, it is evident that the “value” of, and basis of “respect” for, free animals – like domesticated animals – is determined by their function in the lives of human beings, with their purpose and the use to which they are put by human beings guided more often than not by superstition.

Ubuntu/Botho/Hunhu and Nonhuman Animals There have been various attempts in recent years to employ ubuntu/botho/hunhu44 as a locus for “fostering human respect for the environment,” as an orientation “towards balance and harmony in the relationship between human beings and the broader be-ing or nature,” and as “an expression of interconnectedness between people themselves, and between people and the biophysical world,” most notably – and respectively – by Malegapuru Makgoba, Mogobe Ramose, Catherine Odora Hoppers, and Lesley Le Grange.45 “Humanness” – ubuntu in IsiZulu, botho in SeSotho, and hunhu in ChiShona – Ramose explains, regards being, or the universe, as a complex wholeness involving the multi-layered and incessant interaction of all entities . . . The principle of wholeness applies also to the relation between human beings and physical or objective nature. To care for one another, therefore, implies caring for physical nature as well. Without such care, the interdependence between human beings and physical nature would be undermined. Moreover, human beings are indeed an intrinsic part of physical nature although possibly a privileged part. Accordingly, caring for one another is the fulfilment of the natural duty to care for physical nature too. The concept of harmony in African thought . . . conceives of balance in terms of the totality of the relations . . . between and among human beings, as well as between human beings and physical nature.46 Are Ramose, Makgoba, Odora Hoppers, and Le Grange correct? In what follows the exposition just quoted, Ramose refers chiefly to “human dignity”47 and our pertinent choices and duties. The African principle of human interdependence states that a person becomes a person through other persons: “I am because we are.” Or in other words, a human being depends on human beings to be a human being: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, or Motho ke motho ka batho, or Munhu munhu navhanhu. It would appear that the envisaged concern for nonhuman nature and the environment could be fostered only on the basis of human benefits and would therefore not amount to any acknowledgment of the intrinsic value of nature or the environment. Nor could the principle in question constitute a basis for “respect” or a “harmonious” relationship with members of nonhuman species. That is, the prime and direct beneficiaries 28

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of such a relationship or respect must be human beings, whether as agents or as recipients. In fact, in focusing exclusively on human beings, ubuntu is by definition anthropocentric,48 as is the slogan batho pele – “people first.” This is acknowledged by Odora Hoppers: “relationships between people hold pride of place, expressed in the various philosophies across Africa and best captured by the African concept of ubuntu.”49 A similar relational-anthropocentric concern is echoed in slain Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko’s essay exploring certain African cultural concepts: We regard our living together not as an unfortunate mishap warranting endless competition among us but as a deliberate act of God to make us a community of brothers and sisters jointly involved in the quest for a composite answer to the varied problems in life. Hence in all we do we always place Man first and hence all our action is usually joint community oriented action rather than the individualism which is the hallmark of the capitalist approach.50 At best, then, the principles in question yield what is generally referred to as an “indirect duty” view or an account of “indirect concern” for nonhuman animals. Our duties and obligations regarding other animals cannot be to them because other animals lack the prerequisite humanness. Yet insofar as the maltreatment of these creatures may have an impact on our dealings with human beings (i.e., such maltreatment may make us “raw” or “insensitive” in our interactions with fellow humans), as well as on the feelings of the latter (to whom we have direct duties, on the grounds of our shared humanity), it is advisable that we refrain from mistreating the former. Again, not mistreating animals is advisable not because of any duties to animals – who, after all, exist only as part of “physical or objective nature”51 (and who, by implication, lack mental life and “subjectivity”). Speaking of our “duties” to them (even, following Ramose, speaking of our “natural duty to care”) is only a roundabout way of referring to our actual duties to human beings. It follows that ubuntu does not, and indeed cannot, concern animals directly – obviously not as moral agents, but not as moral recipients either. I do not, therefore, share Michelè Pickover’s opinion that “animal liberation is . . . a natural progression of our humanity, embodying the powerful concept of ubuntu.”52 Unisa (University of South Africa) academic Moeketsi Letseka has, perhaps unwittingly, indicated the gulf that exists between botho/ubuntu and concern for animals: “Consider . . . the case of an offence on which everyone agrees that it is heinous and an affront to botho or ubuntu, such as repeatedly raping an eighty-year-old grandmother or a six-year-old girl. To express their displeasure community folk might utter statements like: ‘He is not a person but a dog’ [or] ‘Oh God, he is an animal.’”53 The questionable move of equating rapists and animals such as dogs might be excused as reporting an unreflective popular perception, but it arguably points to something deeper – namely, the view that animals occupy a territory untouched by ordinary moral concerns and considerations: indeed, an amoral realm.

Ukama, Cosmic Community, and Holism Perhaps it is uncharitable to focus exclusively on ubuntu – which constitutes an improvement on egoism but is still decidedly anthropocentric54 – as exemplifying African ethical attitudes toward animals. According to moral theorists such as Bénézet Bujo, Munyaradzi Felix Murove, and Martin Prozesky (and, following them, Le Grange), Africa has other conceptual resources that might help address questions around direct ethical responsibility regarding nonhuman nature,55 resources that involve an extension of the traditional ideas of “relatedness” and “relationality.” 29

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Whereas Bujo emphasizes African holism, “solidarity with creation as a whole,”56 and “cosmic community,”57 Murove and Prozesky draw on the concept of ukama originating in Zimbabwe.58 Human health and self-realization, according to Bujo, are crucially dependent on “peaceful coexistence with minerals, plants and animals.”59 In order to make sense of the apparent absurdity of “peaceful coexistence with minerals” (and even with plants, arguably), perhaps “peaceful” should be understood to mean “non-exploitative.” Yet we learn that “effective healing” (“reconciliation with the cosmos”), as it is practiced and modeled by the African traditional healer, requires not only embracing “the community of the living and the dead but also natural elements such as animal bones, teeth and hair, plants, pieces of wood and minerals.”60 And indeed, “animals, plants and minerals and other inanimates are the forces made available by God as vital energy for use by human beings.”61 It would appear, then, that the notions of “cosmic community,” of the relationality of all life, and of holism tout court remain perfectly compatible with a largely instrumental view of nonhuman nature. What about ukama? Unlike ubuntu, this concept “asserts that a person can only be a person in, with and through not just other people [those who are still alive as well as ancestors] and but also in, with and through the natural environment.”62 As Murove explains, ukama – meaning “relatedness”63 – “is a Shona word implying relationship and an understanding of reality in terms of interdependence. Grammatically ukama is an adjective constructed u-kama . . . Kama becomes a word meaning to milk a cow or goat. In Shona thought the idea of milking suggests closeness and affection.”64 Tellingly, the “closeness” in question derives from an animal being used, first and foremost, for human ends and purposes. Indeed, “umuntu [man] is always in need of others and these others, as suggested in ukama, also imply the natural environment”65 – just insofar as, one might add, the “natural environment” (which may be taken to include animals) meets and satisfies umuntu’s needs, whether personal, cultural, or other. Murove continues, “In its adjectival form, ukama means being related or belonging to the same family. However, in Shona, as in many other African languages, the meaning of ukama is not restricted to marital or blood ties. This culture tends to see all people as hama (relatives).”66 Note the phrase “all people” – which effectively excludes nonhuman animals and the environment. Therefore, any non-anthropocentric orientation that Prozesky (or Murove himself) perceives in African ethics appears to be illusory – that is, not properly founded. Similarly, Le Grange’s assertion that “the idea of oneness of humans with nature expressed in Arne Naess’s . . . deep ecology, and the notion of wholeness of the earth expressed in James Lovelock’s Gaia . . . , have resided among African peoples for many centuries through notions such as ukama”67 is rather misleading in that it contains a false analogy. Neither Naess’s nor Lovelock’s concepts or ethics are human-centered – unlike ukama. Even if this verdict appears too harsh, a further, important question concerns umuntu’s actual responsibilities with regard to nonhuman nature. The mere moral injunction, to “harmonise [humanity’s] behaviour with the natural environment,”68 does not tell much about umuntu’s concrete, specific responsibilities and duties. In fact, such “harmonization” could be – and indeed has been – considered compatible with, and could perhaps even be considered to require, the bare-handed slaughtering of bulls, for the sake of “good relations” between umuntu and amadlozi (ancestors) and even “future generations.” Insofar as ubuntu and ukama have any action-guiding content at all, this is unlikely to have any primary, direct beneficiaries other than human beings.

Concluding Thoughts African religious morality is essentially anthropocentric. Because evil originates with human beings and not with God, countervailing morality is characteristically seen to be a matter of human relationships. The idea of ubuntu designates a fundamentally human-centered concern, 30

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but ukama on the other hand involves the assumption that animals (as an important part of creation) are also part of the community and relationality that bind humans together. Apart from emphasizing mutual dependence and a sense of unity, commentators have invoked the moral imperative of respect. An important reason for respecting animals may be that they actually “embody” deceased human beings. One of the important pillars of traditional African religions is a belief in reincarnation and transmigration of souls – the belief that when someone dies, that person is reincarnated immediately after death as the type of animal whom her or his people regard as their totem.69 Other reasons for respecting animals have more to do with human survival.70 The central concern of this chapter has been investigation of the protection that African religions provide to animals and whether animals are ever seen as also mattering in and of themselves. One can conclude, with some degree of confidence, that although African religions do offer some protection to other-than-human animals (as an essential part of divine creation), such protection remains somewhat arbitrary: animals are hardly ever seen as mattering in and for themselves. Instead, human responsibilities in this regard are based on direct duties to the characteristically human community (including ancestors or the “living-dead”), given belief in the sanctity of a unified (human) society, as well as obligations to God in respect for his creation.

Notes 1 This question was posed by Sidney Blankenship in conversation with me during the recent Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School, also in reference to Native American thought and worldviews. 2 J. S. Krüger, G. J. A. Lubbe, and H. C. Steyn, The Human Search for Meaning: A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind, 2nd ed. (Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik, 2009), 33. 3 T. Sitoto and M. P. More, “African Ethics,” in Handbook for the Code of Professional Ethics, by South African Council of Educators (Scottsville, South Africa: Unilever Ethics Centre/University of Natal, 2002), 54. 4 M. B. Adeyemi and A. A. Adeyinka, “The Principles and Content of African Traditional Education,” Educational Philosophy and Theory 35, no. 4 (2003): 432. 5 Sitoto and More, “African Ethics,” 54; Adeyemi and Adeyinka, “Principles and Content,” 433; N. Mkhize, “Ubuntu and Harmony: An African Approach to Morality and Ethics,” in Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture, ed. R. Nicholson (Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008), 35–44. 6 Krüger, Lubbe, and Steyn, Human Search for Meaning, 35, 37. 7 Krüger, Lubbe, and Steyn, Human Search for Meaning, 34. 8 Contra Krüger, Lubbe, and Steyn, Human Search for Meaning, 35. 9 Krüger, Lubbe, and Steyn, Human Search for Meaning, 35. 10 G. M. Setiloane, African Theology: An Introduction (Johannesburg: Skotaville, 1986), 5. 11 Unlike other African religious traditions (which emphasize belief in a single supreme being), the Yoruba embrace a polytheistic orientation. They are believed to have 401 orisha (or deities), the number 400 signifying a multitude. M. De La Torre, Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 45. 12 “African Creation Myths,” accessed July 16, 2014, 13 Among modern Zulu writers and ordinary Zulu people, the preference appears to be for the name uMveliqangi (see Krüger, Lubbe, and Steyn, Human Search for Meaning, 48). 14 Uthlanga is a vast mythical swamp with reeds “up north” where, according to Zulu tradition, all life began. Umhlanga umhlanga is a reed dance ceremony still practiced today. 15 “African Creation Myths,” accessed July 16, 2014, See also S. A. Thorpe, African Traditional Religions (Pretoria, South Africa: Unisa Press, 1991), 37. 16 “African Creation Myths,” accessed July 16, 2014, What is noteworthy about this tale is that animals were initially (i.e., in their original form) associated with intemperance and feelings of shame. 17 “African Creation Myths,” accessed July 16, 2014,


Kai Horsthemke 18 Thorpe, African Traditional Religions, 20. 19 “African Creation Myths,” accessed July 16, 2014, I leave it to the cynical reader to ponder the implications of this kind of incest for human nature, not to mention certain inconsistencies in this story: the existence of a horn prior to the creation of animals, the putative distinctness between the morning star and the evening star, and so on. 20, accessed July 16, 2014. 21 Aku Kalizangoma, “Chewa Story of Creation,” Explore Malawi (blog), March 18, 2012, accessed July 16, 2014, 22 It is only in the religious orientation of the San (or “Bushmen,” to use a now less than politically correct term) that ancestors do not play a significant role. 23 Mkhize, “Ubuntu and Harmony,” 35–37. 24 For a detailed discussion of one such practice, ukhweshwama, see M. Pickover, “Human Rites and Wrongs: Ukweshwama, Culture and Compassion,” Animal Rights Africa (2009), accessed December 22, 2009, www.; K. Horsthemke, The Moral Status and Rights of Animals (Johannesburg: Porcupine Press, 2010), preface and postscript; and K. Horsthemke, “Animal Sacrifice,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. A. Linzey (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013), 241–43. 25 Ian Player, foreword to Isilwane: The Animal, by C. Mutwa (Cape Town: Struik, 1996), 9–10. 26 C. Mutwa, Isilwane: The Animal (Cape Town: Struik, 1996), 11. 27 Mutwa, Isilwane, 11–12. 28 Mutwa, Isilwane, 13. 29 Mutwa, Isilwane, 13–14. 30 Mutwa, Isilwane, 15. 31 Mutwa, Isilwane, 17. 32 Mutwa, Isilwane, 19. 33 Mutwa, Isilwane, 31–32. 34 Mutwa, Isilwane, 32. 35 Mutwa, Isilwane, 45. 36 Mutwa, Isilwane, 56. 37 Mutwa, Isilwane, 61. 38 Mutwa, Isilwane, 63. 39 Mutwa, Isilwane, 66. 40 Mutwa, Isilwane, 69–70. 41 Mutwa, Isilwane, 75–79. 42 Mutwa, Isilwane, 20. 43 Mutwa, Isilwane, 173. 44 M. B. Ramose, “The Ethics of Ubuntu,” in Philosophy from Africa, 2nd ed., ed. P. H. Coetzee and A. P. J. Roux (Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa, 2002), 325–26; M. B. Ramose, “Ecology through Ubuntu,” in African Ethics: An Anthology of Comparative and Applied Ethics, ed. M. F. Murove (Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2009), 309, 312. 45 M. W. Makgoba, “In Search of the Ideal Democratic Model for SA,” Sunday Times, October 27, 1996, 23; Ramose, “The Ethics of Ubuntu,” 326; C. A. Odora Hoppers, Culture, Indigenous Knowledge and Development: The Role of the University, Occasional Paper No. 5 (Johannesburg: Centre for Education Policy Development, 2005), 4–5; L. Le Grange, “Ubuntu, Ukama and the Healing of Nature, Self and Society,” Educational Philosophy and Theory 44, S2 (2012): 63. 46 Ramose, “Ecology through Ubuntu,” 309, emphasis added. 47 Ramose, “Ecology through Ubuntu,” 312. 48 I would even go so far as to say, contra Le Grange (“Ubuntu, Ukama,” 63), that ubuntu is speciesist. Animals and the biosphere are necessarily defined in terms of human ends and purposes. It may be true that ubuntu “helps us to appreciate . . . that the self is inextricably bound up in relations with the other and the biophysical world” (Le Grange, “Ubuntu, Ukama,” 10) – but then the master (however benevolent) is also inextricably bound up in relations with his slaves. 49 C. A. Odora Hoppers, “Culture, Language, Indigenous Knowledge and the Role of Universities in Sustainable Rural Development,” in Universities in Southern Africa as Catalysts for Sustainable Rural Development: Proceedings of the Conference Hosted by the Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD) and Held at the Kopanong Conference Centre in Johannesburg from 6 to 7 March 2008 (Braamfontein, South Africa:


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50 51 52 53 54 55

56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70

Centre for Education Policy Development, 2008), 30. See also Odora Hoppers, Culture, Indigenous Knowledge and Development, 3. S. Biko, I Write What I Like (Johannesburg: Picador Africa, 2004), 46. Ramose, “Ecology through Ubuntu,” 309. M. Pickover, Animal Rights in South Africa (Cape Town: Double Storey, 2005), 171. See also Pickover, “Human Rites and Wrongs.” M. Letseka, “African Philosophy and Educational Discourse,” in African Voices in Education, ed. P. Higgs, N. Vakalisa, T. Mda, and N. Assie Lumumba (Lansdowne, South Africa: Juta, 2000), 186. M. H. Prozesky, “Well-Fed Animals and Starving Babies: Environmental and Developmental Challenges from Process and African Perspectives,” in African Ethics, ed. Murove, 301. B. Bujo, “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility from an African Perspective,” in African Ethics, ed. Murove, 281–97; M. F. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic Based on the Concepts of Ukama and Ubuntu,” in Murove, African Ethics, 315–31; Prozesky, “Well-Fed Animals”; Le Grange, “Ubuntu, Ukama.” Bujo, “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility,” 284. Bujo, “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility,” 296. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic,” 315–16; Prozesky, “Well-Fed Animals,” 302; Le Grange, “Ubuntu, Ukama,” 61–62. Bujo, “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility,” 281. Bujo, “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility,” 284. Bujo, “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility,” 290, emphasis added. Prozesky, “Well-Fed Animals,” 302. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic,” 302. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic,” 316. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic,” 324. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic,” 316. Le Grange, “Ubuntu, Ukama,” 62. Murove, “An African Environmental Ethic,” 329. Mutwa, Isilwane, 17. Mutwa, Isilwane, 19.

References Adeyemi, M. B., and A. A. Adeyinka. “The Principles and Content of African Traditional Education.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 35, no. 4 (2003): 425–40. Biko, S. I Write What I Like. Johannesburg: Picador Africa, 2004. Bujo, B. “Ecology and Ethical Responsibility from an African Perspective.” In Murove, African Ethics, 281–97. Chitando, E. “Religious Ethics, HIV and AIDS and Masculinities in Southern Africa.” In Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture, edited by R. Nicholson, 45–63. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008. De La Torre, M. Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004. Horsthemke, K. “Animal Sacrifice.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by A. Linzey, 241–43. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Horsthemke, K. The Moral Status and Rights of Animals. Johannesburg: Porcupine Press, 2010. Krüger, J. S., G. J. A. Lubbe, and H. C. Steyn. The Human Search for Meaning: A Multireligion Introduction to the Religions of Humankind. 2nd ed. Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik, 2009. Le Grange, L. “Ubuntu, Ukama and the Healing of Nature, Self and Society.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 44, S2 (2012): 56–67. Letseka, M. “African Philosophy and Educational Discourse.” In African Voices in Education, edited by P. Higgs, N. Vakalisa, T. Mda, and N. Assie Lumumba, 179–93. Lansdowne, South Africa: Juta, 2000. Makgoba, M. W. “In Search of the Ideal Democratic Model for SA.” Sunday Times, October 27, 1996, 23. Mkhize, N. “Ubuntu and Harmony: An African Approach to Morality and Ethics.” In Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture, edited by R. Nicholson, 35–44. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008. Murove, M. F. “An African Environmental Ethic Based on the Concepts of Ukama and Ubuntu.” In Murove, African Ethics, 315–31.


Kai Horsthemke Murove, M. F., ed. African Ethics: An Anthology of Comparative and Applied Ethics. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2009. Murove, M. F. “On African Ethics and the Appropriation of Western Capitalism.” In Persons in Community: African Ethics in a Global Culture, edited by R. Nicholson, 85–110. Scottsville, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2008. Mutwa, C. Isilwane: The Animal. Cape Town: Struik, 1996. Odora Hoppers, C. A. Culture, Indigenous Knowledge and Development: The Role of the University. Occasional Paper No. 5. Johannesburg: Centre for Education Policy Development, 2005. Odora Hoppers, C. A. “Culture, Language, Indigenous Knowledge and the Role of Universities in Sustainable Rural Development.” In Universities in Southern Africa as Catalysts for Sustainable Rural Development: Proceedings of the Conference Hosted by the Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD) and Held at the Kopanong Conference Centre in Johannesburg from 6 to 7 March 2008, 29–35. Braamfontein, South Africa: Centre for Education Policy Development, 2008. Pickover, M. Animal Rights in South Africa. Cape Town: Double Storey, 2005. Pickover, M. “Human Rites and Wrongs: Ukweshwama, Culture and Compassion.” Animal Rights Africa, 2009. Accessed December 22, 2009. human-rites-and-wrongs-ukweshawama-culture-and-compassion. Player, I. Foreword to Isilwane: The Animal by C. Mutwa. Cape Town: Struik, 1996. Prozesky, M. H. “Well-Fed Animals and Starving Babies: Environmental and Developmental Challenges from Process and African Perspectives.” In Murove, African Ethics, 298–307. Ramose, M. B. “Ecology through Ubuntu.” In Murove, African Ethics, 308–14. Ramose, M. B. “The Ethics of Ubuntu.” In Philosophy from Africa, 2nd ed., edited by P. H. Coetzee and A. P. J. Roux, 324–30. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa, 2002. Setiloane, G. M. African Theology: An Introduction. Johannesburg: Skotaville, 1986. Sitoto, T., and M. P. More. “African Ethics.” In Handbook for the Code of Professional Ethics, by South African Council of Educators, 51–56. Scottsville, South Africa: Unilever Ethics Centre/University of Natal, 2002. Thorpe, S. A. African Traditional Religions. Pretoria, South Africa: Unisa Press, 1991.


2 ANGLICAN CHRISTIANITY Animal Questions for Christian Doctrine Lucy Gardner

As a Christian, systematic theologian (neither an ethicist nor an animal specialist), my ambition in this chapter is extremely limited: to articulate in a simple, outline fashion just six of the questions I imagine animals might wish to ask about traditional presentations of Christian doctrine.1 I make no claim to any originality, profundity, or comprehensiveness. Christian discussion of animals often seems to rush ahead too quickly to ethics, but as Andrew Linzey and others have admirably reminded us, any ethical discussion must be based in clear theological – that is, doctrinal – understanding. We also often can be too quick to attempt to answer badly thought-out questions; doing theology well is perhaps always a matter of finding the right questions to attempt to answer. Here I consider just a handful of moments of apparent contradiction and inconsistency, some of them undoubtedly grotesque. I do so not in order to condemn or ridicule Christian doctrine, but to wonder whether we have properly understood it. I do not believe these questions are in any sense unanswerable; rather I believe they point to a number of aspects that might need some more careful thought and explanation. I hope that careful consideration of some of the ways in which animals might find human presentations of Christian doctrine less than convincing might help Christians reach a richer appreciation of the place and role of animals within creation and a better understanding of the ways in which human beings ought to behave toward them. More than this, I hope it will lead to a fuller grasp of the truth I believe is contained within Christian doctrine and therefore to a firmer ground for virtuous living and peaceable coexistence. My first question deals with the conduct of Christian theology and the recurrent problem of anthropocentrism; the others turn to consider the content of Christian doctrine under some of its classical headings. Of these latter questions, the first two consider aspects of the doctrine of creation, under which much of the traditional treatment of animals appears; the third turns to theological anthropology; the fourth considers the doctrine of redemption; the fifth attends to the doctrine of the incarnation; and finally, the sixth probes the doctrine of the image. Other areas that would bear similar consideration include the doctrine of judgment, the doctrine of the church, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Each question could feed several books; I shall not attempt to answer the questions, but I recognize that entertaining them at all requires Christians to assume that we may have misunderstood or misrepresented divine truth and challenges us to attempt to construct perspectives other than our own. Human beings might not in reality be able to “hear” any other animals’ point of view, in the way that we can listen to each other’s, but since we are creatures to whom imagination has been granted, we can at least try to imagine how things might appear to other animals. Indeed, 35

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precisely because we cannot hear their points of view but can nevertheless try to imagine them, surely the basic doctrines of the solidarity of creation and of the responsibilities and stewardship bestowed upon the human creature in particular make it imperative that we try to imagine how things might appear to and for other creatures, even though we can do so only imperfectly.

Question 1: On the Subjects and Conduct of Doctrine and Theology In explaining the structure of his presentation of Christian doctrine in The Christian Faith, F. D. E. Schleiermacher makes the powerful observation that there are but three things for Christian dogmatic theology to consider: God, the world, and human beings.2 Once these have been duly and appropriately discussed, the subject matter of Christian doctrine has been exhausted.3 In his systematic presentation of dogmatic theology, Schleiermacher therefore divides each of the parts according to these three headings. In so doing, he suggests that Christian doctrine is concerned with the nexus and interactions between these three, such that each statement of doctrine might be understood as a particular iteration, from a particular perspective, of the relationships between them; and by the same token, each statement of Christian doctrine might therefore be parsed according to what it says about each of these three. Schleiermacher thus rather neatly (and by no means uniquely) exposes to view some of the fundamental tensions within traditional Christian outlooks, for surely the human being is part of the world. When we speak of the world, of creation, insofar as we speak of it as an entirety, we are already speaking of human beings; and when we speak of human beings, we must also still be speaking of the world and creation. Schleiermacher’s triplet – of God, the world, and the human being – shows how Christian doctrine as a whole can be understood as a set of teachings about human beings in relation to God the Creator on the one hand and in relation to the world, or the rest of creation, on the other, just as it might also be considered as a set of teachings about God in relation to the world as a whole on the one hand and in relation to human beings in particular on the other. The intuition here is that in order to understand oneself, the human being needs to consider both God and the world and the human being’s quite different relationships to each of them. Since human presentations of Christian doctrine are made by humans for humans, it is unsurprising that they often exhibit a tendency to become human-centered, despite their usual stated intention to be fully God-centered. Indeed, there seems to be a perpetual tension in Christian systematic theology between the desire for a theocentric account and outlook on the one hand and the inevitability of an anthropocentric perspective and presentation on the other.4 I imagine, therefore, that animals would want to ask about the relationships between the presentation and the content of Christian doctrine: to what extent are these tendencies toward a certain anthropocentrism a product of the context and purpose of human presentations of Christian doctrine (by humans, for humans), and to what extent (if any) are they in fact a proper part of the doctrine’s content and substance? A cruder way of putting the question might be, is God anthropocentric?5 A more subtle way of asking it would be to inquire, in what senses and to what extent are God and the human being each in any sense properly the subject of theology – either as its voice, its author, its generator, its true agent on the one hand or as its content, its topic, its subject matter on the other?

Question 2: On the Purposes of Creation, the Nature of Creaturehood, and the Place of Creatures in Creation Other creatures in general – animals in particular – often receive surprisingly little attention in treatments of Christian doctrine. When they do appear, it tends to be as part of an account of creation as the situation in which humanity finds itself. As creatures, they are often praised and 36

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wondered at – paraded as clues to and instances of the creatureliness that we share with them – but then as animals they are rather strangely forgotten, reappearing only in passing as objects for human ethical (or unethical) action. Thus, the index to the Catechism of the Catholic Church directs us to its consideration of the seventh commandment if we wish to know what it says about animals and to its exposition of the doctrine of creation if we wish to know what it says about creatures.6 Similarly, Robert Jenson’s extraordinarily generous, impressive, and compelling two-volume Systematic Theology provides an exquisite example of the general difficulty. In the twenty pages headed “The Other Creatures,”7 he proposes consideration of everything that is not human – from galaxy clusters to gravity waves and aardvarks and from angels to the devil. His points are typically adamant and succinct: these are all just as much creatures as we are; they are not to be worshipped; we have “dominion” or, better, “stewardship” over them within our allotted sphere of action; and humanity is the reason for the rest of creation – the creation constitutes the stage and players for our story with God’s son. He considers the heavens and the angels and claims that “when we have finished discussing them, we have said much of what must be said about the rest of creation.”8 Nevertheless, he also boldly asserts that since God delights in the creation, and since creation is, though finite, indefinitely complicated because it is “counterpart to the internal perichoresis of the infinite God,”9 and since each part of creation has its own place and its own beauty, and since “to be human is to participate in the triune conversation that is finally pure music and so pure delight and because all creatures are the matter of this conversation,”10 we should, acknowledging our place in God, also delight in each and every creature, in an explicit extension and modulation of the “second” “great commandment” to love our neighbors as ourselves. The tensions here again seem to relate to the complex relationships between God, the world, and human beings. On the one hand, classical presentations of Christian doctrine tend to assert that all of creation, and therefore each and every creature, exists merely out of, because of, and for God’s free delight and love;11 at the same time, there is usually some version of an insistence that creation is nevertheless in some sense for humanity, either in order to provide the actual possible conditions for human existence or in order to provide the theater in which humanity can be and do all that is ordained for it,12 thus making humanity in some sense indeed the center, the pinnacle, or even (in a relative sense at least) the purpose of the rest of creation. I imagine, therefore, that animals might question how the creation can exist both sheerly for God and God’s good pleasure and also in order to provide for humanity’s various needs, from the most mundane to the highest spiritual realization. Can it be right that all creatures are in fact mutually interdependent, and yet the human creature is at once more dependent on the others and also relatively freer than they?13 In what sense can the rest of creation be truly understood as “for humanity”? And in what senses might this commit humanity to being “for the rest of creation”?14

Question 3: On Theological Anthropology and the Differences between Human and Nonhuman Animals At other points, the Judeo-Christian tradition seems clear that the whole of creation exists merely in order to glorify and worship God and seems equally clear that the whole of creation, especially the nonhuman parts of it, does so merely by existing. Indeed, the only animal who seems, properly speaking, to fail at this is the human being. This leads then from the doctrine of creation to the doctrine of the human being and to the difficult contradictions of its own peculiar privileges and deficiencies, particularly our ability and tendency to sin. 37

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Here again we are concerned with issues of relationship and particularly the difficulties of adequately describing varying sets of differences. Three general schemas tend to dominate (in Western thought at least). The first, which might be called the “difference of one,” focuses on a particular faculty or attribute – for example, reason, will, language, soul, personhood, imagination, memory, ritual, self-awareness, personality, emotion, passion, compassion, or even the capacity to suffer – and then divides between those who have it (in this case human beings) and those who do not (the rest of the animal world). The second schema converts this more explicitly into an apartheid of positive versus negative attributes and might be called the “difference of two” – for example, acting according to reason versus acting according to instinct, ability to manipulate the environment versus need to submit to it, or capacity for love and flourishing versus limitation to individual and perhaps species survival. Again, humans have and enjoy a higher faculty that animals are supposed to lack. Although the second might be better able to accept and recognize underlying commonality – and therefore also better able to consider differences as relative rather than absolute – both of these schemas can be seen as versions of difference conceived as the binary opposition between possession of positive attributes and the lack of them. We should note here that the assertion of the lack of these attributes in other animals often might be little more than assumption or surmise and that close study of individual animals and family groups often challenges the suggestion that they completely lack any of the proposed capacities,15 thus emphasizing just how elusive and unclear these proposed differences are. The third schema, which might be called the “difference of gradation,” seems at first to allow for this. It takes the concept of superiority over inferiority and inflects it through a potentially infinite number of levels of increasing intensity, rather than across the chasm of binary opposition; here human beings are capable of being more rational, more loving, more ethical, and so on than other animals, just as some of them are more capable than some others. Although this might look more like the difference of many, it is still always in fact a difference of one, in which different creatures are judged to be more or less superior according to how much they are believed to have or lack some particular attribute. Belief in human superiority undergirds all three schemas, and the point of all three is to assert that superiority. Remaining within this framework of more and less, I imagine that animals would wish to challenge us to reflect on the ways in which others might be superior to us and to consider what capacities we lack but they enjoy – for example, the ability to perceive and process a wider spectrum of light, a sensitivity to magnetic fields, the capacity to communicate by smell, the wisdom to be able to relax and enjoy one’s surroundings untroubled by self-doubt or the obsessive pursuit of answers to impossible questions, the lack of separation or alienation from a soul. In particular, I imagine animals would ask, why is the apparent main human deficiency – the ability to sin and the tendency to do so, such that of all animals, human beings seem to fail most spectacularly at giving glory to God – almost always configured as a superiority and privilege? Or when will humans notice that the supposed superiority of free will almost always becomes actual inferiority? I imagine animals would also want to ask whether difference is always to be resolved this simply. Why should difference always be read in terms of possession versus lack and superiority versus inferiority? Are not the most interesting and meaningful differences just differences and not in any sense matters of degree? Why is complexity almost always understood as superiority in the creaturely realm, when simplicity is more highly valued in, for example, mathematical theories or even the divine life itself? How is it that Christian doctrine can assert that each and every “creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection,”16 but claim in almost the same breath that those creatures exist in a hierarchy reflected in the order of creation that 38

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is supposed to move “from the less perfect to the more perfect”17 with the human being as its summit?18

Question 4: On the Extent of the Redemption Worked in Christ It might be argued that the doctrine of redemption forms the center of Christian faith. To be Christian is to believe that Christ saves. Questions in this area strike at Christian doctrine’s distinctive core subject matter: the nature of God’s action in the world and in particular God’s continuing involvement in leading the creation to its intended end. Questions about creation consider the role of animals in the world as it was made and as it is found today. Questions about the redemption consider the place animals might enjoy in the recreated order and the consummation of all things and how that might illumine our understanding of their true nature. In the Nicene creed that clearly and rightly informs a great deal of Christian understanding, Christians proclaim that the one Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, came down from heaven, was incarnate, suffered, was buried, and rose again and that he did so “for us men” (i.e., “for us human beings”) and “for our salvation.” Here is perhaps the nugget at the heart of Christianity’s apparent anthropocentrism, a center of gravity so strong that it sometimes threatens idolatrously to eclipse God as the true center of everything. At the same time, one of the most oft-quoted verses of scripture (John 3:16) proclaims that the sending of the Son was on account of God’s love for the world, not just human beings. Here, then, I imagine that animals would simply want to question whether Christ saves them – and if so, how, from what, and to what. If human beings are freed from their slavery to sin, are animals simply to be freed from the consequences of the Fall and that human slavery, or do they have their own failures, slaveries, and hells from which they too need to be saved? Is it in any sense individual animal lives that will be saved, or does the new creation simply contain new, perhaps evolved versions of the old species, enjoying some genetic or even abstracted continuity, but no personal, individual enduring existence? Animals have certainly populated Judeo-Christian visions of heaven, including indeed animals in renewed relationships with each other.19 If it will be wrong, indecent, or unthinkable for animals to kill and eat each other in heaven, to what extent can it be genuinely considered natural – in the sense of being in accordance with their true nature, rather than merely in terms of their current so-called natural state – for them to do so now? At this point, I imagine animals’ questions might pursue distinctly moral avenues: in what sense can it truly ever be right for human beings to eat animals at all? Lions might not be able, in their fallen state, to choose not to eat lambs, but human beings can make that choice. If human beings are called to try to live already in the present according to the order of the peaceable kingdom that they eagerly await, how should this impact on their treatment of nonhuman animals?

Question 5: On the Focus of the Incarnation Human beings are saved, in most classical treatments, by the Son of God’s act of becoming human.20 Insofar as this is the heart of the faith, we see here another significant part of the pressure toward a certain anthropocentrism in Christianity, along with another cause for animals to wonder whether and how they might be included in the redemption. But again a significant tension must be noted. The prologue to John’s Gospel proclaims not that Christ became human, but that he became flesh, a part of the world, even a “creature” of sorts. Indeed, this is the doctrine of incarnation and not the doctrine of “enhumanization.” One answer to the question of whether Jesus saves blue whales and aardvarks, Martians and viruses, and rocks 39

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and waves and electrons is to argue that since Christ saves human beings by assuming their nature, these other creatures would need to be saved in a manner befitting their natures. The answer is no doubt good insofar as it goes, but it surely raises the further, perhaps unanswerable question of whether or not human beings share enough of their true nature with any or all of these creatures such that the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ might also be an assumption of their nature. I imagine here that animals would wish to ask simply this: to what extent and in what ways are animals included in and affected by the incarnation? Does Christ save all creatures by actually assuming human nature, just as he saves all women by in fact becoming a man? Is a series of assumptions necessary, or does the one suffice? And indeed, are there other modes of redemption apart from assumption?

Question 6: On the Doctrine of the Image We have returned to our beginning and to questions about the nature of humanity’s particular role in the world. The doctrine of the incarnation highlights the contradictions between the ways in which humanity is sometimes understood as part of creation and sometimes understood over and against all other creatures. The rather strange and at times strained set of relationships in Schleiermacher’s triplet of God, the world, and the human being is brought into renewed focus when we realize that, in Christian doctrine, the one human being who stands at the center of this triangulation, Jesus the Christ, is also God. For Christianity, this person is in himself the nexus between God, the world, and human beings; he is the human being who is in some sense the coincidence of Creator, creation, and creature. The tensions of human existence thus receive a new configuration insofar as the human being is caught in some sense “between” God and the world.21 If the whole world is in any sense to be saved as the result of the salvation of human beings in the incarnation, then the human being must in some sense be representative of creation. At the same time, the theologically definitive difference between human beings and all other creatures generally has been understood to be that although all things are made through the Son, it is only human beings who are made “in God’s image.” This has fed that sense of superiority, that sense of a certain distance from the rest of creation and all other creatures, including the angels who might otherwise be considered “higher” than human beings. All creatures exist only as manifestly not-God, and human beings are part of creation and in this sense one with all other creatures, but at the same time human beings have also been seen as “more like God” than other creatures.22 It is all too easy to imagine some of the questions animals might wish to ask about human conclusions concerning the ethical import of humans’ unique creation in God’s image, but that would again be to rush ahead too quickly. We need first to understand what this doctrine of the image actually attempts to say. An icon never exists for itself; an icon is there to be used by God to draw others to God through it. So if human beings are understood to bear God’s image, to carry an icon of God within themselves, an icon that must ultimately be identified as Jesus Christ, who is the image in whom we are made – if the human being is understood to be in any sense an icon – then I imagine that animals might well wish to ask, for whom and to whom are humans intended to carry or be an icon of God? Indeed, to whom are humans intended to be godlike, if not to the rest of creation – angels and demons, slugs and snails, blue whales and lettuces, amoeba, rocks, crystals, and the rest? And so finally for a moment to the topic of “animal ethics”: I imagine that animals might well wish to ask whether, far from securing humans’ right to use other creatures for their own supposed needs,23 the doctrine of the image, in committing humans to being like God, in fact commits human beings to treating supposedly lesser beings with love, respect, justice, and mercy; 40

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to taking delight in them for their own sake; to making sacrifices for them, rather than of them; and to nurturing and protecting them, whatever the cost may be.

Notes 1 In this I am aware that my approach is heavily influenced by my reading of and engagement with feminist theology. 2 Paragraph 30 states, “All propositions which the system of Christian doctrine has to establish can be regarded either as descriptions of human states, or as conceptions of divine attributes and modes of action, or as utterances regarding the constitution of the world.” F. D. E. Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, trans. H. R. MacKintosh and J. S. Steward (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1928), 125. 3 Indeed, there can be nothing left for anyone to talk about, for nothing exists alongside the Creator, the creation, and creatures. 4 This tension causes problems for Schleiermacher and leads to accusations that, worse than becoming anthropocentric, he replaces theology with anthropology. 5 Just as feminists have asked to what extent God is really biased toward men and liberation theologians have asked whether God is really on the side of the rich rather than the poor. 6 See Catechism of the Catholic Church (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1994), 650, referring to paras. 2415–18; and 638, referring to paras. 339, 340, 342, 343, 344, 346, 353. 7 Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), vol. 2, 112–32. 8 Jenson, Systematic Theology, 117. 9 Jenson, Systematic Theology, 129. 10 Jenson, Systematic Theology, 130. 11 We should note that each of these prepositions is importantly different and carries a rather different explanatory force from the others. 12 It is also sometimes the stage for God’s action and, in process theology, even the necessary means for God’s self-actualization. 13 Again, I am reminded of at least a resonance with – if not an extension of, parallel to, or analogy with – feminist despair at the classical assertion that men and women are equal alongside the suggestion that woman is in some sense created for the benefit of man. 14 This represents a theme to which my final question will return. 15 For example, animals can clearly suffer, and many can become anxious. Elephants appear to be selfaware, can become psychologically disturbed, can remember places and family members, and appear to practice burial rituals. Dolphins can clearly communicate, chimpanzees can be Machiavellian, cats can become fond or scared of other creatures, dogs have personalities and can certainly predict and anticipate the actions of others, squirrels can solve problems, and the list goes on. 16 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 78, para. 339. 17 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 79, para. 342. 18 The confusing, contradictory uses of the words “perfection” and “perfect” are not the only semantic problem here. Why, when positive characteristics are being considered, are humans and other animals both “creatures,” but when these differences of higher and lower degree are under discussion, the word “animal” always denotes something lower than or different from humans, such that it is an insult to accuse a human being of being “an animal” or of following “animalistic instincts,” when human beings are quite clearly animals? Indeed, animals might wonder where this name comes from and exactly how it relates to its obvious Latin root anima. 19 Here the human being might be permitted a few inquisitive questions of the animals: Does the lion long to be freed from the need to eat meat? Do lambs long to live longer than their few brief months before their slaughter? 20 Feminist theology has surely recalled theological treatments of Christian doctrine to profound appreciations of the ways in which the creeds proclaim and celebrate that the Son of God became human, rather than a male human being. 21 This is one of the fundamental insights that guide Hans Urs von Balthasar’s dramatic, Christological, theological anthropology. For a brief and admirably clear introduction to this, see Angelo Scola’s Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Theological Style (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), chaps. 8 and 9. 22 It is the superiority granted by this link of likeness, coupled with the divine command that humans tend the world around them, that has often been used to defend humans’ right to use animals for their own


Lucy Gardner (supposedly good) purposes (within reason), including for food, clothing, and rescuing life. These factors also have been used to underscore humans’ responsibility to treat other creatures well and fairly. 23 And here we should note that the tradition is clear that it is the use of animals to meet our needs that might be defensible, not the use of animals for sheerly self-indulgent, materialistic gratification and pleasure: if food and clothing and perhaps medicine might be permitted, does defensible use really also extend to weapons, golf clubs, handbags, and car seats?

References Catechism of the Catholic Church. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1994. Jenson, Robert. Systematic Theology. Vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Theology. London: SCM, 1994. Linzey, Andrew, and Dorothy Yamamoto, eds. Animals on the Agenda: Questions about Animals for Theology and Ethics. London: SCM, 1998. Schleiermacher, F. D. E. The Christian Faith. Translated by H. R. MacKintosh and J. S. Steward. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1928. Reprint, 1986. Scola, Angelo. Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Theological Style. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995.


3 BUDDHISM Paradox and Practice – Morally Relevant Distinctions in the Buddhist Characterization of Animals Alex Bruce

Introduction Within the Christian and Buddhist spiritual traditions, the status of animals is subordinated to that of human beings. It has been that way since the start, and although the intervening millennia have done little to soften that characterization of animals, contemporary Christian theologians are working to recover the place of animals within the scope of God’s created order. Andrew Linzey, for example, rightly notes that despite its “poor record” on animals, Christian theology also can provide strong foundations for a characterization of animals where they “do not have value just in relation to us, but to their Creator.”1 However, despite characterizing animals as inferior to humans, the Buddhist tradition did not then move from a premise of subordination to a conclusion of permissible exploitation of animals in the way that Western societies did. The “morally relevant distinction” between humans and animals that has been accepted by the Christian West – and that appears to have justified the differential treatment of animals – was never accepted by the Buddhist tradition. Consequently, within traditional Buddhist societies the desire for and rise of animal rights movements (as understood in the modern sense) advocating the end of animal exploitation never developed.2 How and why did this apparent “subordination without exploitation” paradox in the Buddhist characterization of animals develop? How does the Buddhist tradition explain and hold in creative tension the relative subordinate status of animals on the one hand and its insistence that all sentient beings have the potential for enlightenment on the other? This chapter seeks answers to these questions. It does so by exploring responses to several interrelated issues. It begins by tracing the origin and consequences of the morally relevant distinction between humans and animals currently drawn by Western societies that justifies their subordination and exploitation. It locates the origins of that morally relevant distinction in the Aristotelian conception that because animals are incapable of higher reasoning abilities, they occupy a lower place on the scala naturae (Great Chain of Being). However, this historical investigation also suggests that Aristotle’s views do not then necessarily support the conclusion that because they lack higher reasoning abilities, animals may be exploited to satisfy human wants and needs. 43

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The chapter then explores the Buddhist conception of animals. It notes that like Western philosophy, Buddhism also regards animals as lacking the capacity for higher rational thought and thus considers a human rebirth to be optimal for progression in spiritual practice. However, drawing on both primary sources in the sutras and commentary on them, this discussion also demonstrates how the relatively unfortunate status of animals, lacking in higher rational abilities, does not then form a sufficient morally relevant distinction for justifying the exploitation of them. This is because Buddhist Abhidharma texts and epistemological material would characterize the “mind” that engages in higher rational thought (and that was so important to Aristotle) as simply the coarse level of a very subtle mind that continues to take rebirth within a karmically determined universe. Within this universe, animals and humans share an existential solidarity in seeking happiness and avoiding suffering in the endless cycles of rebirth. For Buddhists, because the very subtle mind may take rebirth in human or animal form, it is inconceivable that animals should be exploited to satisfy the wants and needs of humans, and thus Buddhists often engage in animal liberation practices. The lack of higher rational capacity in animals is therefore not a sufficient morally relevant distinction justifying their exploitation. Accordingly, Buddhists are able to maintain the apparently contradictory view that although animals occupy a lower position than humans in the universal hierarchy, they should not then be exploited to satisfy human wants and needs.

Origin of the West’s “Morally Relevant Distinction” between Humans and Animals How and why did Western, Christian societies form the view that animals are lesser creatures than humans and, as such, can be characterized as commodities to satisfy human wants and needs? The starting point for any analysis of animal rights or interests and the characterization of animals in contemporary Western society can be traced to the influence of Aristotle. Nobel laureate philosopher Bertrand Russell acknowledges that “throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in logic or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of opposition from Aristotle.”3

Aristotle Denies Reason to Animals Aristotle was a student of Plato and went on to become tutor to Alexander the Great.4 “Aristotelianism” is the term given to the school of philosophical thought associated with Aristotle and “amounts to the largest surviving philosophical oeuvre from classical antiquity and the most important and influential.”5 It is difficult to overestimate the extent to which Aristotle’s works have shaped contemporary Western civilization, and it is generally accepted that it is Aristotelianism that has “exercised the deeper and more lasting historical influence on Western thought.”6 Aristotle’s writings about animals are puzzling and have generated divergent views about what he really thought about them. Aristotle wrote several books devoted to the study of animals in which his admiration and affection for all forms of animals are obvious.7 His texts on animals can be divided into two groups: (1) zoological/biological texts explicitly devoted to the study of animals8 and (2) political/ethical texts in which animals are mentioned but are not the explicit subject of the texts.9 Based on a reading of these texts, the standard Aristotelian view of animals that remains to this day is constructed. An example of that standard view is presented by Steven Wise in his text Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals: “ancient philosophers claimed that all nonhuman animals had been designed and placed on this earth just for human beings.”10 44


This view is reinforced through selective reading of parts of Aristotle’s works, particularly sections of The Politics, where Aristotle writes, Plants exist for the sake of animals and brute beasts for the sake of humans – tame ones for the use he can make of them as well as for the food they provide; and as for wild animals, most though not all can be used for food or are useful in other ways: clothing and instruments can be made out of them. If nature makes nothing without some end in view, nothing to no purpose, it must be that nature has made all of them for the sake of man.11 In an earlier passage in The Politics, Aristotle claims that human slaves are living property and that slavery is a natural phenomenon because one group must rule over another.12 Stephen Newmeyer explains that when this earlier passage concerning slavery is then read with the one about animals just cited here, the basics of Aristotle’s teleology are revealed, where all natural things are located in a graduated scale and designed toward some end (telos).13 The inevitable conclusion from Aristotle’s teleology is that “just as it is natural for one man to rule over another, so it is natural for humans to rule over animals, for they are intended for man’s use in the same way that some humans are intended for the use of other humans.”14 According to Gary Steiner, the “bald assertion that animals exist entirely for the sake of human beings . . . has done much to cement Aristotle’s reputation as a hard-line speciesist.”15 Aristotle’s reputation as a “hard-line speciesist” continues over two thousand years after his death. Aristotle’s writings concerning animals raise three important questions: First, how does Aristotle reach his conclusions about animals? Second, given the variety of Aristotle’s writings about animals, is it accurate to reduce his belief about animals to the standard view expressed here? (In other words, has Aristotle been framed?) And third, whatever the answer to these questions, what do Aristotle’s views have to do with the earlier discussion about the creation of morally relevant distinctions justifying the differential and exploitative treatment of animals?

Aristotle Causes a Crisis In recent years scholars have initiated a ressourcement in recovering and evaluating the texts of ancient philosophers concerning animals. One of those scholars, Richard Sorabji, commences his text by stating his intention to show that “a crisis was provoked when Aristotle denied reason (logos) to animals.”16 Entire treatises have been devoted to exhaustively exploring the crisis referred to by Sorabji, and it is well beyond the scope of this article to offer an evaluation of that scholarship.17 However, it is appropriate to set out Aristotle’s basic philosophical framework in relation to animals in order to answer the questions posed previously. Before Aristotle, philosophers such as Hippocrates, Pythagoras, and Plato, collectively referred to as “pre-Socratic” thinkers, did not draw the hard-line distinction between humans and animals that contemporary Western society draws.18 For these pre-Socratic philosophers, the awareness with which humans and animals go about their actions is the result of certain faculties of the soul, but these philosophers “do not see human reason as the sign of an essential distinction, between animals and humans.”19 Aristotle overturned this view by arguing that awareness must be a function of reason, and though he admitted that animals have sensation (feelings), he denied them the capacity for reasoning that enables humans to search for and participate in the good life and in community or politics.20 45

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For Aristotle, therefore, the physical movements of humans and the activities they engage in are the result of reason directing the will. However, although animals do possess some awareness in the form of sense perception, Aristotle explains their movements and reactions to the environment without the need to impute reason.21 Two important consequences follow from these views. First, Aristotle appears to be creating a natural hierarchy in which plants differ from animals and animals differ from humans in substance. For Aristotle, the substantial difference between animals and humans is the lack of reasoning ability in the former. Second, Aristotle seems to be saying that animals thus may be exploited by humans since the lower may be exploited by the higher: “what is by nature superior should govern what is inferior. Non-human creatures are entirely without reason and it is only proper that they should be used for human purposes.”22 These conclusions and the hierarchical ordering of plants, animals, and humans found in Aristotle’s work have led some scholars to suggest that Aristotle created what is sometimes called a scala naturae or “Great Chain of Being.”23 The scala naturae suggests there is a linear progression of organisms from the simple to the more complex. According to some scholars, although there is some form of continuity between species, animals are essentially at a lower “level” than humans and thus are available for use by humans.24 The consequence of this scala naturae for the status of animals is captured by Ryder: Aristotle did not deny that men and women were animals, but placed them (as the most rational of animals) at the head of a natural hierarchy and proposed that the less rational exist to serve the purposes of the more rational. Even slaves, although human and capable of feeling pleasure and pain were considered to be less rational and, therefore, open to justifiable exploitation by the more rational.25 It is this second conclusion – that animals are available for exploitation by humans – that is controversial. I do not believe that Aristotle’s writings about animals are so unequivocal that this conclusion of permissible exploitation follows. In fact, there is a body of contemporary scholarship that questions this apparently inevitable conclusion.

Rehabilitating Aristotle? Other scholars agree that although Aristotle did create this hierarchical taxonomy (classification) of organisms, he did not create a scala naturae intended to support the exploitation of animals by humans. Scholars such as Martha Nussbaum suggest, “Aristotle does rank lives but he does not hold in general that one species exists for the sake of another. Each species’ nature (or characteristic form of life) is its end.”26 This last sentence contains an important observation. In his writings on animals, Aristotle regarded all instances of life as being ends in themselves because he believed that all living creatures were organized to both maintain themselves and flourish in ways that were appropriate to each creature.27 For this reason, each animal is an end in himself or herself and not merely a means to someone else’s end, a line of thinking that anticipates the writing of German philosopher Immanuel Kant. However, other scholars argue that Aristotle did intend to create a hierarchy of creation, but that the reasoning used by Aristotle to create it and hence the implications drawn from that reasoning have been misrepresented.28 If Aristotle did suggest a form of hierarchy, or “Great Chain” of living creatures, but did not then go on to suggest that creatures lower on that chain could be exploited by humans who were higher on the chain, what did he mean? Perhaps influenced by notions of class structure 46


and the theory of evolution, scholars have tended to impute value judgments to Aristotle’s works concerning animals in ways that privilege humans as “superior” while relegating animals to an “inferior” status. Gary Steiner notes the natural conclusion drawn from Aristotle: If Aristotle denies reason and belief to animals, then this statement about a natural hierarchy in which animals stand below human beings might appear to follow quite directly: in virtue of our rational capacity, we humans stand above all non-rational beings in the hierarchy of nature, and these non-rational beings exist simply to satisfy our needs and desires.29 In fact, a closer reading of Aristotle’s works concerning nature generally and animals particularly suggests that he thought of nature in terms of units of increasing complexity rather than in terms of “better” or “worse.”30 Imputing value judgments to Aristotle’s natural taxonomy opens the way for the exploitation of those entities lower down on the scale of being. However, I believe further scholarship into an overlooked issue will expose the weakness of this reasoning.

An Overlooked Issue? Orthodox scholarship concerning Aristotle’s previously discussed writings on animals quickly moves from statements in The Politics about the subordinate status of animals to the right possessed by humans to use and exploit those animals. The movement from the premise of animal inferiority to the conclusion of permissible exploitation generally rests on an interpretation of Book I, chapter 5, of The Politics, in which Aristotle seeks to demonstrate that slavery is part of a universal pattern.31 That conclusion is summarized by Ernest Barker in his translation of The Politics: There is a principle of rule and subordination in nature at large: it appears in the realm of animate creation. By virtue of that principle, the soul rules the body; and by virtue of it the master, who possess the rational faculty of the soul, rules the slave, who possesses only bodily powers and the faculty of understanding the directions given by another’s reason.32 Because animals lack rational capacity, a relationship of justice between animals and humans is impossible, a view Aristotle later affirms in the Nicomachean Ethics in discussing affections in various degrees of friendships.33 Absent, however, are reasons given for the conclusion that because slaves, women, and animals exist in these inferior relationships (to white Greek men), they may therefore be exploited. Likewise, there is an absence in the wider literature investigating this apparently assumed conclusion. It is not within the scope of this chapter to deconstruct Aristotle’s reasoning on this point and to offer a normative alternative. However, textual support is hinted at in a passage in The Politics where Aristotle suggests that it is better for both slaves and animals to be benevolently ruled over by their masters than to suffer in the wild world beyond the master’s household.34 If Aristotle’s views about animals are to be rehabilitated for the twenty-first century, then it would be useful for scholarship to explore this little-developed notion of benevolence and care. Future scholarship might then build upon Martha Nussbaum’s observation that a frequently overlooked aspect of Aristotle’s work on animals is his teleological vision for animals.35 Nussbaum argues that far from advocating the exploitation of animals, Aristotle actually “articulates a notion of flourishing for animals [and] regards each animal as an end in itself, each as the 47

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measure of its own type of flourishing.”36 These views find much support in Buddhist philosophy. Accordingly, how might Buddhist philosophers respond to Aristotle’s reasoning and its subsequent appropriation and interpretation by Western society?

The Buddhist Conception of Animals After his experience of enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, spent the next forty or so years traveling throughout the Indian subcontinent, teaching his insights, called “the Dharma,” to all those who would listen. Then, as now, India was predominantly Hindu in religious orientation, but the Buddha “saw how superstitious folk, steeped in ignorance, slaughtered animals in worship of their gods.”37 Animal sacrifice was a common element of ancient religious practice across the world, and in response, the Buddha said, “Of Life, which all can take but none can give, life which all creatures love and strive to keep, wonderful, dear and pleasant unto each, even to the meanest.”38 The Buddha was clearly compassionate toward animals, and he was brutally realistic in recognizing the suffering they experienced on a daily basis: “I could speak on in many a way about the realm of the animals, and yet not be able to express in words how dreadful the sufferings there (in the animal realm) are.”39 Animals therefore share a solidarity with humans in their experience of suffering in the realm of their existence. Buddhist cosmology posits the existence of six “realms” that may be inhabited by sentient beings: (1) hell realm, (2) animal realm, (3) hungry ghost realm, (4) human realm, (5) asura realm, and (6) god realm.40 All inhabitants of these existential states of existence, whether embodied or disembodied, share the experience of suffering, even if that suffering is quite subtle. Similarly, all sentient beings in the six realms share the search for happiness and the avoidance of suffering (Sanskrit: dukkha). They all share the experience of aging, sickness, and death and then rebirth propelled by their accumulated karma. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, these common experiences are represented iconographically by the “Wheel of Life” (Sanskrit: Bhavachakra; Tibetan: ིད་པའི་འཁོར་ལོ་ [srid pai’ ‘khor lo]), through which all sentient beings circle endlessly within samsara under the control of death. However, despite this existential solidarity, animals are considered to suffer terribly in comparison to humans, and thus, animals find it difficult if not impossible to engage in the cultivation of virtue, wisdom, and compassion, which are the causes for liberation and enlightenment: “animals clearly have much less of a capacity for choice than humans, and if they are virtuous, for example less greedy, or generous, this is more an expression of their existing character, or a response to an encouraging human example, than any deliberate desire for moral development.”41 In these circumstances, animals are thought to be largely motivated by instinct or reflex to engage in negative behavior, producing karma that results in more suffering. Therefore, all Buddhist traditions propose that optimal spiritual progress can be made from a human rebirth. This is reflected time and again in the Buddhist religious texts. For example, in his Lam Rim Chenmo (Tibetan: ལམ་རིམ་ཆེན་མོ), The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, the celebrated Tibetan Buddhist monk and scholar Lama Tsong Khapa (1357–1419) urges Buddhists to repeatedly meditate on the suffering of animals as a way of cultivating awareness of their “precious human rebirth.”42

Buddhist Morally Relevant Distinctions Buddhists therefore distinguish between animals and humans on the basis of their capacity to engage in spiritual practice: “humans are ‘superior’ primarily in terms of their capacities for moral action and spiritual development.”43 This distinction is suspiciously similar to the Aristotelian 48


view that animals differ from humans in their lack of rational capacity. It might be argued that since moral action and spiritual development depend on the exercise of choice of action in body, speech, and mind within the context of a karmically influenced universe, Buddhism does posit the absence of rational capacity in animals as a morally relevant distinction. There are two reasons that this suspicion is oversimplified. First, it is true that Buddhist philosophy considers the possession of rational capacity a significant advantage; however, the mere possession of such capacity is no guarantee of spiritual progression. It is the use of rational abilities to cultivate wisdom and compassion that is determinative. There is ample evidence of animals behaving in ethically superior ways to some humans! Second, even if this similarity to the Aristotelian view is accepted, the Buddhist tradition did not then regard the disadvantageous capacities of animals as a sufficient morally relevant distinction justifying their exploitation for human wants and needs: “the natural expression of such ‘superiority’ is not an exploitative attitude, but one of kindness to lesser beings, an ideal of noblesse oblige.”44

An Absence of Exploitation Practitioners in both the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism, whether monastic or laypersons, undertake to abide by the “Five Precepts.” The first of these is to abstain from killing and to cultivate the opposite: respect for all life.45 Therefore, kindness toward all sentient beings, including animals, is the only possible outcome of spiritual practice. Not only does this kindness benefit other sentient beings; it also benefits the practitioner by ensuring that he or she does not experience future harm as a karmic consequence of present acts of cruelty. For example, it is recorded that the Buddha encountered a group of youths beating a snake with sticks out of fear of being bitten. The Buddha’s response was to warn, “If you don’t want to be harmed, you should also not harm others; if you harm others, you will not find happiness even in your future existence.”46 In the Mahayana schools of Buddhism, practitioners seek enlightenment in order to benefit all sentient beings; a motivation referred to as the “mind of enlightenment” or Bodhichitta (Sanskrit; Tibetan: ང་ བ་ཀྱི་སེམས་ [byang chub kyi sems]) is the hallmark of a “Bodhisattva,” one who engages in compassionate and wise practices (referred to as the six or ten paramitas or “perfections”) intended to benefit all sentient beings.47 Although not without some controversy, there is a long history in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of practicing animal liberation as an expression of compassion for all sentient beings.48

Answering Aristotle Any Buddhist engagement with the Aristotelian conception of animals must proceed with care. It is not sufficient to simply claim that the philosophy is “outmoded” or “out of touch” or even “cruel.” As Catholic philosopher James Franklin notes in response to attacks on Catholic philosophy, it or some of those promoting it may or may not suffer from those defects, but that does not bear on whether the philosophy itself or the conclusions from it are true. Answers to them must be in the same terms – either an explanation of why the principles of that philosophy are wrong, or argument that the conclusions deduced about particular cases from those principles do not follow. A dryer task than expressing indignation, perhaps, but the only relevant way to proceed.49 49

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Buddhists would therefore respond to Aristotle’s conception of animals by arguing that even if his premise about animals lacking higher cognitive abilities is correct, his conclusion of permissible exploitation does not follow. What is the basis of this argument? Within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is a branch of study devoted to epistemology and psychology called Lo Rig (blo rik; ོ་རིག་) exploring the nature of the mind, cognition, and the mind’s functions. Two important and widely studied epistemological texts are the Pramanasamucchaya (“Compendium of Valid Cognition”) by Dignaga (fifth century CE) and a related commentary, the Pramanavartikka (“Commentary on Valid Perception”) by Dharmakirti (seventh century CE). These texts and related Buddhist Abhidharma literature identify, define, and clarify differences between perceptual and conceptual consciousnesses and how wisdom is developed through valid analysis and investigation. According to these texts, what might be called the Aristotelian “rational mind” is just one of several levels of consciousness that are collectively referred to as “mind.” Buddhist philosophy identifies at least three levels of mind: (1) coarse, (2) subtle, and (3) very subtle, with the rational or analytic function of mind representing the coarse level. Buddhism holds that after death, the very subtle level of mind continues and takes rebirth subject to the karmic influences.50 Because sentient beings have different levels of mind, including a very subtle mind that takes rebirth, they have the capacity to eventually perfect their mind and eventually achieve enlightenment. The fact that animals lack higher cognitive abilities in comparison to humans may hinder their ability to engage in spiritual practice, but they do have a mind that continues through rebirth and that will eventually experience enlightenment – just like humans. In these circumstances, the lack of higher cognitive ability in animals does not justify their exploitation for human wants and needs. After all, there is no guarantee within the Buddhist system that humans will continue to take human rebirth. In fact, the Tibetan Buddhist texts suggest that since rebirth as a human is the karmic result of pure ethical conduct, and since most humans do not engage in pure ethical conduct, rebirth as an animal is more likely!51 Accordingly, the Buddha counseled against killing and eating animals. In the Brahmajala Sutra, he counseled, “Cultivate compassion, and set living creatures free. All sentient beings of the Six Realms are our father and mothers from former lives. If you kill then and eat them, you are killing and eating your fathers and mothers.”52 Surprisingly, similar views were expressed by other ancient Greek philosophers who did not subscribe to the Aristotelian school.

The Buddha Shares a (Vegetarian) Meal with Pythagoras A careful investigation of Greek philosophy reveals that it does not form a cohesive body of writing. The attention paid to Aristotle was as much a result of the recovery of his writings in the Middle Ages and their adoption by Thomas Aquinas as it was about the intellectual force of his arguments.53 Aristotle was not the only ancient Greek writing about animals. There were other Greek thinkers whose views about animals do not accord with traditional views held by Western, Christian societies. Pythagoras and Plato developed views about animals that resonate with Eastern, Buddhist philosophical views. Pythagoras developed his views independently of established religious traditions because he was teaching five hundred years before Christianity was established, and although he was roughly a contemporary of the Buddha, there is no explicit evidence that Pythagoras adopted Buddhist principles. Nevertheless, contemporary religious scholars are beginning to uncover the “mutually formative contacts between the Greek and Indian philosophical traditions.”54 Theodor Gomperz, for 50


example, argues for an explicit connection between Pythagoras’s thinking and Indian philosophy: “From what people or creed did the sage who was famous above all for this far-reaching ‘inquiry’ borrow the doctrines of metempsychosis? . . . There is a far closer agreement between Pythagorism and the Indian doctrine; not merely in their general features, but even in certain details, such as vegetarianism.”55 Pythagoras himself insisted that he could remember having lived a past life as a Trojan warrior named Euphorbus who had been killed in a siege, and it was said by his followers that Pythagoras was the only human able to remember all his past lives and experiences.56 Accordingly, Pythagoras counseled against killing and eating animals because those animals could well be friends or relatives reborn. In an anecdote told by the sixth-century BCE poet Xenophanes, Pythagoras saw a person cruelly whipping a little puppy and intervened: “Once he was present when a puppy was being beaten, they say, and he took pity and spoke this word: ‘Stop! Do not strike it, for it is the soul of a man who is dear. I recognized it when I heard it screaming.’”57 Like the Buddha, Pythagoras believed that because both humans and animals possessed a consciousness that transmigrated through successive incarnations, it was simply unthinkable to abuse an animal or to eat an animal’s flesh. To both Pythagoras and the Buddha, the absence of higher rational capacities in animals was not a sufficient morally relevant distinction to justify their exploitation to satisfy human wants and needs.

Conclusions Throughout history, humans have demonstrated a distressing tendency to subjugate and exploit entire classes of sentient beings considered to be of “lesser” worth or status in the sight of the dominant social ruling class – typically a patriarchal hierarchy supported by military forces. The roll call of these unfortunates includes indigenous peoples, people of color, ethnic minorities, women, children, and of course, animals.58 At one time or another, each of these classes of sentient beings was characterized as property, available to be exploited by the stronger, ruling majority. With the passage of time, various social justice movements called attention to these more unredeemed aspects of society and initiated the gradual emancipation of slaves, women, and indigenous peoples. Animals have largely remained beyond the scope of these social reforms and to this day remain some of the most exploited sentient beings within society.59 This discussion has demonstrated how the substratum of thought in Western societies justifying the exploitation of animals can be traced to the appropriation of a version of Aristotle’s scala naturae. The lack of higher reasoning abilities in animals has therefore been regarded as a morally relevant distinction that is sufficient for justifying the systematic exploitation of animals in most Western societies. However, although Buddhist philosophy also subordinates the status of animals to that of humans and also admits the lack of higher reasoning abilities in animals, it does not regard that lack as a sufficient morally relevant distinction justifying animals’ exploitation. Buddhist philosophy characterizes the mind that is capable of higher rational thought as simply one “level” of mind that includes several different levels. According to Buddhist Abhidharma literature, it is the very subtle mind that continues after bodily death and takes rebirth. Within the Buddhist universe, humans and animals are simply two forms of sentient beings among many others that continue to take rebirth over and over within a karmically determined universe. Within this universe, humans and animals share a common existential concern to avoid suffering and to experience happiness. 51

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Therefore, according to Buddhist philosophy, as echoed in other ancient Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras, the difference between humans and animals is not one of substance but simply one of degree. For Buddhists, the absence of higher rational capacity in animals is not and has never been a sufficient morally relevant distinction justifying their exploitation.

Notes 1 Andrew Linzey, Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology (New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2009), xii. 2 In the last twenty years, a movement called “socially engaged Buddhism” has emerged, calling attention to the exploitation of animals and to women, children, the environment, and other social issues. 3 Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, 2nd ed. (London: Allen and Unwin, 1961), 212. 4 Aristotle was born in Macedonia in 384 BCE. He studied with Plato for twenty years before becoming tutor to Alexander the Great. Aristotle established “the Lyceum,” his own enormously popular school of philosophy in Athens. After Alexander died in 323 BCE, Aristotle fled Athens ahead of rising anti-Macedonian hostility. Aristotle fled to Chalcis, the principal city on the Greek island of Euboea. Aristotle remained there until his death a year later in 322 BCE. Aristotle’s death is attributed to various causes, including self-administered poison and a stomach disease that may have been some form of cancer. 5 Graham Shipley, John Vanderspoel, David Mattingly, and Lin Foxhall, eds., The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilisation (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 77. 6 Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin, eds., A Companion to Ancient Philosophy (Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 242. 7 Aristotle, History of Animals, On the Parts of Animals, On the Motion of Animals, On the Gait of Animals, and On the Generation of Animals. See the Aristotle Collection, trans. A. L. Peck (London, UK: Loeb Classical Library, 1918). 8 Aristotle’s zoological/biological texts include the Historia Animalium (Inquiry into Animals), De Partibus Animalium (On the Parts of Animals), De Generatione Animalium (On the Generation of Animals), and De Motu Animalium (On the Motion of Animals). See Martha Nussbaum, “Aristotle,” in Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., ed. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996), 165–66. 9 Aristotle’s political/ethical texts mentioning animals most famously include The Politics, Nicomachean Ethics, and De Anima (The Soul). See Margaret Howatson, ed., The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, 2nd ed. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989), 57–59. 10 Steven Wise, Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals (New York, NY: Perseus, 2000), 4. 11 Aristotle, The Politics, trans. T. A. Sinclair (London, UK: Penguin, 1962), Book I, chapter 8, para. 1256b7, 78–79. 12 Aristotle, The Politics, 67. 13 Stephen Newmeyer, Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook (London, UK: Routledge, 2011), 27. 14 Newmeyer, Animals in Greek and Roman Thought, 27. 15 Gary Steiner, Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), 57. 16 Richard Sorabji, Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate (New York, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 7. 17 Martha Nussbaum, Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985); James Lennox, “Aristotle’s Biology and Aristotle’s Philosophy,” in A Companion to Ancient Philosophy, ed. Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin (Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 292. 18 Sorabji, Animal Minds, 53. 19 Sorabji, Animal Minds, 53. 20 Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, trans. J. Thomson, rev. H. Tredennick, introd. J. Barnes (London UK: Penguin, 2004), 146–47. 21 Sorabji, Animal Minds, 63. 22 Angus Taylor, Animals and Ethics (Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press, 2003), 33–34. 23 Charles Singer, A Short History of Biology (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1931). 24 Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1936), 55–58.


Buddhism 25 Richard Ryder, Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes towards Speciesism (Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 22. 26 Martha Nussbaum, “Animal Rights: The Need for a Theoretical Basis,” Harvard University Law Review 114 (2001): 1517n43. 27 Nussbaum, “Animal Rights,” 1519. 28 Steiner, Anthropocentrism, 58. 29 Steiner, Anthropocentrism, 58. 30 Catherine Osbourne, Dumb Beasts and Dead Philosophers: Humanity and the Humane in Ancient Philosophy and Literature (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007), 101–02. 31 Aristotle, The Politics, 66. 32 Aristotle, The Politics of Aristotle, ed. and trans. Ernest Barker (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1958), 11. 33 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 219–20. 34 Aristotle, The Politics of Aristotle, ed. and trans. Ernest Barker, 68–69. 35 Nussbaum, Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium. 36 Nussbaum, “Animal Rights,” 1518. 37 Thera Piyadassi, The Buddha’s Ancient Path (London, UK: Rider, 1964), 19. 38 Piyadassi, The Buddha’s Ancient Path, 20. 39 “The Fool and the Wise Man,” Majjhima Nikaya, quoted in Tony Page, Buddhism and Animals (London, UK: Biddles, 1999), 64. 40 Sadgatikarika (Verses on the Six Pathways of Rebirth), quoted in John Strong, The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008), 39–42. 41 Francis Story, “The Place of Animals in Buddhism,” in Dimensions of Buddhist Thought: Collected Essays (Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publishing Service, 1976), vol. 3, 363. 42 Lama Tsong Khapa, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, ed. Josh Cutler and Guy Newland (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000), vol. 1, 169–70. 43 Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 150–51. 44 Harold Fielding-Hall, The Soul of a People (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Press, 1902), 229. 45 The Five Precepts are (1) abstain from killing, (2) abstain from stealing, (3) abstain from lying, (4) abstain from sexual misconduct, and (5) abstain from intoxicants. Buddhist monastics are to be celibate. See Strong, Experience of Buddhism, 120–21. 46 Walpola Piyananda Thera, Love in Buddhism (Los Angeles, CA: Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, 1990), 30. Although keen observers may detect a hint of Kantian indirect duties in this statement, the Buddha principally advocated for kindness toward animals simply because they do not wish to experience suffering. 47 Roger Walsh, “The Ten Perfections: Qualities of the Fully Enlightened as Described in Buddhist Psychology,” in Beyond Health and Normality: Explorations in Exceptional Psychological Wellbeing, ed. Roger Walsh and Deane H. Shapiro Jr. (London, UK: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983), 218. 48 Henry Shui and Leah Stokes, “Buddhist Animal Release Practices: Historic, Environmental and Public Health Concerns,” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 2 (2008): 181. 49 James Franklin, “Traditional Catholic Philosophy: Baby and Bathwater,” paper presented to the Aquinas Academy Jubilee, Australia, March 9, 2005, 3. 50 Lati Rinboche and Elizabeth Napper, Mind in Tibetan Buddhism (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1981), 43. 51 Lama Tsong Khapa, Great Treatise, 162. 52 Brahamajala Sutra, first sutra in the Digha Nikaya, in Maurice Walshe, trans., The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya, 2nd ed. (Boston, MA: Wisdom, 2005), 66ff. 53 Richard E. Rubenstein, Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2003). 54 Thomas McEvilley, The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (New York, NY: Allworth Press, 2002), 98. 55 Theodor Gomperz, The Greek Thinkers: A History of Ancient Philosophy (London, UK: John Murray, 1920), 126–27. 56 Margaret Shipley et al., The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilization (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 737. It should also be noted that Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, was said to have remembered all his past lives while attaining enlightenment, and in the twentieth century, the American Edgar Cayce was alleged to possess similar abilities. Likewise, practitioners and patients of hypnotic regression therapy invariably report having experienced past lives.


Alex Bruce 57 Diogenes Laertius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2009), book 8, 338. 58 Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred (New York: NY: Allen Lane, 2006). 59 Jerry Anderson, “Protection for the Powerless: Political Economy History Lessons for the Animal Welfare Movement,” Stanford Journal of Animal Law and Policy 4 (2011): 1.

References Anderson, Jerry. “Protection for the Powerless: Political Economy History Lessons for the Animal Welfare Movement.” Stanford Journal of Animal Law and Policy 4 (2011): 1. Aristotle. History of Animals, On the Parts of Animals, On the Motion of Animals, On the Gait of Animals, and On the Generation of Animals: The Aristotle Collection. Translated by A. L. Peck. United States: Loeb Classical Library, 1918. Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by J. Thomson, revised by H. Tredennick, and introduced by J. Barnes. London, UK: Penguin, 2004. Aristotle. The Politics. Translated by T. A. Sinclair. London, UK: Penguin, 1962. Aristotle. The Politics of Aristotle. Edited and translated by Ernest Barker. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1958. Corse, Taylor. “Dryden’s ‘Vegetarian’ Philosopher: Pythagoras.” Eighteenth-Century Life 34, no. 1 (2010): 1. Ferguson, Niall. The War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred. New York: NY: Allen Lane, 2006. Fielding-Hall, Harold. The Soul of a People. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Press, 1902. Franklin, James. “Traditional Catholic Philosophy: Baby and Bathwater.” Paper presented to the Aquinas Academy Jubilee, Australia, March 9, 2005. Gill, Mary Louise, and Pierre Pellegrin, eds. A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Oxford, UK: WileyBlackwell, 2009. Gomperz, Theodor. The Greek Thinkers: A History of Ancient Philosophy. London, UK: John Murray, 1920. Harvey, Peter. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Howatson, Margaret, ed. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989. Laertius, Diogenes. The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2009. Lennox, James. “Aristotle’s Biology and Aristotle’s Philosophy.” In A Companion to Ancient Philosophy, edited by Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Linzey, Andrew. Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology. New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2008. Lovejoy, Arthur. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1936. Maclean, Todd. Voices from the Past: A Classical Anthology. London, UK: Readers Union, 1956. McEvilley, Thomas. The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. New York, NY: Allworth Press, 2002. Newmeyer, Stephen. Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook. London, UK: Routledge, 2011. Nussbaum, Martha. “Animal Rights: The Need for a Theoretical Basis.” Harvard University Law Review 114 (2001): 1506. Nussbaum, Martha. “Aristotle.” In Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., edited by Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996. Nussbaum, Martha. Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. Osbourne, Catherine. Dumb Beasts and Dead Philosophers: Humanity and the Humane in Ancient Philosophy and Literature. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007. Page, Tony. Buddhism and Animals. London, UK: Biddles, 1999. Piyadassi, Thera. The Buddha’s Ancient Path. London, UK: Rider, 1964. Rinboche, Lati, and Elizabeth Napper. Mind in Tibetan Buddhism. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1981. Rubenstein, Richard E. Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2003. Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy. 2nd ed. London, UK: Allen and Unwin, 1961. Ryder, Richard. Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes towards Speciesism. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1989. Shipley, Graham, John Vanderspoel, David Mattingly, and Lin Foxhall, eds. The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilisation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.


Buddhism Shui, Henry, and Leah Stokes. “Buddhist Animal Release Practices: Historic, Environmental and Public Health Concerns.” Contemporary Buddhism: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 2 (2008): 181. Singer, Charles. A Short History of Biology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1931. Sorabji, Richard. Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate. New York, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995. Steiner, Gary. Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. Story, Francis. “The Place of Animals in Buddhism.” In Dimensions of Buddhist Thought: Collected Essays. Vol. 3. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publishing Service, 1976. Strong, John. The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. Taylor, Angus. Animals and Ethics. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press, 2003. Thera, Walpola Piyananda. Love in Buddhism. Los Angeles, CA: Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, 1990. Tsong Khapa, Lama. The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. Vol. 1. Edited by Josh Cutler and Guy Newland. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000. Walsh, Roger. “The Ten Perfections: Qualities of the Fully Enlightened as Described in Buddhist Psychology.” In Beyond Health and Normality: Explorations in Exceptional Psychological Well-Being, edited by Roger Walsh and Deane H. Shapiro Jr. London, UK: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983. Walshe, Maurice, trans. The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Wisdom, 2005. Wise, Steven. Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals. New York, NY: Perseus Books, 2000.


4 CONFUCIANISM AND DAOISM Animals in Traditional Chinese Thought Deborah Cao

In recent decades, there has been considerable interest in traditional Chinese philosophy in the West, including Confucianism and Taoism/Daoism – in particular Daoism – in the areas of environmental ethics, deep ecology, and Western philosophy in general. Apart from academic interest, there are popular fascinations. For instance, it has been said that Daoism and ecology are natural partners.1 There is a romantic infatuation with the classically pure, exotic, and timeless Daoism, viewed as a set of Forrest Gump platitudes, a sitcom religion about nothing, or wuwei (non-action).2 This chapter briefly discusses animals’ place in traditional Chinese thought, including Confucian and Daoist thoughts, highlighting some of the basic concepts and ideas in traditional Chinese philosophy as may be applicable. It is noted that there is no single conception of animals within Confucianism, Daoism, or Chinese philosophy as a whole, and this chapter represents only a brief and general observation.

The Animal–Human Relationship in Traditional Chinese Philosophy Chinese people and Chinese culture have had a long-standing but also ambivalent interest in animals. Undoubtedly, Chinese society and Chinese thought, both ancient and contemporary, have always been human-centered. Humans, the place of the human individual, and the organization of human society have always been the central concern of the Chinese people and Chinese society. Nevertheless, animals have always been important to the Chinese people and culture and Chinese life in general. In the long history of human activities in China, animals have occupied a very important place. They have been used in animal husbandry, hunting, transport, and human consumption and healing; as victims in religious and ritual sacrifices; as symbols and metaphors in everyday life (e.g., the Chinese zodiac, in which the personality and other character traits of animals are used to describe people and vice versa, and the word jia, meaning home, which consists of a pictograph of a pig under a roof); and as symbols of authority (e.g., an imaginary one-horned animal called xie zhi was used in traditional China as a symbol of law and justice). The notion of animal sentience would not have been alien to the Chinese mind, and the issue of anthropomorphosis would not have been a problem that troubles the Chinese either. In traditional China, animals were also considered part of the social order, subject to bureaucratic management and control in the form of legal regulation in the service of government and emperors.3 56

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Importantly, animals were not segregated and excluded from the moral cosmos as in Western classical philosophy. In traditional Chinese philosophical ideas or practical philosophies, such as Confucianism and Daoism, animals were given consideration as part of the moral and ethical pursuit in search of the betterment of life and society. More generally, in early China, animals were considered creatures who functioned as signifying exponents of a larger cosmic pattern rather than creatures conceived as a purely biological species,4 a contrast to mainstream Western philosophy.5 One of the most important and enduring ideas in traditional Chinese philosophy is the notion of tian ren he yi (heaven and humans as one, or humans and nature as one). Human and animal worlds lie in a continuum, with no firm or essential divisions between the two. It is believed that the human world and the natural world are interconnected, in that they accord with the same normative patterns of the universe.6 It follows that in the Chinese mapping of the universe, mountains, rivers, and animals as well as humans are legitimate beings in this great cosmos and great transformation.7 Humans are organically connected with rocks, trees, and animals. Human life is only part of a continuous flow of the vital energy that constitutes the cosmic process. In Chinese popular and elite culture, the notion of humans forming one body with the universe is widely accepted. So is the notion of the transformation between animals and humans. Rocks, trees, animals, humans, and gods represent different levels of spirituality based on the varying compositions of the vital energy.8 They are differentiated but organically connected as integral parts of a continuous process of cosmic transformation, and humans are considered the most sentient beings of all.9 The uniqueness of humans lies in our consciousness of being human, which enables and impels us to probe the transcendental anchorage of our nature.10 In addition, classical Chinese philosophy recognizes that because the physical and psychic aspects of existence of beings are construed as a continuum, consequently, all beings have varying degrees of sensitivity or awareness.11 Everything in the classical Chinese world is considered to be “alive” or even “aware” to some degree, and there is an absence of the animate/inanimate distinction.12 This is true for both Confucianism and Daoism. On the other hand, in traditional Chinese philosophy, in both Confucianism and Daoism, the classical texts did not discuss animal suffering or alleviation of animal suffering. They were not concerned with animal welfare. However, in our modern interpretation of these ancient thoughts and wisdom, we may be able to identify some ideas in them that are close to or may be supportive of caring for other beings, to be discussed next. First, Confucianism is a philosophical and ethical system of thought, based on the teachings of Confucius (c. 551–479 BCE) and later developed by his followers and other Confucian thinkers such as Mencius (372–289 BCE). Confucianism was the state ideology and orthodoxy from the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) up to the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) in imperial China. Confucian thought played a major role in shaping Chinese social and interpersonal relationships, in Chinese cultural values and moral and ethical codes, and its traditional political ideology. Its influence also extends to other Asian countries such as Korea and Japan. Confucius’s teachings are mainly recorded in Lun Yu, or The Analects of Confucius. The text consists of twenty chapters featuring a collection of sayings by Confucius, including brief statements, short dialogues, and anecdotes. It is believed to have been compiled by two successive generations of Confucius’s disciples seventy-five years after his death, perhaps around 400 BCE. Confucius and the Analects are said to be the “single most important key that can give us access to the Chinese world.”13 It is argued that the spirit of the Analects has been consistently reflected in the writings and actions of later Confucian philosophers and continues to color “the entire fabric of Chinese culture.”14 Some say that Confucius had a stature in China akin to that of Socrates in the West. Confucianism can be regarded as a social ethic, a worldview, a way of thinking and living, stressing the cultivation of virtues and ethics. Some of the key concepts in Confucianism 57

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include ren (humanity or human-heartedness, goodness, benevolence, or compassion), yi (righteousness), li (rites), zhi (wisdom), xin (trust), and de (morality). As mentioned previously, Confucius’s teachings did not mention animal suffering or alleviation of animal suffering. In fact, Confucius, as indicated in the Analects, did not say anything directly about animals or their treatment; he did not oppose animal killing or sacrifice and did not oppose meat-eating either. Furthermore, as has been argued, there is no evidence for the claim that Confucius intended to break new ground on the topic of animals. Mentions of animals in the Analects include15 remarks about humans’ inability to run with the birds and beasts; the use of mammals, fish, and birds as food; hunting and farming activities that obtained meat and other animal products; the eating of meat from sacrifices; and the acceptance of dried meat as tuition. Also mentioned are oxen used for plowing, horses used for riding and pulling carriages, and dogs used for security; clothing made of lambskin, fawn fur, and fox fur; fox and badgers furs used for rugs; sheep regarded as property; and the need to assess responsibility when tigers or rhinoceroses escaped from cages. Two other particular passages stand out among the Analects. One passage states that Confucius “never fished without a net or shot a bird at rest,” and when a fire devastated a royal stable, Confucius asked how many people had been spared but did not ask about the horses. As pointed out, the text and language in the Analects indicate that animals are assumed to have value and are worthy of interest primarily because they are resources or serviceable for human needs and enterprises.16 Nevertheless, the remarks in the Analects make it possible to extrapolate a number of points, among them that animals have various values, including value as living beings, value for others, and value as part of nature.17 Thus, animals deserve attention that is in accord with their nature and their place in nature.18 Take, for example, the concept of ren, which reflects presuppositions that are characteristic of Confucian philosophical anthropology. Confucians have historically viewed each person not as a morally autonomous individual but as a social being whose identity derives from his or her interaction with and conduct within the broader human community.19 The person who exhibits ren exemplifies the ideal of what a human being should be and encourages others to strive toward it. Ren has been translated as “goodness,” “benevolence,” and “love,” and its Confucian interpretation means that every human being has the capacity to possess ren, and ren manifests itself when a virtuous person treats others with humaneness. One could say that within the Confucian worldview, ren embodies the virtue of humaneness and a requirement for a person to become an ethically mature human being. If we look at this in relation to animals, it has been proposed that ren would involve respect for and deference to the value of others and nature and would entail the principle of non-maleficence to others.20 This does not mean that animals are regarded as having the same value as humans in Confucius teaching, but nevertheless, animals are to be given due respect in their social roles or service to humans. The matrixes of heaven, earth, and humans and the myriad things are, as is argued, found within a unity, and nature is sustained by utilizing some parts for the good of others, which is for the good of nature as a whole.21 These also support the concept of heaven or nature and humans as one and the human – nature analogues as is found22 in Confucius’s teachings and in the Analects. Thus, it can be said that in Confucian thought, animals, together with humans, form part of the moral universe of the exemplary humans, who should be models of benevolence and compassion, and such compassion and benevolence should extend beyond humans to other life-forms in nature. Another indigenous Chinese philosophical tradition is Daoism, which stands alongside Confucianism as one of the two great philosophical systems of China. Daoism is also an indigenous Chinese religion, a naturalistic or mystical religion that is very popular today with followers in China and around the world. It has had deep and far-reaching influence over Chinese culture and 58

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society as a whole for over two thousand years. The early major thinkers of Daoism were Laozi (unknown dates, but c. 571–471 BCE) and Zhuangzi (c. 369–286 BCE). A key and central concept in Daoism is Dao/Tao (way, guide, or road). Its position in traditional Chinese philosophy has been described as similar to “being” or “truth” in Western philosophy. Another important pair of concepts is wei and wuwei (deeming action and non-deeming action). Dao, or “the Way,” refers to the concrete, universal creative and transformative power of the universe, and it is believed that it can be found in anything and everything, including both humans and nonhumans. Generally speaking, Dao is manifested as a single impersonal reality, as nature itself and as animating forces within nature. The Daoist idea that nothing in the world is without value or without an inner reason for existence may be interpreted to mean that all beings, both humans and nonhumans, have their own existential value – that is, intrinsic value of their own. In contrast to Confucius, Daoism advocates vegetarianism. It promotes divine vegetarianism for deities, ritual vegetarianism for priests and community leaders, and complete vegetarianism for others, but as pointed out by others, this is a minority position within Daoism.23 Similar to Confucius, Daoism does not talk about animal suffering in its classical texts. However, Daoism is regarded as one of the most animal-friendly philosophical schools and religions. In Daoism and specifically in the thinking of Zhuangzi, there are various views regarding animals. For instance, Daoism is critical of the human tendency to distort the connection between humans and nature and the human tendency to distort the natural state of animals and nature. It also emphasizes the importance of freedom and wildness for animal flourishing, recognizing animals and other dimensions of nature as potential teachers of human beings: one may learn to experience joy from fish, one may learn the possibility of a more expansive perspective from sea turtles, and so on.24 People are urged to imagine a world free of cages, corrals, hooks, lures, nets, pens, snares, and traps.25 Animals are viewed as embodiments of the Dao. Zhuangzi rejects ritual practices based on animal sacrifice and domestication because he believes that that would be a distortion of innate nature, both human and nonhuman.26 Daoism is perhaps more body-affirming and world-affirming than other religions in that it recognizes the cosmos, the world, and all beings as manifestations of the Dao, at least in potentiality.27 The other central concept in Daoism is wuwei (non-action). Daoism believes that all things exist in harmony with nature. If things go wrong for an individual or community, it is because of an imbalance between the energies of yin and yang. To restore balance, the Daoist must stop trying to control nature. The natural flow of life needs to be restored for balance to be regained. Wuwei entails acting naturally or non-action – not indifference, but being oneself in the flow of the Dao. Dao embodies positive attributes such as truth, virtue, compassion, justice, harmony, and balance and advocates respect for the totality of nature and the cosmic environment. By and large, in traditional Chinese thought, including both Confucianism and Daoism, animals are considered to assume a normative standing. Literally everything under the sun and beyond has a place or role in the ongoing process of nature, and both humans and animals are part of the productivity, richness, diversity, and beauty that are central features of this Chinese conception of heaven and earth.28

Contemporary Relevance of Confucianism and Daoism Given the foregoing discussion, one may wonder, what is the relationship between traditional Chinese philosophy and the everyday reality for animals in China today and our discussion of animals’ plight in China today? For instance, a relevant question can be asked and has been asked: if Daoism has a special ecological wisdom going back to the very foundations of the tradition, 59

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why has there been such a woeful record of environmental concern and destruction throughout Chinese history, and have the actions of contemporary Taoists been so meager and relatively restricted?29 Despite the ancient teaching and wisdom, the truth and reality in China is and has been that China, the ancestral homeland of Daoism and Confucianism, is a disturbing case of ecological and environmental abuse and animal abuse and neglect.30 There is intentional nature destruction, and this destruction of the natural environmental in China has been going on for centuries, with many animal species becoming extinct as a result of deforestation and desertification and as a result of the eating of animals and their body parts and other forms of consumption of animals. For instance, the wisdom of Daoism, such as the balance of yin and yang, has inspired and influenced another great Chinese cultural tradition, traditional Chinese medicine, but sadly and ironically, use of animals in traditional medicine has seen and propelled the killing of – to the brink of extinction – many species such as rhinos, tigers, pangolins, and other animals. Environmental destruction and animal cruelty were and are a serious and pervasive problem in both traditional and contemporary China. If we put together the earlier discussion of the philosophical views on nature and animals as represented by Confucianism and Daoism and the actual practices of Chinese society toward animals, there appears to be a considerable gap between the ideals and actuality. There are contradictions between the moral teachings and philosophical ideals about nature and people’s actual behavior. Yi-Fu Tuan once raised the issue of the relationship between Chinese thoughts and ideas about the environment and people’s actual behavior.31 His thesis may apply not just to China but to other people and cultures as well. Tuan points out that ordinary Chinese people, through their long history, have engaged in gigantic transformations of environment. Cobb also argues that Daoism and other Chinese views of nature were unable to prevent deforestation and other ecologically destructive practices in ancient China and that such views have been historically demonstrated to be ineffective in preventing destruction to the natural environment.32 As pointed out, regarding expressed perceptions of and attitudes toward environment versus actual practice, the gaps may reveal signs of maladjustment in society.33 Actual practices may not correlate directly with traditional or other attitudes (including sacred prohibition). As Tuan notes, the conflicts between an ideal of nature or environment and our actual practice expose our intellectual failure to make the connection and perhaps also our hypocrisy; moreover, such conflicts and contradictions cannot always be resolved. Contradictions of a certain kind may be inherent in the human condition. Not even stable and simple cultures are exempt, and ideals and necessities or behavior are frequently opposed on the most fundamental level.34 If this is the case, then it highlights the importance and vital role of law, mandating and regulating certain human behaviors regarding animals and nature as a whole, not just serving as command but also reminding people of the moral implications of our behavior and of our own moral attitude.

Notes 1 N. J. Girardot, J. Miller, and Xiaogan Liu, eds., Daoism and Ecology: Ways within a Cosmic Landscape (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). 2 Girardot, Miller, and Liu, Daoism and Ecology. 3 See Roel Sterckx, The Animal and the Daemon in Early China (New York: State University of New York Press, 2002). 4 Sterckx, The Animal and the Daemon, 241. 5 See also Chung-ying Cheng, “On the Environmental Ethics of the Tao and the Ch’i,” Environmental Ethics 8, no. 4 (1986): 351–70.


Confucianism and Daoism 6 Weiming Tu, “The Continuity of Being: Chinese Visions of Nature,” in Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, ed. J. B. Callicott and Roger T. Ames (New York: State University of New York, 1989), 67–78. 7 Tu, “The Continuity of Being,” 73. 8 Tu, “The Continuity of Being.” 9 Tu, “The Continuity of Being,” 75. 10 Tu, “The Continuity of Being,” 76. 11 David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames, Anticipating China: Thinking through the Narratives of Chinese and Western Culture (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 189. 12 Hall and Ames, Anticipating China, 188. 13 Simon Leys, The Analects of Confucius (New York: Norton, 1997), xvii. 14 Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont Jr., The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation (New York: Ballantine Books, 1998), 18. 15 Donald N. Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals: The Confucian View of Animal Welfare,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30, no. 2 (2003): 139. 16 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 139. 17 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 142–43. 18 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 143. 19 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals.” 20 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 144. 21 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 144. 22 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 67. 23 Louis Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection: Mysticism and Self-Transformation in Early Quanzhen Daoism (Leiden: Brill, 2007); Louis Komjathy, “Daoism: From Meat Avoidance to Compassion-Based Vegetarianism,” in Call to Compassion: Religious Reflections on Animal Advocacy from the World’s Religions, ed. Lisa Kemmerer and Anthony J. Nocella II (New York: Lantern Books, 2011), 83–103. 24 Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection; Komjathy, “Daoism.” 25 Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection; Komjathy, “Daoism.” 26 Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection; Komjathy, “Daoism.” 27 Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection; Komjathy, “Daoism.” 28 Blakeley, “Listening to the Animals,” 153. 29 Girardot, Miller, and Liu, Daoism and Ecology, xli. 30 Girardot, Miller, and Liu, Daoism and Ecology, xli. 31 Yi-Fu Tuan, “Discrepancies between Environmental Attitude and Behavior: Examples from Europe and China,” Canadian Geographer 12 (1970): 176–91. 32 John B. Cobb Jr., Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, 1972 (Denton, TX: Environmental Ethics Books, 1995). 33 Tuan, Discrepancies, 176–91. 34 Tuan, Discrepancies, 176–91.

References Ames, Roger T. “Taoism and the Nature of Nature.” Environmental Ethics 8 (1986): 317–50. Ames, Roger T., and Henry Rosemont Jr. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998. Blakeley, Donald N. “Listening to the Animals: The Confucian View of Animal Welfare.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30, no. 2 (2003): 137–57. Cheng, Chung-ying. “On the Environmental Ethics of the Tao and the Ch’i.” Environmental Ethics 8, no. 4 (1986): 351–70. Cobb, John B., Jr. Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology. 1972. Denton, TX: Environmental Ethics Books, 1995. Girardot, N. J., J. Miller, and Xiaogan Liu, eds. Daoism and Ecology: Ways within a Cosmic Landscape. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001. Hall, David L., and Roger T. Ames. Anticipating China: Thinking through the Narratives of Chinese and Western Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.


Deborah Cao Komjathy, Louis. Cultivating Perfection: Mysticism and Self-Transformation in Early Quanzhen Daoism. Leiden: Brill, 2007. Komjathy, Louis. “Daoism: From Meat Avoidance to Compassion-Based Vegetarianism.” In Call to Compassion: Religious Reflections on Animal Advocacy from the World’s Religions, edited by Lisa Kemmerer and Anthony J. Nocella II, 83–103. New York: Lantern Books, 2011. Leys, Simon. The Analects of Confucius. New York: Norton, 1997. Sterckx, Roel. The Animal and the Daemon in Early China. New York: State University of New York Press, 2002. Tu, Weiming. “The Continuity of Being: Chinese Visions of Nature.” In Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, edited by J. B. Callicott and Roger T. Ames, 67–78. New York: State University of New York, 1989. Tuan, Yi-Fu. “Discrepancies between Environmental Attitude and Behavior: Examples from Europe and China.” Canadian Geographer 12 (1970): 176–91.


5 EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY Lord of Creation or Animal among Animals? Dominion, Darwin, and Duty Philip Sampson

Christian Dominion In 1885, the Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon endorsed the opinion that “a man was not a true Christian if his dog and his cat were not the better off for it.”1 The more common view is that animals are a good deal worse off because of Christians, especially evangelical Christians like Spurgeon. Specifically, they are worse off because of the Christian dogma of dominion. As Thomas Boston put it in 1720, “God made [man] . . . lord of the world, prince of the inferior creatures, universal lord and emperor of the whole earth. His Creator gave him dominion . . . over all the earth . . . he ‘put all things under his feet.’”2 Modern critics of this dogma find it arrogant and oppressive. As Lynn White famously glossed, it is a “Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.” Matt Cartmill argues that the “traditional Christian” has no inhibitions about eating animals: “the beasts are merely part of God’s stage machinery . . . They have no intrinsic value in God’s eyes, and we owe them no duties of justice or even charity.”3 Yet for Spurgeon, cats and dogs are evidently not just stage machinery; they do have value, and we do owe them a duty. Indeed, Spurgeon considered that they would be better off for authentic Christian dominion. Moreover, Spurgeon was not just what Cartmill calls a traditional Christian; he was an evangelical, a Calvinist like Thomas Boston, precisely the kind of Christian who holds most dogmatically to the doctrine of dominion that critics so deplore. And here we have a curious fact, for we might expect modern evangelicals to agree with Spurgeon. But they don’t. With a few notable exceptions,4 they agree with the verdict of White and Cartmill: dominion is not good news for animals. Beasts have no part in the modern evangelical gospel. Paradoxically, those evangelicals who most admire Spurgeon are precisely those least likely to agree with him about animals. The conservative evangelical website advises “Meat? Bon appetite!”5 But what about middle-of-the-road evangelicals who may never have heard of Spurgeon? Sarah Palin is broadly embraced by the evangelical constituency and explains her “philosophy on being a carnivore”: “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” There is, she continues, “plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals – right next to the mashed potatoes.”6 Admittedly, Sarah Palin’s style is straight out of the Genghis Khan book of nuance, but her view is also commonplace among British evangelicals.7 63

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In short, God has given us dominion over the animals and made them as ingredients. Cruelty is rarely mentioned; indeed, Stephen Vantassel concludes that animal suffering is not part of the problem of evil and that Christians may “inflict and/or ignore a fair amount” of it without it troubling their conscience.8 But perhaps the difference between Spurgeon and Palin is more apparent than real. After all, Spurgeon was talking about cats and dogs, whereas Palin was talking about being a Christian carnivore. I’m sure Sarah Palin wouldn’t eat her dog since everybody knows that dogs aren’t made out of meat. So perhaps Spurgeon restricted his remarks to companion animals and still thought that God created other animals to eat. As we shall see, nothing could be further from the truth.

A Revolution in Thinking Beliefs such as Palin’s are not conducive to developing animal rights discourses. It follows that such discourses must have had an intellectual history elsewhere. And here again there is agreement between modern evangelicals and their critics. Preece and Chamberlain are surely right to claim that most animal rights advocates believe it was Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species that presaged “a revolution in human thinking about our relationship to other animals.”9 As Peter Singer puts it, “the Genesis view [of dominion] is actually a kind of arrogant self-proclamation of our special moral status . . . rather we have a humbler origin which links us to animals”; this kinship makes us more compassionate to our distant cousins.10 Modern evangelicals concur, except that they regard dominion as God-given rather than arrogant and deplore the Darwinian demotion of humanity. Both agree that this “revolution” inspired greater compassion for our animal cousins and facilitated reform. Now it is certain that many animal rights advocates have embraced the rhetoric of Darwinism, but is there any evidence that Darwin’s “revolution in human thinking” resulted in more compassionate treatment of animals?

Vivisecting Darwinism Obviously, Darwin could not have been influential before his views became widely known, so he could not have influenced the major reform acts of the early nineteenth century.11 The first test case, then, is the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876, which regulated vivisection. Darwin was a national figure by then, so what influence did his “revolution” have on that legislation? The antivivisection movement was led by Frances Power Cobbe, supported by assorted bishops and archbishops. However, Charles Darwin and his “bulldog” T. H. Huxley were not supporters; in fact, they were both leaders of the medical and scientific opposition to reform. Cobbe had embraced Darwin’s theory and initially thought that reinserting humans into the family of all creatures would increase sympathy for our animal cousins. Ironically, the very opposite occurred. But was it really ironic? Cobbe thought not. She reasoned that Darwinian support for vivisection followed from the logic of the family of all creatures that Darwin had created. She wrote in 1888, Prior to experience it might have been confidently expected that the Darwinian doctrine of the descent of Man would have called forth a fresh burst of sympathy towards . . . the lower animals. Every biologist now knows tenfold better reasons than Saint Francis for calling the birds and beasts “little brothers and sisters.” But, instead of instilling the tenderness of the Saint of Assisi, Science has taught her devotees to regard the 64

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world as a scene of universal struggle, wherein the rule must be, “Every one for himself, and no God for anyone.”12 So long as we have in mind a Franciscan picture of the birds and beasts as “little brothers and sisters,” naturally we expect that sharing in this family of all living things will promote compassion. But as Cobbe points out, the Darwinian family is very different from the Franciscan picture. As Dean Inge wrote, elegantly paraphrasing a remark of Huxley’s, “nature is the realm of tiger-rights; it has no morals . . . [but] only . . . brutal powers.”13 The Darwinian family needs no divine authority to kill a brother or sister because the norm for family life is struggle, predation, and death. Darwin was clear that the little brothers and sisters of the evolutionary family should be vivisected for the benefit of their big brother in the name of progress; it would be, he says, a “crime against mankind” not to engage in vivisection.14 Now this does indeed revolutionize our understanding of the human relationship with animals, but not in a way that animal rights supporters would welcome. Moreover, the logic of the Darwinian revolution is not restricted to academic debate. Peter Singer reports the case of a vegetarian child whose ethics changed when she started to study biology. She thought, “Well, in the natural world there’s this thing called survival of the fittest, so it’s OK to eat animals.”15

Fortunately for the Animals In fact, it was Christians, not Darwinians, who supported Cobbe, and she was not alone in noticing this “paradox.” The antivivisectionist Bishop James Welldon observed that it was “surely . . . a paradox that they who minimize the specific distinction between man and the animals should be the least tender in their views of animal sufferings, and that Christians who accentuate the distinction should be willing to spare animals pain at the cost of enhancing their own.”16 Preece and Chamberlain laconically comment that “fortunately for the animals,” the later nineteenth century saw the development of humane societies “predicated predominantly on evangelical ideas”17 as a counterbalance to the Darwinian ideas of competition and survival of the fittest. The success of animal welfare legislation in Britain, they say, “stemmed directly from the humanitarian impulses which lay behind the evangelical Protestantism of the period.”18 The authors continue, “Almost all the publications and pamphlets put out by the early S.P.C.A.s . . . have a very strong evangelical Christian bent . . . Ironically, it was those who repudiated Darwin’s elevation of the status of animals who, in practice, did most to protect the interests of animals.”19 But was it really ironic? I think not. Just as Darwinian support for vivisection followed from evolutionary beliefs, evangelical support for the interests of animals followed from biblical beliefs. The pamphlets have “a strong evangelical Christian bent” because they were in a strong evangelical Christian tradition of justice and mercy to animals. The historian Keith Thomas was the first to study the influence of evangelical discourse in the argument against cruelty to animals from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries; he concluded that “the OT was the authority most frequently cited.” “Clerics were often ahead of lay opinion and an essential role was played by Puritans, Dissenters, Quakers and Evangelicals.”20

Evangelical Vigor Thomas concluded that Christian animal advocacy “grew out of the minority Christian tradition that man should take care of God’s creation.”21 Although this is true in a general sense, it scarcely accounts for the vigor of evangelical discourse. 65

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For example, in 1873, Spurgeon remarked of a man cruel to animals that “if we were not averse to all capital punishment we should suggest that nothing short of a rope with a noose in it would give him his deserts.”22 This is the kind of sentiment attributed more often to extremists of the animal rights movement than to Baptist preachers. But Spurgeon goes further. Animal cruelty, he continues, demands justice, so “an Act ought to be passed at once, or Mr. Justice Lynch might for once be invoked to give the demon his reward in an irregular Manner.”23 Can you picture the headlines nowadays? “Religious extremist brands sinners as demons and calls for public lynching.” Odds are a person would get his collar felt by the local constabulary. Spurgeon’s views were certainly too strong for Cobbe’s antivivisection society, which declined to make public an open letter from him because “the extreme strength of the expletives was considered to transgress the borders of expediency!”24 By expletives, Cobbe did not, of course, mean those notoriously deleted from the White House tapes by Richard Nixon; rather, she meant theological expressions of outrage. Modern stewardship theology simply does not generate such language. Spurgeon’s view that animal cruelty was “diabolical,” the act of “a fiend incarnate,” was neither unusual nor original. The devil’s very nature is to oppose God; God is love, so cruelty is demonic. As John Tillotson observed in the late seventeenth century, there is “nothing more contrary to the nature of God” than “a cruel and savage disposition” toward both humans and animals.25 This discourse of animal cruelty goes far beyond the general dogma that humans should take care of God’s creation. The “creation care” teaching of modern evangelicals is widely seen as an optional add-on and has failed to produce significant animal advocacy. I am going to suggest that a far richer discourse lay behind Spurgeon’s extreme expletives, with a theology that prevented animal advocacy from becoming marginal to Christian life. I will seek to outline this discourse in the evangelicals’ own words.

Creation According to modern evangelicals, animals were made for us to eat. Older evangelicals read in their Bibles that they were not. Both humans and animals were originally created vegans; they were made to praise God, not made as ingredients. As John Owen rather drily puts it, all God’s works are for “the manifestation and declaration of the holy properties of his nature”: “So the . . . brute creatures ascribe unto God the glory of his properties, even by what they are and do. By what they are in their beings, and their observation of the law and inclination of their nature, they give unto God the glory of that wisdom and power whereby they are made, and of that sovereignty whereon they depend.”26 Thomas Adams is more lyrical: “All creatures in their kind bless God . . . They that have tongues, though they want reason, praise him with those natural organs. The birds of the air sing, the beasts of the earth make a noise . . . the very ‘dragons in the deep’ . . . sound out his praise.”27 John Trapp affirms that beasts are “made to set forth the glory and magnificence of the great God.”28 “For Adam,” says Martin Luther, “it would have been an abomination to kill a little bird for food.”29 He would have used animals “for the admiration of God and holy joy”30 – not, note, as ingredients. So as George Walker says, animals are “bound to praise . . . [God] in their kind.”31 But an animal screaming in agony cannot praise God in his or her kind. An animal’s screams are not, as the Cartesians argued, the sound of machinery breaking down, but the agonized cries of a creature whose very being is torn apart. As we have heard from Spurgeon, this is the work of the devil, who holds the power of death and takes captives to do his will.32 Those cruel to animals, 66

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says Adam Clarke, are “influenced by Satan [and] can show no other disposition than what is in their master”; they are “human fiends, ‘out-heroding Herod.’” Clarke adds that the “hell is yet undescribed, that is suited to such monsters in cruelty.”33 For John Tillotson, all cruelty “is devilish, [and] this is the temper of hell, and the very spirit of the destroyer.”34 John Dod and Robert Cleaver agree: God made animals and “preserves them and is good to them.” So we “shew our selves unlike unto him, and hurtful to his, if we offer abuse and wrong unto them.”35 But animal cruelty not only shows us to be unlike God and taken captive by Satan; it also robs God of his witness in the world. “On each of his works,” says Calvin, God’s “glory is engraven in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse . . . [It is as if] God for the first time was arrayed in visible attire when, in the creation of the world, he displayed those glorious banners, on which, to whatever side we turn, we behold his perfections visibly portrayed.”36 And if we ask the cause of all this, says Calvin, it is God’s goodness alone, his compassion for all he has made. God’s love is the theme of the creature’s song. But a screaming animal cannot sing, and he or she discloses nothing about God, least of all God’s love. Rather, the screaming deafens the hearer to God’s outpouring compassion, robbing God of a witness in the world. An animal’s agonized cries are the very opposite of the end for which the animal was created, and the demons rejoice to see God’s creatures suffer. Cruelty, then, is not just a sin of the flesh; it subverts the purpose of creation, is contrary to the character of God, and is a characteristic of the devil. This discourse survived into the late nineteenth century, by which time evangelicalism itself was fragmenting. We find it in Cobbe, who, no evangelical herself, was the child of her evangelical father: “If there be one moral offence which more than another seems directly an offence against God,” says Cobbe, “it is this wanton infliction of pain upon His creatures . . . Surely . . . sins of cruelty throw [man] into the very converse and antagonism of Deity; he becomes not a mere Brute, but a Fiend.”37 Unlike the anthropocentrism of modern evangelicals, this discourse is thoroughly theocentric; the contemporary language of “creation care” pales by comparison. Moreover, it is integral to the doctrine of creation and, unlike modern stewardship theology, not easily marginalized.

Fall Of course, the evangelicals knew that the world is fallen, that humans kill animals to survive, that we are, in William Cowper’s phrase and pace Palin, “carnivorous through sin.”38 This is the consequence of human treason and, as William Perkins remarks, is to be mourned over, not celebrated.39 Ralph Venning observes, “Every creature which is under the power of man may say to him, I did nothing of myself to make me liable to bondage, but . . . I suffer a part of the penalty of your treason. If you had not sinned, I would not have suffered. But now I groan and wait to be delivered from the bondage of your corruption. O sinful sin!”40 To be so reminded of sin by authors such as these might put a person off his or her steak. Animal suffering is the consequence of our sin; to add cruelty to necessity despicably compounds our guilt. Dod and Cleaver ask, “Have our sinnes in Adam brought such calamities upon . . . animals, and shall we add unto them by cruelty in our owne persons?”41 Robert Bolton is passionate. Animal fierceness and misery, he says, are a fruit of the Fall, which coming upon . . . [animals] by our meanes, shouldst rather breake our hearts, and make them bleede, than minister matter of glorying in our shame, and vexing those very vexations, which our impiety hath put upon them. Alas, sinfull man, what an heart 67

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hast thou, that canst take delight in the cruell tormenting of a dumbe creature! Is it not two [sic] much for thee to behold with drye eyes that fearfull brand, which only thy sinne hath imprest upon it, but that thou must barbarously also presse its oppressions, and make thy selfe merry with bleeding miseries of that poore harmlesse thing, which in its kinde is much more, and farre better serviceable to the Creator than thy self?42 That animals are “farre better serviceable to the Creator” than humans is simply unsayable in the modern evangelical discourse of stewardship. Philip Stubbes makes the treatment of animals a test of evangelical authenticity: for the sake of the God who made them, we are not to hurt animals, he says. “Is he a Christian man, or rather a pseudo-Christian, that delights in [animal] blood?”43 John Calvin is clear that “as we deale rightfully with men, so we should use the like duetie even towards the brute beastes, which have no reason, nor understanding, nor cannot complaine of the injuries which are done unto them.”44 Again, the notion that we owe a like duty to animals as to humans is strictly unthinkable to the modern evangelical mind.

Redemption For the evangelicals, stewardship was not a kind of optional extra for Christians with a tender conscience. It was a matter of serving God rather than the devil, an aspect of repentance for our sins, and a part of being an authentic Christian. “I was convinced,” wrote Lord Shaftesbury, “that God had called me to devote whatsoever advantages He might have bestowed upon me to the cause of the weak, the helpless, both man and beast.”45 They viewed redemption not as cozy harp playing, but as grace bloodily bought so that Christians might live righteously. And as Humphrey Primatt noted, it was wise King Solomon who condemned animal cruelty as wickedness incompatible with righteous living.46 The redeemed of Christ have a greater, not a lesser duty, toward animals, a duty for which they will be held accountable. The inseparability of stewardship and accountability is nicely illustrated in a parliamentary speech given by Shaftesbury in 1879. Referring to a harrowing description of the vivisection of a dog, he commented, “And that was the use they made of the creatures committed to their charge! that the account they would render of their stewardship!”47 For Shaftesbury, animal cruelty is an account that will be rendered against us in the court of God’s judgment. John Calvin is characteristically clear: “Scripture declares that [earthly blessings] have all been given us by the kindness of God, and appointed for our use under the condition of being regarded as trusts, of which we must one day give account. We must, therefore, administer them as if we constantly heard the words sounding in our ears, ‘Give an account of your stewardship.’”48 To understand the force of this, we have to recall that God is the just judge who hears the cries of the oppressed and gives judgment for the innocent. Animals, unlike humans, are innocent, and God hears their plea for justice. If, says John Trapp, we are cruel to animals, “we shall make them ‘groan under the bondage of corruption,’ and he that hears the young ravens, may hear them, for ‘he is gracious.’”49 Thomas Manton pictures the creatures groaning for vengeance against their oppressors: The creature groaneth against us; because of the slavery we put them unto they groan for vengeance and destruction; not in fellow feeling with thee, but in indignation against thee, if thou be a wicked man . . . [It is] a groaning by way of accusation and appeal, for revenge against those who have wronged us. We have abused the creature; 68

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the groan of a worm in the ear of the Lord of Hosts will be heard . . . In the day of judgment, the groans of the creature . . . shall be brought forth as witnesses against us . . . the very creatures which sinners abused will be brought in testimony against them to their conviction and condemnation.50 Edward Topsell pictures all the beasts bellowing, bleating, barking, neighing, and howling, “calling in the eares of God for vengeance against man.”51 “Those that put a burden on the creature,” says Manton, “shall have the creature’s burden put on them. By your sin they are subjected to vanity, and by their vanity you are subjected to wrath; they are ready to revenge God’s quarrel if he do but [whistle] for them . . . the creature shall be delivered; but those that abuse the creature shall not.”52 In modern evangelical discourse, it is unthinkable that animals shall be delivered in preference to humans. Calvin warned his farming congregation of Geneva that “God will condemn us for cruel and unkind folk, if we pitie not the brute beasts.”53 We should recall that, for Calvin, to be condemned by God was the most serious thing that could happen to you. Again, we find this same discourse surviving in Cobbe in the late nineteenth century, albeit in less robust form. Animals, she says, are “fellow creatures with ourselves – sinless fellow creatures . . . who have broken no Divine law and deserved no punishment . . . [At the day of judgment] must it not be that in the agonies of remorse and self-abhorrence in the vivisector’s soul will be meted out the measure of justice he has dealt to his victims?”54 And here, in Cobbe’s pamphlet, we have come full circle, for Cobbe, like Darwin, appeals to a fellowship between animals and humans, but a fellowship based on our common creatureliness, not on the evolutionary family. This, as Spurgeon observes, makes other animals our “friends,” not competitors for tiger-rights in the fight for life: “A famous saint was wont to call birds and beasts his brothers and sisters, and Mr Darwin apparently goes in for that relationship most literally: we do not contend for anything so high as that, but we do ask to have them viewed as our Father’s creatures, to be treated well for his sake, and to be regarded as our friends.”55 Others, like Augustus Toplady, argued for something distinctly Franciscan, claiming that “inferior animals are not only our fellow-creatures, but (if it may be said without offence) our elder brethren: for their creation was previous to ours.”56 Whether friends or brothers and sisters, animals are certainly innocent and demand justice. Those who are “not just to the brute creatures,” says Matthew Henry bluntly, are unrighteous men.57 I have argued that the strong evangelical Christian tradition of justice and mercy to animals arose not from an isolated doctrine of stewardship, but from an understanding of animal life woven into discourses of creation, the Fall, and redemption. This lent animal advocacy an “expletive” passion and made it a Christian duty rather than an optional extra for those with a tender conscience. If Christians are again to drive animal advocacy as they did before the late nineteenth century, mere stewardship teaching is inadequate. Our fellow creatures must once again find their place within a fully evangelical biblical vision.

Notes 1 C. H. Spurgeon, “First Things First,” September 28, 1885, in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (London: Passmore and Alabaster), vol. 31. 2 Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State (London: The Banner of Truth, 1964), 49. 3 Lynn White, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155, no. 3767 (1967): 1207; Matt Cartmill, A View to a Death in the Morning (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 46. For discussion, see Philip Sampson, Six Modern Myths (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), chap. 3.


Philip Sampson 4 For example, R. J. Berry, ed., The Care of Creation (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 2000). However, even advocates of “creation care” are generally silent on animal advocacy. 5 “Food,” God Eats Red Meat, accessed August 12, 2012, Ann Coulter’s “biblical view” is blunt: God said “rape the planet – it’s yours.” Ann Coulter, “Oil Good; Democrats Bad,” Townhall, October 12, 2000, accessed August 12, 2014, oil_good%3b_democrats_bad/page/full. 6 Sarah Palin, Going Rogue (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 133. For Palin’s evangelical credentials, see D. G. Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism (New York: Eerdmans, 2011); and html, accessed June 12, 2014. 7 See, for example, Martin Manser, ed., Collins Bible Companion (London: Collins, 2009), 653; Tony Sargent, Animal Rights and Wrongs (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996), 2–4. 8 Stephen Vantassel, Dominion over Wildlife? (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2009), 167, 175. 9 Rod Preece and Lorna Chamberlain, Animal Welfare and Human Values (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995), 37. 10, accessed June 6, 2014. 11 Acts of 1822, 1835, and 1849. 12 Frances Power Cobbe, The Scientific Spirit of the Age: And Other Pleas and Discussions (Boston: Ellis, 1888), 25–26. 13 William Ralph Inge, Outspoken Essays (London: Longmans, 1922), 167. 14 Charles Darwin, letter to the Times, April 18, 1881. 15 Peter Singer and Jim Mason, Eating (London: Arrow, 2006), 186. 16 Quoted in Frances Power Cobbe, Scientific Spirit of the Age, 15, my emphasis. 17 Preece and Chamberlain, Animal Welfare, 40. 18 Preece and Chamberlain, Animal Welfare, 34. 19 Preece and Chamberlain, Animal Welfare, 38, my emphasis. 20 Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World (London: Penguin, 1984), 180; see also 154. Thomas here restricts the term “Evangelicals” to refer to the eighteenth-century revival. In what follows, I shall use the term “evangelical” to include Thomas’s other categories of Puritans and Dissenters, as well as the Magisterial Reformers of the sixteenth century and the Calvinistic Baptists of the nineteenth century. None of those cited are marginal figures, and all shared what Paul Schaeffer has happily called an “intense loyalty to Scripture” in their texts. Paul Schaeffer, “Protestant Scholasticism at Elizabethan Cambridge,” in Protestant Scholasticism, ed. Carl R Trueman and R. S. Clark (Cumbria, UK: Paternoster, 1999), 149–50. See also Keith L. Sprunger, Dutch Puritanism (Leiden: Brill, 1982), 458f; Rod Preece, Immortal Animal Souls (New York: Edwin Mellen, 2005), 10. I will briefly cite the intertextual biblical verses in parentheses in this chapter’s notes. For further discussion, see Michael A. G. Haykin and Kenneth J. Stewart, eds., The Advent of Evangelicalism (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008), especially John Coffey, “Puritanism, Evangelicalism and the Evangelical Protestant Tradition,” 252–77. 21 Thomas, Man and the Natural World. 22 C. H. Spurgeon, “A Word for Brutes against Brutes,” Sword and Trowel 3 (June 1873), 332. 23 Spurgeon, “A Word for Brutes,” 32. 24 Frances Power Cobbe, Life of Frances Power Cobbe (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1904), 648. 25 John Tillotson, The Remaining Discourses, on the Attributes of God (London: 1700), vol. 7, 129. 26 John Owen, Exposition upon Ps 130, in Works (London: 1668), vol. 6, 186–87. (See Rev. 4:11, 5:12; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 1:19–20, 9:17, 9:22; 2 Thess. 1:10.) 27 Thomas Adams, The Taming of the Tongue, 1629, in Works (London: 1862), vol. 3, 10. (See Isa. 43:20 and numerous psalms, including Ps. 148:7.) 28 John Trapp, Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, 1657 (London: 1868), vol. 2, 484. 29 Martin Luther, Works (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1958), vol. 2, 134. 30 Martin Luther, quoted in Stephen Webb, On God and Dogs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 38. (See Gen. 1:29–30.) 31 George Walker, God Made Visible in His Works (London: 1641), 163. (See Ps. 148:10.) 32 Intertexting Heb. 2:14 and 2 Tim. 2:16, as do Clarke and Tillotson, quoted subsequently. 33 Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1810–26), on Prov. 12:10. (See Matt. 2:16.) 34 Tillotson, The Remaining Discourses, 129–30. 35 John Dod and Robert Cleaver, A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Eleventh and Twelfth Chapter of the Proverbs (London: 1612), 141.


Evangelical Christianity 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54

John Calvin, Institutes, 1559 (Florida: Macdonald, 1960), 1.v.1. Frances Power Cobbe, Studies New and Old of Ethical and Social Subjects (London: Trubner, 1865), 253. William Cowper, The Poetical Works, 1713 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), 229. William Perkins, Works (London: 1596), vol. 2, 141. Ralph Venning, Sin, the Plague of Plagues (London: 1669), 74. Dod and Cleaver, A Plaine and Familiar Exposition, 142. Robert Bolton, Some Generall Directions for a Comfortable Walking with God (London: 1634), 156–57. Philip Stubbes, Anatomie of Abuses in England, 1583 (London: Trubner, 1882), 182. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy (London: 1583), 877, col. 2. Shaftesbury, quoted in Andrew Linzey, Animal Theology (London: SCM, 1994), 36. Humphrey Primatt, The Duty of Mercy, 1776 (Fontwell: Centaur, 1992), 87. (See Prov. 12:10.) Speech in the House of Lords, July 15, 1879. Calvin, Institutes, III.10.5. Trapp, Commentary, vol. 3, 48. (See Rom. 8:21; Ps. 147:9, 111:4; Joel 2:13; Jon. 4:2; etc.) Thomas Manton, Works (London: Nisbet, 1870–75), vol. 12, 182. (See Rom. 8; Prov. 12:10.) Edward Topsell, Times Lamentation (London: 1599), 195. Manton, Works, vol. 12, 165. (See Rom. 8; Isa. 7:18.) Calvin, Sermons, 770, col. 1; see also 780, 877–78. Frances Power Cobbe, “The Moral Aspects of Vivisection,” in Pamphlets of the Society for the Protection of Animals from Vivisection (London: 1884), vol. 2, 20. 55 Spurgeon, “A Word for Brutes,” 335. 56 Augustus Toplady, Works, 1778 (London: Baynes, 1825), vol. 3, 462. 57 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1708–10 (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1959), vol. 3, on Prov. 12:10.

References Adams, Thomas. The Taming of the Tongue. 1629. In Works vol. 3, 10–27. London: 1862. Berry, R. J., ed. The Care of Creation. Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 2000. Bolton, Robert. Some Generall Directions for a Comfortable Walking with God. London: 1634. Boston, Thomas. Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. London: The Banner of Truth, 1964. Calvin, John. Institutes. 1559. Florida: Macdonald, 1960. Calvin, John. Sermons on Deuteronomy. London, 1583. Cartmill, Matt. A View to a Death in the Morning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. Clarke, Adam. Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1810–26. Cobbe, Frances Power. Life of Francis Power Cobbe. London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1904. Cobbe, Frances Power. “The Moral Aspects of Vivisection.” In Pamphlets of the Society for the Protection of Animals from Vivisection, vol. 2, 20. London, 1884. Cobbe, Frances Power. The Scientific Spirit of the Age: And Other Pleas and Discussions. Boston: Ellis, 1888. Cobbe, Frances Power. Studies New and Old of Ethical and Social Subjects. London: Trubner, 1865. Coffey, John. “Puritanism, Evangelicalism and the Evangelical Protestant Tradition.” In The Advent of Evangelicalism, edited by Michael A. G. Haykin and Kenneth J. Stewart, 252–77. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008. Cowper, William. The Poetical Works. 1713. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967. Dod, John, and Robert Cleaver. A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Eleventh and Twelfth Chapter of the Proverbs. London: 1612. Hart, D. G. From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism. New York: Eerdmans, 2011. Haykin, Michael A. G., and Kenneth J. Stewart, eds. The Advent of Evangelicalism. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008. Henry, Matthew. Commentary on the Whole Bible. 1708–10. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1959. Inge, William Ralph. Outspoken Essays. London: Longmans, 1922. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Theology. London: SCM, 1994. Luther, Martin. Works. Saint Louis: Concordia, 1958. Manser, Martin, ed. Collins Bible Companion. London: Collins, 2009. Manton, Thomas. Works. London: Nisbet, 1870–75.


Philip Sampson Owen, John. Exposition upon Ps 130. In Works, vol. 6. London, 1668. Palin, Sarah. Going Rogue. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Perkins, William. Works. London: 1596. Preece, Rod. Brute Souls, Happy Beasts and Evolution. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005. Preece, Rod. Immortal Animal Souls. New York: Edwin Mellen, 2005. Preece, Rod, and Lorna Chamberlain. Animal Welfare and Human Values. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995. Primatt, Humphrey. The Duty of Mercy. 1776. Fontwell: Centaur, 1992. Sampson, Philip. Six Modern Myths. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001. Sargent, Tony. Animal Rights and Wrongs. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996. Schaeffer, Paul. “Protestant Scholasticism at Elizabethan Cambridge.” In Protestant Scholasticism, edited by Carl R. Trueman and R. S. Clark. Cumbria, UK: Paternoster, 1999. Singer, Peter, and Jim Mason. Eating. London: Arrow, 2006. Sprunger, Keith L. Dutch Puritanism. Leiden: Brill, 1982. Spurgeon, C. H. “First Things First.” September 28, 1885. In Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 31. London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1885. Spurgeon, C. H. “A Word for Brutes against Brutes.” Sword and Trowel 3 (June 1873). Stubbes, Philip. Anatomie of Abuses in England. 1583. London: Trubner, 1882. Thomas, Keith. Man and the Natural World. London: Penguin, 1984. Tillotson, John. The Remaining Discourses, on the Attributes of God. In Works, vol. 7. London, 1700. Toplady, Augustus. Works. 1778. London: Baynes, 1825. Topsell, Edward. Times Lamentation. London, 1599. Trapp, John. Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1657. London, 1868. Vantassel, Stephen. Dominion over Wildlife? Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2009. Venning, Ralph. Sin, the Plague of Plagues. London, 1669. Walker, George. God Made Visible in His Works. London, 1641. Webb, Stephen. On God and Dogs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. White, Lynn. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science 155, no. 3767 (1967): 1203–07.


6 HINDUISM Animating Samadhi – Rethinking Animal– Human Relationships through Yoga Kenneth Valpey

This chapter seeks to move us beyond the commonly held images of Hindu (and Jain) traditions associated with animal protection – namely, the principle of ahimsa (non-harming) and the worship of the “holy cow.” Approaching the theme of animal protection through yoga theory and practice, which in turn draws from the ancient Sāṅkhya darshana (philosophical vision), my aim is to show how important features of Sāṅkhya-Yoga could help to address the urgent crisis of animal exploitation and environmental degradation. The central argument of this chapter is that yoga traditions, in their acknowledgment of consciousness as foundational to existence as a whole, provide processes and methods for elevating individual human consciousness in ways that have direct bearing on collective animal and human well-being. These processes and methods are informed by Sāṅkhya’s triadic modal mapping of consciousness: of the three modalities of behavior and experience, the luminosity and balance of sattva-guṇa is favored over the passion of raja-guṇa and the inebriety of toma-guṇa. From this perspective, among animal species, cows are considered to be representative of and characterized in their behavior by sattva-guṇa. Hence, their protection by human beings is understood as integral to both the cultivation of sattvika (illumined) consciousness in human society and the expansion of what may be called the “circle of protection” that is the basis of human civilization. With animals seen in general as sensate, conscious beings who are progressing on the path of yoga, the ultimate aim of classical yoga practice – the attainment of samādhi (perfect absorption) – takes on significance for animal–human relationality, extending yoga’s potential for environmental healing far beyond the pursuit of individual yogic accomplishment. Gilbert K. Chesterton wrote, “We talk of wild animals; but man is the only wild animal. It is man that has broken out. All other animals are tame animals; following the rugged respectability of the tribe or type all other animals are domestic animals; man alone is ever undomestic, either as a profligate or a monk.”1 Chesterton’s observation about human wildness, written in the early twentieth century, becomes exponentially more germane as our collective death wish for planet earth looms ever closer to becoming fulfilled. An increasing clamor of voices is raised in urgent, well-founded cries for worldwide reform to brake and reverse this self-destructive juggernaut of human so-called progress. Yet despite the best efforts of increasing numbers of well-meaning activists, humankind seems unable to stop itself. It is as if we are fundamentally unequipped to curb our appetite for consumption. We have indeed broken out, and we go forth, breaking all 73

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that lies in our path, bringing one species after another to extinction and endangering human well-being as we know it. In recent years, a few scholars of South Asian traditions have explored meditational and yoga practices as potential contributions to the discourse on animal–human relationships, a key component of the broader environmental protection discourse.2 Here my aim is a modest one – to join with and underscore these efforts, pointing especially to aspects of yoga, including its philosophical underpinnings in Sāṅkhya philosophy, as an important resource for this effort. My argument will revolve around two key notions of classical yoga (as articulated in the Patañjali Yoga Sūtras especially, but also in the Bhagavad-gītā and Bhāgavata Purāṇa). First, the starting point for discussion on animals as beings with whom humans might have relationships must be the acknowledgment of consciousness as foundational to all creaturely existence; and second, classical yoga’s underpinnings in Sāṅkhya provide a valuable map and mode of conceiving human well-being that can serve well to extend yoga’s potential for environmental healing, by recovering yoga’s traditional associations with animal relationality.

The Yogi Who Became a Deer I will begin with a story from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (5.8), an important sacred Sanskrit text of India.3 The ancient king Bharata, having renounced his kingdom and entrusted it to his sons, retires to the forest to practice yoga. Over time, Bharata makes notable progress in his practices of yogic meditation. But one day, upon hearing the roar of a lion as the animal attacks a pregnant deer, he interrupts his meditation to save and shelter the deer’s suddenly birthed fawn. With his attention now turned increasingly to the needs of the fawn as he raises it, his affection and attachment for the animal are aroused, but his protective sentiments come at the cost of his meditational practices. Indeed, he becomes so absorbed in thinking of the deer as the animal playfully prances about his hermitage and then strays out of his sight into the forest that Bharata’s life ends with the deer filling his thoughts; and so, we are told, Bharata’s subsequent birth is necessarily from the womb of a deer. Then by virtue of the yogic practices of his previous life, Bharata, despite being in the body of a deer, is able to remember his previous life of yogic discipline. Eventually, in his (human) life that follows his life as a deer, Bharata attains the perfection of his yoga practices that he undertook two lifetimes previous. I will return to this story later, but for now I want only to illustrate a relevant basic presupposition of classical Indic thought that we do well to keep in mind.

Consciousness and Transmigration As is widely known, yogic traditions of South Asia (including those associated with Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu thought and practice systems) subscribe to the notion of multiple successive lives involving some sort of “transmigration” or “metempsychosis,” whereby death’s apparent finality is understood to mask sustained individual existence through countless births within the variety of life-forms we see in this world. And what upholds this view is the acceptance of consciousness as the indestructible reality in which all existence rests: especially in both Jain and Hindu traditions (in contrast to the Buddhist notion of anatta/anātman – “no-self ”), it is understood that we and all creatures, including plants and microbes, are ever-existent individual sentient beings who inhabit one body after another, as a car driver might abandon one car to sit in and drive another car without herself being thereby changed. Thus, the understanding is that we are souls, or selves (ātman or jīva) who possess bodies – not, as is commonly thought, bodies who possess souls. Further, all yogic traditions agree that the human life-form provides a unique 74


opportunity for souls to attain, or rather recover, pure consciousness, thereby permanently ending an otherwise endless repetition of births and deaths. The notion of “pure consciousness” is, in turn, rooted in the very ancient Sāṅkhya system of Indian thought. According to Sāṅkhya, the passive but conscious self ( puruṣa) has become deeply entangled in the active but non-conscious matrix of matter or primordial nature ( prakṛti ), resulting in a perpetual condition of suffering. For our present purposes, to be noted is Sāṅkhya’s threefold typology of primordial nature in three fundamental modalities ( guṇas) or constituents. Loosely comparable to the Chinese Taoist notion of yin and yang as ever-interacting fundamental cosmic principles, the notion of guṇas differs not only in there being three rather than two constituents, but also in their gradation in terms of desirability for elevation of consciousness. Thus, according to this scheme, in the practice of yoga, the constituent of illumination, balance, and goodness (sattva-guṇa) is to be pursued and consciously cultivated, whereas the constituent of aggression, passion, and nervous energy (rāja-guṇa) is to be overcome, and the constituent of darkness, inertness, and ignorance (tamo-guṇa) is to be avoided altogether.4 Yoga practice in its classical form presupposes the necessity to make a determined effort to mold one’s life so as to be sustained by the constituent of illumination, by which the immediate goal of yoga – to gain mastery of one’s own mind – becomes possible. In the pursuit of this world orientation, sattva-guṇa, the yogi will typically seek natural surroundings, accommodate him or herself to the life of the forest with all its animals, and observe vows of nonviolence (ahimsa) through keeping a vegetarian diet and the like and may possibly maintain and protect cows, who are, because of their harmless and productive nature, likewise associated with the sattva-guṇa constituent.5 To understand in more detail how yoga may help us to rethink animal–human relationality, it will be useful to briefly consider each of the eight limbs or stages of classical yoga practice in this context.6

Progressing up the Yoga Ladder The first two limbs of the classical eight-limb yoga system are called yama, meaning restraints, and niyama, meaning practices. Patañjali specifies each of these in a further five categories, and all of them combined may be regarded as setting the ethical foundations of yoga, first by a set of negative directives (avoiding all kinds of violence, untruth, theft, possessiveness, and sexual incontinence) and then by positive directives (maintaining purity, mental satisfaction, austerity, scriptural recitation, and religiosity). Combined, these prohibitions and practices serve as the basis for maintaining a strong connection with sattva-guṇa, the illuminative constituent of nature. Important for us in the present context is that all the elements of these two limbs combined – not just ahimsa (nonviolence), the first principle of restraint – serve to enable the yoga practitioner to overcome the deeply rooted tendency toward predation: the propensity that humans have, as sentient beings, to sustain ourselves by victimizing other beings, whether vegetable, animal, or human. All the classical yoga traditions would agree that if the predation tendency is not curbed, there can be no substantial progress in the raising of consciousness, nor can there be a development of positive relationality with the natural world. In Chesterton’s words, we remain “wild.” Yoga’s third limb, āsana, or postures, disciplines the yogi’s physical body in ways meant ultimately to minimize the body’s tendency to disturb the mind with its concerns for sustenance, reproduction, and protection. Today, in largely urban yoga studios, it is mainly this third practice of postures (sometimes combined with the fourth, controlling the breath) that has become popular (unfortunately, for the most part ignoring the initial two and remaining five limbs of yoga practice). 75

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One aspect of āsana practice of interest for our context is what may be called the imitation of animals. In his study of the classic yoga text about Patañjali’s yoga sutras, Christopher Chapple discusses this, relating it to shamanic practices of imitation and identification with animals. More broadly, he notes that a wide range of cultures have been known to venerate animals, perceiving in the many species varieties of special powers that, it has been believed, can be harnessed by particular practices such as masquerading as animals and imitating them. Chapple quotes Mircea Eliade: Imitating the gait of an animal or putting on its skin was acquiring a superhuman mode of being . . . by becoming this mythic animal, man becomes something far greater and stronger than himself . . . He who, forgetting the limitations and false measurements of humanity, could rightly imitate the behavior of animals – their gait, breathing, cries, and so on – found a new dimension in life: spontaneity, freedom, “sympathy” with all the cosmic rhythms and hence bliss and immortality.7 Animals of each species possess particular abilities and sense powers that we, accustomed to thinking in terms of evolution theory, tend to regard only in terms of survival advantage. All such abilities – be it a dog’s powers of smell and hearing or a bird’s powers of flight and sight – can, however, also point to the heightened sensitivities of consciousness said to be obtained through yoga.8 In later yoga tradition (from roughly the fifteenth century), various yoga āsanas take on names of animals. Cow, tortoise, rooster, peacock, lion, serpent, rabbit, locust, crow, eagle, frog, dog, and scorpion are a few examples of animals associated with particular āsanas.9 And although one might see these animal associations as mere convenience mixed with a measure of projection, alternatively, one may appreciate the āsanas’ potential for evoking qualities we associate with the respective animals. Chapple observes, “The naming of yoga postures is more than merely a convenient, descriptive artifice . . . the relationship between sacred power and the human cannot be divorced from the harnessing of the deep images evoked by intimacy with the animal world.”10 Usually practiced in conjunction with certain āsanas is the fourth yoga limb – namely, prāṇāyāma, literally “extension, or restraint, of vital air.” Through these practices breathing can be deepened and steadied, increasing one’s ability to concentrate. Regulating the breath forces one to become conscious of it, allowing one to become aware of one’s dependency on breath and one’s commonality with all creatures who share in the act of breathing to sustain life. Advanced yogis are said to be able to radically slow their breathing – thus imitating certain animals in hibernation – to extend their life duration, while radically reducing the metabolic demands of the body.11 Then comes the fifth limb of yoga, pratyāhāra, the practice of consciously withdrawing the senses from sense objects, a practice compared in the Bhagavad-gītā with the tortoise’s habit of withdrawing his limbs into his shell when he perceives danger. The progressing yogi is always cautious with respect to sense activity, knowing that sense objects are potentially dangerous means by which to lose her or his connection with the sattva-guṇa, nature’s constituent for illumination. Although pratyāhāra appears to be characterized by withdrawal from the world because it disengages one from specific sense objects, it facilitates the ability to abide in the conscious self, with the end effect of opening one to reciprocation with other conscious beings from a deeper level than is normally possible, beyond identification of self and other with temporal bodies. The final three limbs of eight-limbed classical yoga – namely, dhāranā (concentration), dhyāna (meditation), and samādhi (absorption) – are increasing degrees of perfecting one’s conscious attention, to the point that human sentience reaches its fullest potential.12 On this level of consciousness, in terms of perception of other beings, one is said to experience what I will call radical universality and radical particularity: “radical universality” is the direct realization of all 76


living beings’ ultimate equality as super-temporal, indestructible conscious beings. As the Bhagavad-gītā puts it, the yogi “sees pebbles, stones, and gold as the same” (6.8); “sees friends, enemies, saints and scoundrels as the same” (6.9); and “sees a learned sage, an elephant, a cow, a dog, and a dog-eater as the same” (5.18). By “radical particularity,” I mean the realization that each and every one of the infinite number of creatures is unique, each possessing a permanently unique relationship to the supreme conscious entity, referred to generically as Īśvara or Bhagavān.

Bharata Teaches a King With this quick sketch of the eightfold yoga system in the context of human–animal relationality, we can return to the story of the yogi Bharata, who takes birth as a deer following his life as a yogi. In the context of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, in which the story is narrated, the tale’s main didactic purpose is usually taken to be cautionary for the would-be yogi listener or reader – a warning not to squander the rare opportunity that human birth provides. But I want to suggest an alternative way of reading the story that serves my purpose of reflection on human–animal relations through yoga. In my reading, the consequence of Bharata’s care for the deer is not a failure or a detour; rather, it is an essential lesson that he needs to receive in order to complete his yoga schooling. He needs to experience, in the fullest sense of the term “experience” as inhabiting, what it is to be a nonhuman animal, but to do so with heightened yogic awareness. Thus, Bharata’s story represents a progression of consciousness that becomes complete only when one has gained empathic experience of animal existence through yoga. In fact the Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s continuation of this story (5.9–14) is significant as indicative of how yoga practice has been framed by this text’s tradition within a wider, political context. In his next life, following that of the deer body, Bharata is born into a family of Brahmins (priests) in which he feigns mental incapacity from a young age, in order to be excluded from social interactions and hence from the distractions of worldly life. In his apparent ineptitude, he is conscripted into a team of palanquin carriers for the local king, Rahūgana. But the king’s anger is aroused by Bharata’s irregular pace, caused by Bharata’s efforts to avoid stepping on ants as he walks. An altercation ensues, ending in the king’s recognition that, despite appearances, Bharata is an extremely wise sage, to whom Rahūgana then eagerly submits himself for instruction in higher knowledge. What the conclusion of this story suggests is that a king, a ruler of humankind, having listened submissively to the teachings of an advanced yogi – a homeless resident of the forest – learns the higher truth about the nature of living beings, qualifying him to properly execute his royal duty not only as protector of the human citizens of his kingdom, but also as protector of all living creatures in his kingdom. Through such knowledge it becomes possible for the head of state to enact what the Bhagavad-gītā calls loka-saṁgraha, literally “holding the world together” or “sustaining the world,” or in other words, acting appropriately and effectively for the world’s welfare. In what might be called this “yogic vision” of human–animal harmony, both the yogi and the king are essential agents for the sustenance of the world, each honoring the other. The yogi has profound realization of the higher truth of universal and particular consciousness, and he or she lives in, represents, and exemplifies sattva-guṇa, nature’s constituent of illumination, goodness, and balance. The king, on the other hand, has martial power to wield for protection of all beings, and because of his association with rājo-guṇa, nature’s constituent of action, energy, and passion, he is able to effectively provide protection for his subjects, both human and nonhuman. Together, the yogi, or mystic visionary, and the king, or head of state, serve to sustain the world in what Indic traditions call dharma – higher law that facilitates the progress of all beings toward fully illuminated, divine consciousness. In the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the sustenance of the world through dharma is a persistent theme, and as an important text in the theistic yoga tradition – especially 77

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bhakti yoga, the “yoga of devotion” – it portrays ultimate reality as the supreme, all-powerful, and loving person, the uttama-puruṣa, who is ultimately responsible for loka-saṁgraha, the welfare of the world. In this role, various avatāras (divine descents) of the supreme person (referred to typically as Vishnu, Nārāyaṇa, or Krishna) enter the world at crucial moments in order to set aright, or reestablish, principles and practices of dharma and yoga. Significantly, some of the avatāras appear in the forms of various animals. So, for example, in primordial times, when the earth is submerged in the cosmic waters, Vishnu appears as Varāha – a cosmic boar – who dives into the nether regions to recover the earth on his tusks. But this is a longer story that need not detain us. It suffices to note that in the vision of yogic perfection elaborated in the theistic traditions of India, there prevails an understanding of divine, human, and animal interaction that brings the three categories intimately together as a celebration of the divine, the sustenance and liberation of the human, and the protection of the animal dimensions of being. In this scheme, although humans may have “broken out” as the “wild animal,” there is real hope that they – we – can, as Mahatma Gandhi put it, “be the change we wish to see” in the world and thus bring about the conditions for appropriate and pleasing relationships between animals and humans, affording genuine well-being for the world as a whole.

Notes 1 Quoted in The Critic (Summer 1994): 83. 2 See, for example, J. Baird Callicott and Roger T. Ames, eds., Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy (Albany: SUNY Press, 1989); J. Baird Callicott and James McRae, eds., Environmental Philosophy in Asian Traditions of Thought (Albany: SUNY Press, 2014); Christopher K. Chapple, M. E. Tucker, A. Agarwal, and K. D. Alley, Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water (Cambridge, MA: Center for the Study of World Religions, 2000). 3 The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is by far the most widely known and commented of the several texts of the Purāṇa genre. It is particularly associated with and foundational for certain Vaiṣṇava (Vishnuite) traditions and enjoys present-day popularity, especially through oral recitations. For an introduction to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, see Ravi M. Gupta and Kenneth R. Valpey, eds., The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Sacred Text and Living Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013); Ravi M. Gupta and Kenneth R. Valpey, The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Essential Readings (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming). 4 The Bhagavad-gītā, especially chaps. 14 and 17 and parts of chap. 18, elaborate on the Sāṅkhya notion of guṇas, with an implied emphasis on the relative superiority of sattva-guṇa to the other two. However, it also emphasizes the necessity to transcend sattva-guṇa if one is to attain the perfection of yoga practice. A somewhat different but relevant perspective is articulated by Arya: all three constituents are necessarily always present, but for one in whom sattva-guṇa predominates, raja-guṇa serves to energize, impel, and overcome stagnation, and tamo-guṇa serves to stabilize one’s consciousness. Pandit Usharbudh Arya, YogaSutras of Patañjali with the Exposition of Vyāsa (Honesdale, PA: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA 1986), 30. 5 It should be noted that ahimsa, which Mahatma Gandhi made famous by applying it in the campaign for Indian independence, is the very first prerequisite for the successful practice of yoga. Reflecting this sense of ahimsa’s importance, the sacred scripture Mahābhārata (e.g., 1.11.12, Vulgate edition) refers to it as the “highest dharma” (ahiṁsā paramo dharmaḥ sarva-prāṇābhṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ), whereby dharma indicates, broadly speaking, the duty of human beings to participate appropriately in the maintenance of the world around them. Significantly, for animal protection discourse, the Mahābhārata also (esp. at 3.297.55) specifies “non-cruelty” (ānṛśamsya) as the highest dharma. Emily T. Hudson, “Disorienting Dharma: Ethics and the Poetics of Suffering in the Mahābhārata” (PhD diss., Emory University, 2006), 267n14. 6 The eightfold yoga system is summarized in Patañjali Yoga Sūtras II.29, followed by elaborations from II.30 through III.7. For helpful translations and discussions of the text, see Christopher Key Chapple, Yoga and the Luminous: Patanjali’s Spiritual Path to Freedom (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2008) and Edwin F. Bryant, The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary (New York, NY: North Point Press, 2009). 7 Mircea Eliade, quoted in Chapple, Yoga and the Luminous, Kindle ed., chap. 4, location 674 of 3387.


Hinduism 8 The nature of perception is an important theme in yoga philosophy; in particular, the tradition speaks of “yogic perception” (yoga-pratyakṣa), as a power accessible for the yogi who has attained perfect trance (samādhi), in which “reality (sad or sat) is accurately seen only by the inner self directly in concentration without the intervention of the senses, mind and buddhi [intelligence].” Arya, Yoga-Sutras of Patañjali, 85. 9 Indeed, according to some yoga traditions, there are potentially as many yoga āsanas as there are living species – 8,400,000, by traditional reckoning. 10 Chapple, Yoga and the Luminous, chap. 4, location 717 of 3387. 11 However, in contrast to the parallel with hibernating animals’ physical condition of slow breathing, it would be understood that the yogi’s awareness, unlike that of a hibernating animal, would be highly awakened (or, in terms of the guṇa typology, the yogi would be situated in sattva-gūṇa, whereas the hibernating animal would be situated in tamo-guṇa). 12 The Bhagavad-gītā, verses 20–23, summarizes the characteristics of this state as follows: That place where thought comes to rest, held steady by the practice of yoga; And where, seeing the Self by the very self, one becomes satisfied within the self; That boundless happiness beyond the senses, which is grasped through discernment; That place where one knows this, indeed, is established in it and does not swerve from the truth; And which having obtained, one is mindful that no other gain is greater than this; Situated in which one is not shaken even by heavy suffering – Let this be understood as the disjunction from one’s conjunction with suffering – this is called yoga. One is to be absorbed in yoga with determination, such yoga being without discouraging thought. (Graham B. Schweig, Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord’s Secret Love Song [New York: HarperOne, 2010], 97–98, ignoring line breaks)

References Arya, Pandit Usharbudh. Yoga-Sutras of Patañjali with the Exposition of Vyāsa. Honesdale, PA: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA, 1986. Bryant, Edwin F. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary. New York, NY: North Point Press, 2009. Callicott, J. Baird, and Roger T. Ames, eds. Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1989. Callicott, J. Baird, and James McRae, eds. Environmental Philosophy in Asian Traditions of Thought. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2014. Chapple, Christopher K., M. E. Tucker, A. Agarwal, and K. D. Alley. Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water. Cambridge, MA: Center for the Study of World Religions, 2000. Chapple, Christopher Key. Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1993. Chapple, Christopher Key. Yoga and the Luminous: Patanjali’s Spiritual Path to Freedom. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2008. Kindle ed. Gupta, Ravi M., and Kenneth R. Valpey. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Essential Readings. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming. Gupta, Ravi M., and Kenneth R. Valpey, eds. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Sacred Text and Living Tradition. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2013. Hudson, Emily T. “Disorienting Dharma: Ethics and the Poetics of Suffering in the Mahābhārata.” PhD diss., Emory University, 2006. Schweig, Graham M. Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord’s Secret Love Song. New York: HarperOne, 2010. Theodor, Ithamar. Exploring the Bhagavad Gita. Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2013.


7 ISLAM Ants, Birds, and Other Affable Creatures in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sufi Literature Neal Robinson

Like their nomadic forebears, Muslims in post-Soviet Central Asia sometimes serve their guests koumiss, an alcoholic beverage made from mare’s milk that has been left to ferment in horse-skin containers. An indication of koumiss’s cultural significance is that when Kyrgyzstan became independent in 1991, the capital, Frunze, was renamed Bishkek after the wooden paddle used to churn the liquid. Koumiss is also drunk by Bashkir and Tatar Muslims in the Russian Federation and by Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Throughout this extensive area of the Muslim world, the principal dish at feasts is beshbarmak (“five fingers”) – so-called because it was traditionally eaten using all five fingers of the right hand. Recipes vary, but the main ingredient is usually horse meat. Not surprisingly, many religious scholars consider these practices un-Islamic. There is a verse in the Qur’an that instructs believers to shun wine,1 and it is reported that the Prophet Muhammad prohibited all intoxicants even in very small quantities.2 When Muslims in other countries forgo cutlery, they use only three fingers as the Prophet allegedly did; to use all five is considered a sign of greed.3 According to the Qur’an, God created horses for human beings to ride and for finery.4 Because nothing is said about their value as food, most Muslims will not eat horse meat, and because the hadith contain conflicting reports about the Prophet’s attitude toward its consumption, Abu Hanifa, the founder of one of the four Sunni law schools, categorized it as “objectionable.”5 Although it is useful to distinguish what certain groups of Muslims habitually do (“Muslim” practices) from what the accredited experts consider they ought to do (“Islamic” practices), one must guard against the narrow dogmatism that would drive a sharp wedge between them. In this chapter it is not my concern to defend the dietary habits and table manners of Central Asian Muslims. Instead, we propose to focus on diverse evidence for widespread Muslim empathy with nonhuman animals,6 an empathy that is firmly rooted in the Qur’an. The preceding statement may come as a surprise to those who think of the Qur’an primarily as a source of rules and regulations. After all, it contains instructions concerning the slaughter of domesticated animals for food,7 it permits fishing8 and hunting,9 it sanctions the use of hunting dogs and birds of prey,10 and it prescribes animal sacrifices,11 but it does not contain any legislation about animal welfare. However, although the Qur’an is the first source of Islamic law, it is not a compendium of law. In fact, it comprises more than 6,200 verses, of which only 200 or so deal 80


specifically with legal issues. It claims to be a divinely revealed scripture intended as “guidance for the god-fearing.”12 If we wish to obtain guidance concerning the treatment of nonhuman animals, we should therefore pay attention to what it says about them in the other, non-legislative verses. Animals feature in descriptions of the hereafter, in polemic, in passages that draw attention to signs of God’s generosity and power, and in edifying narratives. Let us begin with the descriptions of the hereafter. The Qur’an contains a wealth of eschatological material because its ultimate aim is to lead the God-fearing to paradise. What will people eat when they attain that blessed state? The answer is fruit,13 with one verse adding that this will be neither rationed nor forbidden.14 There are, however, three verses that make allowances for meat-eaters by promising not only fruit but also “anything they request,” “flesh as they desire,” and “flesh of any bird they desire.”15 Thus, we may infer that the inhabitants of paradise will have every encouragement to be fruitarians, although they will be given meat if they crave it. However, from early times popular preachers, who notoriously emphasized the carnal delights awaiting believers, had no difficulty fleshing out the menu. They claimed, on the authority of the Prophet, that the first meal served to the faithful would consist of the caudate liver of a whale and that they would subsequently feast on the meat of a bull who had grazed along the margins of paradise.16 Their crude sensuality was rejected by the Sufis, for whom God himself was the supreme recompense. In this vein, Rabi’a of Basra (d. 801) prayed, “O God! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine everlasting beauty.”17 As we shall see later, this remarkable woman was a Muslim vegetarian. Turning now to Qur’anic polemic, there are several passages in which the Prophet’s adversaries are compared to nonhuman animals. For example, nonbelievers who do not heed the message are said to be further astray than cattle,18 a person who rejected the revelations is compared to a dog lolling his tongue out,19 and Jews who carry around the Torah but do not carry out its obligations are likened to a donkey loaded with books.20 Here it is nonbelievers and Jews21 who are denigrated, not cattle, dogs, and donkeys, for nonhuman animals cannot be expected to understand human speech or writing. The Qur’an is addressed to human beings. Consequently, its statements about animals often seem anthropocentric. However, there are some notable exceptions, especially in passages that mention signs of the Creator’s power and generosity. Consider the following: Do they not see the birds above them spreading out their wings and folding them in? None upholds them except the Most-merciful. He is the Beholder of everything. (Qur’an 67:19; cf. 16:79) How many an animal there is that does not carry its own provision. God provides for them and for you. He is the All-Hearing the All-Knowing. (Qur’an 29:60) There is not an animal on earth, or a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. (Qur’an 6:38) And there is not an animal on earth whose provision does not depend on God. He knows its habitation and its final resting place. Everything is in a clear book. (Qur’an 11:6) 81

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Hast thou not seen that everything in heaven and earth glorifies God, and the birds flying in formation? Each knows its prayer and how to glorify Him. (Qur’an 24:41) And thy Lord inspired the bee, “Take habitations in the mountains, in trees and what men erect. Then eat of all the fruits and pass by the ways of thy Lord humbly.” There comes forth from their bellies a drink varied in colour in which is healing for humankind. Surely in that is a sign for a people who reflect. (Qur’an 16:68–69) Note that God’s providential care extends to birds and animals and that he feeds them just as he feeds human beings. Like human beings too, they belong to communities; the Arabic word is the plural of umma, which usually denotes a group whose members have a shared religious identity.22 Animals glorify God and have their own form of prayer.23 God’s knowledge of their final resting place and the assertion that they will be gathered to him may also imply that they will be resurrected. Finally, God, who “inspired” Noah to build the ark, Moses to strike the rock with his staff, and Muhammad to follow the religion of Abraham,24 inspired the bee to follow a particular course of action. Nothing is said about him inspiring horses, but I tentatively suggest that if they were vouchsafed a revelation, it would be unashamedly hippo-centric. The all-knowing God is undoubtedly aware that certain species opted to be domesticated because this gave them an evolutionary advantage.25 So I imagine him saying to the horses something along these lines: “And we created human animals and predisposed you to let them ride on you in order that you would be groomed regularly, led to fertile pastures, and thus saved from extinction.” Rather than summarizing the references to animals in the Qur’anic narratives, we propose now to look at a selection of species one at a time. In each case, we will begin with the Qur’an and then mention additional material from later literature. The Qur’an tells us that Solomon dragged himself away from reviewing his thoroughbred cavalry horses in order to perform the afternoon prayer, after which he sent for them again and stroked their necks and forelegs.26 According to the hadith, Muhammad forbade the cutting of horses’ tails or manes.27 Moreover, Bukhari, the compiler of the most authoritative hadith collection, allegedly refused to accept reports from an informant whom he saw trying to mislead a horse by attracting the animal with an empty food vessel. However, for sheer pathos, the Shiite legends concerning the Prophet’s grandson Hussein are unrivaled. The story goes that when Hussein began to crawl, he went to the stable. Muhammad, observing that the infant was communing silently with his horse, had the animal saddled. The horse then spontaneously knelt down for Hussein to mount him. More than half a century later, when Hussein was killed in the battle of Karbala, his horse Dhu al-Janah (“the Winged One”) was inconsolable. The horse struck his head on the earth in self-mortification and searched out the tent of Hussein’s sister Zeinab before wading into the Euphrates, never to be seen again.28 Dogs almost certainly befriended human beings long before horses did. A particularly affable dog features prominently in the Qur’anic episode of the companions in the cave. This story, which resembles the Christian legend of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, relates how a group of believers hid in a cave, where God miraculously caused the young men to sleep for many years, until persecution had ceased. And thou would have thought them awake, while they were asleep. And we turned them on their right side and on their left side, and their dog stretching forth its forelegs at the entrance. Had thou seen them thou would certainly have turned back from 82


them in flight, and would certainly have been filled with awe at them . . . Some say they were three, their dog being the fourth of them; some that they were five, their dog being the sixth of them – guessing at the Unseen – some say that they were seven, their dog being the eighth of them. Say, “My Lord knows best their number. None knows them but a few.” (Qur’an 18:18–22) The dog, who incidentally is not mentioned in the Christian versions of the story, was presumably guarding the youths. Note that the dog is described almost as if he were prostrate in prayer. Note too that the dog is considered a supernumerary member of the group, a point that is repeatedly stressed. The traditional commentators give the dog’s name as Qitmir, a word that occurs in the Qur’an as a common noun denoting the protective membrane that covers a date stone. They state that Qitmir adhered to the young men’s religion and that when they tried to drive him away, he spoke to them, saying that he was most beloved of God and would be their guard.29 Rumi (d. 1273), the renowned Sufi sheikh and poet, seems to have held that Qitmir had an inner awareness of God’s love for his creation and that faithful dogs such as Qitmir would be admitted to paradise.30 Notwithstanding Muslim reverence for Qitmir, dogs have a poor press in Islamic tradition. The hadith collections contain conflicting reports about the Prophet’s attitude toward them, but most of the reports are strikingly hostile. He allegedly said that angels do not enter houses where there is a dog or a picture,31 that they do not accompany travelers who have a dog and a bell with them,32 that anyone who keeps a dog other than for guarding his herds or hunting will have his reward in paradise massively decreased,33 and that income from trading in dogs is as illicit as income from prostitution.34 Worse still, he reputedly gave orders for all dogs to be killed35 before relenting and singling out black dogs for extermination.36 These prophetic traditions reflect a mixture of cultural bias (dogs, icons, and bells were associated with Christians); superstition (many people regard black dogs as diabolic); and sound hygiene (stray dogs are potentially dangerous because they may carry the rabies virus). Regardless of whether the traditions are genuine, they often have resulted in dogs and their caregivers being ill-treated by Muslims. In several European countries some misguided Muslim activists have recently campaigned for the banning of dogs, including guide dogs, on public transport; people walking their dogs have been harassed; and there has been a spate of dog poisonings.37 The situation is not as bleak as it may seem. There is no evidence that the Prophet approved of cruelty to dogs, but rather, quite the contrary! According to one hadith, he said that a prostitute received God’s forgiveness because on a hot day she drew water from a well with her shoe and gave it to a thirsty dog.38 In another version of the story, the sinner was a man, and the Prophet added that compassion toward any living creature would be rewarded.39 The Sufis sometimes compared the carnal human soul to a lustful dirty dog, but this could be to the dog’s advantage, as is illustrated by the following anecdote: A dog brushed up against a sheikh, who made No move to draw his skirts in or evade The filthy stray – a puzzled passer-by Who’d noticed his behaviour asked him why. He said, “The dog is filthy as you see, But what is outside him is inside me – What’s clear on him is hidden in my heart; Why should such close companions stay apart?”40 83

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Two hundred years or more before Attar penned those lines, Ibn Marzuban was so appalled by the degeneracy of human morals in Baghdad that he produced The Book of the Superiority of Dogs over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes.41 It comprises quotations and anecdotes about the virtues of dogs, including the delightful story of two men returning from battle who became drunk and quarreled over the booty. One of them robbed his mate before pushing him in the river and leaving him to drown. However, a stray dog pulled the man to the bank and went off to fetch him a loaf of bread to eat. The grateful man took the dog home with him, where the dog became his inseparable companion and nightly slept beneath his cloak. Out of curiosity, I asked a friend about attitudes toward dogs in central Asia. She was born and raised in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union, and her parents, both Moscow graduates, kept a dog. Her Tatar grandmother, who lived with them, was a devout Muslim. When one of the children kicked the dog, the grandmother warned them all in no uncertain terms that anyone who was cruel to animals in this life would have to answer for their actions on the day of judgment. Intrigued, I asked whether the dog used to go inside the house. “Oh no,” she replied, “only Russians or Christians would allow that!”42 Although it would be unwise to generalize on the basis of this anecdotal evidence, it points to the ongoing influence of the compassion for animals and the cultural bias that are both evinced in the hadith. For the inhabitants of seventh-century Arabia, the most important animal was not the horse or the dog but the camel because the camel was a source of food and clothing as well as the principal means of transport. At one point the Qur’an exclaims, “Do they not consider the camels, how they are created?”43 This has led some authors to catalogue the remarkable features of the camel’s anatomy and physiology that fit the animal for life in the desert,44 including feet that spread out to prevent sinking in the sand, a third eyelid that the animal can close in sandstorms, the tough lining of the mouth that enables the camel to chew cactus, and the fat hump that can be converted into energy when food is unavailable. However, the camel is probably singled out for special attention merely because Arab merchants had ample opportunity on their travels to marvel at the camel’s qualities along with those of the sky, the mountains, and the earth, to which their attention is drawn in the next three verses of the same sura. In addition to evoking camels as a sign of the Creator’s power, the Qur’an repeatedly mentions one particular “she-camel” given to Salih as a sign that he was a prophet.45 Salih’s people, the Thamud, who lived in Arabia before the rise of Islam, were subsequently destroyed because of their disobedience. They had been told to take special care of Salih’s camel, to allow her to graze freely, and to grant her exclusive watering rights on particular days. However, they hamstrung her. The early commentators amplify the story, informing us that the camel had assured the Thamud a prodigious supply of milk, making their action seem all the more wicked and senseless. One tradition describes the extreme distress of the camel’s bull calf. On seeing that his mother was grievously injured, the calf fled to a high mountain. When Salih eventually recovered the calf, the tears rolled down the animal’s cheeks like water. For each of the three pitiful groans that the calf uttered, the people were given a day’s grace before God’s wrath fell upon them.46 According to the hadith, Muhammad was especially solicitous about the welfare of camels. He forbade the pre-Islamic practice of cutting off their humps for food while they were still alive; he criticized men who used them as seats while idly gossiping in the marketplace; and he rebuked his favorite wife Ayesha for treating her camel harshly.47 Shiite sources mention a camel who came up to the Prophet and kneeled before him to complain about his plight. The Prophet sent for the camel’s caregiver and told him that he had learned that the camel was about to be sacrificed after years of faithful service. He asked for the camel’s life to be spared and set the animal free to wander around the homes of the Muslims of Medina, who fed and cared for him.48 84


The three species we have considered are all relatively large mammals. However, with God size is irrelevant: the Qur’an states that God does not disdain to use the simile even of a gnat.49 The commentators report that this verse was revealed because the pagans scoffed when they heard the Prophet recite other verses that mentioned flies and spiders.50 Be that as it may, it is surely also an oblique reference to the only passage in the Bible where this creature is mentioned and where the language is likewise figurative – namely, Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees for straining a gnat but swallowing a camel.51 In addition to gnats, flies, and spiders, the Qur’an mentions bees, moths, termites, locusts, and ants. The ants feature in a narrative about Solomon, who marched to the Valley of Ants, where he overheard one of them say, “O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his troops inadvertently crush you.” Solomon’s reaction was to smile with amusement before asking God to fill his heart with gratitude and make him act justly.52 Here also, the biblical background is relevant. There are only two references to ants in the Bible, both of them in Proverbs, a book that claims to be the work of Solomon. The first is the oft-quoted “Go to the ant, thou sluggard. Learn her ways and be wise.”53 In the Qur’anic narrative, Solomon practices what he preaches and does precisely that. However, the early commentators furnished some intriguing additional details. The ant’s name, they tell us, was Jiris. Solomon went out to pray for rain, but when he saw Jiris raising one of her legs toward heaven, he told his companions that she had already prayed and that her prayer would be answered.54 There is a hadith about an unnamed prophet who received a stinging revelation after burning an anthill: “Because of a single ant that bit thee, thou hast destroyed a whole community who praised God!” This accords with the Qur’anic teaching about animals, but it also seems to echo the second passage from Proverbs, which describes the ants as a weak but prudent community.55 The Sufis delighted in telling further stories about the wisdom and piety of ants and the respect that they merited. Solomon is said to have mocked an ant for wasting his time trying to remove a hill in front of the ant’s house when this was obviously way beyond his capability. The ant’s reply was an object lesson in the Sufi path of love: “Don’t look at my weak power. Look at my aspiration! I am in love with an ant which promised me it will clear away the boulder of rejection if I get rid of this hill. Now all my mind and effort is directed to this work. If I succeed I’ll win closeness to the beloved, if not, at least I won’t be a liar and a false lover.”56 On another occasion, Solomon asked a lame ant which clay was most mixed with grief. The ant answered, “The last brick which is used to wall up the burial pit because by then all hope has run out.”57 In another story, Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, was very upset when he accidentally injured an ant while out walking. The Prophet appeared to him in a dream and told him to be more careful because ants continually praised God. This made Ali even more upset until the Prophet reassured him that the ant himself had interceded on Ali’s behalf.58 Finally, Attar relates that at a banquet hosted by a member of a guild promoting chivalry, the servant delayed bringing the food when an ant alighted on it. He reasoned that it would be bad manners to serve the food while it was still graced with an ant but that it would be unchivalrous to chase the ant away. So he waited until the ant left of his or her own accord.59 According to the Qur’an, Solomon understood not only ants; he also had troops of birds at his command and knew their language.60 He inherited this knowledge from his father David, who sang God’s praise, accompanied by the mountains and birds.61 Only three bird species are mentioned by name: the hoopoe who brought Solomon news of the Queen of Sheba,62 the quails given by God to Moses and the Israelites for food in the wilderness,63 and the raven who plays an important role in the Qur’anic version of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain, the murderer, did not know how to dispose of his brother’s body, but God sent a raven who scratched the earth to show Cain that he ought to bury it.64 Birds also feature in other stories. For instance, Jesus is 85

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said to have modeled birds from clay and breathed into them so that with God’s permission they became real birds.65 The Sufis accepted the literal truth of Jesus’ miracle but meditated on its deeper spiritual meaning. Like an exemplary Sufi sheikh, he had taken the clay of his disciples’ carnal souls and modeled them by his teaching and practical wisdom so that they wished to fly like birds toward holiness. Then, through companionship and further instruction, his breath transformed them into living souls who did indeed soar upward on the wings of ardent desire toward the divine reality.66 This esoteric approach to the miracle, along with some of the other Qur’anic references to birds, inspired one of the classics of world spirituality, Attar’s The Conference of Birds. At one level, it is the story of how the birds decide that they want a king. The hoopoe tells the birds that they already have one, the Simorgh, but that he lives far away. Their initial enthusiasm to go and find him soon begins to wane, and one by one, they make excuses for not undertaking the hazardous journey. The parrot merely wishes to be let out of his cage; the duck thinks she will never survive out of water; the owl prefers to spend his life haunting ruins; and so forth. The hoopoe patiently answers each of them in turn. By this stage the allegory is already transparent because the hoopoe tells them anecdotes about the human spiritual quest. The hoopoe is thus a thinly disguised Sufi sheikh, and the various birds represent different human types, all of them members or potential members of his Sufi order. The birds eventually set forth with the hoopoe as their guide. As they cross the seven valleys that he has warned them about, many abandon the journey. A mere thirty reach the Simorgh’s court. There they are made to read a book in which, to their consternation, every detail of their past lives is recorded. Then, as by shame their spirits were refined Of all the world’s weight, they began to find A new life flow towards them from that bright Celestial and ever-living light67 To their further bewilderment, they then discover that the Simorgh’s majestic presence is like a crystal clear mirror. When the “thirty birds” (si morgh) look at the Simorgh, they see themselves, and when they look at themselves, they see the Simorgh. Though you have struggled, wandered, travelled far, It is yourselves you see and what you are (Who sees the Lord? It is himself each sees; What ant’s sight could discern the Pleiades?)68 The message is that although we can never see God, we can be spiritually transformed to see ourselves in the knowledge of God. Judging by the lives of many Sufis, the spiritual transformation entails a radical shift in attitude toward nonhuman animals. The Qur’an played a central role in the lives of Sufis, and their attitude toward nonhuman species accords with the perspective of the Qur’anic signs, passages, and narratives. However, we are still left with the problem posed by a handful of verses concerning meat-eating, hunting, and animal sacrifice. The first thing to notice is that when read in context, these verses give cause for reflection. For instance, the believers are not permitted to hunt while dressed for the pilgrimage.69 Free-roaming animals are thus protected in and around Mecca, the site of God’s house. This suggests that hunting is a concession to human needs but not something for which human 86


beings were intended. Moreover, unlike pagan deities, God does not need animal sacrifices. The meat and blood never reach him. What reaches him is the piety of the pilgrims. He has given them the meat as food so that they will be grateful. They are to eat some of it and give the rest to beggars and other poor people.70 Given that Islamic law took shape after Islam had become the ideology of a militaristic patriarchal society, it is not surprising that the jurists did not question the legitimacy of meat-eating and hunting.71 Nevertheless, on the basis of hadith, they circumscribed them to some extent. Ritual slaughter should be done with a sharp blade to minimize the animal’s suffering. Hunting is permitted only when the quarry is for human consumption. The skins of domesticated animals killed for food may be used for clothing, but Muslims are forbidden to kill animals solely for their skin, fur, or feathers. Some of the Sufis held more radical views. One day when Rabi’a retreated to the mountains, she was approached by flocks of deer, mountain goats, ibexes, and wild asses. However, when the famous ascetic Hasan al-Basri arrived on the scene, the animals fled. Hasan was dismayed and asked Rabi’a why the animals associated so tamely with her but ran away from him. So she asked him what he had eaten. When he answered that he had consumed a little onion pulp cooked in animal fat, she retorted, “You eat their fat. So why shouldn’t they flee from you!”72 According to another well-known story, Ebrahim ibn Adham, king of Balkh, went hunting to try to forget the disturbing dreams of the previous night. He was about to give chase to a deer when it turned and said to him, “I have been sent to hunt you. You cannot catch me. Was it for this that you were created?” Ebrahim looked the deer in the face but was terrified to then hear the same words repeated first from the pommel of his saddle and then from the collar of his own cloak. He abandoned the hunt and his kingdom, exchanged his royal garb for the ragged clothes and felt hat of a humble shepherd, and became an itinerant Sufi.73 Because the Qur’an permits meat-eating and hunting, it would be un-Islamic to ban either unless this was agreed to be clearly in the “public interest.”74 However, strict vegetarianism and abstention from hunting are viable personal choices for individual Muslims, as is clear from the anecdotes about Rabi’a and Ebrahim. The question of animal sacrifices is more problematic. Hanafi jurists insist that sacrificing an animal for the pilgrimage festival is obligatory for every domiciled adult who possesses wealth surplus to his or her daily needs. The other law schools take a slightly more lax attitude. They note that it was the habitual practice of the Prophet75 and therefore urge all Muslims to emulate him. However, twice in the 1990s, King Hassan of Morocco, who in other years was televised slitting the throat of his victim, decided to ban the annual sacrifice for economic reasons.76 Moroccans follow the Maliki law school. If his people had been Hanafis, the king would have met with more opposition. What he did was arguably in the public interest in the nontechnical sense, but he could not have invoked that as a principle of Islamic law because it does not apply in matters of worship. In 2001, during an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the imam of the Paris Mosque, likewise a Maliki, issued a fatwa stating that instead of offering a sacrifice, the faithful could give the poor the cash equivalent of the third of the price of a sheep.77 A few courageous Muslims have adopted this as their standard practice. It will not, however, become the norm until many more Muslims recognize that the guiding principles for humanity are to be found in the Qur’an as a whole, rather than in the Qur’anic legislation considered in isolation.

Notes 1 Qur’an 5:90. 2 “Anything which intoxicates in a large quantity is prohibited even in a small quantity.” Ibn al-Majah, Sunan, vol. 3, Book of Intoxicants, chap. 30, hadith 3392.


Neal Robinson 3 Ka’b bin Malik reported, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) eating with three fingers and licking them after finishing the food.” Sahih Muslim 5296. According to the standard commentary, eating meat with five fingers is a sign of greed because only three are needed to hold a morsel. Ibn Hajar Asqalani, Fath al-Bari 9:578. 4 Qur’an 16:8. 5 For discussion of the hadith, see “Ruling on Horse Meat,” accessed July 29, 2014, en/70320. In Islamic law, an act that is “objectionable” (makruh) is not forbidden, but a person who abstains from it will be rewarded. 6 It is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss whether human beings can ever genuinely empathize with members of other species. See Tim Birkhead, Bird Sense: What It’s Like to Be a Bird (London: Bloomsbury, 2012). 7 Qur’an 5:1–3. 8 Qur’an 5:96. 9 Qur’an 5:4. 10 Qur’an 5:4. 11 Qur’an 2:196, 5:2, 5:95–97, 22:34–38, 108:2. 12 Qur’an 2:2. 13 Qur’an 2:25, 37:42, 38:51, 43:73, 44:55, 55:52, 55:68, 77:42. 14 Qur’an 56:32. 15 Qur’an 36:57, 52:22, 56:21. 16 Sahih Muslim 716. Sunni Muslim traditionalists consider this hadith authentic. They do not deny that popular preachers (“story-tellers”) fabricated hadith, but they maintain that these were weeded out by Bukhari and Muslim, who produced the two most authoritative collections. See Suhaib Hasan Abdul Ghaffar, Criticisms of Hadith among Muslims with Reference to Ibn Maja (London: Ta Ha and Al-Qur’an Society, 1986), 39–40. Western scholars are usually more skeptical. 17 Quoted in Reynold A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam (London: George Bell, 1914), 115. 18 Qur’an 7:179, 25:44. For a perceptive discussion of these and similar verses, see Sarra Tlili, Animals in the Qur’an (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 127–29. 19 Qur’an 7:176. 20 Qur’an 62:5. 21 Although the description of Jews as donkeys carrying books is relished by anti-Semites, the Qur’an is probably echoing an insult coined by Jews themselves. See Abraham Geiger, Judaism and Islam (New York: Ktav, 1970), 71n3. 22 For example, for Muslims see Qur’an 2:128, 2:143. 23 Arabic salāt, the word used elsewhere for the ritual prayers prescribed for Muslims. 24 Qur’an 7:160, 23:27, 16:123. The Arabic verb is awḥā. 25 See Stephen Budiansky, The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1994). 26 Qur’an 38:31–33. 27 Abu Dawud, Sunan 14.2536. 28 David Pinault, The Horse of Karbala: Muslim Devotional Life in India (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 115, 123–30. 29 Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān (Leiden: Brill, 2001), vol. 1, 545–46. The common noun qiṭmīr occurs in Qur’an 35:13. 30 Juan Eduardo Campo, Encyclopedia of Islam (New York: Infobase, 2009), 201. Rumi’s poetry is often difficult to interpret. The key text is Mathnawi 2.2362–64. 31 Sahih Muslim 5249. 32 Sahih Muslim 5276. 33 Sahih Muslim 3815. 34 Sahih Muslim 3803. 35 Sahih Bukhari 54.540. 36 Abu Daud, Sunan 10.2839. 37 Soeren Kern, “Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe,” Gatestone Institute, January 31, 2012, accessed July 13, 2014, 38 Sahih Muslim 2245. 39 Malik bin Anas, Al-Muwatta 49.10.23. 40 Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of Birds, trans. and introd. Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984), 151.


Islam 41 Ibn Marzuban, The Book of the Superiority of Dogs over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes, trans. and ed. G. R. Smith and M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips, 1978). The compiler lived in the tenth century. 42 Written communication in Russian from Gulnar Suleimenova, July 13, 2014. 43 Qur’an 88:17. 44 Oliver Leaman, The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia (Oxford: Routledge, 2006), 135–36, gives a useful summary. 45 Qur’an 7:73–79, 11:61–68, 17:59, 26:141–59, 54:23–32, 91:11–15. 46 Brannon W. Wheeler, Prophets in the Quran (London: Continuum, 2002), 74–82. 47 Richard C. Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition (Oxford: Oneworld, 2007), 14, 19–20. 48 Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 22–23. 49 Qur’an 2:26. 50 Wheeler, Prophets in the Quran, 267. 51 Matthew 23:24. 52 Qur’an 27:18–19. The Arabic word for ant is namla. 53 Proverbs 6:6. The Hebrew word for ant is n mālā. 54 Wheeler, Prophets in the Quran, 267. 55 Proverbs 30:25. The Hebrew word for “people” is ‘am. Although it occurs more than 1,600 times in the Hebrew Bible, it is not used for nonhuman animals except in this and the following verse. 56 Hellmut Ritter, The Ocean of the Soul (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2003), 398–99. 57 Ritter, Ocean of the Soul, 42. 58 Ritter, Ocean of the Soul, 338. 59 Ritter, Ocean of the Soul, 339. 60 Qur’an 27:16–17, 27:20. 61 Qur’an 21:79, 34:10, 38:18–19, echoing Psalm 108:9–10. 62 Qur’an 27:20–28. 63 Qur’an 2:57. 64 Qur’an 5:31. 65 Qur’an 3:49, 5:110. 66 For the Sufi exegesis of these verses, see Neal Robinson, Christ in Islam and Christianity (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991), 185–86. 67 Attar, Conference of Birds, 218. 68 Attar, Conference of Birds, 219. 69 Qur’an 5:195. 70 Qur’an 22:36–37. 71 For the relationship of meat-eating and hunting to patriarchy and militarism, see Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1990). 72 Farid al-Din Attar, Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’ (Memorial of the Saints), trans. A. J. Arberry (London: RKP, 1966), 44–45. 73 Attar, Muslim Saints, 64–65. 74 The Maliki law school stresses the principle of maslaḥa, “public interest.” 75 Sunna mu’akkada. 76 Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 122. I watched the king slaughter his victim on Moroccan TV in 1996. 77 Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 122.

References Abdarahman, A’isha, and Ya’qub Johnson, trans. Imam Malik’s Al-Muwatta. Norwich: Diwan Press, 1982. Abdul Ghaffar, Suhaib Hasan. Criticisms of Hadith among Muslims with Reference to Ibn Maja. London: Ta Ha and Al-Qur’an Society, 1986. Adams, Carol J. The Sexual Politics of Meat. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1990. Attar, Farid al-Din. Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’ (Memorial of the Saints). Translated by A. J. Arberry. London: RKP, 1966. Attar, Farid ud-Din. The Conference of Birds. Translated and introduced by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984. Birkhead, Tim. Bird Sense: What It’s Like to Be a Bird. London: Bloomsbury, 2012. Budiansky, Stephen. The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1994.


Neal Robinson Campo, Juan Eduardo Campo. Encyclopedia of Islam. New York: Infobase, 2009. Foltz, Richard C. Animals in Islamic tradition. Oxford: Oneworld, 2007. Geiger, Abraham. Judaism and Islam. New York: Ktav, 1970. Kern, Soeren. “Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe.” Gatestone Institute, January 31, 2012. Accessed July 13, 2014. Leaman, Oliver. The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia. Oxford: Routledge, 2006. Marzuban, Ibn. The Book of the Superiority of Dogs over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes. Translated and edited by G. R. Smith and M. A. S. Abdel Haleem. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips, 1978. McAuliffe, Jane Dammen. Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān. Leiden: Brill, 2001–06. Nicholson, Reynold A., trans. The Mathnawī of Jalālu’ddin Rūmī: Books I and II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926. Nicholson, Reynold A. The Mystics of Islam. London: George Bell, 1914. Pinault, David. The Horse of Karbala: Muslim Devotional Life in India. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Ritter, Hellmut. The Ocean of the Soul. Leiden: Brill, 2003. Robinson, Neal. Christ in Islam and Christianity. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991. Tlili, Sarra. Animals in the Qur’an. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Wheeler, Brannon W. Prophets in the Quran. London: Continuum, 2002.


8 JAINISM Animals and the Ethics of Intervention Joseph A. Tuminello III

Introduction This chapter presents an overview of the Jain philosophic-religious tradition in relation to its views on animal ethics, followed by an examination of ascetic Jain, orthodox lay Jain, and diaspora Jain attitudes regarding treatment of animals.1 Jainism has recently garnered attention from scholars and laypersons because of the potential applicability of Jain thought to contemporary moral issues, particularly within animal and environmental ethics.2 Although the principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, is recognized within Buddhism and Hinduism, Jainism entails the strictest adherence to this principle in comparison with the other Indic traditions. At the same time, views regarding the importance of nonintervention differ among orthodox and diaspora Jains. This is especially true regarding the orthodox ascetic ideal and the way in which Jain values are interpreted and actualized by members of diaspora Jain communities. The orthodox Jain ascetic perspective on the relationship between action/nonintervention and the achievement of liberation, or mokṣa, can appear counterintuitive from the standpoint of mainstream secular Western ethics. The ascetic perspective is internally consistent with Jain metaphysics, and understanding this also helps illuminate the ways in which diaspora Jainism has diverged from orthodox Jainism. Anthropologist Anne Vallely has argued that the interpretation of Jainism as compatible with environmentalism is “largely a new diaspora development, and actually reflects a shift in ethical orientation away from a traditional orthodox liberation-centric ethos to a sociocentric or ‘ecological’ one.”3 This chapter builds on Vallely’s work, examining three possible Jain perspectives and emphasizing the ways that this shift in orientation has taken place regarding Jain views of animal ethics. The motivation behind this chapter is not to condone members of the diaspora movement while criticizing orthodox Jain ascetics, but instead to reflect on the diversity of Jain thought and practice regarding human–animal relations.

Overview of Animal Ethics in Jainism First, I provide an overview of some of the history and key tenets of Jainism. Because it is beyond the scope of this chapter to provide the reader with a complete and thorough orientation to this tradition, and because several very accomplished scholars have already managed this in other works (a number of which are cited in this chapter), aspects described here will be those most relevant to animal ethics. 91

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As mentioned in the introduction, Jainism is an Indic philosophical and religious tradition alongside Hinduism and Buddhism. The word “Jaina” means “follower of a Jina,” where a Jina or Tīrthaṅkara (these titles are used synonymously) is a great teacher who has gained infinite knowledge and who “preaches the doctrine of mokṣa.”4 Vardhamana Mahavira was the twenty-fourth Tīrthaṅkara (the last one thus far) and a major reformer of Jainism. He was said to have been born in 599 BCE5 and was a contemporary of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Although Jainism, like Buddhism, has been interpreted as a reaction to Hinduism, Jains also claim that their tradition is much older than Buddhism. Regarding this claim, Padmanabh Jaini writes, “Those few sources which do lend themselves to historical verification might allow us to push the date of Jainism to the ninth century BCE, but certainly no further.”6 Jainism entails the belief in eternal souls, or jīvas.7 In this view, one’s jīva is one’s true, or ultimate, identity. A jīva temporarily inhabits a particular body and will continue to be reborn in different bodies until it achieves liberation (mokṣa) from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara). This liberation occurs when one frees oneself of all karma, both positive and negative. One’s past karma determines how one will be reborn, and humans have the potential, through “effort, discipline, and knowledge,” to cease the accumulation of new karma.8 Although the nature of liberation is notoriously impossible to express linguistically, in Jain thought it is characterized by “the four perfections: infinite knowledge, infinite faith, infinite power, and infinite bliss.”9 Liberation effectively results in the cessation of reincarnation for liberated jīvas. The Jain conception of liberation contrasts with certain Hindu views in that the liberated soul remains individuated, rather than, for example, unifying with Brahma, the ground of all being.10 According to Jain doctrine, all living beings have souls, not just humans and nonhuman animals. There is a recognized hierarchy of living beings, where one’s rank is dependent on the number of senses one possesses.11 For instance, “one-sensed” souls, such as those of plants (which have only the sense of touch, according to Jain thought), are considered to be the lowest grade.12 On the opposite end of this hierarchy, animals (both human and nonhuman) are considered to be “five-sensed” beings.13 Other beings, including worms (two-sensed), ants (three-sensed), and flies (four-sensed), occupy the middle levels of the Jain ontological system.14 Though jīvas can attain liberation only while occupying a human form, there remains a certain degree of parity among humans and other animals that is absent from many other philosophic-religious traditions. As previously stated, humans and other animals share commonalities in their possession of all five senses. Further, as Vallely writes, humans and animals have a common “existential trajectory.”15 Humans, animals, and all other life-forms are occupied by jīvas, all on their own path toward liberation. Although each jīva is ontologically distinct, all take part in this striving toward mokṣa. This shared existential situation forms the basis of compassion and ahimsa. However, five-sensed beings are members of a special class, where only they can “hear, understand, and benefit from the Jina’s teachings.”16 Beings with fewer senses, on the other hand, are referred to by Vallely as “ontologically ignorant” because they are unable to grasp these teachings in their current incarnation.17 The shared situation of humans and nonhuman animals also leads to greater empathy for animals because their suffering is “tantamount to our own suffering.”18 Although humans and nonhuman animals share this basic capacity for receptiveness to Jain teachings, it is very rare that nonhuman animals actually experience spiritual awakening (samyakdarśana).19 Instead, animals are typically dominated by their worldly, embodied orientation, succumbing to urges and desires that humans can more easily temper through discipline. However, Vallely does note that some humans may also go through life without experiencing spiritual awakening.20 In general, humans have a greater predisposition toward samyak-darśana than other animals, though this is not necessarily manifested in each particular being. 92


The notion that the classification of living beings according to sense possession constitutes a hierarchy must be qualified, given Jainism’s emphasis on ahimsa toward all beings. Distinct from certain streams of Western ontological and dualistic thought, in Jain metaphysics there is no clear dividing line where it is completely permissible to harm or exploit beings on one side, but not on the other. Rather, the karmic implications of harm to one-sensed beings, for instance, are less severe than the implications of harm to multisensed beings (though all violence should ideally be avoided). Although “Jains unhesitatingly demarcate between the human and the animal, and place human beings in a category of their own, superior to animals,”21 this does not entail or condone an exploitative relationship between humans and animals, or any other form of life. As mentioned earlier, the most fundamental ethical principle of Jainism is ahimsa. This is encapsulated in the phrase ahiṃsā paramo dharmaḥ, or “nonviolence is the highest religious duty.”22 Ahimsa calls for refraining not only from physical violence but also from violence in thought and speech.23 Because of the Jain belief that jīvas occupy the bodies of all living things, Jains seek to avoid any violence whatsoever. Interestingly, Padmanabh Jaini observes that the Jain notion of violence (hiṃsā) differs from other Indic interpretations in that “it refers primarily to injuring oneself” – to inhibiting one’s own achievement of mokṣa.24 Taking part in violent activities, thoughts, and words results in karma that binds the jīva to samsara. In this way, although “self ” and “other” are metaphysically distinct from one another, the fates of each are inextricably bound together. Engagement in hiṃsā results in the accumulation of negative karma and the delay of the attainment of liberation. Although inflicting no harm on any living being would be ideal, Jain thought also recognizes the practical impossibility of this. Continued existence in samsara entails some degree of harm to other living beings. A certain amount of consumption is required as long as a given jīva inhabits a particular physical form; hence, this entails harm to living beings. Thus, complete ahimsa is especially challenging for laypersons. Some Jain ascetics, on the other hand, practice sallekhanā, ritually fasting to death to achieve total avoidance of harm.25 There is also a distinct tradition of almsgiving in Jain practice, where ascetics receive food from lay Jains on the condition that the food was not prepared with the intent of distributing it to the ascetics. This way, ascetics are not complicit in any hiṃsā that may have taken place in the process of food preparation.26 Despite the difficulty in practicing total ahimsa, the degree to which violence is committed can be minimized by consuming only single-sensed beings. To this end, all Jains are vegetarians. Vegetarianism is a signature aspect of Jainism; Jaini writes that “Jainas became the primary exponents of vegetarianism in India.”27 Even though some Buddhists allow for the consumption of meat from animals who died of natural causes, Jains see flesh as the potential breeding ground for vast numbers of living beings (e.g., microorganisms) and so refuse to eat it regardless of circumstance or context.28 Jain dietary practice, though requiring vegetarianism, transcends the dichotomy of consuming nonsentient beings and avoiding consumption of sentient beings.29 There are a variety of dietary restrictions beyond simply refraining from meat consumption; thus, the Jain diet is stricter than the average vegetarian diet and is also set apart in certain ways from other Indian culinary traditions. In his book Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India, John E. Cort describes the Jain set of abhakṣya foods – foods that are “not to be eaten.”30 There are a total of twenty-two items that are considered abhakṣya, though few Jains know every item on the list, and dietary choice (besides vegetarianism, which is ubiquitous among Jains) differs widely among different Jain individuals and communities.31 One subcategory of abhakṣya foods is called anant-kāys, or “infinite bodies.”32 These primarily consist of root and bulb vegetables, such as garlic, ginger, carrots, potatoes, and so on. Although 93

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both orthodox and diaspora Jains abstain from root vegetables, the reasoning for doing so varies between these groups. In the orthodox view, because these vegetables can be used to generate vast numbers of new plants, eating them is interpreted as killing multitudes of living beings. Thus, much more negative karma is accrued in their consumption than in the consumption of a single fruit or vegetable that contains only one soul. In the diaspora view, consuming anant-kāys still leads to negative karma. However, abstinence from these plants is rationalized in terms of the additional violence required to kill and uproot them. A small but growing number of Jains are transitioning to and advocating veganism and refraining from the use of any animal products, including those used in clothing and other nonfood items. Animal products such as milk and ghee, which were traditionally acceptable and are still popular among older Jains, are increasingly avoided. This is taken to be consistent with the practice of ahimsa, especially given the nature of industrial agriculture and particular industries such as leather and dairy, though, as Vallely observes, this movement of vegan Jains is largely composed of the younger generation.33 Besides dietary practices, lay Jains are also known for charitable donations in support of medical care and housing for animals, as well as founding and running animal shelters.34 Myriad stories in the Jain tradition demonstrate reverence for animals, allude to their spiritual and moral capacity, and discuss their earning better or worse rebirths as a result of the way they lived, again putting nonhuman animals on par with human beings in many ways35 (though humans are considered to have a superior ontological status). Tales advocating vegetarianism and compassion toward animals are shared with Jain children at an early age. Collections such as the Institute of Jainology’s Text Book of Jainism use a combination of narrative, discussion, and exercises to impart Jain teachings (dharma) to the youth. One popular tale regarding animal ethics that I discuss shortly involves Prince Nemi Kumar and his concern for animals who were intended to be slaughtered for his wedding.36

Jain Ascetics and Orthodox and Diaspora Lay Jains Jains have long been a minority group in India as well as worldwide. There are currently about five million Jains, with the vast majority living in western India.37 Beyond India, about 250,000 Jains are considered “diaspora,” meaning they (or their families) moved from India and are living elsewhere in the world.38 However, as noted by Vallely, there is some uncertainty regarding the total number of Jains living outside of India, with estimates ranging from seventy thousand to one million.39 Diaspora Jains mostly live in North America, the United Kingdom, and East Africa.40 According to Prakash C. Jain, the Jain diaspora movement began about two hundred years ago and is correlated with British colonialism, as well as other factors such as illiteracy, famine, and increase in land revenue in India.41 Although Jainism manifests in different ways among different Jain communities around the world, there are some general key distinctions between orthodox Jainism as it is practiced in India and diaspora Jainism. It is also important to keep in mind that although the terms “orthodox” and “diaspora” are used to refer to specific viewpoints held by members of these groups, in practice there is likely to be variation within both orthodox and diaspora communities. For instance, younger Jains in India who live in more urban environments with little interaction with ascetics may have views that are more closely aligned with diaspora perspectives. Conversely, older Jains who now live outside of India, but who have spent a lot of time there and who have had more interactions with Jain ascetics, may have positions that are more similar to traditional orthodox Jains. So the ideological distinctions between orthodox and diaspora Jainism are not strictly geographical but are also generational to some degree. 94


Orthodox Jains place much greater emphasis on the importance of the ascetic ideal. Lay orthodox Jains hold Jain ascetics in the highest regard. Jain ascetics, both monks and nuns, have renounced all involvement in worldly affairs, as well as all worldly possessions. Monks of the Digambara sect of Jainism must even renounce wearing clothing (Digambara means “skyclad”).42 Thus, Jain ascetics live a very minimal, austere existence, in an attempt to cease the accrual of all karma as well as shed past karma. They are supported by lay Jains through the aforementioned collection of alms, and these transactions are part of an elaborate social custom that reinforces the roles and interdependence of both lay Orthodox Jains and ascetics. Older as well as younger Jains can be ascetics, with many starting their training on the ascetic path at a young age. Though lay orthodox Jains typically live more ordinary lives that prevent them from achieving total world renunciation, they look to the ascetics as examples and paragons of Jain ideals. Lay orthodox Jains, called “householders,” have regular interaction with ascetics, given that both ascetics and orthodox lay Jains live in India. Hence, their worldview is more influenced by and compatible with traditional Jain theory than the diaspora Jains who have emigrated from India. Diaspora Jains, though also householders, have little or no interaction with traditional Jain ascetics. Some may interact with “modern” ascetics who have traveled to the West. However, Jain ascetics are not traditionally allowed to travel outside of India. Diaspora Jains are also generally younger than orthodox Jains. As noted previously, younger Jains in India may have views that are more compatible with diaspora Jain thought, whereas older Jains outside of India may have views that are more compatible with orthodox Jainism.

Jain Views on Intervention The ascetic and orthodox valuation of total renunciation and the avoidance of worldly engagement distinguish orthodox from diaspora Jainism, leading to concern over the ethics and karmic implications of intervening on behalf of animals. In her article “From Liberation to Ecology,” Anne Vallely insightfully uses the story of Prince Nemi Kumar to illustrate differences between orthodox and diaspora Jains.43 In the following paragraphs, I paraphrase both the orthodox and diaspora interpretations of this story as presented by Vallely. As I will discuss afterward, the way that these two interpretations diverge from one another is indicative of important differences between these two groups. Both versions of the story begin with Nemi Kumar making his way to his wedding and noticing a number of animals in cages. Upon inquiring about the animals, he is told that they will be butchered to be served as meat to the wedding guests. The two versions of the story diverge here. According to the orthodox interpretation, Nemi Kumar then orders that the animals be released from their cages, saying, “If I agree to be the cause of the butchering of so many living beings, my life and the one to come will be filled with pain and misery.”44 So in the orthodox interpretation, it is made clear that Nemi Kumar’s release of the animals is based on purposes of personal liberation. The diaspora interpretation of this story is altered not only in terms of the justification given for the release of the animals but also regarding other details of the story. More time is spent describing the looks on the animals’ faces and ascribing emotions and urges to them: “A beautiful deer has his eyes full of tears, as if he were pleading, ‘I don’t want to be killed, I want to go back to the forest and roam free.’”45 Similar statements describing other animals are made several times in this version of the story. In the diaspora interpretation, Nemi Kumar actually sets the animals free himself, rather than ordering someone else to do so. This small detail is indicative of the diaspora Jain preference for action over nonintervention or indirect action. Finally, Nemi Kumar’s 95

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justification for setting the animals free is altruistic rather than motivated by personal liberation. At the end of the story, Kumar says, “How can we rejoice when so many animals are suffering? How can we humans feast on these innocent animals and birds we are meant to protect? What use is happiness if it is built on the suffering of so many?”46 Regarding the aforementioned interpretive divergence, Vallely characterizes orthodox Jainism as “liberation-centric,” whereas diaspora Jains are more “socio-centric.”47 Orthodox Jains, especially Jain ascetics, are ultimately concerned with personal liberation. The avoidance of violence is key in their lives because their goal is to completely cease the accumulation of any karma whatsoever. Positive or active engagement with the world, though it may be for a good cause, will still result in the accrual of positive karma, hindering the achievement of liberation. Diaspora Jains, generally speaking, are more concerned with intervening (in nonviolent ways) out of concern for the suffering of animals themselves, whether or not such an action would inhibit personal liberation. So although there is general agreement among Jains that one should abstain from activities and thoughts that entail violence toward animals, there remains dissent regarding the ethics of intervention.

Thought Experiment: The Matador and the Bull In this section, I use a thought experiment to clarify some of the distinctions regarding (1) Jain and secular perspectives on suffering and (2) ascetic, orthodox Jain, and diaspora Jain views on animal ethics – specifically, the ethics of intervention on behalf of animals. Consider a bullfighting scenario where a matador is about to kill a bull. This scenario can be used to elucidate possible Jain responses to two questions: (1) If the matador kills the bull, who suffers more: the matador or the bull? And (2) should Jains (in a hypothetical situation where intervention is possible) intervene to save the bull? In regard to the first question, I will begin by reflecting on a standard response from a secular materialist perspective and will follow this with a response from a Jain theoretical perspective. In the former view, the bull clearly suffers more than the matador. This interpretive lens does not entail the existence of jīvas, the process of reincarnation, or the possibility of liberation. Thus, from this perspective, the situation is evaluated largely by reference to the bodies and the present suffering (or lack thereof) of the matador and the bull. However, from the perspective of Jain theory, the matador is likely to suffer more than the bull. Doing harm to a fellow five-sensed being – killing the bull – results in the accrual of severe negative karma for the matador or, more precisely, for the jīva that currently takes the form of the matador. Although the bull will experience immense physical suffering when he is killed, the jīva will be reborn after the animal’s death. Further, because Jain thought allows for past karma to be shed through suffering, this event, when viewed from a broader perspective, may be beneficial for this jīva’s eventual attainment of mokṣa. Besides distinguishing Jainism from secular materialism, this question also can be used to illustrate differences among Jain ascetics, orthodox lay Jains, and diaspora Jains. When contemplating the question “Who suffers more?” in this scenario, Jain ascetics are most likely to view this situation from the long-term perspective of the jīva. Their position, compatible with Jain theory, is that the matador is likely to suffer more than the bull. Diaspora Jains, on the other hand, are more likely to hold a position similar to the secular materialist, focused on the physical suffering of the present incarnation of the jīva. Orthodox Jains would likely take a position in between the Jain ascetics and diaspora Jains. This may entail acknowledgment of the bull’s karma leading up to this moment and the shedding of past karma through suffering, as well as empathy for the bull as a result of present suffering. 96


Now we consider the second question posed previously: should Jains intervene to save the bull? Reflection on this question also leads to three possible Jain responses, from ascetic, orthodox, and diaspora Jains. Keep in mind that the shedding of all karma is required for a jīva to achieve liberation. This includes both positive and negative karma. Even actions that are positive lead to the accrual of karma and ultimately inhibit liberation. Again, Jain ascetics are seen by householders as paragons of dharma because of their high degree of world renunciation, in an attempt to cease the accrual of karma, as well as the shedding of karma from previous incarnations. So from an ascetic perspective, it would be best to avoid direct intervention in the killing of the bull. The bull may be in this situation as a result of karma from previous actions in past lives. To intervene would then result in further karma. Worldly involvement will ultimately delay the achievement of mokṣa. However, ascetics may encourage lay Jains to intervene in nonviolent ways since householders already live lives that result in the binding of karma, and they are generally taken to be unable to be liberated in their current incarnations.48 Orthodox lay Jains may choose to intervene to save the bull. Although aware that this action would result in the accrual of karma, they may still see intervention as the right thing to do in a given situation, even if it delays their achievement of liberation. This action, because of its altruistic nature, is certainly better than engaging in more hedonistic pursuits and could be seen as “easier” than more advanced spiritual pursuits. Diaspora Jains, though they agree with central tenets of Jainism such as the importance of ahimsa, often lack a thorough understanding of orthodox Jain teachings regarding the achievement of liberation and also have little or no exposure to Jain ascetics because of geographic and other factors. Again, for example, the diaspora Jain interpretation in the story of Nemi Kumar involves Kumar setting the animals free out of concern for the well-being of the animals rather than his own personal liberation. In the same vein, the diaspora Jain response in this case would likely be some form of nonviolent intervention. A number of diaspora Jains are involved in both animal and environmental activism and are directly engaged in reducing suffering and violence. Perhaps the key difference between orthodox and diaspora Jains is the diaspora view that intervening to cease violence is consistent with the path to liberation, in contrast to the orthodox view that intervention delays the path to liberation. Many diaspora Jains believe that intervention to prevent or reduce violence and suffering is at least as important as spiritual practices such as meditation, whereas orthodox Jains see such intervention as karmically binding even if it is good to do in certain cases. Rather than cultivating a theory and practice of distancing themselves from worldly affairs, diaspora Jains are actively involved in positive actions on behalf of others, regardless of the degree to which this outlook is compatible with orthodox Jain theory. Although this perspective is different in many ways from that of the Jain ascetic, diaspora Jainism is sometimes misinterpreted by outsiders to be characteristic of Jainism in general. However, there are a plurality of views that make up the Jain tradition because it consists of both theoretical and cultural elements that vary across time and space.

Conclusion Due to aspects of Jainism such as its emphasis on ahimsa and the belief in jīvas inhabiting all living things, consideration of nonhuman animals is part and parcel of this rich philosophicreligious tradition. Although humans are taken to be superior to nonhuman animals and other living things in the Jain ontological hierarchy, this does not render permissible the exploitation or harm of life. The importance of ahimsa pervades all aspects of Jain life, including diet, folklore, 97

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and questions of nonintervention and activism. At the same time, differences in perspective among Jain ascetics, orthodox lay Jains, and diaspora Jains are connected with divergent ways that ahimsa is put into practice. These range from complete nonintervention, in an effort to shed all karma, achieve mokṣa, and escape from samsara (e.g., in the case of Jain ascetics), to a focus on active engagement in an effort to reduce and prevent harm or violence, without much reference to orthodox theories of liberation (e.g., in the case of diaspora Jains).

Notes 1 I am incredibly grateful to economist Sagar K. Shah, a founding member of the Jain Vegans community (, for suggesting the thought experiment considered here, as well as for his general insights and recommendations regarding my research on Jainism and the content of this chapter. 2 For further discussion of Jainism in relation to animal ethics, see Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 81–83. For discussion of Jain thought regarding ecology and environmental ethics, see Christopher Chapple, ed., Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006). 3 Anne Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology: Ethical Discourses among Orthodox and Diaspora Jains,” in Jainism and Ecology, ed. Christopher Chapple (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006), 193. 4 Padmanabh S. Jaini, The Jaina Path of Purification (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2001), 1–2. 5 Jaini, Jaina Path, 6. 6 Jaini, Jaina Path, 2. 7 Ramakrishna Puligandla, Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy (New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1997), 25. 8 Puligandla, Indian Philosophy, 26. 9 Puligandla, Indian Philosophy, 36. 10 Jyoti Prasad Jain, Religion and Culture of the Jains (New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith, 1999), 55. 11 Puligandla, Indian Philosophy, 27. 12 Puligandla, Indian Philosophy, 27. 13 Paul Dundas, The Jains (New York: Routledge, 2002), 95. 14 Dundas, The Jains, 95. 15 Anne Vallely, “Being Sentiently with Others: The Shared Existential Trajectory among Humans and Nonhumans in Jainism,” in Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics: Rethinking the Nonhuman, ed. Neil Dalal and Chloe Taylor (New York: Routledge, 2014), 52. 16 Vallely, “Being Sentiently,” 42. 17 Vallely, “Being Sentiently,” 42. 18 Vallely, “Being Sentiently,” 45. 19 Vallely, “Being Sentiently,” 45. 20 Vallely, “Being Sentiently,” 45. 21 Vallely, “Being Sentiently,” 39. 22 Dundas, The Jains, 160. 23 Puligandla, Indian Philosophy, 35. For example, at least some Jains, in addition to being vegetarian, also refrain from the consumption of meat substitutes, in order to avoid the violence in thought that would result from eating something that is made to resemble the flesh of a dead animal. 24 Jaini, Jaina Path, 167. 25 Jeffery D. Long, Jainism: An Introduction (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2009), 98. 26 For a thorough discussion of the rite of almsgiving in Jainism, see Anne Vallely, Guardians of the Transcendent: An Ethnography of a Jain Ascetic Community (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 43–76. 27 Jaini, Jaina Path, 169. 28 Jaini, Jaina Path, 169. 29 All living beings have varying degrees of sentience in Jain thought. Single-sensed beings, though having minimal sentience, still have the sense of touch, which confers their capacity to suffer. 30 John E. Cort, Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 128. 31 Cort, Jains in the World, 128–29. 32 Cort, Jains in the World, 129. 33 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 205.


Jainism 34 James Laidlaw, Riches and Renunciation: Religion, Economy, and Society among the Jains (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 100. See also Cort, Jains in the World, 55. 35 For further discussion and summaries of these stories, see Padmanabh S. Jaini, “Indian Perspectives on the Spirituality of Animals,” in Collected Papers on Jaina Studies, ed. Padmanabh S. Jaini (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000), 260–64. 36 Vinod Kapashi, Ajit Shah, and Kumarpal Desai, Text Book of Jainism: Level 1 (Kenton: Institute of Jainology, 1994), 16–17. 37 Prakash C. Jain, Jains in India and Abroad: A Sociological Introduction (New Delhi: International School for Jain Studies, 2011), 69. 38 Jain, Jains in India and Abroad. 39 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 195. 40 Jain, Jains in India and Abroad, 69. 41 Jain, Jains in India and Abroad, 86–87. 42 Jaini, Jaina Path, 5. Although the schism between the Digambara and Śvetāmbara sects of Jainism is a vital part of the history of Jainism, it is not directly relevant to the discussion of differences in animal ethics regarding orthodox and diaspora Jains. The orthodox/diaspora distinction cuts across different Jain sects, and so I have omitted discussion of these and other sects/subsects of Jainism. 43 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 209–11. 44 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 209. 45 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 210. 46 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 211. 47 Vallely, “From Liberation to Ecology,” 209. 48 Despite Jain ascetics’ noninterventionist tendencies, there are also instances of ascetics taking part in nonviolent demonstration. For instance, Jain monks instituted a hunger strike in the summer of 2014 in support of declaring the entire town of Palitana (in the Indian state of Gujarat) a vegetarian zone. However, this opposition to violence was still more likely motivated by purity of location of worship than by animal suffering or the jīvas of Muslim butchers whose shops would be forced to close. For more information on this situation, see Andrew Buncombe, “The Vegetarian Town: They Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly but the Jains Upset Palitana with Meat-Free Plea,” Independent, July 6, 2014, accessed December 17, 2015,

References Buncombe, Andrew. “The Vegetarian Town: They Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly but the Jains Upset Palitana with Meat-Free Plea.” Independent, July 6, 2014. Accessed December 17, 2015. news/world/asia/the-vegetarian-town-they-wouldn-t-hurt-a-fly-but-the-jains-upset-palitana-withmeat-free-plea-9588087.html#. Chapple, Christopher, ed. Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006. Cort, John E. Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Dundas, Paul. The Jains. New York: Routledge, 2002. Jain, Jyoti Prasad. Religion and Culture of the Jains. New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith, 1999. Jain, Prakash C. Jains in India and Abroad: A Sociological Introduction. New Delhi: International School for Jain Studies, 2011. Jaini, Padmanabh S. “Indian Perspectives on the Spirituality of Animals.” In Collected Papers on Jaina Studies, edited by Padmanabh S. Jaini, 253–66. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000. Originally published in David J. Kalupahana and W. G. Weeraratne, eds., Buddhist Philosophy and Culture: Essays in Honour of N. A. Jayawickrema (Colombo, Sri Lanka: N. A. Jayawickrema Felicitation Volume Committee, 1987). Jaini, Padmanabh S. The Jaina Path of Purification. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2001. Kapashi, Vinod, Ajit Shah, and Kumarpal Desai. Text Book of Jainism Level 1. Kenton: Institute of Jainology, 1994. Kemmerer, Lisa. Animals and World Religions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Laidlaw, James. Riches and Renunciation: Religion, Economy, and Society among the Jains. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Long, Jeffrey D. Jainism: An Introduction. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2009.


Joseph A. Tuminello III Puligandla, Ramakrishna. Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1997. Vallely, Anne. “Being Sentiently with Others: The Shared Existential Trajectory among Humans and Nonhumans in Jainism.” In Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics: Rethinking the Nonhuman, edited by Neil Dalal and Chloe Taylor, 38–55. New York: Routledge, 2014. Vallely, Anne. “From Liberation to Ecology: Ethical Discourses among Orthodox and Diaspora Jains.” In Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life, edited by Christopher Chapple, 193–216. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006. Vallely, Anne. Guardians of the Transcendent: An Ethnography of a Jain Ascetic Community. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.


9 JUDAISM The Human Animal and All Other Animals – Dominion or Duty? Tony Bayfield

A Jewish lady of mature years was summoned to jury service. Having led a sheltered life, she was not sure what precisely was required of her and consulted her son. He was not the ideal Jewish boy – a doctor. But he was the next best thing – a lawyer. The son was delighted to be asked about something that, for once, he knew more about than his mother. He explained that she would have to go to court and sit with eleven other jurors. The case would be presented to them, and she would have to decide whether the accused was guilty or not. “Guilty?” said the mother. “I’m guilty.” Jews, whether doctors, lawyers, or rabbis – which accounts for all of us these days, including our mothers – are filled with guilt and angst. I want to share my current angst and explain how I have overcome it. For quite a long time I thought the angst had to do with my relationship to the text of the Torah. Torah means “teaching.”1 It corresponds to what Christians, overdosed on Hellenistic culture, call the Pentateuch. Let me start with the creation narratives with which the Torah opens. Sometime in the early centuries of the Common Era, an unnamed rabbi took a verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes that says the following: “Consider the work of God, for who can now make straight that which has been made crooked?”2 Rabbis are fond of rhetorical questions – Hellenistic influence, of course – and should never be interrupted in mid-flow. He gave the following answer: When the Holy One, blessed be God, created the first man, God took him and led him round all the trees of the Garden of Eden. God said to Adam, “Behold My works, how beautiful and commendable they are! All that I’ve created, I created for your sake. Be very careful that you don’t corrupt and destroy My universe; for if you corrupt it there’s no one to put it right after you.”3 Whatever is the opposite of angst tells me that this is a very important and perceptive observation. But in response to this commentary, what I still thought was angst prompted the following questions: Is that what the creation story meant to its authors? How typical was it of ideas at the time of the unnamed commentator? To what extent does choosing it say more about me than Judaism? So what authenticity can I claim for this as “Judaism says . . .”?


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Let me give another example. Deuteronomy 20:19 prohibits the destruction of fruit-bearing trees.4 During the late twelfth century, Rabbi Moses the son of Maimon, also known as Maimonides – the greatest Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages and still today a figure of towering importance – understood Deuteronomy 20:19 as a prohibition against wasting any things of use to human beings. He codified his conclusion as follows: “It is not only forbidden to destroy fruit-bearing trees but whoever breaks vessels, tears clothes, demolishes a building, stops up a spring or wastes food, in a destructive way, offends against the law of ‘you shall not destroy.’”5 This gives me double angst. First, I cannot be sure whether this conclusion was implicit in the text from Deuteronomy, or whether Maimonides thought it was implicit, or whether Maimonides used the text as a peg to hang his ethic on. And does it matter anyway?6 Second – I said there was a double angst – how should I feel about quoting this without considering Maimonides’s qualification: you must not waste things that are of use to human beings? You do not waste things such as fruit trees or donkeys (Maimonides lived in Spain, where Jews were allowed to ride only donkeys) before fleeing to Egypt.7 On the other hand, there is no need to get fussed about apparently useless things such as unproductive uplands – the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain – or birds of prey: only in the Psalms can you ride on eagles’ wings. That leads me to my third and final example of Jewish commentary. It comes from an article written for an American journal by the late Rabbi Louis Jacobs,8 the greatest Jewish scholar with whom the British Jewish community has ever been blessed. Jacobs was commenting on Genesis 1, and I will quote the two relevant passages in the English translation that Jacobs was using: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle, and over all the earth.9 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.10 Jacobs homes in on the word “dominion” – dominion over the fish, the birds, the land animals, and the earth itself. However one chooses to translate it, the Torah is describing a relationship of dominance, of subjection, of power. Jacobs writes, This “dominion” or “power” is not given to man unconditionally, he is obliged to acknowledge his indebtedness to God for the capacity with which he has been endowed for exercising control over God’s world. His position in life is that of steward, not of owner. In later Judaism, the Sabbath, on which “work” is forbidden, was interpreted as a weekly reminder to man that God alone has absolute control of His universe, man enjoying his privileges as a permission, not as a right.11 What Jacobs is doing is addressing the text in the same way that Jewish Bible commentators – including the unknown rabbi early in the Common Era and Maimonides in the twelfth century – have addressed the text of the Torah for the last two thousand years. He wants to raise the issue of Judaism in relationship to the living world and the environment. He selects a helpful text and focuses on the word that bothers him – “dominion.” He acknowledges that it means “power over” but says that this power is qualified by the duty to act responsibly. Rabbi Jacobs – both a traditional Jew and a scholar committed to the concept of historical development – has no doubt that what he is articulating is an authentic and authoritative statement. We human beings – he did not restrict the responsibility to Jews – have an absolute 102


obligation to exercise our power in relationship to fish, birds, and other animals in a way that both is consonant with responsible stewardship and testifies to the glory of creation, to which I say “amen.” All three exegetes – the unnamed rabbi from the early centuries of the Common Era, Maimonides in the late twelfth century, and Louis Jacobs in the twentieth century – read the Torah text in a way that is authentically Jewish. So now I can identify – or rather, re-identify – my angst, downgraded to persistent unease. It is about a process of reading back in a way that does not, in truth, acknowledge that our situation with regard to the whole of creation today is radically different from the Ancient Near East in the second and first millennia BCE. My persistent unease will help explain why my hero is a German-born Jew called Hans Jonas. Hans Jonas was born in Monchengladbach in 1903. Monchengladbach was a strongly Catholic, industrial town near the Dutch border, forever famous for its football team, Borussia Monchengladbach. (Match-day attendance is sparse because of one supporter who is forever trying to get the rest to chant, “Give us a B, give us an O . . .”) As a teenager Hans Jonas was deeply affected by an outbreak of anti-Semitism known as the Judenzahlung, which in 1916 questioned Jewish loyalty to Germany even as Jews were, in large numbers, fighting for Germany in the trenches of World War I.12 As a result, at the age of thirteen, Hans Jonas became a Zionist. However, his intellectual interests prompted him to study philosophy in the homeland of his birth. In 1933 he was a postgraduate student at Marburg, which is significant as the home of the German-Jewish philosophical tradition founded by Hermann Cohen (1842–1918), the first Jew to be allowed to hold a chair in philosophy in a German university. The star philosopher at Marburg in the 1930s, however, was not a Jew but was none other than Martin Heidegger of Being and Time fame. In 1933, Heidegger publicly and enthusiastically endorsed National Socialism. Shocked and revolted,13 Jonas the Zionist went off to Jerusalem, where there was already a cluster of German-Jewish intellectuals who could no longer recognize Germany as their home.14 Jonas devoted himself to the scholarly study of Gnosticism, and in every respect apart from one, he and his compatriots were a homogenous group of academics. But the single difference was decisive. In 1939, Jonas publicly advocated joining the British in the universal fight against fascism. He enlisted, served all through the war, and less than three years later, fought in Israel’s War of Independence. What was decisive, beyond this powerful example of courage and ethical conviction, was that for a very long period, Jonas was away from his books, unable to retreat into academic scholarship and forced, alone with his thoughts, to confront the horror of war. When he returned to Jerusalem in 1945, he discovered what he’d already feared – that his mother had been murdered in Auschwitz. In 1955, Jonas was offered and accepted a chair at the New School for Social Research in New York. There he didn’t reinvent himself; he realized himself. Hans Jonas was absolutely clear that World War II and the Shoah15 had brought about an irreparable rupture with the ethics of the past and that an entirely new ethic was required for the postmodern world. Technology had made the ethics that flowed from human beings as neighbors – you shall love your neighbor who is like you because I am God16 – ineffective. Technology had enabled us to perform acts whose consequences were not neighborly but remote. This change had begun earlier, but the twentieth century had demonstrated the causal connection between our actions at vast distances from ourselves and the critical danger in which the entire biosphere now stood. Technology had given humanity the power to destroy itself and the entire planet. Until seventy years ago, we could not have conceived of humanity wiping out humanity or humanity destroying the globe – God, yes; us, no. After two world wars, it was not just conceivable: we had demonstrated conclusively that we were arrogant, selfish, and shortsighted enough – the causers sufficiently distanced from the affected – to do it. We could not be trusted, in Jonas’s own words, not to “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, or saw off the branch on which we 103

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sit.”17 What was therefore required was a new ethics to address the new and critical situation. In 1979, Hans Jonas published The Imperative of Responsibility.18 He wrote, Modern technology has introduced actions of such novel scale, objects, and consequences that the framework of former ethics can no longer contain them . . . The gods whose venerable right could check the headlong rush of human action are long gone. To be sure, the old prescriptions of the “neighbor” ethics – of justice, charity, honesty and so on – still hold their intimate immediacy for the nearest, day-by-day sphere of human interaction. But this sphere is overshadowed by a growing realm of collective action where doer, deed, and effect are no longer the same as they were in the proximate sphere, and which by the enormity of its powers forces upon ethics a new dimension of responsibility never dreamed of before.19 Confronted by the urgent vulnerability of the whole of creation to the technological intervention of human beings, Jonas developed an ethics that he himself summed up in a number of ways: “Act so that the effects of your action are compatible with the permanence of genuine human life . . . Don’t compromise the conditions for an indefinite continuation of humanity on earth . . . In your present choices, include the future wholeness of Man among the objects of your will.”20 How does Jonas construct his new ethics? He starts, tellingly, with the premise of human mortality – something with which he had been horribly confronted. He saw this mortality as both unavoidable and intrinsic not just to humanity but to every living thing. He then asked what was characteristic of all forms of life in addition to mortality – another rhetorical question – and answered in biological terms. As far back as 1966, he had written The Phenomenon of Life: Towards a Philosophical Biology21 and identified metabolism as the key. Metabolism is defined as the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. It is the reactions that allow organisms to grow and reproduce. It is what all life shares and what Jonas’s “ethics of responsibility” demand must be respected in all its manifestations. There is an absolute responsibility to guard all forms of life, protect them, and ensure that they are passed on to the future. It is not an issue of the equality of human life and the simplest organism. It is a recognition of what they share and what must be handed on. The crux of Jonas’s argument is both fascinating and characteristic. He asks us to examine our responsibilities toward our children. They have no right to be born, he says. Today, you might “conceivably” construct a right based on our knowledge of the selfish gene and the urge to pass on our genes. But you cannot construct a right to be born for future generations who have yet to be conceived, let alone born. What an ethics of responsibility asserts, says Jonas, is our duty toward those not yet born, which extends to seeking to protect them even from remote environmental sins we’ve not yet committed. We have an absolute duty to ensure that metabolism – cells reproducing and growing, the common feature of all life – continues. Jonas strove for an ethics that is self-validating.22 Whether he was successful in producing a self-validating ethical system or whether it is still dependent on an underlying metaphysic is not clear – at least it is not clear to me. But this does not bother me because for me it is wholly (and holy) consonant with my metaphysics.23 In fact I read Jonas as spelling out the consequences of the midrash that I previously quoted: God tells us to take care of the world because there is no one to put it right after us. The Imperative of Responsibility is filled with references to the Torah, the Pentateuch. That makes it yet a further layer of Jewish biblical exegesis and brings us full circle. We read our sacred scriptures. We build on them layers of meaning. We acknowledge that this is what we are doing. We 104


recognize that the texts must speak through us to today’s world. And that world – as Jonas told us – is profoundly different from the world in which the text was first embedded. I have left what I think is the most important observation until last. Jonas has been criticized for being less than messianic.24 He provides a limited holding situation rather than an end point, an ultimate goal. In fact, he explicitly disavows the messianic and says he is content to construct an ethic that “merely” ensures the maintenance of the status quo, a globe on which all life-forms – human animals, other animals, other creatures, all living things – continue to exist for the benefit of future generations. That is for him – and me – sufficient. Only if life continues to exist can it identify the goal to which it is heading. What I find particularly interesting is that the ethic is one of duty and responsibility rather than of rights. That is Judaism’s particular contribution to this universal discussion. It also offers me personally a way to circumvent issues that are complex and by which I am easily sidetracked. By following Hans Jonas, I can move beyond theological and biological discussions about what distinguishes me as a human being from other animals. I can put off the debate about whether the rights of animals are the same as or equal to the rights of human beings. I can stop feeling angst about whether I am in any way superior or not. I can’t avoid such important issues, but Jonas gives me a clear position from which to start – an ethics of responsibility, of duty, of knowing that I’m obliged to do everything I reasonably can to ensure that our planet, with all its many life-forms, continues for future generations.

Notes 1 This is the clear definition of the word. It is obvious that although Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy contain laws, they are about a great deal more. The use of the term “the Law” can be justified in the context of the wider application of the word Torah in rabbinic Judaism, but even then, it refers to only one aspect of rabbinic literature and concern. Rabbinic literature is about halakhah, the legal tradition, and also about aggadah, rabbinic God-talk or theology. 2 Eccles. 7:13. 3 Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:12,1. 4 When in your war against a city you have to besiege it for a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the axe against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. 5 Quoted in Louis Jacobs, The Jewish Religion: A Companion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), under “Ecology.” 6 My deeply felt, intuitive response is that God speaks not only through the text but also through the interpretation of the text. But God, by God’s very nature, leaves it up to us to discern the Voice and distinguish it from all other voices – those of the redactors of the text, those of the commentators, and our own. 7 In Muslim Spain, Jews were granted Dhimmi status, which enabled them to live within Muslim society but subject to a range of restrictions that included not being allowed to ride horses. Jews could travel only on donkeys, riding sidesaddle in the manner of women. See Simon Schama, The Story of the Jews (London: Bodley Head, 2013), 242–43. 8 Louis Jacobs, “The Concept of Power in the Jewish Tradition,” Conservative Judaism 33, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 18–28. 9 Gen. 1:26. 10 Gen. 1:28. 11 Jacobs, “The Concept of Power.” 12 Christian Wiese writes, in The Life and Thought of Hans Jonas (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2007), As a youth in Germany, Hans Jonas witnessed the patriotic enthusiasm displayed by the Jewish community at the outbreak of the First World War. Such enthusiasm was allied closely for German Jews with the hope of demonstrating their membership in a “community of fate” shared with the German people and thereby ensuring their complete acceptance as civil and social equals in


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14 15 16 17 18

19 20 21 22



Germany. But Jonas also witnessed the infamous, antisemitically motivated Judenzählung (census of Jewish soldiers in the German army) of 1916, which aimed at undermining Jewish social equality by demonstrating that Jews had not participated in equal numbers in the war, as well as the unprecedented wave of anti-Jewish slander and violence accompanying the transition from the Wilhelminian Kaiserreich to the Weimar Republic. (2) Jonas was by no means the only Heidegger pupil who was shocked and revolted. His friend Leo Strauss went off to the United States, where he became an important figure in American political philosophy. Hannah Arendt was also with Jonas in Marburg, and she and Jonas remained firm friends when both settled in New York. Among them was Gershom Scholem, who was to become the leading expert on Jewish mysticism. He and Jonas were mutually influential during the years leading up to World War II. Shoah means destruction. From a Jewish perspective it is preferable to the term Holocaust, which means a burnt offering. Jews were not offerings; they were simply burnt. Lev. 19:18. Quoted in Pierre Bouretz, Witnesses for the Future: Philosophy and Messianism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 615. Hans Jonas, The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, trans. Hans Jonas with David Herr (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), originally published as Das Prinzip Verantwortung.Versuch einer Technik für die technologische Zivilisation (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1979). Jonas, Imperative of Responsibility, 6–7, my emphases. Bouretz, Witnesses, 619. Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life: Towards a Philosophical Biology (New York: Harper and Row, 1963). Although he was clearly influenced by Kant, Kant was more concerned with reason and inner logic than with the details of the ethics themselves. Jonas is much more specific in detailing the ethics of responsibility. As we have just seen, Jonas was anxious to develop a self-validating ethic, one that did not require a metaphysic to give it authority. He actually wrote very little theology in the formal sense. However, being invited to give a lecture in the name of a German Protestant pastor whose wife had been murdered in Auschwitz, along with Hans Jonas’s own mother, prompted him, as it were, to reveal his hand or, in effect, to try to resolve the tension between his own belief and his religious life in the face of a million murdered children. He constructed a myth – it owes much to Lurianic Kabbalah – that offers the most exquisite, sensitive, radical theodicy or post-theodicy and makes him my theological as well as ethical hero. See Hans Jonas, Mortality and Morality: A Search for the Good after Auschwitz (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996), 115–97. This criticism was made by the French Jewish scholar Pierre Bouretz in Witnesses for the Future.

References Bouretz, Pierre. Witnesses for the Future: Philosophy and Messianism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Jacobs, Louis. “The Concept of Power in the Jewish Tradition.” Conservative Judaism 33, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 18–28. Jacobs, Louis. The Jewish Religion: A Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. Jonas, Hans. The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age. Translated by Hans Jonas with David Herr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. Originally published as Das Prinzip Verantwortung.Versuch einer Technik für die technologische Zivilisation (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1979). Jonas, Hans. Mortality and Morality: A Search for the Good after Auschwitz. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996. Jonas, Hans. The Phenomenon of Life: Towards a Philosophical Biology. New York: Harper and Row, 1963. Schama, Simon. The Story of the Jews. London: Bodley Head, 2013. Schochet, Elijah Judah. Animal Life in Jewish Tradition: Attitudes and Relationships. New York: Ktav, 1984. Stribbe, Arran, ed. The Handbook of Sustainability: Skills for a Changing World. Totnes, UK: Green Books, 2009. Wiese, Christian. The Life and Thought of Hans Jonas. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2007.


10 MORMONISM Harmony and Dissonance between Religion and Animal Ethics Christopher Foster

Nowhere is the contrast between a faith’s teachings about animals and the actual behavior of its members toward them more stark, in my experience, than in my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, also known as the Mormon church). This discussion seeks to understand and explain the dissonance between LDS gospel principles and LDS common practice regarding animals in the hope that such an explanation may provide a basis for positive changes in the future.

LDS Teachings about the Nature of Animals One of the best-loved verses in the Book of Mormon teaches us that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”1 The choice of the word beings suggests that it is not humanity alone whom we should serve. Whether this scripture deliberately includes other species in its generous umbrella can partly be clarified by an understanding of the LDS view about the nature and moral relevance of nonhuman animals. The LDS faith has three books of scripture in addition to the Bible – namely, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants. Mormons also take for scripture the religious teachings of the leaders of the church. Each of these sources gives Latter-day Saints instruction regarding the nature of animals and our duty to show them kindness. According to LDS teachings, animals have souls2 and will be found in the afterlife in a state of exaltation.3 Even the animals found in the book of Revelation4 were revealed by Joseph Smith, the founder and first prophet of the church, to be real animals representing “the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order of sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.”5 Many Christians wonder whether they will see their animal companions in heaven. For Mormons, the only question is whether animals’ caregivers will make it there to join them. The prophet Brigham Young, who succeeded Joseph Smith in church leadership, taught, “Always keep in view that the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms – the earth and its fullness – will all, except the children of men, abide their creation – the law by which they were made, and will receive their exaltation.”6 Further LDS teachings include the view that animals are here to fulfill their own purposes and find happiness in that fulfillment. Therefore, though there are scriptures indicating that animals 107

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are “ordained” for our use,7 Latter-day Saints should not believe that animals were created only for human use but should believe that they are created for their own purposes and are supposed to find joy in life.

Accountability for Our Treatment of Animals LDS church leaders have taught that we are spiritually accountable for how we treat animals. George Q. Cannon, the first counselor in the first presidency (the three-person leadership of the church) from 1873 to 1901, wrote extensively about our responsibility for the welfare of animals, including the following admonition: There can be no doubt in the mind of any person who believes in the God of heaven that He will hold man accountable for any ill treatment of the creatures He has placed under his control, and those who misuse or treat them with cruelty will be called to an account for such acts. It is not our acts to our fellow man alone that we shall be called to an account for, but our acts to the creations of our Father in heaven. These animals are His, He created them, and they are not outside of the reach of His love and care, and they cannot be badly treated with impunity.8 Cannon even applied the Golden Rule to animals: “Be kind, therefore, to all the creatures around. Do not hurt them without a just cause. Ask yourself how you would like a person who had you in his power to treat you, and then treat animals which you have in charge accordingly.”9 To impress these thoughts upon the young, Cannon instituted Humane Day within the church, in which the final Sunday of every February was devoted to teaching kindness to animals. The prophet Joseph F. Smith, the prophet and leader of the church from 1901 to 1918, also taught the spiritual consequences of cruelty to animals: “He who treats in a brutal manner a poor, dumb animal at that moment disqualifies himself for the companionship of the Holy Spirit; for the Lord will not sanction an unrighteous act, and it is an unrighteous thing to treat any creature cruelly.”10

The Concept of Dominion In addition to the understanding of “dominion” as stewardship, Mormonism teaches the consequences of the unrighteous use of our dominion. A famous scripture states, “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”11 However, once one exercises unrighteous dominion, then it is “amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”12 It follows that the dominion excuse cannot be used within an LDS context because as soon as we mistreat animals, we no longer have the dominion in question. Prophet Joseph F. Smith confirmed the application of this principle to the nonhuman world, saying, “The dominion the Lord gave man over the brute creation has been, to a very large extent, used selfishly, thoughtlessly, cruelly.”13 It would seem to follow that our right to stewardship is lost in cases of mistreatment of animals.

LDS Scriptures Regarding Meat-Eating Latter-day Saints frequently use LDS scripture verses apparently endorsing meat-eating14 to justify the practice. However, in the LDS canon, those scriptures are often followed by other verses insisting that we not harm or kill animals unless necessary. For example, the following scripture 108


seems most strongly to condemn ethical vegetarianism: “And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.”15 Though there is a double negative in the first line, this scripture is commonly taken to mean that it is wrong to demand ethical vegetarianism. However, these verses are immediately followed by two additional verses of warning stating, “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”16 Though this scripture does not endorse the notion that no one should ever eat meat, it does indicate that anyone who kills animals without needing to is wasting flesh and is condemned for it. Cannon confirmed this interpretation: The question, therefore which every sportsman should ask himself is, Have I need? Am I or my family hungry? If so, of course man is justified in killing animals or birds to satisfy his or his family’s hunger. But if he has not any want of meat he “sheddeth blood,” and he exposes himself to this wo which the Lord has pronounced. It is not only wasting flesh that is pronounced against, but the shedding of blood.17 Additionally, LDS church members have revelation that surrounds the biblical permission to eat meat with a word of caution. The first time in the Bible that humans are given permission to eat meat occurs when God says to Noah (after the flood, when not much plant food would have been alive on the earth), “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”18 Latter-day Saints have a unique understanding of this verse because of Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of this passage. In the Joseph Smith translation a stern warning follows this permission: “But, the blood of all flesh which I have given you for meat, shall be shed upon the ground, which taketh life thereof, and the blood ye shall not eat. And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.”19 This scripture seems to be saying that the only time we should kill animals is if we would starve otherwise. Finally, there is the famous piece of Mormon scripture known as the Word of Wisdom, through which LDS faithful learn not to partake of alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and tea. Less publicized is the fact that this same scripture also gives the following admonitions about meat-eating: Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.20 Since today we live in a time in which non-animal foods are abundant all year round, it would seem that virtually none of us need to eat animals to survive or prevent hunger. Therefore, these scriptures seem to entail that we ought not eat meat at all, except in rare circumstances. 109

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The Contrast with the Current Culture of the Church With teachings such as these, it would seem to follow that Mormons should be among the most compassionate brand of Christians when it comes to the treatment of animals. However, this has not been my observation. While investigating the church, I informed the missionaries that I was an animal rights advocate and questioned whether that was compatible. I was informed that it was quite compatible and that the church had very strong pro-animal teachings. I found that the missionaries were correct doctrinally but that culturally the situation was rather the opposite. Nearly all Mormons eat meat, seemingly without hesitation or restriction. The LDS church even owns the largest cattle ranch in the United States.21 Furthermore, a strong percentage of Utah Mormons hunt. Far from contradicting this practice, the LDS church itself owns a hunting reserve on which people pay fees to kill so-called game animals.22 These are shocking bits of news considering the preponderance of scriptures and admonitions from leadership advising Mormons not to harm our fellow beings. There seems to be a strong dissonance between the older teachings of the church and its current practices with regard to animals.23 The real question of this chapter, therefore, is how to explain this disparity. I do not have final answers to the questions raised, but I will conjecture a few ideas here in the hope that diagnosing the problems may be helpful in changing these trends in the future.

Change in Church Emphasis One reason for the contrast between the doctrine and the culture is that most LDS church members are not aware of their church’s doctrines regarding animals. The most recent clear statement I have from a top church leader on the welfare of animals is from 1978. The prophet of the church at the time, President Spencer W. Kimball, taught the following (in an LDS general conference): Now, I also would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life. I think that every soul should be impressed by the sentiments that have been expressed here by the prophets. And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies to the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals.24 After this conference talk, many members reportedly objected strongly to Kimball’s message. I do not know the minds of the church leaders on the issue, but it seems possible that given the opposition, they decided this was not a battle worth fighting at this time. Since that time protection of animals has not been discussed (to my knowledge) during the general conference of the church. As a result, few Latter-day Saints are aware of the pro-animal teachings of the church. Even scriptures that teach these messages are generally not known or emphasized – or are even interpreted in ways that seem directly in contrast to their wording.25 I have heard people cite verses in favor of eating animals more than I have heard people demonstrate awareness of the verses that teach to do so only when necessary. The cultural emphasis has shifted toward consumption without fear of sanction, either ecclesiastically or culturally.

Assimilation to American Culture Another factor that has affected church culture has been cultural assimilation. During the nineteenth century, Mormons were heavily ostracized and even persecuted for their nonstandard 110


views and practices, especially polygamy. However, in the twentieth century, members of the faith have strived to assimilate into American culture,26 especially into American religious conservatism. In American culture, meat is standard fare, appearing as the main dish in almost all meals during all seasons. There also may be a political element to these cultural differences. Though there are many conservative animal advocates,27 the animal rights movement is generally perceived as part of the radical left. Sympathy with that movement is therefore not common in American conservative culture. In my experience, those who abstain from eating animals are even subject to ridicule in such contexts. Mormon politics since the 1960s has been decidedly conservative, and this may contribute to church members’ further distance from animal-related causes. Furthermore, members of the church participate heavily in activities that are emblematic of the American West, such as rodeo. The Days of ’47 rodeo, for example, is an annual event that celebrates the arrival of the Utah pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. The rodeo is held in the state’s largest concert venue.

Checklist Spirituality The final explanation that I would like to suggest to account for the dissonance between LDS doctrine and practice with regard to animals is the tendency for many religious people to feel that it is unnecessary and even dangerous to accept moral obligations outside of the standard teachings of one’s church. The resulting approach can be called “checklist Christianity.” If people feel that there are certain clear requirements for getting into heaven, they are often quite wary of anyone who argues that they should go beyond those requirements. Like Christians citing Revelation 22:18 against adding to the doctrine given, many members of the LDS faith object to those who would lead them “beyond the mark” as the beginning of the road to apostasy. Many members consider those who argue for practices beyond the basic requirements to be engaging in “gospel hobbies,” a practiced criticized by contemporary church leaders.28 One church leader (a current apostle) has specifically included those who argue for Mormon dietary changes: “Certain members have wanted to add substantially to various doctrines. An example might be when one advocates additions to the Word of Wisdom that are not authorized by the Brethren and proselytes others to adopt these interpretations. If we turn a health law or any other principle into a form of religious fanaticism, we are looking beyond the mark.”29 Though we animal advocates in the church do not feel that we are adding to the Word of Wisdom, many members (and perhaps leaders) of the church would consider what we do an example of the type of obsessive practice this leader is criticizing. Mormonism is especially vulnerable to the checklist approach because there is a specific list of questions that all Latter-day Saints must answer to gain a “recommend” that allows them to enter LDS temples. One of those questions asks whether they keep the Word of Wisdom. This question is not interpreted to ask whether they eat meat sparingly or “only in times of famine and excess of hunger” but is meant to ask simply whether they drink alcohol, coffee, or non-herbal tea, smoke tobacco, or use illegal drugs. These restrictions must be kept with total strictness, whereas the provisions of the Word of Wisdom about not consuming meat are generally ignored. The Word of Wisdom itself states that it is to be given not “by constraint or commandment” but as a “principle with a promise.”30 However, in 1921, obedience to the parts of the Word of Wisdom restricting alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and illegal drug use became requirements to enter the temple.31 Since that time, in a funny bit of cultural logic, the parts restricting the consumption of meat have not also elevated in importance but seem to have become totally ignorable. The vast majority of Mormons today do not restrict their diets in any way based upon 111

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those passages. Those few who do refuse meat because of the passages are sometimes considered cranks32 or extremists. As part of the checklist mindset, when one part of a scripture became an official checklist item, the rest of that scripture became relegated to the totally optional (or even fanatical) category of obligation. It is possible that we are susceptible to the kind of thinking that says that anything that goes beyond the simple, clear boundaries must not be of God.

Response from an LDS Animal Advocate To those of us who advocate for animals in the church, such implications may sting, but they perhaps miss the mark in their own ways. If we were motivated only by the belief that those who don’t follow the Word of Wisdom will not make it into heaven, then our advocacy could be seen as patronizing to fellow members and as second-guessing the church leadership’s ability to guide us adequately. Such second-guessing is considered within the church to be part of the path to apostasy. However, Mormon animal advocates are motivated by something other than spiritual condescension; we are motivated by our desire to help end the terrible suffering of billions of our fellow beings. In other words, our arguments for not eating animals are not simply an indication that we feel we know better what the gospel says but are based in an ethical commitment to help innocent beings in need. By referencing the gospel, we are presenting the harmony of those ethical views with the teachings of the church as a double advocacy for compassion; this alignment provides a religious confirmation of ethical truth. Furthermore, there are many people of faith who cite religion as a way out of following certain types of ethical reasoning. In response to powerful arguments that it is wrong to eat animals, for example, many turn to their church’s teachings to trump the argument. They reason, “If that were morally necessary, then the church would teach it” (within the LDS faith, one response would then be that the church did, but we stopped listening). This reasoning, however, makes the assumption that one’s church teaches everything that is ethically required. This may not be the case, and it may not even be possible. Jesus Christ in his mortal ministry seemed to endorse with his words and actions the opposite of the checklist approach. Whereas the Pharisees had advocated for observance of strict religious rules, the Lord continually was critical of that approach, especially inasmuch as it was contrary to compassion.33 In a dispensation in which the law is written on our hearts,34 Christians should not rule out the possibility that there are ethical requirements beyond what is explicitly commanded by scripture and church leaders. This principle seems to be verified in one of the most compassionate speeches from the Book of Mormon, which King Benjamin concludes by stating, “And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them,”35 suggesting that there are more moral laws than can be enumerated. It would seem to follow that we are required to listen to and follow sound ethical reasoning, whether or not it is explicitly listed in the set of official “rules.” This seems to be especially true when the reasoning is based in the central gospel principles of love and compassion. This sentiment is echoed by Brigham Young, who taught, “If we maltreat our animals, or each other, the spirit within us, our traditions, and the Bible, all agree in declaring it is wrong.”36 Reference to “spirit within us” suggests that we go beyond any letters of the law and trust that inner knowing that comes from the God of love and from our own conscience. Independent of any specific religious mandate, religious animal advocates feel that it is a basic principle of love to care about (and strive not to cause) the suffering of our fellow beings, simply 112


because that suffering is real and because it hurts them as our suffering hurts us. In the view of animal advocates, there is no area that calls to our sense of compassion and mercy more than the plight of animals, who are most defenseless and most abused among us. Therefore, when Paul indicates that abstinence from meat is indicative of a lack of faith,37 we know that our abstinence is not due to doubting the teachings of the savior or due to an ingratitude for God’s gifts,38 but due to the profound unacceptability of contributing to the suffering of our fellow beings. As a friend once told me when asked about scriptures pronouncing all foods clean, “it is not that it is unclean; it is that it is unkind.”39 Seeking to embody love and kindness to all, even those deemed the very least among us, seems to me to be of all things most Christian.

Prospects for the Future If the preceding diagnoses are right, then they may provide some basis for hope for positive change in the future. First, the fact that Latter-day Saints may have largely forgotten or ignored pro-animal teachings can be quickly rectified by a few words from a current or future church leader. Second, although entrenchment in the parent culture can create a substantial amount of cultural inertia, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be uniquely positioned to be cultural pioneers. Because members of the church are highly responsive to church leaders as messengers of God’s word, they are willing to prioritize those messages even in contrast to dominant culture. Due to their strongly conservative record, they could even have sway to shift attitudes within conservative American culture regarding animals and the environment. Third, the devotion to keeping the strict commandments could even increase the faithful’s adherence to animal-related causes as soon as they are reminded that those causes are part of the gospel. Although church members are extremely sensitive to the teachings of their leaders, church leaders are also sensitive to the members. As more Latter-day Saints become aware of the ethical arguments and pro-animal teachings within the church, there is a greater chance that the membership may be ready for the pro-animal messages to return. A final reason suggested by a faithful member that many LDS church members do not live up to the church’s full teachings regarding animals is that it is tough to be a pioneer. It may seem like a lonely journey to help lead the way to a more compassionate future, as Mormon pioneers led the way through the elements to the Salt Lake Valley, yet it ultimately can make all the difference.

Notes 1 Mosiah 2:17. 2 Moses 3:19. 3 Brigham Young, “Blessing of the Saints – Covetousness, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses 8 (September 1860), accessed September 8, 2014, 4 Rev. 4:6–9 KJV. 5 Doctrine and Covenants 77:2–4. 6 Young, “Blessing of the Saints.” 7 Doctrine and Covenants 49:19. 8 George Q. Cannon, “Topics of the Times: Humane Day,” Juvenile Instructor 22, no. 2 (1897): 59. 9 George Q. Cannon, “Editorial Thoughts,” Juvenile Instructor 6, no. 10 (May 13, 1871): 76. 10 Joseph F. Smith, “Editorial Thoughts: Kindness to Animals,” Juvenile Instructor 47, no. 2 (February 1, 1912): 79. 11 Doctrine and Covenants 121:39. 12 Doctrine and Covenants 121:37. 13 Smith, “Editorial Thoughts: Kindness to Animals,” 78.


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24 25

26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

Such as Doctrine and Covenants 49:18–19, 59:18, and 89:12. Doctrine and Covenants 49:15, 49:18–19. Doctrine and Covenants 49:20–21. George Q. Cannon, “Editorial Thoughts: Taking Life Unnecessarily,” Juvenile Instructor 34, no. 19 (October 1, 1897): 592. Gen. 9:2–3 KJV. Gen. 9:10–11 JST. Doctrine and Covenants 89:12–15, emphasis added. Colleen Schreiber, “Mormon Church Holds Title as Largest U.S. Cow-Calf Producer,” Livestock Weekly, January 25, 2001, accessed September 5, 2014, Carrie Moore, “Tending the Flock,” Deseret News, July 10, 2000, accessed September 2, 2014, www. Faithful Dissident, “Is the Church Sacrificing Principle for Profit with Hunting Preserves?,” Mormon Matters, September 24, 2009, accessed September 8, 2014, is-the-church-sacrificing-principle-for-profit-with-hunting-preserves/. Spencer W. Kimball, “Fundamental Principles to Ponder,” Ensign, November 1978, accessed September 9, 2014, For example, I have heard many argue that there did not used to be a comma in the thirteenth verse of the Word of Wisdom, so that it should read, “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Such an interpretation would seem clearly to violate not only common sense but also the meanings of subsequent verses as well as other scripture verses cited previously. Missing punctuation was not uncommon in early versions of Mormon scripture. Richard Lyman Bushman, Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). For example, Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (New York: St. Martin’s Press), 2002. Dallin H. Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, October 1994, ensign/1994/10/our-strengths-can-become-our-downfall?lang=eng. Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, March 2003, looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng. Doctrine and Covenants 89:2–3. Thomas Alexander, “The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement,” Dialogue 14, no. 3 (1981): 78–88, accessed September 5, 2014, V14N03_80.pdf. Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966), 298. For example, Matt. 12:1–8; Luke 6:6–11; Matt. 25:31–46. Heb. 8:10. Mosiah 4:29. Brigham Young, “Comprehensiveness of True Religion: The Saints but Stewards,” Journal of Discourses 1 (September 1860), accessed September 8, 2014, Rom. 14:1, 14:22. 1 Tim. 4:4. Ramana Polavarapu, phone call with author, 1995.

References Alexander, Thomas. “The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement.” Dialogue 14, no. 3 (1981): 78–88. Accessed September 5, 2014. V14N03_80.pdf. Bushman, Richard Lyman. Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts.” Juvenile Instructor 6, no. 10 (May 13, 1871): 76. Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts: Revelation – Wanton Killing.” Juvenile Instructor 24, no. 23 (December 1, 1889): 548–49. Cannon, George Q. “Editorial Thoughts: Taking Life Unnecessarily.” Juvenile Instructor 34, no. 19 (October 1, 1897): 592. Cannon, George Q. “Topics of the Times: Humane Day.” Juvenile Instructor 22, no. 2 (1897): 59.


Mormonism Cook, Quentin L. “Looking beyond the Mark.” Ensign, March 2003. looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng. Faithful Dissident. “Is the Church Sacrificing Principle for Profit with Hunting Preserves?” Mormon Matters, September 24, 2009. Accessed September 8, 2014. is-the-church-sacrificing-principle-for-profit-with-hunting-preserves/. Kimball, Spencer W. “Fundamental Principles to Ponder.” Ensign, November 1978. Accessed September 9, 2014. “O My Father.” McConkie, Bruce. Mormon Doctrine. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966. stream/MormonDoctrine/mormon_doctrine#page/n297/mode/2up/search/cranks. Moore, Carrie. “Tending the Flock.” Deseret News, July 10, 2000. Accessed September 2, 2014. www. Oaks, Dallin. H. “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall.” Ensign, October 1994. ensign/1994/10/our-strengths-can-become-our-downfall?lang=eng. Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. “Religion and Animals Project.” Accessed September 2, 2014. www. Root, G. “C. S. Lewis as an Advocate for Animals.” Washington, DC: Humane Society, 2010. Retrieved from Schreiber, Colleen. “Mormon Church Holds Title as Largest U.S. Cow-Calf Producer.” Livestock Weekly, January 25, 2001. Accessed September 5, 2014. Scully, Matthew. Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002. Smith, Joseph F. “Editorial Thoughts: Kindness to Animals.” Juvenile Instructor 47, no. 2 (February 1, 1912): 79. Young, Brigham. “Blessing of the Saints – Covetousness, Etc.” Journal of Discourses 8 (September 1860). Accessed September 8, 2014. Young, Brigham. “Comprehensiveness of True Religion: The Saints but Stewards.” Journal of Discourses (September 1860). Accessed September 8, 2014.


11 NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGION Restoring Species to the Circle of Life Sidney Blankenship

This chapter explores the historic dilemma involved in Native American “religion” and its concern for animals. Indigenous ethical determinations are holistic and fully grounded in the nonhuman world. Overarching problems include habitat loss and ecological fragmentation, alien political constraints based on property rights and secular culture, treaties made and broken, tribal dislocation, reservations, historic racial and cultural prejudice, and forceful subjugations of language, education, and ways of life. Add to this a lack of knowledge about the land and its indigenous creatures, compounded by a failure to appreciate Native perspectives, myths, creation stories, and tribal structures that connect the natural world in its spiritual manifestation, and you have a recipe for catastrophic disruption in the integrative character of the land and its inhabitants. The circle is a prominent feature in representations of this relationship in traditional tribal cultures and seems equally appropriate in its restoration.

History and Context of a Contemporary Problem The renewal and repatriation of species to their rightful place in the circle of life is an exercise in spiritual fulfillment. One has to acknowledge the historic source and definition of the present predicament. It reflects the current imbalance of humankind and nature from an indigenous perspective. What needs to be restored is the perceptual knowledge and spiritual awareness of nonhuman creatures, including their reverential interface in the environment and daily experience. No animals were forcibly domesticated or held in captivity by Native peoples for exploitation. Even the llama in the Andes was embraced with a spiritual dimension linked to its uniqueness in geographical location, but domestication was not a concept that was otherwise sought, even as agriculture was developed. Animals thus have to be seen in terms of diversity in their own habitat and their existence in an ecologically settled equilibrium over an immense period of time, when compared to foreign animal introductions. Subsequent changes have been dramatic and cumulatively underestimated, especially in North America. Even with this alteration of circumstances for indigenous species, the resilience of Native culture and tradition remains as a witness, the most immediate connection that can be made. There are more options now for redress because of better knowledge of indigenous animals, their environment, and the enduring faith of the people who knew them most intimately in their original habitat. Even so, the current human population dynamic in its democratic context demands 116

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moral courage, persuasive determination, and long-term government attention. It requires action based on a scientific and secure legal foundation. It also needs popular support and ethical awareness within other religious traditions. One of the most effective habits separating Old World religions and those of the New (the Western Hemisphere in general) is the tradition of dominion over the animals, leading to exploitation on the one hand but guilt, intimacy, and caring on the other. These ways of thought have obscured the indigenous perception in which that dichotomy had no real basis. Native peoples accepted the spiritual grace of living positively with other animals in recognition of their own sense of creaturely worth and security. The objective of this chapter is to characterize the innate sensitivity and predisposition toward free-living animals in tribal religion. Every aspect of nature is seen to have a spiritual life force that is living and active: the sun, the moon and stars, the earth, plants and especially animals, and also rocks, the sky, daylight and darkness, the weather, the seasons, even geographic and topographic features of the landscape. This primal force will not be denied. Its spiritual dimension is at once individual and collective. In the Lakota (Sioux) tradition, this all-encompassing unity is Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit. From the Lakota tradition of first beginnings (Otokahekagapi), this spirit was within Inyan, the rock, before there was any other creature.1 Nature did not have an inanimate origin. This accounting is as much scientific (allowing for its symbolism) from an evolutionary point of view as it is mythological or religious. It is essential to view the range of creation stories, rituals, and oral traditions within this relationship because they represent the religious consciousness of America’s earliest human inhabitants. So for Native Americans, religious attitudes toward animals did not consist of control or dominance but consisted of relationships with sensitive and aware living creatures. This experience is dynamic and operates within the evolutionary right of all native species to their place in this world. Indigenous people and animals are bound within this sacred framework, which is characterized as the circle of life because of nature’s interdependence. I propose a vindication of this perspective in Native traditions and offer an estimation of present resources available to help restore a lost paradise. Attention to present tribal circumstances is focused primarily on North America. Although the major civilizations of Mexico and Central and South America must be referenced, it is the interaction with animals in the context of their natural environment that truly reflects the people’s religious character. Lisa Kemmerer, in Animals and World Religions, appropriately introduced the world’s indigenous traditions in the first chapter of her book as a template for discussing categories of ethical response to animals in today’s major world religions. She asks what we mean by “indigenous.”2 The question has relevance especially for humans in our global age, but it is even more important for animals in recognition of their survivability and familiar habitat. In both cases “indigenous” indicates origin and continuity of residence within a geographic locality. For humans this involves shared tribal language and community and a long-standing knowledge of native fauna and flora and generally relates to who was there first. It has to do with lifeways, traditions, and myths that have emanated from generations of experience in keeping faith with the natural world. For animals it may involve several millennia of prehuman and human–animal interactions with a developed sense of survival, mutual dependence, and security. The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been in place for forty years. It codifies a democratic moral imperative of human responsibility for preserving native species. It has enforcement provisions that apply to all the states and covers a wide variety of fauna and flora that have fallen for various reasons, mostly human-caused, into circumstances of possible extinction. The ESA offers a path back to reverse those misfortunes. It has a didactic, cultural, and ethical dimension in limiting human activity and development, in recognition of the greater purpose of animal 117

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stewardship. The ESA is the major US source of commitment to the survival of indigenous species within a legal framework. Animals in Native religion had a great advantage in not having to contend with the problems that arose elsewhere in the era of human “progress.” The lack of that spirit was deemed “a fatal deficiency in Indian society” by that otherwise meticulous observer of the Iroquois, Lewis Henry Morgan, in the mid-1800s.3 However, it is necessary to compare the state of native fauna, in terms of species, before European contact to the later consequences of that impulse: no horses (no wheel!); no domesticated cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, or poultry leading to massive confinement for slaughter; no animals used for dairy; no beasts of burden or draft animals; no animals used for research experiments; no unnatural invasive species (pigs in Hawaii from Polynesia being an exception). Native dogs, present from ancient acquaintance, were used by Plains Indians for travois when moving campsites (before the horse) and by some Arctic peoples as sled dogs, sharing the work of tribal communities; but the material landscape, along with all its creatures, was respected without any major attempt at exploitation. Noninterference with nature was a common attitude and practice. This ancient principle of reverence for nature was accepted in the full range of diverse habitats in the Western Hemisphere – from the tropical forests in the Amazon to the high Andes; from the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico to the deserts of the US Southwest; from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains; from the grassland prairies to the Eastern Woodlands and the Appalachians; through the Great Lakes to the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska. Nature was the essence of religion. Her ways had taught humans themselves how to live as nurturing creatures. Creation stories and stories of tribal origins and experience are often unique to the familiar animals of each tribe.4 Yet as Vine Deloria Jr. states, “the relationships that serve to form the unity of nature are of vastly more importance to most tribal religions.”5 This can be seen directly in the bonds of clan membership with animals and nature and in the names of Native peoples.6 The pre-Columbian civilizations of the Inca, Maya, and Aztec were the only influences on what was otherwise a diverse people whose tribal worlds were mostly independent of centralization. The sheer number of different languages that emerged illustrates that reality. In the United States the earthworks of the Eastern Woodlands and the mound builders of the Southeast (including Cahokia and the Mississippian culture), as well as the Pueblo tribes and recurrent civilizations of the southwestern deserts, all have some measure of southern influence. The Iroquois confederacy reflects a later northern ambience, unique in its political centralization. The Arctic peoples were isolated by geography and climate. All were tribally oriented in their framework. Apart from the Mesoamerican civilizations, there were no religious texts (no written languages, only oral traditions), and there was no universally held sacrificial system involving animals such as existed in the Old World – only rituals elicited by reverential subsistence and the self-regulating responses to natural phenomena. The literary character of Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphs is now widely recognized and translatable, having rudimentary origins in the Olmec culture from 2000 BCE. The quipus (colored threads used for recording data) of the Inca are not known to have been otherwise phonetically characterized in the Quechua language. Writing and literary development did not occur in Peru before the Spaniards.7 The Mayan creation epic, the Popol Vuh,8 was widely accepted in Mexico, with pervasive representation in the historic architecture, and even found its way to portrayal on Mimbres pottery in the southwestern pueblos around 1000 CE.9 The Great Sun of the Inca seems to echo in the Mississippian Natchez and Cahokia settlements and was the major recipient of veneration. I relate this to emphasize the fact that myths and creation stories were not always unique to individual tribes, even when maintained independently through oral transmission for generations.10 118

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Cosmological familiarity has an impact on the understanding of different animals. The Aztecs did not see a “man in the moon”; they saw a rabbit, owing to an episode in the creation story of the Popol Vuh, a story of origins replete with animal incidents. Ten of the twenty day glyphs of the eighteen-“month” solar calendar of the Aztecs were named after animals (e.g., mazatl, the deer; tochtl, the rabbit; and coatl, the snake).11 Moreover, the lords of the thirteen daytime hours (in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs) were associated with twelve indigenous birds and one butterfly.12 A positive identifiable unity of the Americas, oddly enough, can be traced in the trade and common acceptance of some botanicals. Corn was domesticated from the teosinte plant some seven thousand years ago in Mexico. Tobacco had ancient and widespread usage. Tobacco plant remains among ancient settlements in Peru date back 3,700 to 4,500 years.13 The gathering of native plants, roots, fruits, nuts, and berries was primarily local; but corn (maize), tobacco, squash, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, peanuts, and potatoes were prominent advances in agriculture. This fact can be linked to attitudes and relationships with the animals. The two are not unrelated. The Cherokee and other US southeastern tribes were particularly favored by the environment of their historic homeland for agriculture. Even so, bears, panthers, wolves, deer, birds, and a host of other species were equally at home. Elements of the Cherokee creation story have an obvious connection with the Iroquois (as does the Cherokee language, though the tribe had its origin in the South). The primordial sky vault Galunlati was inhabited by the Cherokee Spirit People (and animal spirits) when only a vast sea existed below. When it became too crowded, a council was held to find a place for all living beings to partake of a physical existence. This would accommodate them in the sacred balance of harmony and peaceful regeneration. The “water beetle” began the process, diving for minute quantities of mud, which proliferated until the “great buzzard” of the Bird Clan worked so hard that his wings got tired and began to make huge valleys and mountains (the Cherokee country of the southern Appalachians). They were dried by the Sun. The four “cords of life” that hold the earth suspended above the sea would hold only so long as everything was kept in sacred balance. The Cherokee Spirit People were the keepers of the secrets of Mother Earth. Humans were created after the animals and plants. According to some, the first red man was called Kanati (the lucky hunter), and the first red woman was called Selu (corn). They were the first humans and came to be called Yunwiya (the real people).14 The remembrance of a time when humans and animals lived together peacefully with a common language is shared by many tribes. It is the purpose of physical existence. Another Cherokee tale with primary ethical importance is that of the origin of medicine. Humans profoundly offended the animals by killing them for food and by proliferating their own kind to the point where the animals began to feel crowded on the earth. In a series of councils, the bears, deer, fishes, reptiles, birds, and insects plotted a response in the form of various diseases as punishment, but it was the plants “who were friendly to man” and determined to come to humankind’s rescue.15 This story holds a striking parallel to the similar culpability of our species that is related in the medieval European Lawsuit of the Animals against Humanity.16 It is important to recognize this human–animal relationship as a vector for disease (a moral one), in addition to physical scientific analysis. In the Northern Plains, medicine, as practiced by the shaman, was a spiritual enterprise of “help and healing” occurring within the ritual traditions of the Lakota (Sioux) and the sacred pipe, the chanunpa, the gift of White Buffalo Woman.17 The importance of agriculture, without animal exploitation, also may have its roots in the South American creation story from the Islands of the Sun and the Moon in the high Andean Lake Titicaca, featuring the Creator Viracocha.18 This source is claimed by the first legendary Inca ancestor and emperor Manco Capac, “Son of the Sun.” The second Inca ruler, Sinchi Roca, is credited with encouraging his people to cultivate potatoes.19 These people were all represented, 119

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by the Spanish illustrator Felipe Guaman Poma de Avila in the sixteenth century, holding a sling in their left hand with a quipu. The travels of Viracocha to Cuzco, the Inca capital, and beyond – in the form of a human mendicant missionary after the destruction of his first creation of giants by a flood – were the basis for Inca civilization. Viracocha breathed life into his new creations of clay and endowed them “with distinctive clothes and gave them customs, languages, songs, arts and crafts, and the gift of agriculture to distinguish the different peoples and nations. [He then] instructed them to descend into the earth and disperse, then to re-emerge on to the earth through caves and from lakes and hills. These places became sacred, and shrines were established at them in honour of the gods.”20 This concept (if not its Andean origin) of rising up out of a specific earthly location is a familiar tribal idea found in many North American sacred sites. Inti is Quechua for the sun, supremely acknowledged in the Coricancha, the main square in Cuzco, Peru, the “perceived center of the Inca world and cosmos on earth.”21 This is also the primary astronomical site (or usnu) where the Mayu, the Milky Way (believed to be a celestial river), was carefully observed to transect this peculiar latitude from northeast to southwest in one-half of the year and northwest to southeast in the other half, a unique “starting point for calendrical calculations and seasonal observations.”22 The roads leading out of the Coricancha dispersed along the four cardinal ritual lines (ceques) of the celestial river. The four cardinal directions and their various local animal and color variations are also pervasive among many tribes of the Northern Hemisphere, such as in the ritual ceremonies of the Lakota and Cherokee. The Nazca in southern Peru also created massive geoglyphs (visible only from the sky!), many representing animals, such as the hummingbird and the tarantula. The indigenous investment in nature’s animal correspondences is without equal.

Resources for Restoration of Species Besides the ethical and cosmological impetus from indigenous religions, how does one remedy the present imbalance and precarious status of species in restoring this “universal” circle? There is a growing recognition among all the major religions that our relationship to nature and its creatures is a moral problem. This should help solidify popular support, which, though often latent, in fact already exists. We need to find a suitable process for practical implementation. There is the problem minority that still claims a right to animal abuse, often refusing to admit it in those terms. The general population seems unable to deal with this impasse, often a factor of religious and legal contradictions. The popular dietary and cultural habits of consumer depredation and the consequent economic interests also prevail over any statistical reckoning of animal pain and suffering. Individual choices result in collective problems, which are the source of conflicting corporate and political responses. Unfortunately, the founders of our democracy did not foresee this dilemma. Surely they otherwise would have included some kind of provision in the original documents. Even the national parks, one of our later best ideas as a nation, often only remind us that our present way of life is part of the problem, especially when we see the government elsewhere act in stark contrast to the principles embodied in those pristine landscapes. As it is, we must address the ethical imperative in terms of institutions that have evolved, legislation that has been passed with continued popular support, vigilance by NGOs and private organizations, and individual commitment and societal persuasion. This includes a radically different educational focus of knowledge, transparency, and compassion in animal ethics. Although this ethical imperative may be informed by its indigenous spiritual common denominator, it needs the full range of attention from the public, the media, educational institutions, and government at every level to be effective. The focus on individual native species (with local emphasis) is necessary when imminent circumstances dictate. Attention must be directed 120

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to species’ habitat loss and other potential problems. Many threats are unintended. Some are blatantly malicious. Others are simply ignored. Some species need long-term attention. Others may be reasonably and quickly accommodated. For some, the difficulty involves a major shift in attitude or habits of the popular culture. As Camilla Fox suggests in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, “What is needed is a new paradigm for the way we treat native carnivores – indeed, all free-living animals – one that recognizes the ecological importance of these species, as well as their intrinsic value as individuals.”23 Andrew Linzey’s sobering assessment of unintended harm to animals in repatriation to their native habitat in the same volume24 needs to be substantially ameliorated by societal acceptance. Although “ethical scrutiny” is necessary to minimize the possibility of persecution and minority hatred, there must be a right to life for such species built into our society. Polls indicate strong popular support for wolf reintroduction in states where these animals have yet to be restored and in others where they may migrate.25 The ethical scrutiny needs to focus on those who would undermine this support and negate the animals’ right to sanctuary and coexistence. Native Americans have always lived with the wolf. At the International Wolf Symposium in Duluth, Minnesota, in October 2013, the Ojibwe representatives appealed to the tribe’s historic treaty rights. They have offered their tribal lands as a sanctuary. Eighty-three percent of Wisconsin’s wolf population was living on the Ojibwe reservation or in ceded territory.26 Concerning off-reservation usufructuary rights for the state’s proposed wolf hunt (which the tribal representatives opposed, considering ma’iingan, “the wolf,” as their brother), they also waived their hunt quota in order to minimize species and ecological damage.27 A measure of historic resolution may be required for some tribes that have lived with economic constraints and societal acculturation in the wolf ’s absence (e.g., in the case of Navajo acceptance of domesticated sheep from the Spaniards), but a welcome home for wolves would be more likely. However, indigenous desert bighorn sheep do not produce wool. Their preservation from antiquity is documented on many ancient petroglyphs, and protection has been maintained in many areas, such as the recent reintroduction in the Big Bend National Park of Texas. Also, some tribes historically leased reservation land to cattle ranchers for economic reasons, which often proves incompatible with indigenous species. Similar practices have taken place on federal lands. In the early 1800s, Cherokees and the other “civilized tribes” sought ways to prevent removal from their homelands by adopting European habits of domestication, but this proved to be an unsuccessful compromise. American bison, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goats, deer, pronghorn antelopes, and other indigenous animals who successfully evolved in their native habitats never had to fear wolves, mountain lions, bears, or any other carnivores as a threat to extinction that required human intervention. Even smaller animals such as the prairie chicken and the swift fox had charted a successful evolutionary course. This is why biodiversity in nature functioned spiritually within its relationships as the definition of Native American “religion.” It was the subjugation of some species, making them weak and dependent, that caused humans themselves to become, in the words of my mother, “wiser but weaker” (but unfortunately, not less dangerous). Such is not true wisdom. It is human hubris that is itself a deleterious disruption of nature’s equilibrium. Bison restoration had an initially precarious beginning, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century. Walking Coyote was a Native American who was moved by compassion in 1872 to save the animal from extinction in western Montana.28 The federal government did nothing to help bison after the Civil War and even encouraged the massive slaughter. Various other private individuals and organizations took the lead to save the species, though the government eventually recognized the need as well. Yellowstone National Park became the last refuge for a small free-ranging remnant with government protection. 121

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But even there, wolves were not spared. After nearly a one-hundred-year absence, wolves were successfully reintroduced into Yellowstone in 1995. The relationship between wolves and bison on the American prairie was deep and historic.29 I have been a part of the last three decades of private bison restoration (with approximately 120 animals). The total population in both public and private, but primarily private, herds during that time has risen from approximately 60,000 in the 1980s to around 300,000 today.30 The reality of that effort has several aspects. National, state, and regional organizations involved with private herds have adopted a market-oriented approach. This has reached the point where “production” may not meet demand, and numbers have even declined. It is also apparent that some situations are anomalous to normal herd social dynamics. Nevertheless, with genetic guarantees of species integrity and satisfaction of health concerns, bison are now being brought back to some tribal lands as America’s largest free-ranging mammal. Organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and World Wildlife Fund, as well as various state and federal parks and refuges, have played a part in restoration. Some species listed as endangered, such as the bald eagle (due to the pesticide DDT), formerly fell under ESA protection but have recovered. The whooping crane’s low numbers have merited long-term surveillance, and the California condor is cautiously being restored. Numbers of some species indicate that immediate action has to be taken. The lesser prairie chicken’s numbers fell by 50 percent in 2012, and attention was drawn to the species’ habitat and environmental circumstances.31 Drought also may have been a contributing factor. Florida panthers needed a genetic boost because of the species’ low numbers, and some females were imported from Texas. The vegetarian manatee population is also at risk in Florida as a result of boat traffic and algae bloom from agricultural fertilizer runoff in the animals’ pristine shallow water feeding areas. The last remnants of the red wolf in North Carolina, as well as the southwestern Mexican wolf, are being supplemented by captive breeding programs while efforts are made under the ESA to bring them back into suitable habitat and viable human coexistence. Many smaller animals (prairie dogs, ferrets, swift foxes, and even reptiles, bees, and monarch butterflies) are a focus of concern. It may be mentioned that swallows, dragonflies, and butterflies were included in Standing Bear’s illustrations of Black Elk’s vision in the late 1800s.32 Native Americans were not selective in their knowledge and concern for species. Mitakuye oyas’in – “all my relations” – is the most essential acknowledgment in Lakota prayer. The prominence of horses among prairie tribes (absent from the Americas for more than seven thousand years until their reappearance with the Spaniards) also can be seen in the apocalyptic visions of Black Elk, where they were embraced enthusiastically. Nature has a dynamic resilience. The ESA list of animals is necessary mainly because of human neglect and the lack of positive interaction with indigenous creatures. This has eroded and often eliminated the supportive sensitivity and care that Native people exercised. The threats are diverse, including lead-shot poisoning in carrion for the California condor, dams that prevent the normal life cycle of salmon, extensive habitat losses caused by deforestation and filling of wetlands, hunting and livestock interests, manufactured poisons, pollution of air and water, roads and development, population fragmentation, and now climate change – a clear and present danger for the polar bear. Restoration is already a work in progress, but the need for support and incentives for corrective action is immediate and ongoing. Native organizations and tribal activism provide a bedrock of support for indigenous species. This is the primary spiritual foundation that other religions should discover (locally and universally) in their own traditions of theological concern. We should all be asking what we can do for the animals, not what the animals can do for us. Support for the natural environment and its creatures can replace the history of exploitation with a communion of peace and awareness that restores species to the circle of life. 122

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The Native American Rights Fund strives to protect historic treaty rights and the indigenous environment in a legal framework. The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, DC, celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2014. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution but is directed and run by Native people with tribal perspectives. Kevin Gover (Pawnee) is the current director. Educationally, there are now thirty-eight tribally controlled, fully functional and accredited colleges and universities on Indian reservations, supported by a White House initiative. The Indigenous Environmental Network is an intertribal watchdog for abuses on tribal lands by corporations and government. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity is a useful tool, as are some provisions of the Draft Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.33 Earthjustice (formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) maintains a legal presence ready to prevent injustice to native animals and people as a result of environmental abuse and the lack of ESA enforcement. It is often called upon by organizations, such as Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, and various tribes. Such organizations cannot act on behalf of individual tribes unless consent is given, even though interests are often aligned. The Tribal Colleges and Universities operate within the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, which recognizes the need “to preserve and protect tribal knowledge.”34 Tribal authority prevails with proprietary information. One of the most egregious abuses is the Department of Agriculture’s so-called Wildlife Services (formerly Animal Damage Control), which acts to eliminate predation and other threats on behalf of hunters, agribusiness, and livestock interests. Animals who conflict with these interests are targeted and eliminated, and incidental killing is often involved. This affects tribes in terms of the wide-ranging territory of many animals, whose presence is altered by decisions made by the prevailing off-reservation culture. The animals killed by this agency in 2013 alone numbered an astonishing two million!35 Present society may have hardened its heart to the billions of animals killed for food, even as the evidence of dietary and ethical concerns begs for a cultural change, but surely all religions, not just indigenous ones, ought to find both institutional harm and individual malice toward animals totally unacceptable. It is in that spirit that we need to broaden the scope of animal ethical issues, especially in terms of Native American history and its essential spiritual legacy. A turn away from adversarial and exploitative relationships with naturally occurring species is indicated, and we must seek a more compassionate, integrated, and positive understanding of their existence. The bibliography includes a range of disciplinary engagements, from the science of peccaries and wolf reintroduction to spiritual awareness and Native beliefs and ceremonies, from the playful ventriloquism of the coyote to the sober history and experience of Native peoples. Even as diverse species, we are all related, but the natural world needs to know that humanity really cares. This care is the ultimate resource for restoring species to the circle of life, the one on which all else depends.

Notes 1 Thomas E. Simms, transcriber and ill., Otokahekagapi (First Beginnings): Sioux Creation Story, trans. Ben Black Bear Jr. (Chamberlain, SD: Tipi Press, 1987). 2 Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 19–21. 3 Lewis Henry Morgan, League of the Iroquois (North Dighton, MA: JG Press, 1995), 134, first published in 1851 as League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois. 4 For excellent examples, see Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, eds., American Indian Myths and Legends (New York: Pantheon, 1984); Bobby Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzly Bear), Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies (New York: Penguin, 1997); Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird), Old Indian Legends, 1901 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985).


Sidney Blankenship 5 Vine Deloria Jr., God Is Red: A Native View of Religion, 2nd ed. (Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 1993), 88. 6 Cf. Bob Blankenship, Cherokee Roots, Vol. 1: Eastern Cherokee Rolls, 2nd ed. (Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Roots, 1992). See especially enrollments in the early 1800s, where many had no other name than that of an animal. 7 David M. Jones and Brian L. Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Gods, Heroes, Spirits, Sacred Places, Rituals and Ancient Beliefs of the North American Indian, Inuit, Aztec, Inca and Maya Nations (London: Hermes House, 2009), 170–71. 8 Dennis Tedlock, trans., Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings, rev. ed. (New York: Touchstone, 1996). 9 Marc Thompson, Patricia A. Gilman, and Kristina C. Wyckoff, “The Hero Twins in the Mimbres Region: Representations of the Mesoamerican Creation Saga Are Seen on Mimbres Pottery,” American Archaeology 18, no. 2 (2014): 38–43. 10 Cf. Erdoes and Ortiz, American Indian Myths and Legends; also in a global context, see John Francis Bierlein, Parallel Myths (New York: Ballantine, 1994), and Joseph Campbell, The Mythic Image, Bollingen Series C (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990). 11 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 115. 12 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 127. 13 David Malakoff, “Holy Smoke,” American Archaeology 18, no. 2 (2014): 14. 14 J. T. Garrett and Michael Tlanusta Garrett, Medicine of the Cherokee: The Way of Right Relationship (Rochester, VT: Bear, 1996), 17–19. See also Wilma Mankiller and Michael Wallis, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 15–16. Wilma Mankiller was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. I have combined essential elements of these two accounts. 15 James A. Maxwell, ed., America’s Fascinating Indian Heritage (Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest, 1978), 89; cf. Garrett and Garrett, Medicine of the Cherokee, 42–45. 16 Matthew Kaufmann, ed., The Animals’ Lawsuit against Humanity, trans. and adapted by Anson Laytner and Dan Bridge, introd. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ill. Kulsum Begum (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2005). 17 Wallace Black Elk and William S. Lyon, Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of a Lakota (New York: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991). 18 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 244. 19 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 235. 20 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 224. 21 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 192. 22 Jones and Molyneaux, Mythology of the American Nations, 214; cf. the four directions of the Maya and Aztecs, 134. 23 Camilla H. Fox, “Coexisting with Coyotes,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. Andrew Linzey (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), 82. 24 Andrew Linzey, “The Ethics of Reintroduction,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, 73–74. 25 Suzanne Stone, “Wild Matters: Public Is Pro-Wolf,” Defenders 90, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 6. 26 Jason D. Sanders and Eric R. Olson, “Reservation Wolves and Border Wolves: Embracing Cooperative Wolf Management and Buffer Zones” (paper presented at the International Wolf Symposium, Duluth, MN, October 2013). 27 Jerritt Johnston, “Some Tribal Perspectives on Wisconsin’s First Wolf Hunt: An Interview with Peter David, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission,” International Wolf 22, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 4–7. 28 David A. Dary, The Buffalo Book: The Full Saga of the American Animal, rev. ed. (Athens, OH: Sage Books, 1989), 222–40. 29 Dary, Buffalo Book, 140–43. 30 Dave Carter, executive director, National Bison Association (presentation at Texas Bison Association, Fredericksburg, TX, Spring 2014). 31 Defenders of Wildlife, Defenders 90, no.1 (Winter 2014): 5. 32 John G. Neihardt (Flaming Rainbow), Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, premier ed., ill. Standing Bear, annot. Raymond DeMallie (Albany: State University of New York, 2008), plates 20 and 21. 33 Darrell Addison Posey, “Intellectual Property Rights and the Sacred Balance: Some Spiritual Consequences from the Commercialization of Traditional Resources,” in Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community, ed. John A. Grim (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 3–23.


Native American Religion 34 Rhonda LeValdo Gayton, “Like a Thunderbird: Preserving and Protecting Knowledge at Tribal Colleges and Universities,” Tribal College Journal 25, no. 3 (Spring 2014): 14–17. 35 Laura Beans, “2 Million Animals Killed by Federal Wildlife Program in 2013,” EcoWatch, June 9, 2014. Accessed October 31, 2016.

References Laura Beans, “2 Million Animals Killed by Federal Wildlife Program in 2013,” EcoWatch, June 9, 2014, accessed October 31, 2016, Bierlein, John Francis. Parallel Myths. New York: Ballantine, 1994. Black Elk, Wallace, and William L. Lyon. Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of a Lakota. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. Blankenship, Bob. Cherokee Roots,Volume 1: Eastern Cherokee Rolls. 2nd ed. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Roots, 1992. Brown, Joseph Epes. The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian: With Letters While Living with Black Elk. Edited by Marina Brown Weatherly, Elenita Brown, and Michael Oren Fitzgerald. Introduction by Ake Hultkrantz. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2007. Campbell, Joseph. The Mythic Image. Bollingen Series C. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. Dary, David A. The Buffalo Book: The Full Saga of the American Animal. Rev. ed. Athens, OH: Sage Books, 1989. Defenders of Wildlife. Defenders 90, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 5. Deloria, Vine, Jr. God Is Red: A Native View of Religion. 2nd ed. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 1993. Dobie, J. Frank. The Voice of the Coyote. Illustrated by Olaus J. Murie. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961. Erdoes, Richard, and Alphonso Ortiz, eds. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon, 1984. Fox, Camilla H. “Coexisting with Coyotes.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey, 81–83. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Garrett, J. T., and Michael Tlanusta Garrett. The Cherokee Full Circle: A Practical Guide to Ceremonies and Traditions. Rochester, VT: Bear, 2002. Garrett, J. T., and Michael Tlanusta Garrett. Medicine of the Cherokee: The Way of Right Relationship. Rochester, VT: Bear, 1996. Gayton, Rhonda LeValdo. “Like a Thunderbird: Preserving and Protecting Knowledge at Tribal Colleges and Universities.” Tribal College Journal 25, no. 3 (Spring 2014): 14–17. Grim, John A., ed. Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001. Hagan, William T. Quanah Parker, Comanche Chief. Vol. 6 in Oklahoma Western Biographies. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993. James, Harry C. Pages from Hopi History. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1990. Johansen, Bruce Elliott. The Native Peoples of North America: A History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007. Johnston, Jerritt. “Some Tribal Perspectives on Wisconsin’s First Wolf Hunt: An Interview with Peter David, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.” International Wolf 22, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 4–7. Jones, David M., and Brian L. Molyneaux. Mythology of the American Nations: An Illustrated Encylopedia of the Gods, Heroes, Spirits, Sacred Places, Rituals and Ancient Beliefs of the North American Indian, Inuit, Aztec, Inca and Maya Nations. London: Hermes House, 2009. Kaufmann, Matthew, ed. The Animals’ Lawsuit against Humanity. Translated and adapted by Anson Laytner and Dan Bridge. Introduced by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Illustrated by Kulsum Begum. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2005. Kemmerer, Lisa. Animals and World Religions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Lake-Thom, Bobby (Medicine Grizzly Bear). Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies. New York: Penguin, 1997. Linzey, Andrew. “The Ethics of Reintroduction.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey, 73–74. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013.


Sidney Blankenship Linzey, Andrew, ed. The Global Guide to Animal Protection. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Malakoff, David. “Holy Smoke.” American Archaeology 18, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 12–18. Mankiller, Wilma, and Michael Wallis. Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. Maxwell, James A., ed. America’s Fascinating Indian Heritage. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest, 1978. Morgan, Lewis Henry. League of the Iroquois. North Dighton, MA: JG Press, 1995. First published in 1851 as League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois. Neihardt, John G. (Flaming Rainbow). Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. Premier ed. Illustrated by Standing Bear. Annotated by Raymond De Mallie. Albany: State University of New York, 2008. Newcomb, W. W., Jr. The Indians of Texas: From Prehistoric to Modern Times. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Posey, Darrell Addison. “Intellectual Property Rights and the Sacred Balance: Some Spiritual Consequences from the Commercialization of Traditional Sources.” In Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community, edited by John A. Grim, 3–23. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001. Sanders, Jason D., and Eric R. Olson. “Reservation Wolves and Border Wolves: Embracing Cooperative Wolf Management and Buffer Zones.” Paper presented at the International Wolf Symposium, Duluth, MN, October 2013. Simms, Thomas E., transcriber and illustrator. Otokahekagapi (First Beginnings): Sioux Creation Story. Translated by Ben Black Bear Jr. Chamberlain, SD: Tipi Press, 1987. Sowls, Lyle K. Javelinas and Other Peccaries: Their Biology, Management, and Use. 2nd ed. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996. Stolzman, William. The Pipe and Christ: A Christian-Sioux Dialogue. 4th ed. Chamberlain, SD: Tipi Press, 1992. Stone, Suzanne. “Wild Matters: Public Is Pro-Wolf.” Defenders 90, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 6. Suzuki, David, and Peter Knudtson. Wisdom of the Elders: Sacred Native Stories of Nature. New York: Bantam Books, 1993. Tedlock, Dennis, trans. Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings. Rev. ed. New York: Touchstone, 1996. Thiel, Richard P., Allison C. Thiel, and Marianne Strozewski, eds. Wild Wolves We Have Known: Stories of Wolf Biologists’ Favorite Wolves. Minneapolis, MN: International Wolf Center, 2013. Time-Life Books. Cycles of Life. American Indians series, edited by Henry Woodhead. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life, 1992. Time-Life Books. The Spirit World. American Indians series, edited by Henry Woodhead. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life, 1994. Thompson, Marc, Patricia A. Gilman, and Kristina C. Wyckoff. “The Hero Twins in the Mimbres Region: Representations of the Mesoamerican Creation Saga Are Seen on Mimbres Pottery.” American Archaeology 18, no. 2 (2014): 38–43. Truer, Anton. Atlas of Indian Nations. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2013. Wunder, John R. The Kiowa. Indians of North America series, edited by Frank W. Porter III. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird). Old Indian Legends. 1901. Foreword by Agnes M. Picotte. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.


12 ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY Compassion for Animals Kallistos Ware

What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humankind, for the birds, for the animals, for the demons, for all that exists. – St. Isaac the Syrian (seventh century)

A Place for Animals in Our Worship? As I sit writing at my table, I have before me a Russian icon of the martyrs St. Florus and St. Laurus. At the top of the icon is the archangel Michael, and on either side of him are the two saints. Below them there is a concourse of horses, old and young: some have riders, some are riderless but with saddle and bridle, and others are running freely. I am not sure what the connection is between horses and these two stonemasons from Constantinople who suffered martyrdom in the early fourth century. But there the horses are, prominently depicted in the icon, and their presence gives me continuing pleasure. Beside my bed I have another icon that shows the leading Russian saint of the nineteenth century, Seraphim of Sarov. He is seated on a log outside his wooden cabin in the forest, with his prayer rope in one of his hands, and with the other hand he is offering a piece of bread to a huge brown bear. Great was the surprise and alarm of visitors to the saint’s hermitage when they came upon him in the company of his four-footed friend Misha. For members of the Orthodox Church, an icon is not to be regarded in isolation, simply as a picture on a religious subject, a decorative item designed to give aesthetic pleasure. Much more significant is the fact that an icon exists within a distinct and specific context. It is part of an act of prayer and worship, and divorced from that context of prayer and worship, it ceases to be authentically an icon. The art of the icon is, par excellence, a liturgical art.1 If, then, Orthodox icons depict not only humans but also animals, does this not imply that the animals have an accepted place in our liturgical celebration and our dialogue with God? We do not forget that when Jesus withdrew to pray for forty days in the wilderness, he had the animals as his companions: “he was with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). What the icon shows us – that the animals share in our prayer and worship – is confirmed by the prayer books used in the Orthodox Church.2 It is true that when we look at the main act of worship, the Service of the Eucharist, we are at first sight disappointed, for in its two chief 127

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forms – the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and that of St. Basil the Great – there are no direct references to the animal creation. Yet when we pray at the beginning of the liturgy “for the peace of the whole world,” this surely includes animals. As one commentator puts it, “we pray for the peace of the universe, not only for mankind, but for every creature, for animals and plants, for the stars and all of nature.”3 Turning, however, to the daily office, we find not only implicit but also explicit allusions to animals. A notable example comes at the beginning of Vespers. In the Orthodox understanding of time, as in Judaism, the new day commences not at midnight or at dawn but at sunset, and so Vespers is the opening service in the twenty-four-hour cycle of prayer. How, then, do we begin the new day? Throughout the year, except in the week after Easter Sunday, Vespers always starts in the same way: with the reading or singing of Psalm 103 (104). This is a hymn of praise to the Creator for all the wonders of his creation, and in this cosmic doxology we have much to say about the animals: You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. The psalm continues by speaking of cattle, storks, wild goats, badgers, and young lions, and it concludes this catalogue of living creatures with a reference to Leviathan, who must surely be a whale: Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and there is the great sea monster which you formed to sport in it. In this way, embarking upon the new day, we offer the world back to God in thanksgiving. We bless him for the sun and moon, for the clouds and wind, for the earth and the water; and not least we bless him for the living creatures, in all their diversity and abundance, with whom he has peopled the globe. We rejoice in their beauty and their playfulness, whereby they enrich our lives: How marvellous are your works, O Lord! In wisdom have you made them all. As we stand before God in prayer, the companionship of the animals fills our hearts with warmth and hope. Nor is it only in the service of Vespers that animals have their assured place. In the Orthodox book of blessings and intercessions known in Greek as the Evchologion, and in Slavonic as the Trebnik (Book of Needs in English), there are prayers for the good health of sheep, goats, cattle, horses, donkeys, mules, and even bees and silkworms; also, on the negative side, there are prayers for protection from poisonous snakes and noxious insects. Up to the present day, the great majority of Eastern Christians have dwelled in an agricultural rather than an urban environment, and 128

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so it is only natural that their prayers – rooted in the concerns of this world as well as being otherworldly – should reflect the needs of a farming community. In daily prayer as in daily life, humans and animals belong to a single community. As a typical example of a prayer for living creatures, let us take these phrases from a blessing on bees: In ancient times you granted to the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey (Exod. 3:8), and you were well-pleased to nourish your Baptist John with wild honey in the wilderness (Matt. 3:4). Now also, providing in your good pleasure for our sustenance, do you bless the beehives in this apiary. Greatly increase the multiplication of the bees within them, preserving them by your grace and granting us an abundance of rich honey.4 A prayer for silkworms includes the following words: All-good King, show us even now your loving kindness; and as you blessed the well of Jacob (John 4:6), and the pool of Siloam (John 9:7), and the cup of your holy apostles (Matt. 26:27), so bless also these silkworms; and as you multiplied the stars in heaven and the sand beside the sea-shore, so multiply these silkworms, granting them health and strength: and may they feed without coming to any harm . . . so that they may produce shrouds of pure silk, to your glory and praise.5 Yet not all prayers for animals are as genial as these, for there are also exorcisms directed against the creatures who, in this fallen world, inflict harm on humans and their produce: I adjure you, O creatures of many forms: worms, caterpillars, beetles and cockroaches, mice, grasshoppers and locusts, and insects of various kinds, flies and moles and ants, gadflies and wasps, and centipedes and millipedes, . . . injure not the vineyard, field, garden, trees or vegetables of the servant of God [name], but be gone into the wild hills and into the barren trees that God has given you for sustenance.6 It can be noted here that the exorcism does not actually pray for the destruction of these baneful creatures, but prays only that they should depart to their proper home and cease to molest us. Even rats, hornets, and spiders have their appointed place in God’s dispensation!7 Here, by way of contrast, is a prayer by St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (1748–1809) expressing tenderness and compassion for the animals: Lord Jesus Christ, moved by your tender mercy, take pity on the suffering animals . . . For if a righteous man takes pity on the souls of his cattle (Prov. 12:10.LXX), how should you not take pity on them, for you created them and you provide for them? In your compassion you did not forget the animals in the ark (Gen. 9:19–20) . . . Through the good health and the plentiful number of oxen and other four-footed beasts, the earth is cultivated and its fruits increase; and your servants, who call upon your name, enjoy in full abundance the produce of their farming.8 Many other examples of such prayers for the animals could be quoted, but these are enough to show that Orthodox intercessions are not exclusively anthropocentric but encompass the entire created order. We humans are bound to God and to one another in a cosmic covenant that also 129

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includes all the other living creatures on the face of the earth: “I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground” (Hos. 2:18; cf. Gen. 9:15).9 We humans are not saved from the world but with the world, and that means with the animals. Moreover, this cosmic covenant is not something that we humans have devised, but it has its source in the divine realm. It is conferred upon us as a gift by God. A striking illustration of this covenant bond is to be seen in the custom that once prevailed in the Russian countryside; perhaps it still continues today. Returning from the Easter midnight service with their newly kindled Holy Fire, the farmers used to go into the stables with the lighted candle or lantern and greet the horses and cattle with the paschal salutation “Christ is Risen!” The victory of the risen savior over the forces of death and darkness has meaning not only for us humans but also for the animals. For them also Christ has died and risen again. “Now all things are filled with light,” says the hymn at the Easter matins.

Do Animals Have Souls? St. Nicodemus, in the prayer quoted previously, cites the words of Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous man shows pity for the souls of his cattle.”10 Does this mean that animals have souls?11 The answer depends on what precisely we mean by the soul. The Greek word psyche in the ancient world had a wider application than that which is customarily given in the present day to our word “soul.” Aristotle, for example, distinguishes three levels of soul: the vegetable, the animal, and the human.12 According to this Aristotelian scheme, the vegetable or nutritive soul has the capacity for growth, but not for movement or sensation. The animal soul has the capacity for movement and sensation, but not for conscious thought or reason. Only the human soul is endowed with self-knowledge and the power of logical thinking. For Aristotle, then, psyche means in an inclusive fashion all expressions of life force and vital energy, whereas in contemporary usage we limit the term “soul” to the third level: the human or rational soul. If we today were to speak of potatoes or tomatoes as possessing souls, our remarks would doubtless be considered facetious. But Aristotle was not trying to make a joke. Employing the term “soul” in a restricted sense, as denoting specifically the self-reflective rational soul, most thinkers in the West – and, on the whole, in the Christian East as well – have denied that animals are ensouled. Descartes held that they are simply intricate machines or automata. In such a view, there is a clear demarcation between human beings and the animal world. Humans alone, it is said, are created in God’s image, and they alone possess immortality, in contrast to “the beasts that perish” (Ps. 48 [49]:12, 20). In modern Greek the horse is called alogon, “lacking logos or reason.” Animals, so it is maintained, cannot form abstract concepts, and so they are unable to construct logical arguments; they lack personal freedom and the faculty of moral choice, for they cannot discern between good and evil but act solely from instinct. Yet are we in fact justified in making such an emphatic division between ourselves and other animals? (I say “other” because we humans are also animals; we have the same origin as those whom we call “beasts.”) Many of the characteristics that we tend to regard as distinctively human are also to be found, to a varying extent, in other animals as well. This certainly was the view of early Christian writers. “The instinct (physis) that exists in hunting dogs and war horses,” observes Origen (c. 185 – c. 254), “comes near, if I may say so, to reason itself.”13 We may think of the behavior of a monkey, confronted by a cage with a complicated latch and with a banana inside. Seeking to open the cage, twisting the latch first in one direction and then in another, the monkey is evidently engaged in something closely similar to the process of thinking that a human being would employ in a similar situation. Animals as well as humans try to solve problems. 130

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Origen has in view domesticated animals, but Theophilus of Antioch (late second century) goes further, noting how the instinct in all animals, free-living as well as domesticated, leads them to mate and to care for their offspring: this indicates that they possess “understanding.”14 Other patristic authors point out that animals share with humans not only a certain degree of reason and understanding but also memory and a wide range of emotions and affections. They display feelings of joy and grief, asserts St. Basil of Caesarea (c. 330–79), and they recognize those whom they have met previously.15 St. John Climacus (c. 570 – c. 649) adds that they express love for each other, for “they often bewail the loss of their companions.”16 Indeed, some animals are faithfully monogamous, in a way that all too many humans conspicuously are not. It is often argued that animals lack the power to articulate speech. Yet as we can see from dolphins, they have other subtle ways of communicating with one another. Ants and bees are capable of social cooperation on an elaborate scale. Animals may not use tools, but they do not simply exist within the world; they actively adapt the environment to their own needs. Birds build nests; beavers construct dams. Nor is this all. If we are to accept the testimony of scripture, it would seem that animals can sometimes display visionary awareness, perceiving things to which we humans are blind. In the story of Balaam’s ass (Num. 22:21–33), the donkey sees the angel of the Lord blocking the pathway with a drawn sword, whereas Balaam himself is unaware of the angel’s presence. As investigators of the paranormal have often discovered, animals react to unseen “presences” in places reputed to be haunted. May it not be claimed that animals possess, at least in a rudimentary form, psychic insight and a capacity for spiritual intuition? Instead of making a sharp separation between animals and human beings, would it not be wiser to keep in view the kinship that links us together? Nemesius of Emesa (late fourth century) was surely correct to insist upon the unity of all living things. Sharing as they do the same life force, plants, animals, and humankind belong to the single integrated structure of creation.17 We and the animals are interdependent, “members one of another” (Eph. 4:25). The world is variegated yet everywhere interconnected. As my history master at school used to say, “It all ties up, you see; it all ties up.” Can we in fact be sure that animals do not enjoy immortality? At any rate there is good reason to believe that animals will exist in the future age, after the Second Coming of Christ and the general resurrection of the dead. As Isaiah affirms, “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion together, and a little child shall lead them” (Isa. 11:6). When Martin Luther, distressed by the death of his companion dog, was asked whether there would be animals in heaven, he replied, “There will be little dogs with golden hair, shining like precious stones.”18 It is not clear, however, whether these animals in the age to come will be the same animals as we have known in this present life. Yet that is at least a possibility; we do not have good grounds for asserting that it could not conceivably be so. Let us leave the question open. Friendship and mutual love contain within themselves an element of eternity. For us to say to another human person, with all our heart, “I love you,” is to say by implication, “You will never die.” If this is true of our love for our fellow humans, may it not be true of our love for animals? Although we are not to love animals in the same way we love our fellow humans, those of us who have experienced the deeply therapeutic effect of a companion animal will certainly recognize that our reciprocal relationship contains within itself intimations of immortality. Even if animals are not ensouled, they are undoubtedly sentient. They are responsive and vulnerable. As Andrew Linzey rightly says, animals are not machines or commodities but beings with their own God-given life (nephesh), individuality and personality . . . Animals are more like gifts than something 131

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owned, giving us more than we expect and thus obliging us to return their gifts. Far from decrying these relationships as “sentimental,” “unbalanced,” or “obsessive” (as frequently happens today), churches could point us to their underlying theological significance – as living examples of divine grace.19 “Cruelty is atheism,” said Humphrey Primatt in the eighteenth century. “Cruelty is the worst of heresies.”20 Indeed, not only should we refrain from cruelty to animals, but in a positive way we should seek to do them good, enhancing their pleasure and their unselfconscious happiness. In the words of Starets Zosima in Dostoevsky’s masterwork The Brothers Karamazov: “Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and an untroubled joy. Do not trouble it, do not torment them, do not go against God’s purpose. Man, do not exalt yourself above the animals; they are sinless, and you, you with all your grandeur, defile the earth through your appearance upon it, and leave traces of your defilement behind you – alas, this is true of almost every one of us!”21 Unfortunately, it has to be said that although there can be found within Orthodoxy a rich theology of the animal creation, there exists a sad gap between theory and practice. It cannot be claimed that in traditional Orthodox countries such as Greece, Cyprus, or Romania, animals are better treated than in the non-Orthodox West; indeed, the contrary is regrettably true. We Orthodox need to kneel down before the animals and ask their forgiveness for the evils that we inflict upon them. I have concentrated here on the positive elements in the Orthodox teaching about animals, but we should not ignore the many ways in which we fall short of our pastoral responsibility toward the living creatures, domesticated and free-living, whom God has given us to be our companions.

Dominion or Domination? “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” says Jesus. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will” (Matt. 10:29). “Not one of them,” he says: God’s care for his creation, his love for all the things that he has made, is not merely an abstract and generalized love. He cares for each particular creature, for every individual sparrow. But Jesus then goes on to say, “You are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:31). Every living thing has its unique value in God’s sight, but at the same time we dwell in a hierarchical universe, and some living things have a greater value than others. The significance of this hierarchy is expressed in a more specific way in God’s creative utterance in the opening chapter of Genesis: “Then God said, ‘Let us make the human being in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth’” (Gen. 1:26). Humans, then, are entrusted by the Creator with authority over the animals. Yet this God-given “dominion” does not signify an arbitrary and tyrannical domination. We must not overlook the explicit reason that is given for this dominion: it is because we are fashioned in the image and likeness of God. That is to say, in the exercise of our dominion over the animals, we are to show the same gentleness and loving compassion that God himself shows toward the whole of his creation. Our dominion is to be God-reflective and Christlike. How far does this dominion extend? Certainly, it includes the right to use domesticated animals for our service: to employ horses and oxen for plowing, to keep cows for their milk, to breed sheep for their wool. Yet there are definite limits to what we can legitimately do. We should not adopt a narrowly instrumentalist attitude toward animals. We are to respect their characteristic “lifestyles,” allowing them to be themselves. This is scarcely what happens with battery hens! 132

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We are not to inflict upon them excessive burdens that cause them exhaustion and suffering. We are to ensure that they are kept warm, clean, and healthy and are properly fed. Only so will our dominion be according to the image of divine compassion. Does our dominion over the animals entitle us to kill and eat them? In the Orthodox Church, as in other Christian communities, there are many who on serious grounds of conscience refrain from eating animals. But the Orthodox Church as such is not in principle vegetarian. The normal teaching is that animals may indeed be killed and used for food, so long as this killing is done humanely and not wantonly. It is true that in traditional Orthodox monasteries, meat is not eaten in the refectory; fish, however, is allowed. It is also true that during Lent and certain other seasons of the year, all Orthodox Christians, whether monastic or in the “world,” are required to abstain from animal products. But this is not because the eating of animal products is in itself sinful, but because such fasting has disciplinary value, assisting us in our prayer and our spiritual growth. In the Gospels it is stated that Christ ate fish: “They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate before them” (Luke 24:41–42). Since he observed the Passover, presumably he also ate meat.

Beasts and Saints In the lives of Eastern Christian saints – as among the saints of the West, especially in the Celtic tradition – there are numerous stories, often well authenticated, of close fellowship between animals and holy men and women. Such accounts are not to be dismissed as sentimental fairy tales, for they have a definite theological significance. The mutual understanding between animals and humans recalls the situation before the Fall, when the two lived at peace in paradise, and it points forward to the transfiguration of the cosmos at the end-time. In the words of St. Isaac the Syrian (seventh century), “the humble person approaches the wild animals, and the moment they catch sight of him their ferocity is tamed. They come up and cling to him as to their master, wagging their tails and licking his hands and feet. For they smell on him the same smell that came from Adam before the transgression.”22 This is not to say that mutual understanding between holy men and free-living animals has always been complete! There is, for example, a story in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers about an unsociable lion: “There was a certain old man, a solitary, who lived near the river Jordan; and going into a cave because of the heat, he found there a lion. The lion began to gnash his teeth and to roar. The old man said to him, ‘What is annoying you? There is plenty of room here for both of us. And if you don’t like it, get up and go away.’ But the lion, not taking it well, left and went outside.”23 Many of the twentieth-century stories about humans and animals come from the Holy Mountain of Athos, the chief center of Orthodox monasticism. I recall one such story, told to me many years ago. As the monks in a small hermitage prayed in the early morning, they were much disturbed by the croaking of frogs in the cistern outside their chapel. The spiritual father of the community went out and addressed them: “Frogs! We’ve just finished the Midnight Office and are about to start matins. Would you mind keeping quiet until we’ve finished!” To this the frogs replied, “We’ve just finished matins and are about to begin the First Hour. Would you mind keeping quiet until we’ve finished!” Compassion for animals is vividly expressed in the writings of a recent Athonite saint, the Russian monk Silouan (1866–1938). “The Lord,” he says, “bestows such rich grace on his chosen ones that they embrace the whole earth, the whole world within their love . . . One day I saw a dead snake on my path which had been chopped into pieces, and each piece writhed convulsively, and I was filled with pity for every living creature, every suffering thing in creation, and I wept bitterly before God.”24 133

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Such is in truth the compassionate love that we are called to express toward animals. All too often, they are innocent sufferers, and we should view this undeserved suffering with compunction and sympathy. What harm have they done to us that we should inflict pain and distress upon them? As living beings, sensitive and easily hurt, they are to be viewed as a “thou,” not an “it,” to use Martin Buber’s terminology: not as objects to be exploited and manipulated but as subjects capable of joy and sorrow, of happiness and affliction. They are to be approached with gentleness and tenderness and, more than that, with respect and reverence, for they are precious in God’s sight. As William Blake affirmed, “every thing that lives is holy.”25

Notes 1 See Philip Sherrard, The Sacred in Life and Art (Ipswich: Golgonooza, 1990), 71–74. 2 Relatively little has been written on the theology of animals from an Orthodox viewpoint. Extensive material on saints and animals in both ancient and modern times can be found in two books by Joanne Stefanatos: Animals and Man: A State of Blessedness (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1992) and Animals Sanctified: A Spiritual Journey (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 2001). On the non-Orthodox side, compare the classic anthology by Helen Waddell, Beasts and Saints (London: Constable, 1934). There is not much from Eastern Christian sources in the two collections (in other respects, rich and representative) edited by Andrew Linzey, Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care (London: SCM, 1999) and, with Paul Barry Clarke, Animal Rights: A Historical Anthology (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). 3 A Monk of the Eastern Church [Lev Gillet], Serve the Lord with Gladness: Basic Reflections on the Eucharist and the Priesthood (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990), 16. 4 The Great Book of Needs (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1999), vol. 4, 382–83 (translation adapted). 5 N. P. Papadopoulos, ed., Evchologion to Mega (Athens: Saliveros, n.d.), 511. 6 “Exorcism of the Holy Martyr Tryphon,” in The Great Book of Needs, vol. 3, 53 (translation adapted). 7 But at a later point in this same exorcism, it is said that if these creatures fail to obey the command to depart to their own place, “may he [God] kill you with pigs . . . and birds also will be sent by my prayers to devour you” (The Great Book of Needs, vol. 3, 54). 8 “Prayer of St. Modestos,” in Mikron Evchologion i Agiasmatarion (Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia, 1984), 297. 9 See Robert Murray, The Cosmic Covenant: Biblical Themes of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (London: Sheed and Ward, 1992). 10 I follow here the text of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament used at Orthodox church services. 11 See Kallistos Ware, “The Soul in Greek Christianity,” in From Soul to Self, ed. M. James C. Crabbe (London: Routledge, 1999), especially 62–65. For other passages in the Septuagint that mention the “souls” of animals, see, for example, Gen. 1:21 and 1:24 and Leviticus 17:14. 12 See Ware, “The Soul in Greek Christianity,” 55–56. 13 On First Principles 3:1:3. 14 To Antolycus 1:6. 15 Hexaemeron 8:1 (PG 29:165AB). 16 The Ladder of Divine Ascent 26 (PG 88:1028A). 17 On the Nature of Man 1 (ed. Morani, 2:13–14; 3:3–25). 18 William Hazlitt, ed., The Table Talk of Martin Luther (London: H. G. Bohn, 1857), 322. 19 Linzey, Animal Rites, 58. 20 Quoted in Linzey, Animal Rites, 151. 21 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Richard Pervear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Vintage Classics, 1991), 319 (translation adapted). 22 Homily 82, in A. J. Wensinck, trans., Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh (Amsterdam: Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1923), 386 (translation adapted). 23 Waddell, Beasts and Saints, 24 (translation adapted). 24 Archimandrite Sofrony (Sakharov), Saint Silouan the Athonite (Tolleshunt Knights, UK: Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 1991), 267, 469. But Silouan also warned against showing excessive affection toward animals (95–96). 25 William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” in Geoffrey Keynes, ed., Poetry and Prose of William Blake (London: Nonesuch Press, 1948), 193.


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References Archimandrite Sofrony (Sakharov). Saint Silouan the Athonite. Tolleshunt Knights, UK: Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 1991. Blake, William. “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” In Poetry and Prose of William Blake, edited by Geoffrey Keynes. London: Nonesuch Press, 1948. Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Translated by Richard Pervear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Vintage Classics, 1991. The Great Book of Needs. South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1999. Hazlitt, William, ed. The Table Talk of Martin Luther. London: H. G. Bohn, 1857. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care. London: SCM, 1999. Linzey, Andrew, and Paul Barry Clarke. Animal Rights: A Historical Anthology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Mikron Evchologion i Agiasmatarion. Athens: Apostoliki Diakonia, 1984. A Monk of the Eastern Church [Lev Gillet]. Serve the Lord with Gladness: Basic Reflections on the Eucharist and the Priesthood. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990. Murray, Robert. The Cosmic Covenant: Biblical Themes of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. London: Sheed and Ward, 1992. Papadopoulos, N. P., ed. Evchologion to Mega. Athens: Saliveros, n.d. Sherrard, Philip. The Sacred in Life and Art. Ipswich: Golgonooza, 1990. Stefanatos, Joanne. Animals and Man: A State of Blessedness. Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1992. Stefanatos, Joanne. Animals Sanctified: A Spiritual Journey. Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 2001. Waddell, Helen. Beasts and Saints. London: Constable, 1934. Ware, Kallistos. “The Soul in Greek Christianity.” In From Soul to Self, edited by M. James C. Crabbe. London: Routledge, 1999. Wensinck, A. J., trans. Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh. Amsterdam: Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1923.


13 RASTAFARIANISM A Hermeneutic of Animal Care Adrian Anthony McFarlane

Introduction The coronation of Haile Selassie as emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 ushered in a wind of change in the thinking of African leaders and people, on the continent and in the diaspora. It was a major encouragement that the stranglehold of colonialism could be broken, but it was more than that; it gave a flicker of hope that the African people could be more than chattels and that they might one day be numbered among “the nations of the world.” However, the response to the coronation in the tiny country of Jamaica was nothing short of a historically transforming moment. Selassie’s coronation functioned as a cultural and political midwife to the birth of African peoples’ dreams that their inherent worth would be recognized and respected. Thus, an unimpressive group of “social misfits” grasped the opportunity of the occasion to declare Selassie the (real) messiah and therefrom developed a set of beliefs and practices that were countercultural and iconoclastic. The sheer audacity of their claims to equality, grounded in a mantra of “peace and love,” was astounding, though quickly defined as mental aberration or, at best, rank nonsense. The aims of the group were repatriation to Africa, justice in the country to which they had been forced to live, a simple lifestyle of subsistence farming and trades, peaceful and loving coexistence, the care of family – particularly those who could not care for themselves – a commitment to pharmacopeia, a rejection of the eating of meat, and the care of domesticated animals. Of course, the group’s primary aim was to secure Africa for Africans and to mentally disrobe black people from colonial and destructive white-dominated patterns of anti-black categories. Bob Marley later lyricized the goal as follows in “Redemption Song”: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” It is my intention to explain why Rastafari is the only African-Caribbean religion that does not use blood (animal) sacrifice, why blood is expressed as a heuristic device (a provocative symbol) for courage transfusion, why the lyrical has replaced the sacrificial, and why Rastafari’s moral code embraces the best of New Testament Christian teachings on metanoia.

Stewards and Herbivores To ask a Rastafarian for the justification of his or her eating practices is to invite a mouthful of biblical and theological expressions of natural care or stewardship. The context for 136


Rastafarian eating practices arises from a biblical base expressed in Genesis 1:26 and 29–30 (NRSV), as follows: Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing . . .” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every [animal] of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. There are three observations worth noting here – namely, that humans are made according to a divine plan and pattern (in the image of the divine); that humans are at their best as stewards of God’s creative processes; and that all humans and other animal forms are primarily herbivores. Rastafarians enthusiastically embrace the sanctity of all forms of animal life and therefrom reason that humans are inextricably tied to a life of natural care and nurture. In animal care, once referred to as “animal husbandry,” is a divine intimation that animals are links between the Creator and humans; that is, our relationship with the divine is fleshed out in a dedicated stewardship over what the Creator has so lovingly entrusted to our care. In point of fact, Ras Percy (from the Salt Spring area of St. James, Jamaica) once commented to me that Rastafarians are more obedient to the mandate to “feed my lambs . . . feed my sheep” (John 21:15–17) than Christian practitioners. He expressed that Christians, in contradistinction to Rastafarians, view this mandate not only selectively but also, convolutedly, as “feed on my lambs and sheep.” Clearly, Ras Percy’s claim is that Rastafarians are noticeably inclusive in their stewardship “to all of Jah’s creatures” and that they spurn the notion of “eating the evidence” of our stewardship obligation and loving care responsibility. Rastafarians (though not necessarily “the Dreadlocks” who are fashion- rather than passion-focused) take their relationship with Jah very seriously: it is a pro-creation relationship of resemblance and of orderly and caring dominance (stewardship), where Rastafarians are transforming agents of “peace and love” and isomorphic measures (mirrors) of Jah’s immanence. As such, Rastafarians are humble in appearance but bold in their convictions that they are the living expressions of the divine – the empirical part of I-and-I.1

The Least of These When one reviews the narrative of divine resemblance, the narrative of pro-creation, caring stewardship of all animal life-forms, and the instructional guide for herbal feasting, one might begin to understand Rastafari’s concern for animals. Yet this is only a biblically necessary condition for understanding animal care, not a sufficient condition for Rastafarian practice. Rastafari began as an outcast group, and Rastafarians have learned to embrace and transvalue their marginality as an opportunity for centrality of purpose. To wit, Rastafarians are not merely obeying their larger purpose to care for Jah’s creation but are existentially rooted in an undervalued form of life that negates their social value. Their lived experience is synonymous with the nadir of axiological nihilism: “can anything good or worthwhile come from among these?”2 This lived experience of “unworthiness” has given a heightened sense of responsibility for the weak, the disabled, the marginalized, and the misunderstood. At their best, Rastafarians see themselves in every act of injustice, every instance of abuse, every expression of dehumanizing hegemony, and every helpless creature. The early elders of the Rastafari movement are 137

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to be commended for establishing a thoughtful framework for the highest ethical practices vis-à-vis the sacred and restorable value of life. Thus, Rastafarians, like potters, collect the clay of apparent worthlessness and then rhetorically and, with conviction, mold it into a cadre of inescapable challenge. Writing about revivalism and Rastafari, Samuel Murrell notes that religions in the African diaspora are expressions of a people’s will to triumph over the worst sorts of adversity: “Africans sought to recreate and preserve a coherent worldview from the fragments of their home institutions, from their broken lives, and from the contradictions of the Jamaican colonial Christian culture.”3 This “recreation” is part of the genius of Rastafari that seems to appeal to urban youngsters who are often treated as dispensable excesses of life. Of equal importance is the reason Rastafarians adduce for the care of domesticated animals – namely, that they need us to care for them as long as we invite them to live among us. Those who live outside of the usual human environment should get the same respect that is given to a host country by foreign tourists. Rastafarians are therefore resolute in their care and respect for animal life and welfare.

Discipline and Sacrifice The discussion thus far has focused on why Rastafarians do not eat meat and has emphasized the religious, moral, and existential reasons for the belief and practice. In this section I will outline another vector that enlarges and surmounts the abstemious – namely, the discipline of sacrifice. This will open up the corresponding concept of “blood,” as in “blood sacrifice,” to reveal Rastafarian fascination with “blood talk” and abhorrence of “blood walk.” Rastafari’s diction delimits the concept of sacrifice to mean self-discipline, and self-discipline is considered the route to self-empowerment. In this way, one is free from the putative state of the nature scenario of external competition and false (ghostly) comparisons. Hence, if comparisons are functions of anemic wills issuing from a chronic sense of inadequacy and indecision, then one needs to enlist in the boot camp of resolute-will reconstruction to obviate the appearances (phenomena) of our inadequacies. As such, sacrifice denotes the exercise of the will rather than the drawing of blood. The primary forms of sacrificial living for Rastafarians can be found in personal and communal discipline. This psychology of endurance and overcoming is a tough task with a triumphant promise of pride and dignity. The early Rastafarians suffered horrific indignities ranging from routine arrest, beating, and detention without legal warrant to the abusive cutting of their locks. The anthropologist Leonard Barrett reports this trend of hair cutting thus: One of the public’s response [sic] to Rastafarians’ locks was to cut off their hair. The police began the practice, and were followed by school teachers who were threatened by the children and youths. This reaction by the public brought quick retaliation from the cultists, first by threat of physical retaliation, and then by letters to the editor of the national newspaper. As physical retaliation increased, both the police and the teachers refrained from this practice.4 Talk of Rastafarian violence ought to be examined against the background of the indignities that Rastafarians suffered. To be sure, they had a right to defend themselves; besides, because of their dreadlocked appearance, Rastafarians were easy targets for the spinning of hyperboles. It is true that Rastafarians are often violent in rhetoric, dread in appearance, and loud in expressions. Such expressions are frightening in and of themselves, but they do not usually lead to injury or harm. Rastafarians cherish “the sounds” of protest for no other reason than to ensure that their 138


presence and contribution are taken seriously. In short, Rastafarian rhetoric is often thunderous and “bloody” (e.g., “may blood and fire from Jah rain upon you!”), though the message is loving and peaceful, albeit challengingly so.

Blood as Courage Transfusion Although Rastafarians do not practice blood sacrifice, they routinely invoke “blood” in their rhetorical exchanges, particularly when they are urging nonbelievers and scoffers to turn from their errant ways. Invariably, these expressions are received with fear by the uninitiated; however, those who are familiar with their diatribe simply listen and seem to agree. The end result is usually a calmer and more agreeable Rastafarian interlocutor – as long as one does not bait the speaker. Interestingly enough, there is a method here; Rastafarians grant respect to those who endure their verbal bluster without wilting. It is as if one is being tested by blood and fire – hot, bloody rhetoric – and emerges unscathed. The resemblance to the ritual of baptism is not imaginary since Rastafarians seem to verbally recreate their faith journey of suffering as “crossing-over” episodes of renewal and strength. Their sympathy for the weak and outcasts should not be confused with their disrespect for “weak hearts.” The former have been placed in their position of vulnerability, whereas the latter have chosen to live outside of Jah’s promise for their lives and thereby cannot face Jah’s judgment. It is in this sense then that the locution “blood” is a symbol for testing as well as the symbol for salutary living. The parallels with the Passover and the Crucifixion are not imported religious freight; rather, they are inherited hermeneutical doxa arising from the Christian culture in which Rastafarians were nurtured. Again, it must be remembered that Rastafari is an African-derived religion that is a unique creolization of African retentions and British Christian expressions. “Blood” for Rastafarians can also mean commitment and endurance. In the sense of commitment, blood means the character force or vitality of living as opposed to a mere convenient existence. The rhetoric of blood also functions as a prophetic litmus test of strength that ferrets out “weak hearts” (persons who are bereft of, or feeble in, conviction) from the sincere.5 It is in this sense of preparation for testing and victory that blood connotes courage transfusion. Rastafarians are proud of their overcoming stamina, as Jah Iver exclaimed: “Just like Daniel in the lions’ den, Joseph in slavery, and three youngsters in the fire who came out unharmed, Jah has, and will continue to protect I. So, what have I to fear?”6

The Sacrificial and the Lyrical We have noted that sacrifice is to be understood in terms of self-discipline, the endurance of ridicule and hardships, and a simple life of “live and let [others] live.” At no point is it defensible to draw blood since Jah does not seek blood (contrary to Hebrew cultic practices); rather, he gives blood that is life and the protection of it. Rastafarians draw much strength and liveliness from a wellspring of worship and music. Where one expects to hear lamentations from them, one is likely to hear lyrical praise – chants, as it were – in praise of Jah and in thankfulness for Jah’s provisions. These unexpected lyrical expressions do confuse outsiders, who do not expect Rastafarians, in their marginalized existence, to “sing the Lord’s song”7 with such joyful abandon. Rastafarians are united in their voice of protest through singing and drumming, whether in a commune or in public spaces. The chants bring back to their consciousness the musical sounds that surrounded Jericho and its eventual fall. In like fashion, Rastafarians have chosen to lyricize rather than offer up anyone or any group for blood sacrifice. 139

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Nonconformists (Metanoia) Rastafarians are nonconformists without apology. They are determined not to be sucked in by the seduction and deceit of systems and brutish powers and governments or by evil alliances and the mirages of things and titles. At their best, Rastafarians spurn these empty lures in favor of a life of sparse goods and services: “doing a lot with little” might be an apt description of their way of life. Based on this assessment it could be justifiably stated that Rastafarians, at their best, evince the Pauline exhortation to be not conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of the mind.8 Concomitantly, the oft-quoted lyrics of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” (used in our introduction) capture the convictional nature of Rastafarian mental and attitudinal cleansing: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.” In short, change your way of thinking and radically alter your life so that the course of nature can be realigned with Jah’s will.

Review and Analysis An exposition of what Rastafarians believe and ought to practice is not necessarily what obtains. It is important, however, to outline, as we have done, some of the primary ideas that inform their understandings, actions, and behaviors. It should be no surprise that Rastafarians do not enjoy a univocal expression of the faith, except for belief in the divinity of Haile Selassie, the sacred weed “of wisdom” (marijuana), the abstention from meat, and the care of all God’s creatures. There are emphases and nuances, however, that add much elasticity to what is believed and practiced – like many other religious groups – and that call into question any definitive statement made about the group. In fact, the claims about Rastafarians are more equivocal than univocal, and this adds to the interlocutory thrust of Rastafarian apologetics. Nevertheless, the Rastafarian faith is undergoing some changes that challenge some of the basic beliefs. Chief among these are globalization (integration), the lure of popularity, and the instinct to survive rather than the courage to thrive. In the last two decades Rastafarians have enjoyed increased popularity, mostly through Bob Marley and reggae music. In addition to the music, many onlookers are fascinated with the dreadlocks, the simple lifestyle, the smoking of ganja, and the apparent commitment to a natural way of life. These aspects have gone a far way in making Rasta presence and presents (contributions) more acceptable, though not without a price. Rastafarians themselves complain that these cultural expressions have drawn not budding Rastas but “impastas” (imposters), who are mostly interested in profiling and time-wasting. Jah Iver avers that although the cultural attractions of reggae and ganja function as a bridge to understanding and expansion, there are only a few who cross over since most are like tourists standing in the way and taking selfies.9 Although the opportunities for cultural integration will challenge Rastafarian resolve to be different and remain different, its biggest challenge may be the taciturnity of its self-critical skill.10 In fact, though globalization and integration bring challenges of soft accommodation, they also encourage silence on erstwhile commitments and the discipline of self-examination. One can only hope that the boundary lines will not shift to accommodate “blood drawn” rather than the stabilizing and overcoming life force of “blood given.”

Notes 1 As I have stated elsewhere, the empirical expressions of Jah are balanced by the metaphysical as immanent and transcendent, respectively: “Jah’s presence in nature is gentle to the oppressed, needy, and open-minded but the source of dread to the acquisitive, cruel, and stubborn.” Adrian Anthony McFarlane, “The Epistemological Significance of I-an-I,” in Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader, ed. N. Samuel Murrell, William David Spencer, and Adrian Anthony McFarlane (Philadelphia: Temple



2 3 4 5


7 8 9 10

University Press, 1998), 108. Each Rastafarian sees him or herself as the embodiment of Jah’s presence and power in the world; it is no wonder then that Rastafari take the name or title of “Jah” (e.g., “Jah Neville,” “Jah Percy,” “Jah Noah”) to identify who or whose they are. This is a paraphrase of Nathaniel’s question in reference to Jesus in John 1:46. Nathaniel Samuel Murrell, Afro-Caribbean Religions (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010), 246. Leonard E. Barrett Sr., The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Dissonance, rev. ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988), 139. Jack A. Johnson-Hill expounds the concept of blood to mean the immanent presence of the Messiah. He argues that because the embodied self in Rastafari belief is co-extensive with the messiah, “Rastas do not die . . . for such an occurrence would be tantamount to the death of a human manifestation of Jah. As a result, the shedding of blood becomes a literal offense against the Almighty.” I-Sight, The World of Rastafari: An Interpretive Sociological Account of Rastafarian Ethics (Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1995), 153. I had an extended conversation with Jah Iver in Tower Isle, St. Mary, Jamaica, February 2013. The subject that elicited the most passionate responses was courage. It is from that conversation that this quotation was taken. This is one of many Rastafarian references to the alienation and subjugation of Israel as portrayed in Psalm 137. Romans 12:2 KJV. This is Jah Iver’s response to my question about the challenges to Rastafari, given its growing acceptance. See note 6. See Rex Nettleford’s discussion of Rasta’s apparent obscurantism in his “Discourse on Rastafarian Reality,” in Murrell, Spencer, and McFarlane, Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader, 312.

References Barrett, Leonard E., Sr. The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Dissonance. Rev. ed. Boston: Beacon Press, 1988. Barrett, Leonard E. The Sun and the Drum: African Roots in Jamaican Folk Tradition. London: William Heinemann, 1976. Campbell, Horace. Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1987. Cashmore, Ernest E. Rastaman: The Rastafarian Movement in London. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Chevannes, Barry. Rastafari: Roots and Ideology. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1994. Forsythe, Dennis. Rastafari: For the Healing of the Nation. Kingston, Jamaica: Zaika, 1983. Johnson-Hill, Jack A. I-Sight, The World of Rastafari: An Interpretive Sociological Account of Rastafarian Ethics. Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1995. McFarlane, Adrian Anthony. “The Epistemological Significance of I-an-I.” In Murrell, Spencer, and McFarlane, Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader. Murrell, N. Samuel, William David Spencer, and Adrian Anthony McFarlane, eds. Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998. Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel. Afro-Caribbean Religions. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010. Nettleford, Rex. “Discourse on Rastafarian Reality.” In Murrell, Spencer, and McFarlane, Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader. Owens, Joseph. Dread: The Rastafarians of Jamaica. Kingston: Sangster’s Book Stores, 1976. Smith, Michael G., F. Roy Augier, and Rex Nettleford. The Rastafarian Movement in Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University College of the West Indies, 1960.


14 ROMAN CATHOLICISM A Strange Kind of Kindness – On Catholicism’s Moral Ambiguity toward Animals Kurt Remele

In a short story by US author and radio personality Garrison Keillor, the following is said about a young baseball player called Ronnie Decker: “Ronnie is a Catholic, and they have more taste for blood, it seems.” In parentheses Keillor adds, “Was there ever a Methodist bullfighter?”1 Since the practice of bullfighting has taken place exclusively in traditionally Catholic countries – for example, Spain, Portugal, France, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela – the existence of a Methodist torero seems to be just as implausible as an Anglican one, a Baptist one, or a Mormon one. One ought to proceed with caution and care in these matters, but a connection between denominational idiosyncrasy or peculiarity and affinity to blood sports cannot be entirely ruled out, though religious and cultural causes most certainly overlap in this area.

Catholic Taste for Blood Keillor’s observation about a possible Catholic affinity for blood sports and a peculiar Catholic disregard of animals’ interests, reinforced by traditional religious feasts and images, is supported by the eminent Irish historian William Edward Hartpole Lecky. In his 1869 treatise on the history of European morals, he contended that “on the whole, Catholicism has done very little to inculcate humanity to animals” and that regions such as “Spain and Southern Italy, in which Catholicism has most deeply planted its roots, are even now, probably beyond all other countries in Europe, those in which inhumanity to animals is most wanton and most unrebuked.”2 Around the time when Lecky’s book was published, Pope Pius IX refused to authorize the founding of a society for the protection of animals in Rome, since he feared that the presence of such an organization might be regarded as a challenge to “the familiar Thomist principle that humans had duties to fellow humans but none to animals.”3 Pius’s prohibition has often been mentioned in relevant publications. Less well-known is the fact that as late as January 1989, Alfredo Battisti, then the archbishop of the Italian diocese of Udine, remarked, “To beat up a dog or leave it to die of starvation is not a sin. For a dog is not a person and therefore has no soul. So no sin is committed.”4 Fairly recently, in 2008, the Catholic bishops of Spain decried attempts by the Spanish parliament to grant certain rights to the great apes: the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right not to be tortured physically or psychologically. The initiative, which was inspired by Paola Cavalieri’s and Peter Singer’s Great 142

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Ape Project, for various reasons did not make progress. One of its main opponents was the Roman Catholic Church of Spain. The then bishop of Palencia, José Ignacio Munilla Aguirre, interpreted the great ape initiative as an anti-Christian conspiracy that was characterized “by its rebellion against the cultural roots of Europe, against Christian anthropology, against reason, and against nature itself.” He denounced its supporters for radically denying the concept of the person and for attempting to blur the lines between species. Using the slippery-slope argument, Munilla Aguirre predicted more horrendous calamities for his country: “there’s little doubt that the next step will be euthanasia, eugenics and ethnic cleansing.”5 In 2009, Munilla Aguirre was appointed bishop of San Sebastian by Pope Benedict XVI; this diocese had more than three times as many Catholics as his former one. The present state of affairs in Spain, of course, is one of massive cruelty toward animals, as Spanish director Miguel Angel Rolland has demonstrated in his 2015 film Santa Fiesta: “In his new documentary, the Spanish film-maker has chronicled some of the 16,000 religious festivals across Spain that he says involve the torture of animals. Every year about 60,000 animals are killed during these festivals, often held in honor of a local saint or the Virgin Mary.”6 These atrocities, alas, do not bother Monsignor Munilla Aguirre. I was not able to find any critical remark from Bishop Munilla Aguirre on bullfighting, most probably because he has never made one. But then again, this is not surprising because according to Andrew Linzey, “in Spain, no Catholic authority opposes bullfighting.”7 The Spanish literary scholar Margarita Carretero-González writes, Bullfighting not only has been transformed into a strong symbol of Spanish national identity, but has also become associated with devout Catholic fervor, most bullfighters expressing openly their devotion for . . . the Virgin Mary or a patron saint. In view of this paradoxical association between Christian zeal and torture, animal associations in countries where bullfighting is common constantly urge their ecclesiastical authorities to voice their opposition to this sort of practices. Unfortunately, the answer is always the same: silence. The Spanish Episcopal Conference for instance, very active in denouncing any political reform that directly affects their doctrine, have yet to pronounce themselves on this matter.8 Margarita Carretero-González could cite only one example of a Catholic bishop who has strongly spoken out against bullfighting, and he is not from Spain: Ubaldo Santana, the archbishop of Maracaibo in Venezuela. From 2006 to 2012, Archbishop Santana also was president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of his country.

Catholic Imagery The Catholic tradition is characterized by a long-standing and pervasive human-centric attitude that denigrates (nonhuman) animals by conferring on them the status of disposable objects for human purposes. Traditional Catholic moral doctrine and Catholicism’s imagery, feasts, and festivals have preserved the conviction of a fundamental inferiority of animals in the collective memory of traditionally Catholic societies. A twisted iconography has not only associated bullfighting with Marian piety but also has linked the image of the sacrificial lamb of Christ to the bloody butchery of actual lambs and other animals and to theological concepts such as “sacrificial killing” and “vicarious suffering.” The image of Jesus as “Agnus Dei,” the Lamb of God, even today is used as the icon and traditional professional symbol of the guild of butchers. In many countries at the beginning of November, so-called Hubertus masses are celebrated in Catholic 143

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churches, in which both professional and sport hunters in their proper attire give thanks to God for their having killed free-ranging animals. Frequently, some of the animals who were brought down during the hunt are placed before the altar. There is another, shorter liturgical celebration that shapes the Catholic view of animals and that is extremely popular in some parts of Austria, Bavaria, and South Tyrol. Its official name is the “blessing of Easter food” (“Segnung der Osterspeisen”), but most people call it the “consecration of meat” (“Fleischweihe”). On Holy Saturday, numerous people, including many who normally would not be expected in church, put boiled ham or gammon and sausages, eggs, and bread into a basket at their homes and take the basket and its contents to a nearby church or wayside shrine. There the food in the baskets is blessed by a priest, a deacon, or a commissioned layperson. According to the official liturgical formula of this ritual, the meat is blessed with the following words: “Lord our God, bless our Easter meat. May it become for us a sign of the true Easter lamb, Jesus Christ.”9 No questions about factory farms or slaughterhouses are asked. Apparently, they need not be asked, for it is assumed that God has graciously blessed the meat in the basket. Yet in reality the blessing of Easter food has become a liturgical practice that immunizes against ethical criticism and that theologically whitewashes the deliberate infliction of pain and death on animals by humans.

Catholic Moral Teaching The most comprehensive contemporary presentation of official Catholic teachings on faith and morals by the papal magisterium is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.10 Its first version was published in October 1992 in French and was then translated into many other languages. On August 15, 1997, during the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope John Paul II promulgated a slightly revised Latin version of the Catechism, which became the official text of reference (editio typica). As a result, the original translations into other languages had to be amended and republished as “second editions.” In 2005, a shorter Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published summarizing key elements of the Catechism in the traditional dialogical form. The Catechism of the Catholic Church mainly deals with animals in its chapter on the seventh commandment (“You shall not steal!”), not the fifth one (“You shall not kill!”), and under the subheading “Respect for Persons and Their Goods.”11 The teaching on animals and their welfare encompasses paragraphs 2415 through 2418 and is placed within the context of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the “integrity of creation.” I will quote paragraph 2417 first because it reiterates and rehashes the traditional human-centric Catholic teaching on animals in no uncertain manner and therefore has caused numerous controversies: God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives. On the one hand, the text seems to speak for itself: human beings are regarded as fundamentally distinct from animals because only humans are rational beings made in God’s image. In all the controversial areas of animal use – and “use” in the Catholic tradition definitely includes harming and killing – the Catechism sides with the opponents of animal protection: breeding and using animals for food, fur, and entertainment; leisure hunting and fishing; and medical and scientific experiments. 144

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On the other hand, there is a degree of vagueness in the terminology and the wording of the text that has elicited further questions. Some of them were asked by Belgian theologian Marie Hendrickx in January 2001 in the semiofficial Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Hendrickx, a longtime associate at the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, posed questions such as the following: “Does the right to use animals to nourish ourselves imply the raising of chickens in batteries, in a space that is smaller than a sheet of paper?” Or “does the right to be helped by animals in our free time imply killing bulls after having tormented them for a long time with ‘banderillas’?”12 These and some other questions are answered in the negative by Hendrickx. Hendrickx’s attempt to interpret and explain paragraph 2417 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church more precisely, more restrictively, and more benevolently with regard to animals most certainly influenced Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, at that time the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. In an interview with the German journalist Peter Seewald, the future pope was asked about human duties to animals. Ratzinger replied, That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see . . . that we cannot do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God’s creatures . . . Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they just become caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.13 To get in contact with the more animal-respecting side of Catholicism, one also ought to read the prior paragraph in the Catechism, number 2416: “Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.” Francis of Assisi (1181/82–1226), of course, is famous for his appreciation of God’s creation expressed in his Canticle of the Sun, also known as the Laudes Creaturarum, and for his respectful, loving treatment of all kinds of animals. Philip Neri (1515–95) is another saint who was concerned about animals and had affection for them, especially dogs and cats. Contrary to St. Francis, who occasionally ate meat, Philip Neri embraced vegetarianism “on the grounds of animal welfare, rather than on ascetical ones. Once, passing a butcher’s shop, he . . . [said]:‘If everyone were like me, they wouldn’t kill animals.’”14 There are quite a few other official and unofficial Catholic saints who were kind and gentle to animals: the Celtic saints (e.g., Saint Brigid of Kildare) and moreover Richard of Chichester (1197–1253), Martin de Porres (1569–1639), Bernard of Corleone (1605–67), and quite a few others. There are a considerable number of Catholic theologians, laypersons, priests, and bishops – men and women – who have once spoken out or currently speak out against cruelty to animals and against a merely instrumentalist view of them. To name but a few, they include Elizabeth Farians, John Dear, and Charles Camosy in the United States; John Berkman in Canada; Ambrose Agius, Deborah Jones, and Cardinals Manning, Newman, and Heenan in England; Joseph Bernhart, Eugen Drewermann, and Rainer Hagencord in Germany; Anton Rotzetter in Switzerland; and Johannes Ude in Austria. Johannes Ude was a priest, a polymath, an animal protection advocate, a vegetarian, an antivivisectionist, and a pacifist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Albert Schweitzer. He was a professor of dogmatics in the Department of Catholic Theology at the University of Graz, the same academic institution where I teach. In his 1948 book Thou Shalt Not Kill, Ude wrote, Compassion for animals and animal protection resulting from it are not a mere sentimentality, but the sign of a generous heart which reflects the eternal fatherly love which 145

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God has for animals and which is solely concerned about the animal’s welfare . . . Whoever refrains from eating meat out of compassion for animals and reverence for life and therefore out of moral reasons – aside from the enormous economic and health benefits of a sound vegetarian lifestyle – expresses a decisively higher respect for the value of the animal’s life than . . . [those who] are complicit in the breeding of animals for the sole reason of slaughter, [who] are complicit in the torments and cruelties inflicted on these animals prior to their deaths and in the moment of slaughter.15 Let’s return to the Catechism. Paragraphs 2416 and 2417 clearly show that there is a deep ambivalence in the teaching of the Catholic Church on animals. The former paragraph commands Catholics to be kind and gentle toward animals; the latter one permits them to use, harm, and kill animals for a multitude of questionable reasons: a strange kind of kindness, indeed! If you intend to confuse the faithful, this is the way to do it! It is important to me to point out that there has been a slight change of terms and a concurring development in the Catechism’s teaching on animal experimentation from the original French version of 1992 to the revised Latin version of 1997. The English translation of the revised version of paragraph 2417 asserts that “medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives” (emphasis added). In contrast, the 1992 French version and the translations based on it granted an a priori legitimacy to animal experimentation because instead of “if ” (Latin: si; French: pourvu que; German: wenn), the word “since” was used (French: puisque; German: weil). As an aside, I would like to mention that the German version of this passage on the website of the Holy See still uses the wording of the older version of the Catechism. I do not want to insinuate that the big German pharmaceutical corporations are responsible for this, but it is a rather curious omission indeed.

Catholic Rethinking Pope Francis was elected Person of the Year 2015 by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), one of the largest animal rights organizations in the world. PETA explained its choice by pointing to the fact that the current head of the Catholic Church chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, as his papal name and that in his encyclical letter Laudato Sí16 he asked “the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and all citizens of the world to reject human domination over God’s creation, treat animals with kindness, and respect the environment.”17 Indeed, no pope before Francis has emphasized the individual and intrinsic value of each of God’s creatures as intensely as he has: “Every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures.”18 No pope before him has described love for human and nonhuman animals as so closely connected as Francis has: “Our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity.’”19 The traditional “tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures”20 is replaced by Francis with the conviction that God’s spirit lives in all creatures21 and that the last purpose and reason for animals’ existence is not the human person but God “in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things.”22 Pope Francis points out: “In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated 146

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to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish.”23 Laudato Sí impressed not only PETA but Peter Singer too. “St. Francis is among the most popular Catholic saints,” Singer wrote, “because of his reputation as a friend of animals. In keeping with that tradition, Laudatio [sic] Sí amounts to the strongest statement against harming animals ever made by a pope in a document as authoritative as an encyclical.”24 Alas, there also seems to be a seamy side to Pope Francis’s encyclical letter. The pope remains vague and undecided with regard to any specific rules or recommendations concerning human conduct toward animals. I entertain the suspicion that after reading the encyclical letter, a priest or bishop might be inspired to preach heartwarmingly on the intrinsic value of each living creature of God, yet he might still sit down at the table after his Sunday sermon and consume a Sunday roast made from pigs who lived short and tortured lives in factory farms. And he might not even be able to realize the blatant inconsistency of his behavior. Since, as I have just demonstrated with regard to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there has been a development or even a change of Catholic teaching on animal experimentation within a few years – in fact, a revision and restriction of the original position – let me suggest that further revisions and restrictions in paragraph 2417 are needed to bring it into agreement with paragraph 2416’s fundamental and valid request for human kindness and gentleness toward animals and into agreement with the teachings of Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato Sí. Paragraph 2417 should therefore read as follows: Human beings are a part of God’s creation, servants and stewards within it, not separate from it. Service and stewardship require a concern for the well-being of all God’s creatures, especially sentient ones. Hence, it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing only if the dignity, the interests, and the lives of animals are fundamentally respected. This implies that at least in relatively affluent countries, a nutritionally informed vegetarian or even vegan diet is generally and normally called for. By the way, fish are also sentient animals, even for Catholics. Bullfighting, leisure hunting, and circus shows with (normally) free-living animals should be abolished. Animals may be the companions of human beings, if they are treated humanely and their own needs are mindfully heeded. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is an ethically and scientifically questionable practice at best and should be replaced by alternative techniques such as in vitro tests or computer models.

Notes 1 Garrison Keillor, We Are Still Married (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), 101. 2 William Edward Hartpole Lecky, History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (New York: D. Appleton, 1870), vol. 2, 183, 188. 3 Andrew Linzey, Animal Theology (London: SCM Press, 1994), 19. 4 “It’s Not a Sin to Starve Your Dog, Says Archbishop,” Sunday Express, January 8, 1989, reprinted at, accessed September 6, 2014, 5 Catholic News Agency, “Spanish Bishop Reacts to Law Granting Rights to Chimps and Apes,” July 7, 2008, accessed September 6, 2014, 6 Stephen Burgen, “‘We’re a Violent Nation’ – Director Tackles Spain’s Festival Culture of Animal Cruelty,” Guardian, July 6, 2015, accessed February 10, 2016, violent-nation-spain-festival-animal-cruelty-turkey-bulls-film-santa-fiesta. 7 Andrew Linzey, Animal Gospel (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999), 62. 8 See Margarita Carretero-González, “From Excommunication to Silence: Catholic Attitudes to Bullfighting,” in “Abstract of Papers,” Oxford Animal Ethics Summer School: Religion and Animal Protection, 2014, 6. 9 Das steirische Kircheninfo, Easter 2011, accessed February 10, 2016, www.katholische-kirche-steiermark. at/upload/file/default/Kircheninfo_1101.pdf.


Kurt Remele 10 Catechism of the Catholic Church, accessed September 6, 2014, INDEX.HTM. 11 Cf. Deborah M. Jones, The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals (Leominster: Gracewing, 2009), 129–97. 12 Quoted in John Thavis, “Vatican Official Calls for More Just Relationship with Animals,” Catholic News Service, reprinted by Animal Freedom Foundation, accessed February 10, 2016, www.animalfreedom. org/english/column/vatican.html. 13 Joseph Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), 78f. 14 Quoted in Jones, The School of Compassion, 75. 15 Johannes Ude, Du sollst nicht töten (Dornbirn: Hugo Mayer Verlag, 1948), 388, 390. There was a short article in the Catholic Herald introducing Johannes Ude to British Catholics: Charlotte M. Sacher, “A Most Unusual Parish Priest,” Catholic Herald, 1959, accessed February 10, 2016, http://2.bp.blogspot. com/__pvV6SafILk/TSw7KD0HoFI/AAAAAAAAAmI/hVMzs91gYgI/s1600/img455.jpg. 16 Pope Francis, Laudato Sí, encyclical letter, May 24, 2015, accessed February 10, 2016, http://w2.vatican. va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html. 17 Michelle Kretzer, “Why Is Pope Francis PETA’s 2015 Person of the Year?,”, December 1, 2015, accessed February 10, 2016, 18 Pope Francis, “Meeting with the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, Address of the Holy Father,” New York, September 25, 2015, accessed February 10, 2016, 20150925_onu-visita.html. 19 Francis, Laudato Sí, para. 92. 20 Francis, Laudato Sí, para. 68. 21 Francis, Laudato Sí, para. 88. 22 Francis, Laudato Sí, para. 83. 23 Francis, Laudato Sí, para. 69. 24 Peter Singer, “Reconsidering Man’s Dominion,” Project Syndicate, July 14, 2015, accessed February 10, 2016,

References Burgen, Stephen. “‘We’re a Violent Nation’ – Director Tackles Spain’s Festival Culture of Animal Cruelty.” Guardian, July 6, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2016. violent-nation-spain-festival-animal-cruelty-turkey-bulls-film-santa-fiesta. Carretero-González, Margarita. “From Excommunication to Silence: Catholic Attitudes to Bullfighting.” In “Abstract of Papers,” Oxford Animal Ethics Summer School: Religion and Animal Protection, 2014, 6. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Accessed February 10, 2016. HTM. Catholic News Agency. “Spanish Bishop Reacts to Law Granting Rights to Chimps and Apes.” July 7, 2008. Accessed September 6, 2014. Das steirische Kircheninfo, Easter 2011. Accessed February 10, 2016. upload/file/default/Kircheninfo_1101.pdf. Jones, Deborah M. The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals. Leominster: Gracewing, 2009. Keillor, Garrison. We Are Still Married. London: Faber and Faber, 1993. Kretzer, Michelle. “Why Is Pope Francis PETA’s 2015 Person of the Year?”, December 1, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2016. Lecky, William Edward Hartpole. History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne. Vol. 2. New York: D. Appleton, 1870. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Gospel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Theology. London: SCM Press, 1994. Pope Francis. Laudato Sí. Encyclical letter. May 24, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2016. http://w2.vatican. va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html. Pope Francis. “Meeting with the Members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, Address of the Holy Father.” New York, September 25, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2016.


Roman Catholicism 20150925_onu-visita.html. Ratzinger, Joseph. God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002. Sacher, Charlotte M. “A Most Unusual Parish Priest.” Catholic Herald, 1959. Accessed February 10, 2016. img455.jpg. Singer, Peter. “Reconsidering Man’s Dominion.” Project Syndicate, July 14, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2016. Sunday Express. “It’s Not a Sin to Starve Your Dog, Says Archbishop.” January 8, 1989. Reprinted at Accessed September 6, 2014. Thavis, John. “Vatican Official Calls for More Just Relationship with Animals.” Catholic News Service. Reprinted by Animal Freedom Foundation. Accessed February 10, 2016. english/column/vatican.html. Ude, Johannes. Du sollst nicht töten. Dornbirn: Hugo Mayer Verlag, 1948.


15 SIKH DHARAM Ethics and Behavior toward Animals Jagbir Jhutti-Johal

To provide the Sikh perspective on animal ethics, it is imperative that we refer to the following two texts: Guru Granth Sahib and the Rehat Maryada. The Guru Granth Sahib is the central scripture of the Sikh religion, its “Eternal Guru” that attempts to explain the human experience in relation to God and that sets out the importance of submission, meditation, and good deeds on the path to “enlightenment.” The Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct), on the other hand, acts as a moral compass and defines what it means to be a Sikh and how one should live and behave. It is the evolution of a document first developed in the period immediately following the death of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, and it consolidates many other rehats written throughout Sikh history. It was drawn up by academics and religious Sikhs and approved by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar, in 1945. Several revisions have been made to the document. Using the religious texts, this chapter focuses on the core Sikh religious teachings that explain how human beings should behave in relation to animals. The discussion explores core theological and philosophical concepts, such as oneness of creation and karma, and ethical behaviors, such as compassion, humility, and love, to outline Sikh teachings on animal welfare. Although all Sikhs accept the teachings to mean that the rights of animals have to be upheld, there are different interpretations of the scripture with regard to the killing of animals for food and the use of animals in cosmetic and medical research.

The Sikh Dharam The Sikh Dharam1 was founded by Guru Nanak (1469–1538 CE), a mystic who was born in Punjab, an area that straddles current-day India and Pakistan, and who is said to have had a divine revelation at the age of thirty while bathing in the River Bein. Guru Nanak laid down the foundation of the Sikh Dharam with his message on God-centered living and the oneness of humanity and creation. Upon his death Guru Nanak appointed his successor, Guru Angad, to continue his mission of spreading the “divine word” received by him, thus starting the tradition of appointing a successor to the role of Guru. In all there were ten living Gurus, although Sikhs believe that the spirit/light (jot) of Guru Nanak assumed the form of ten Gurus. Hence, in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Gurus are referred to not by name, but as Nanak I, II, III, and so on. The tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, declared that on his death the line of human guruship should end 150

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and be replaced by the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scripture), which today is revered by Sikhs as the “Eternal” Guru.2 Sikhs view the Guru Granth Sahib as the true, uncorrupted word of God transmitted through his messengers, the Gurus. Nanak stated, “When I have spoken, I spoke as You made me speak.”3 The Guru Granth Sahib contains the teachings and doctrines of the Sikhs concerning God, God’s nature and attributes, samsara and karma (the cycle of birth and rebirth and law of action), and the route to moksha/mukti, liberation from the cycle of rebirth and divine realization.4

Animal Ethics Fifteenth-century India was a country demonstrating moral and religious decay that ran through society from the top to the bottom.5 The perceived social and moral decay in society mobilized Guru Nanak and his successors to challenge the status quo and work for the well-being, peace, and prosperity of all (sarbat da bhalla). They emphasized the need to recognize that God created the universe and that the divine jot (light) pervades through all his creation.6 By recognizing this and living in accordance to God’s will (hukam), individuals practice moral duty (dharma) and develop a moral character (achar) that should benefit society as a whole. In turn, spiritual, ethical, and moral conduct enhances an individual’s karma (law of action) and eventually allows the individual to achieve the ultimate goal: mukti, freedom from the cycle of rebirth and reincarnation. These teachings provided an alternative framework for humanity to achieve ultimate union with God and can be used to describe Sikhs’ ethics in relation to the treatment of animals.

Karma, Reincarnation, and Liberation Karma and the “hellish” cycle of birth and rebirth are significant themes within the Guru Granth Sahib. They play a central role in promoting an ethical and moralistic lifestyle. “As one acts, so does he receive. As he plants, so does he eat” (Guru Granth Sahib 662). Guru Nanak stated that no person can build achar (true moral character) without practicing the following three fundamental principles: sincere worship of the One God (Ik Onkar) through nam japna (meditation on his name), doing honest work (kirat karna), and giving to those in need (vand chakna). These principles require individuals to be imbibed with qualities such as love (prem), wisdom (gyan), truthfulness (sach), justice, temperance, courage, compassion (daya), humility, and contentment. These virtues enable individuals to live a moral and spiritual life and achieve a state of eternal bliss, where the soul (Atma) merges with the divine soul (Param-Atma). Those who are lovingly attuned to the True Lord remain awake and aware night and day. They know the One Lord, and no other. Serving the Giver of peace, they become immaculate. Selfless service and intuitive awareness come by reflecting upon the Word of the Shabad. Chanting, intensive meditation and austere self-discipline come by subduing the ego. One becomes Jivan-mukta – liberated while yet alive, by listening to the Shabad. Living a truthful way of life, one finds true peace. (Guru Granth Sahib 1343) Karma, reincarnation, and liberation therefore are important theological concepts that guide a Sikh’s behavior. 151

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Vegetarianism and the Guru Granth Sahib There are no precise rules on vegetarianism in the Sikh Dharam, but theological concepts such as karma and the goal of liberation guide a Sikh’s behavior, which should ultimately focus on sarbat da bhalla, caring for all of God’s creation.7 This could be interpreted to mean that Sikhs should not kill animals for personal gain and hence should not eat meat: “Do not cause any being to suffer, and you shall go to your true home with honour” (Guru Granth Sahib 322). A Sikh would believe that causing suffering, pain, or death to another living creature would impact one’s karma, and hence the consumption of meat may be considered to have a detrimental effect on karma. Not being directly involved in the killing of the animal does not lessen one’s responsibility in inflicting pain and death on an animal. “Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine – no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell” (Guru Granth Sahib 1377).8 Karma and the goal of liberation act to guide a Sikh toward ethical and compassionate behavior toward animals, and many follow the path of vegetarianism because of this. Vegetarianism is also thought to be advocated by the Gurus and is associated with spirituality and saintliness in the Sikh religion. This is not unique to the Sikh faith but is generally a principle followed in all major Eastern traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The Gurus and other Sikhs renowned for their spirituality have, without exception, treaded the path of vegetarianism, and hence it appears to be held up as a qualification of spiritual practice. Belief in the sacredness of life is a constant feature of the Sikh Dharam, and anything that may compromise this, such as causing unnecessary pain and death, is thought to lead to a violation of dharma and “bad” karma for both the producer and the consumer. There are some verses in the Guru Granth Sahib that speak against causing harm, exploitation, and violence to another being for food. Kabeer’s teachings in the Guru Granth Sahib reinforce the notion that eating meat is wrong: Kabeer, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it legal. When your account is called for in the Court of the Lord, what will your condition be then? Kabeer, the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is flavored with salt. Who would cut his throat, to have meat with his bread? (Guru Granth Sahib 1374) The lack of very specific directives in the Guru Granth Sahib about eating meat inevitably means there are different interpretations of some verses with reference to eating meat. Some Sikhs would interpret the following line to mean that the debate around eating meat is inconsequential when compared with the overall goal of achieving oneness with God:9 “The fools argue about flesh and meat, but they know nothing about meditation and spiritual wisdom” (Guru Granth Sahib 1289). The equivocal nature of the debate on vegetarianism is further highlighted by a small minority of initiated Sikhs belonging to particular sects – Nihangs and Hazuri Sikhs, who will sacrifice and eat meat from goats killed by one strike as prescribed in the rehats. They have used a handful of quotes from the Guru Granth Sahib, such as “All food is pure, for God has provided it for our sustenance” (472), and a number of rehats (code of conducts) to justify eating meat, even though the Guru Granth Sahib is rich with teachings to the contrary.10


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Vegetarianism and the Rehats The rehats (code of conducts) were written by Sikhs who were close to the Guru to provide guidance on religious discipline, gurdwara management (care of Sikh places of worship), beliefs, observances, taboos, and ceremonies. After Guru Gobind Singh died, most rehats were recollections of Sikhs of that time and were intermixed with biases and practices stemming from those Sikhs’ own familial or cultural origins. Some of these rehats that appeared after the death of Guru Gobind Singh suggest that meat can be eaten. Passages from various rehats are also contained in wider historical literature, such as that by Rattan Singh Bhangoo, who notes in his book Pracchin Panth Parkash11 some of the instructions given to the Khalsa (initiated Sikhs) by Guru Gobind Singh when he performed the Amrit Pahul ceremony: They should eat mutton only after slaughtering the animal with one stroke, And desist from eating the meat of dead animals.12 Such historical documents, alongside the 1950 Rehat Maryada, as a result have raised questions and debates about whether Sikhs who are Amritdhari (initiated)13 can eat meat. In Article XXIV, “Ceremony of Baptism or Initiation,” the Rehat Maryada states,14 The undermentioned four transgressions (tabooed practices) must be avoided: 1 2 3 4

Dishonouring the hair Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way (Kutha) Cohabiting with a person other than one’s spouse Using tobacco.

The use of the word Kutha – one of the four primary taboos for the Sikhs – allows some Sikhs to interpret this to mean that no meat can be eaten, whereas others interpret this instruction to mean that meat can be eaten as long as the animal is not killed in a ritualistic manner such as through halal (Muslim) or kosher (Jewish) traditions because killing an animal with a prayer does not ennoble the flesh.15 As a result of this debate, Sadhu Singh Bhaura, the Jathedar of Akal Takht,16 issued a Hukamnama (edict) on February 15, 1980, stating that Amritdhari Sikhs can eat meat as long as it is jhatka meat and that eating meat does not go against the code of conduct. Thus, although this suggests that a Sikh cannot be excommunicated for eating meat, some Sikhs (a majority) do not accept this and would excommunicate an initiated Sikh for eating meat.17 Despite this debate and the pronouncement of the aforementioned edict, the majority of initiated Sikhs will not eat any form of meat because they follow the role models that the Gurus and other saintly Sikhs have provided and believe that consumption of meat is an unholy act. Among non-initiated Sikhs (Keshdhari or Sehajdhari), however, the proportion of vegetarians, particularly in Western nations and among males, is much lower, but those who eat meat generally follow the injunction to avoid meat from animals killed in the Muslim way. Many Sikhs also avoid eating beef, which is more in line with Indian (Hindu) tradition rather than anything to do with Sikh teachings. The Sikh community today is not a homogenous block and does not have a monolithic culinary culture or a singular view on eating meat. However, there is an overriding sense in the Sikh community that vegetarianism is on the path of holiness and something God would favor. This is evidenced by the fact that many Sikhs who are not vegetarian will not eat meat on the day they visit a gurdwara, believing it to be a polluting influence in front of the Guru Granth Sahib.


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Meat is still not served in the langar, or “free kitchen,” a cornerstone of Sikh faith. Langar is prepared and served in a gurdwara and is open to all, Sikh or not. Langar was instituted by the Gurus and has become a symbol of equality where all people, no matter what race, religion, or caste, sit and eat together in the atmosphere of a family.18

Cosmetics and Scientific Research Although debate exists in the Sikh community on the issue of vegetarianism, there is generally more of a consensus on the issue of killing animals for pleasure (hunting19), for cosmetic research, and for fashion products. Killing animals for these reasons is not permitted because of the harm inflicted on God’s creation for personal gain or vanity. Wearing clothes such as fur or leather, which requires animals to be bred and killed in the name of fashion, and testing cosmetics on animals or using animal products in cosmetics would be viewed as unethical and uncompassionate because there is no perceived value to be gained through such actions. Instead, Sikhs would argue, for example, that wearing makeup is associated with vanity and ego (haumai), which obfuscate the path to a God-centered life (Gurmukh) and liberation. Cosmetics and fashion are seen as reflecting trends of the time and are viewed as being a distraction to spiritual progress. Bhai Daya Singh’s Rehatnama (code of conduct) was uttered by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind, and in a number of interpretations, it does have an instruction on makeup: Do not pierce the ears or nose, this is the Satguru’s wish . . . All forms of makeup and the relationship with another’s wife, he forsakes.20 This instruction does not appear in the 1950 Sikh Rehat Maryada and therefore is not something that has to be observed; however, there may be some Sikh women who observe the earlier rehat alongside the current one. Although there has been no academic ethnographical study on Sikh women’s perceptions regarding cosmetics, it is clear from social media debates that in today’s society, which places an emphasis on beauty and appearance, many young initiated Sikh women wear makeup. Whether they wear makeup that is tested on and contains animal products depends on their own personal interpretation of the theology. Sikhs who are not initiated may or may not use cosmetics tested on animals, not necessarily because of the religious rehats but because of their own ethical values. Any form of testing or exploitation of animals is considered to violate the principle of respect for all God’s creation. However, the current debate surrounding testing on animals in relation to medical research is not straightforward for Sikhs. It poses many questions and challenges, particularly if the teachings of compassion, love, and nonviolence are to be observed. Scientific advances and medical testing demand a rethinking and reinterpretation of fundamental theological concepts, such as God’s hukam (will). Sikhs may be sympathetic to the use of animals in medical research because they recognize that testing on animals offers potentially new cures and therapies for previously incurable diseases. There are many Sikh doctors and medical researchers who justify medical experimentation on animals because of the beneficial results for humans, such as the development of vaccines and treatments for serious illnesses or the potential to meet the unmet needs of suffering patients in the future – for example, new therapies for cancer or the “growing” of organs in the laboratory. They view the research they are conducting as not causing suffering intentionally but done to benefit humankind. They believe that because the goal is to benefit humankind, their karma will not be affected; because the experiments are undertaken with a sense of responsibility and 154

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accountability to reduce harm and pain, God is aware that their intentions are noble: to improve the lives of people who are suffering. The majority of Sikh patients, whether initiated or not, will not reject a medical drug to treat an illness because it was developed and tested on animals or because it contains animal products, such as gelatin. They will be concerned mainly with what gets them better. In these circumstances Sikhs would argue that testing on animals for medical progress is a result of God’s hukam,21 and thus, the karma of the researcher would not be negatively affected because in this instance “the moral character of human actions and of human conduct is determined within the framework of God’s hukam.”22

Conclusion In conclusion, the Sikh perspective on how animals should be treated can be ascertained from the Guru Granth Sahib and religious texts such as the Rehat Maryada. The Guru Granth Sahib provides the foundations and core principles for moral and ethical living in accordance with God’s hukam, through nam japna (meditation on God’s name), kirat karna (honest work), and vand chakna (giving to those in need), all of which requires demonstrating compassion, integrity, responsibility, and love for all things – nature, animals, and fellow humans – because God is present in everyone and everything. These core values continue to be adhered to today because what is contained in the Guru Granth Sahib is viewed as law and as the word of God, and not adhering to these values would hinder spiritual progression. Using the Guru Granth Sahib to address contemporary ethical issues can be problematic because as with any other religious text, the Guru Granth Sahib reinforces ethics and values of a different era. As a result, some Sikhs who are firmly located within their religion are deciphering, interpreting, and reinterpreting the Guru Granth Sahib to live their lives in contemporary society according to God’s hukam. This engagement and reinterpreting of teachings is further complicated by the diversity in interpretation and understanding within the community – which is affected by whether individuals are initiated or not, by education, and finally by acculturation and assimilation, which all make individuals interpret teachings in a variety of ways. Although the majority of values regarding how we should treat God’s creation have been maintained and are unchangeable, some have been “tweaked” to accommodate modern issues and developments, particularly in the realm of medical advances. This is done through critical engagement with the Guru Granth Sahib and other religious texts,23 but as in any other religious community, schisms and tensions do appear – for example, in the arena of meat-eating. This is because there are varied responses, which range from ambivalence to endorsement to denunciation, as a result of varied interpretations of religious texts and codes of conduct. Some argue that there is no injunction against eating meat, whereas others argue there is no advice to eat it. Despite this variance in interpretation, what is clear is that if Sikhs are to live according to God’s hukam, they should always keep the concept of sarbat da bhalla – caring for all God’s creation – at the forefront of their minds.

Glossary Achar Akal Takht Amritdhari

Moral character. Throne of the Timeless, located in Amritsar. Khalsa; initiated Sikh. 155

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Ardas Atma Daswandh Daya Dharma Dharamsal Ik Onkar Grihastha Guru Guru Granth Sahib Hukam Haumai Jathedar Jhatka Jot Karma Karta Purakh Keshdhari Khalsa Kirat Karna Kutha Langar

Moksha Mukti Nam Naam simran/japna Nirankar Panj Kakar Pangat Patit

Prem Rehat Maryada Samsara Sarbat da bhalla Sat Satguru

Water that is consecrated by the granthi and used in the Amrit Sanskar/Amrit Pahul (initiation/baptism) ceremony. It is the Sikh counterpart to holy water used in Christian ceremonies of baptism. Prayer that forms the culmination of any religious service. Soul. Giving one-tenth of one’s income to the service of the community. Compassion. Moral duty. Spiritual center. One God. Married/householder life. Teacher. The sacred text that contains the compositions of the Sikh Gurus as well as those of Hindu and Muslim saints; center of all Sikh ceremonies and rituals. The will of God. Ego – I; self-centeredness, which prevents an individual from becoming a Gurmukh. Spiritual leader. Animal killed by a single strike to the head with a sword. Divine light. Law of action. Creator. Sikhs who keep the Kes and do not cut their hair but are not initiated. Literally, “pure ones.” The community of initiated Sikhs founded by Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, in 1699. Honest work. Killing an animal slowly and with a prayer (e.g., halal slaughter). The community kitchen in the gurdwara, where free food is prepared, cooked, and served to all. Food is prepared and served by both men and women who are volunteers. Men and women eat separately: men sit on one side of the room, and the women sit on the other side. Liberation from the cycle of transmigration. Freedom from the cycle of rebirth. God’s name or divine essence. Meditation on God’s name. Formless. The “Five Ks”; five items beginning with the letter K that members of the Khalsa wear: kesh, kara, kangha, kirpan, and kachera. People sitting together in rows to share a communal meal (e.g., langar). Initiated Sikh who has lapsed in his or her observations; today this term is also used to refer to Sikhs who are not initiated and do not live according to the Rehat Maryada. Love. Sikh code of conduct. Cycle of birth and rebirth. Caring for all of God’s creation – closing statement of the Sikh prayer. Truth. God. 156

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Sehajdhari Sewa Shabad Guru Vand chakana Waheguru

A Sikh who is not initiated and cuts his or her hair. Selfless service. Divine word. Giving to those in need. Name by which Sikhs refer to God – Wonderful Lord.

Notes 1 Dharam has various meanings, including religion, righteousness, duty, virtue, merit, honesty, sect, justice, and faith. 2 Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Sikhism Today (London: Continuum, 2011). 3 The translations of the Guru Granth Sahib are voluminous and difficult to locate. Therefore, since the page numbers of the hard copy correspond with a digitized version, I have chosen to use the following website, Sri Granth, accessed December 14, 2015, for all citations: gurbani. 4 Sikhs recognize similarities in concepts with other Eastern traditions at the time of the Gurus, but they do not view the religion to be a blend or reproduction of those religions prevalent at the time of the Gurus. 5 Anil Chandra Banerjee, The Sikh Gurus and the Sikh Religion (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983); Jhutti-Johal, Sikhism Today. 6 Unlike Abrahamic religions, in the Sikh Dharam there is not the clear distinction between human beings and animals because the “light” of God pervades all creation, and therefore the theological teachings can be used to explain how Sikhs should behave toward animals. 7 Sarbat da bhalla is the final term in the Sikh prayer called the Ardas. 8 Bhagat Kabeer (1398–1448 or 1440–1518) was a fifteenth-century Indian mystic poet and saint. His work was included in the Adi Granth, a religious text compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan (1563–1606). This text was later updated by Guru Gobind Singh to include the teachings of the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. The revised text was called the Guru Granth Sahib and became the Sikhs’ eternal Guru. Kabeer was influenced by the bhakti movement and was critical of the ritualism that was present in both Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak’s teachings are reminiscent of Kabeer’s. W. O. Cole and P. S. Sambhi, A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: Sikh Religion and Philosophy (London, UK: Routledge, 2005). Sikhs do not believe in heaven or hell. Heaven can be experienced by being in tune with God while still alive. Conversely, the suffering and pain caused by ego are seen as hell on earth. “Hell” can also refer to being trapped in the cycle of transmigration. 9 W. Owen Cole, “Sikh Ethical Teachings,” Understanding Sikhism – The Research Journal 7, no. 2 (July – December 2005): 37–45, accessed June 4, 2014, pdf . 10 Cole, “Sikh Ethical Teachings.” 11 Panth Parkash by Rattan Singh Bhangoo is one of the important works relating to the eighteenth-century history of the Sikhs. Rattan Singh belonged to a historic family that had experienced various episodes in Sikh history in the eighteenth century. His accounts of events have been verified by other sources from the time. Kulwant Singh, trans., Sri Guru Panth Prakash (Rattan Singh Bhangoo), vol. 1 (Chandigarh, India: Institute of Sikh Studies, 2006), accessed September 4, 2016,, xii–xvii. 12 Kulwant Singh, Sri Guru Panth Prakash, vol. 1, 87. In his translation, Professor Singh, aware of the contradiction of these two statements, inserts an endnote for clarification: “Dead Animals Meat or Kuttha or Halal: The Sikhs are forbidden to eat the meat of animals slaughtered in the Muslim style. For Sikhs to partake of the meat, the animal must have been slaughtered in one stoke [sic] without any rituals.” 13 Initiated Sikhs have taken part in Amrit, have adopted the way of life that Guru Gobind Singh proscribed at the ceremony, and have adopted the Panj Kakar, or the “Five Ks” – five items beginning with the letter K, which members of the Khalsa wear: kesh, kara, kangha, kirpan, and kachera. 14 Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Sikh Rehat Maryada (Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, 1950), 15 J. I. Singh, “15 Food Taboos in Sikhism,” in Sikhs and Sikhism: A View with a Bias (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1994), 71–75.


Jagbir Jhutti-Johal 16 Akal Takht is the Sikhs’ political and religious institution. 17 Sandeep Brar, “Misconceptions about Eating Meat,”, accessed September 2, 2016, www.sikhs. org/meat_au.htm. 18 Cole, “Sikh Ethical Teachings.” 19 There is a contradiction here because there is evidence that three of the Gurus – Guru Har Rai, Guru HarGobind, and Guru Gobind Singh – did hunt. Sikhs argue that this was not for pleasure but to protect people who were being attacked by the animals or to free the animals from the cycle of rebirth. E. Nesbitt, “Sparrows and Lions: Fauna in Sikh Imagery, Symbolism and Ethics,” Religions of South Asia 7, no. 1–3 (2012): 75–92. 20 “Bhai Daya Singh Ji Rehatnama – Akaali Code of Conduct,” Sarbat Khalsa, accessed September 8, 2016, 21 Wazir Singh, “Hukam: A Comparative Perspective,” Journal of Sikh Studies 8 (1986); Jhutti-Johal, Sikhism Today. 22 Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition (New Delhi: Manohar, 1990), 28. 23 Jhutti-Johal, Sikhism Today.

References Bala, S. “Ecological Concerns in Guru Granth Sahib: A Philosophical Analysis.” Studies on Guru Granth Sahib (2004): 212. Banerjee, Anil Chandra. The Sikh Gurus and the Sikh Religion. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983. Brar, Sandeep. “Misconceptions about Eating Meat.” Accessed September 2, 2016. www.sikhs. org/meat_au.htm. Chahal, D. S. “Sikh Perspectives on Bioethics.” In The Annals of Bioethics: Religious Perspectives in Bioethics, edited by John F. Peppin, Mark J. Cherry, and Ana Iltis. London: Taylor and Francis, 2004. Chapple, C. K. “Nonhuman Animals and the Question of Rights from an Asian Perspective.” In Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics: Rethinking the Nonhuman, edited by Neil Dalal and Chloë Taylor, 148–68. London, UK: Routledge, 2014. Cole, W. Owen. “Sikh Ethical Teachings.” Understanding Sikhism – The Research Journal 7, no. 2 (July– December 2005): 37–45. Accessed June 4, 2014. Cole, W. O., and P. S. Sambhi. A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: Sikh Religion and Philosophy. London, UK: Routledge, 2005. Grewal, J. S., and Irfan Habib, eds. Sikh History from Persian Sources: Translations of Major Texts. New Delhi: Tulika, 2001. Guru Granth Sahib. Jhutti-Johal, Jagbir. Sikhism Today. London: Continuum, 2011. Kohli, Surindar Singh. Real Sikhism. New Delhi: Harman, 1994. Kohli, Surindar Singh. Sikh Ethics. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharial, 1975. Nesbitt, E. “Sparrows and Lions: Fauna in Sikh Imagery, Symbolism and Ethics.” Religions of South Asia 7, no. 1–3 (2012): 75–92. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Sikh Rehat Maryada. Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, 1950. Singh, Avtar. Ethics of the Sikhs. Delhi: Punjabi University Patiala, 1970. Singh, Gopal. Sri Guru Granth Sahib. English version. 4 vols. Chandigarh, India: World Sikh University Press, 1978. Singh, J. I. “15 Food Taboos in Sikhism.” In Sikhs and Sikhism: A View with a Bias. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1994. Singh, Kulwant, trans. Sri Guru Panth Prakash (Rattan Singh Bhangoo). Vol. 1. Chandigarh, India: Institute of Sikh Studies, 2006. Accessed September 4, 2016. Singh, Nirmal. “Suffering: The Sikh Understanding, Experience and Response.” Sikh Review 51 (2003): 16. Singh, Nripinder. The Sikh Moral Tradition. New Delhi: Manohar, 1990. Singh, P. The Guru Granth Sahib: Canon, Meaning and Authority. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003. Singh, Wazir. “Hukam: A Comparative Perspective.” Journal of Sikh Studies 8 (1986). Sri Granth. Search engine. Accessed December 14, 2015.




Human Interaction with Animals

16 “NATIONS LIKE YOURSELVES” Some Muslim Debates over Qur’an 6:38 Tim Winter

In this chapter I will introduce the Muslim exegetic reception of one of the best-known Qur’anic passages on animals, setting it in the context of the wider theology of nature that Islam adopts and including some reflections on the contentious Muslim discussions on animal minds.1 The Muslim scripture, as Neil Robinson has explained elsewhere,2 is very rich in references to the animal kingdom. The particular verse whose controversies I wish to trace appears in Qur’an chapter 6, titled Al-An‘am, “The Cattle,” verse 38. Here is a cautious translation: “There is not an animal in the earth, nor a bird flying on two wings, but that they are nations like yourselves. We have neglected nothing in the Book. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” Passages such as this form part of the Qur’an’s condemnation of Arab pagans who, in a roughly Durkheimian vein, had long defined their tribal identity in terms of animal totems (the Prophet himself had been born into the clan of the shark). As part of its function of delineating tribal identities, paganism had maintained elaborate rituals of animal mutilation and other animal-linked practices that the new revelation saw as abominations, and this chapter receives its name because it deals with various such sacrificial and votive rites (vv. 137–47).3 In place of a universe directed by tribal deities in which humanity was divided by totems and fetishes, the new monotheism preached a fellowship of believers that was summoned to see the animal order as a sign of creation’s unity and integrity under the One God. The verse seems straightforward in its affirmation of animal and bird life, presented and valued as sentient aspects of creation; and yet it triggered centuries of intricate debate. Two themes proved particularly taxing for the commentators: the citing of animals as “nations like yourselves” (umamun amthalukum) and the gathering of animals “unto their Lord.” In what sense, later Muslims wondered, could animal communities be like us? And is it true that like their human counterparts they will be resurrected to face God’s final judgment? The modern Tunisian theologian Ibn ‘Ashur laments that this is a “verse which begins obscurely, and ends more obscurely still.”4 The Qur’an’s initial targeting of indigenous Arab religion quickly took on wider implications as part of the continuum of Late Antiquity debates over the implications of monotheism for attitudes toward the world. The markedly upbeat affective atmosphere of the Qur’anic revelation reflected the text’s own self-understanding as a historic reparation – as it says, a shifa’, a healing (Qur’an 17:82), not only of paganism but also of the “religions of the Book.” When the new scripture of the Qur’an burst into the former provinces of Christian Byzantium, it was widely 163

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received by its audience as a synthetic corrective, repairing the penitential and starkly ascetical temper of early Christianity5 and pushing the dominant monotheistic style back in a generally “Semitic” direction. In a Mediterranean world where a pessimism about the world and the body had become normal among Christians who had inherited many of the world- and body-denying assumptions of late Hellenistic religion, Islam saw itself as bringing an unmistakably life-affirming – though hardly indulgent – worldview. Its anthropology repudiated patristic teachings on original sin and encouraged a pious style of traveling to God through the world, rather than reaching him by creeping around its edges. The new scripture’s ceaseless conjurations with the material universe as a palette of signs pointing to God stood at the heart of Muslim styles of contemplation, in a new and more positive dispensation that was unmistakably biophiliac and even celebratory of the natural order.6 Australian writer on religion Rod Blackhirst evinces this Qur’anic ethos in his essay on Muslim prayer.7 This turns out to be a primordial enactment of humanity’s status as bridge between heaven and earth: the Muslim worships in a fully embodied way, in a mind–body syzygy particularly characteristic of Islam’s sense of itself as the reclamation of a putatively lost Abrahamic primordiality. The entire Muslim life is shaped by forms of worship that engage the body and spirit with the movements of the sun and moon and that hence represent the believer’s full belongingness to the created order. Nonetheless, the believer is, like Adam, “between water and clay” – the water that is of heaven and the clay that is the stuff of which the believer is made. This Abrahamic cosmology depicts religion as being of the fitra, the Qur’anic term that denotes nature and what is natural: seen not as fallen, but as a theophany shot through with grace and reminders of God’s presence. It is perhaps due to this twofold Qur’anic challenge to Arabian and ancient Christian views of the natural world that we find the early Muslim scribes keen to record a very large bulk of prophetic directives on animal welfare. These have been investigated in a recent book by Richard Foltz, a text alert to the vast improvement, as Foltz sees it, brought to formerly Christian and pagan territories by the arrival of this new and reparative dispensation. Foltz even goes so far as to conclude that “the mainstream Islamic legal tradition accords more rights to non-human animals than do the legal systems of the contemporary West,”8 a polemical statement that he believes is supported by the witness of the classical Sharia canon and the pro-nature vision of the new, post-Christian revelation. The founder – who exemplified what Blackhirst identifies as Islam’s distinct blend of a primordial sense of appurtenance to nature and an extremely uncompromising and simple monotheism, a kind of ur-monotheismus – seems to have dispensed a good fraction of his moral teaching with reference to the animal kingdom. Some of his dicta are evidently attacks on pagan practices, as in the hadith where he says, “May God curse anyone who maims animals.”9 But a larger genre indicates a more general insistence on ethical treatment of the animal order. Some examples: It is a great sin for a man to imprison the animals which are in his power.10 A dog was once panting by a well, almost dead with thirst. Beholding it, a harlot of the Children of Israel removed her slipper, dipped it in the water, and gave it to drink. For this, God forgave her her sins.11 We were once on a journey with God’s Messenger, who left us for a short while. We saw a hummara bird with two young, and we took the young fledglings. The hummara hovered with fluttering wings, and the Prophet returned, saying: “Who has injured this bird by taking its young? Return them to her.”12 The Prophet forbade that animals should be set to fight each other.13 164

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In some cases we find the Prophet challenging the culture of hunting that had existed in Arabia from time immemorial.14 Although hunting animals for food is still permitted, sport hunting is to be prohibited: There is no-one that without reason kills a sparrow or anything higher thereto, but that God shall ask him about it.15 The Prophet cursed anyone who took an animate creature as a target.16 Foltz laments that among Muslim royal elites in all ages, this prohibition has been spectacularly flaunted, but the prophetic teaching is a matter of record. Such texts have a straightforward moral and hortatory purpose, emphasizing the essential goodness and worth of God’s creation. More curious are the hadith that seem to invest animals around the Prophet with a near-human degree of consciousness, and it is here that the puzzlement over our Qur’anic verse originates. What are we to make, for instance, of the following tale, narrated in Abu Daud’s collection of hadith? The hadith has the Prophet going into a farm where a camel is experiencing a fit of groaning, with her “eyes streaming.” The Prophet, unafraid, walks over to the camel and rubs the animal’s ears, and she quiets down. He asks who the camel belongs to, and a man identifies himself as the camel’s owner. The Prophet says, “Do you not fear God concerning this beast which He has let you own? It complained to me that you starve it and tire it by overworking it and using it beyond its capacity.”17 In the same hagiographies, we find that key instances in the Prophet’s career depend on animals for their successful outcome and that these animals are presented as recipients of some kind of divine inspiration. Perhaps the best-known example is the Prophet’s choice of a site for his home and mosque when he arrived as a refugee in Medina. Seeing that rival clans wished to have the political advantage of having him as their guest, to preclude disputes he let go of the reins of his camel and said that providence would guide the animal to the correct place.18 The site the camel chose is now the location of his mosque and grave. In another incident the Abyssinian Christian army that had come to destroy the Ka‘ba in Mecca was confounded by two animal interventions: first, its fearsome battle elephant refused to march on the Holy City, and second, the invading army was pelted with stones by birds.19 A no-less-celebrated case is the rescue of the Prophet from pagan pursuers during his exodus to Medina: as he hid in a cave, pigeons made a nest and a spider wove a web over the cave entrance, a miracle that served to persuade the search party that no one could have entered the cave for days.20 In these hadith that show God’s prophet or his city saved by the intervention of animals, one is struck by the fact that these creatures are presented as consciously acting under divine instruction. This seems anomalous in a new religious culture in full revolt against a pagan animism in which desert creatures – and even trees and rocks – had been reckoned to contain genii of various kinds. A kind of Humean generalization about the “rationalizing” shift from polytheism to monotheism would presume that ancient superstitions about souls inhabiting the natural world would be vigorously suppressed in favor of a belief in divine and human monopoly of consciousness and agency, but in the primal Islamic case, something more complex seems to have emerged. Again, we appear to revert to Blackhirst’s characterization of the Prophet’s religion as a reprise of very ancient and even primordial styles of religion, coupled with the fierce rejection of any hint of polytheistic belief. The Muslim tradition itself promotes this self-understanding: the Meccan shrine is claimed to have been the worshipping place of Adam, long predating the Jerusalem temple. Islam, taking itself as the final moment in the monotheistic drama, also claims to be a significant rehabilitation and invocation of pre-Abrahamic forms of worship and relationship 165

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with the world. It is thus that the Prophet who can communicate with animals bears a book that instructs its audience to consider them as “nations like unto yourselves.” Having very briefly sketched Islam’s self-understanding as the recovery of a biophiliac and primordial religious style, let us now proceed to survey the exegetic literature on our chosen Qur’anic crux. Here is the verse again: There is not an animal in the earth, nor a bird flying on two wings, but that they are nations like yourselves. We have neglected nothing in the Book. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. First, we must consider the puzzle represented by animal “nations.” The word is umam, the plural of umma, an Arabic term almost invariably applied to human collectivities: Muslims themselves constitute an umma, for example.21 In arguing against pagan cruelty, scripture here appears rhetorical in suggesting that birds and animals form communities or, one might say, peoples. But the rhetoric does not invalidate the comparison, and the commentators needed to determine exactly what kind of nations animals form. The preferred view was that each species was an umma, so that Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209) produces a hadith in which the Prophet describes dogs as an umma.22 More tricky is the question of how these species might be “like ourselves.” The commentaries offer the following possible interpretations. 1 2 3 4 5 6

The term “nations” indicates that nations’ members resemble each other, can reproduce with each other, and find comfort (uns) in each other. They are “like humans” in that they are also created by God and depend on his provision. They are like us – and unlike the inanimate realm – in being capable of mutual communication. They are like us insofar as they are reached by God’s grace, care, mercy, and compassion. They resemble us in being resurrected, to receive their rights (huquq). We will examine this claim in more detail later on. Each species is an umma inasmuch as it prefigures some set of human potentialities: so some humans resemble dogs, others peacocks, or lions, and so forth.

These views are listed in Razi’s great commentary.23 Others appear elsewhere. For instance al-Qurtubi (d. 1273) believed that animals are “like ourselves” in that “it is not right for humans to wrong them,” thus indicating that the word umma specifically denotes a community possessed of rights. There is evidence that the founder’s companions cited this verse to urge kindness to animals.24 These interpretations were very disparate, but all shared an ethical conclusion: whatever its exact sense, the verse evidently enjoins us to behave morally toward these orders of creation because God has deliberately stated that they bear a valid resemblance to our human selves. They segue into a second set of interpretations that one might call cosmological. Razi cites the companion of the Prophet Ibn ‘Abbas as holding that these communities are like ourselves “because they know God, attest to His unity, and praise and glorify Him.” This he links to another Qur’anic text – “There is nothing that does not hymn His praise” (Qur’an 17:44) – and also a verse about living creatures, “each of which knows its form of prayer and worship” (Qur’an 24:41). God himself and his messengers have spoken to nonhuman animals, such as the ant, the bee, and the hoopoe (Qur’an 27:18, 16:68, 27:20). Hence, the animals are to be seen as somehow possessing a form of consciousness that may be used to promote God’s purposes. Here we return to the curious crypto-animism or anthropomorphism that we discussed earlier. Razi cites a hadith in 166

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which the Prophet says, “Whoever kills a sparrow in jest, it will come on the Day of Judgement chirruping to God, saying: ‘O Lord, this man killed me in jest, and took no benefit from me, and did not leave me to eat the fruits of the earth.’”25 Illuminated in this way by a large number of prophetic homilies, the verse became the locus classicus for Muslim debates on animal souls and animal worship. The Sufi tradition, in particular, with its ecstatic focus on the Qur’an’s vision of all creation witnessing to God in its own distinctive way, picked it up to produce some lyrical outpourings. Here, for instance, is one of the great Persian Sufis, Ruzbehan (d. 1209), in his Qur’anic commentary titled The Brides of Speech: God created the animals, birds, predators and insects with the primordial nature (fitra) of monotheism and instinctual knowledge of Him, which is why He speaks to them and has . . . created for their minds pathways to His eternal presence and secrets. It is by that Presence that they live. Their whistling, lowing, singing, and roaring, are from the sweetness of the spiritual world which is reaching them, and the manifest lights of His glory. They long lovingly for God and to taste the oceans of His mercy.26 Ruzbehan then gives some Sufi stories: The mystic Sumnun was once preaching on love, and a bird who had been listening ecstatically fell from the sky and died in front of him. He also gives us a legend about a lizard who recited a poem before the Prophet in his praise. For Ruzbehan, “nations like yourselves” means that animals are like humanity “in seeking the True God, and in intuiting Him from His subtleties in creation which bring out the lights of His attributes in the world.” Interestingly, the animals are seen not just as passive substrates for the divine properties, but as active pursuers and agents of his truth. So in what sense are they “like unto ourselves”? Here Ruzbehan tries to explain: All the nations share a basic created nature in being composed of the four elements, and are made with animal and spiritual natures, and are equal in eating and drinking, motion and congregation, the qualities of the self and properties of identity, such as desire, anger, passion, and pride; this equality (tasawi) is based in the stuff of the primordial nature (fitra), according to which God made them, as He has said: “From it did We create you, to it do We return you, and from it We shall bring you forth one more time (20:55).” . . . They all have their drinking-places in the ocean of God’s speech and His eternal words which indicate the paths of His unity: the nature of animals, birds and insects and predators is mingled with knowledge of their Maker and Creator, whose qualities and essence they know; this discourse is not difficult or insufficient for them to understand.27 As the centuries pass, one finds the primal Islamic insistence on animal consciousness and moral significance elaborated in a set of ever more intricate debates. Many of these are of considerable interest, but for reasons of space, I will confine myself to just one of these, in which the prophetic insistence on some kind of real animal deliberation seemed to run against what are surely its natural limits. The major jurist ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, who died in 1565, composed a Sufi-tinged book titled Gems and Pearls in which he took the view that animal consciousness and adoration of God are so advanced (albeit poorly comprehended by non-saintly humans) that animals are truly addressed by revelation and are not only beings worthy of moral treatment but also themselves morally accountable. They even have their own prophets, and Sha‘rani discusses whether these might have been humans sent to minister to them, before concluding that in fact the correct 167

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view is that the dogs had a prophet who was a dog, the horses had a horse prophet, and so forth. Otherwise, the verse “nations like yourselves” could not properly apply.28 Sha‘rani here joins Ruzbehan in proposing that animals are literally, as the scripture says, nations like ourselves, particularly in the most defining activities of knowing and praising God, receiving prophecy, and leading a moral life. This, however, proves too much for commentators less intoxicated by mystical interpretations. Sha‘rani is challenged directly by the nineteenth-century Iraqi commentator al-Alusi. For Alusi, the discussion should be a sober and technical one: humans have nafs natiqa, rational souls, a term that theologians inherited from the ancient Greeks.29 But a question must be answered: is it heretical to teach that animals too have souls of this kind? Alusi starts his analysis by giving examples of directed agency among animals: bees with their cells, spiders and their webs, and so forth. A sheep, he observes, fears the wolf without having to see what the wolf is capable of. Why do lions not attack each other? Because they have an awareness that they can be of mutual benefit to one another in the future. But this consciousness is not the same as human consciousness. When animals appear to act wisely, he says, they do so not on the basis of deduction and reason, but from inspiration and divine direction. A lion may refrain from attacking other lions but only, at most, because of a pleasure principle: the lion does not wish to compromise her own utility in obtaining food. This is a heavenly inspiration, akin to that which prompts an animal’s love for her offspring. But it is not reason of the human type. For Alusi, Sha‘rani has fallen prey to the widespread Sufi love of attributing soul and consciousness to just about everything. True, God says that everything on earth praises him and that we just don’t understand other animals’ words. But their praise is by way of mute eloquence, through the very act of being who they are; they do not form and intend words to extol a Creator whose reality they might have rationally deduced.30 Still, given the extensive prophetic teaching on animal behavior and soul, Alusi has no objection to using the term nafs natiqa in the case of animals, as long as we bear in mind their very disparate capacities to perceive and apprehend. He writes, “However excellent they may be, they do not reach the degree of perception and autonomy of which man is capable . . . They know God. But as for the claim that they have prophets of their own kind, I neither hold this view nor anathematize those who hold it.”31 A century after Alusi, the Egyptian modernist commentary The Beacon cites his discussion in detail and adds this: “If by ‘rational soul’ [nafs natiqa] is meant a soul like the human soul, this can only be decided if one has a proper definition of the human soul: and where is he who can claim this?”32 This leads naturally to the second of the great puzzles thrown up by the verse. Are the animals to be resurrected, as the text seems to indicate? And if so, does this strengthen the case that they are to be judged and are hence not only sentient beings but moral ones as well? The verse ends with the prediction that all will be “gathered to their Lord.” This appears to be underlined by another Qur’anic text: “and when the wild beasts shall be ingathered” (Qur’an 81:5), which is to be a sign of the cataclysmic Last Judgment. The concept in both verses is that of hashr, a normal Qur’anic designation for the resurrection at the end of time. Some commentators balked at the picture of the resurrection of all animals for judgment; they proposed that “resurrection” here simply meant that all animals will be united in death, and there were companions who could be cited in support of this view. Such attempts to defuse the verse’s plain sense were, however, confounded by a cluster of canonical hadith whose concern was to emphasize the plenitude of God’s justice and which brought animals undeniably onto the eschatological stage. Here is one of these texts: “On the Day of Arising, all of creation will be gathered together: the cattle, the riding-beasts, the birds, and every other thing, and it shall be by God’s justice that He takes the hornless sheep’s case against the horned one. Then He shall say, ‘Be dust.’”33 168

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The concern of these hadith is to show that animals are incorporated within God’s structures of justice. So another well-known hadith describes the Prophet seeing two sheep fighting each other. He asks his companion Abu Dharr if he knows why they are fighting, and when Abu Dharr confesses that he has no idea, the Prophet replies, “But God knows, and shall judge between them on the Day of Judgement.”34 Here we confront the second of Ibn ‘Ashur’s “obscurities.” There was no deep problem with the notion that God would show justice to the animals, but on closer consideration, the exact nature of their accountability seemed extremely taxing. The early Mu‘tazilite movement, eventually dismissed as schismatic, had included in its theodicy the doctrine that a perfectly just God was obliged to put right all animal suffering at the end of time by providing celestial compensation. The vision of heaven filled with every animal and insect who had ever lived was not widely popular: would even vermin be found in the heavenly abode? The mainstream orthodoxy denied, in any case, that God could be subject to any obligation. He will quicken dead animals not because he has to, but from his free fiat and glory. Moreover, the orthodox reasoned that a God obligated to impose strict justice on animals would also have to send some of them to hell, and this was widely agreed to be unlikely. Some Mu‘tazilites also held that animals would be in heaven forever: after all, if God killed them, then his justice would oblige him to compensate them for that, which would be impossible, since they would no longer exist. Considering these paradoxes, the mainstream thinkers concluded that after the animals had experienced full recompense, God would painlessly turn them to dust. But many orthodox writers like the idea that at least some animals will be received into heaven; Mawardi, for instance, says that in paradise the believers will enjoy riding animals and looking at them.35 Divine recompense for all animal suffering is thus generally accepted by normative Islam. But what about reward for moral conduct? As we have seen, for Sufis of the stamp of Ruzbehan and Sha‘rani, animal consciousness as detected by the saints is so humanlike that animals receive prophets and moral codes. They could easily appeal to the hadith: the sheep fighting each other will have their dispute resolved, presumably through God’s punishing of the culpable party. But the more exoteric authorities attribute a rather vague kind of lesser morality to them. As Qurtubi said, “the pen does not move for them, but they will still be taken to task,”36 the “pen” being the divine record of virtuous and vicious acts. For the theologians, animals are not mukallaf – that is, not subject to full moral accountability as humans are. They note that there are other entities, such as children or those with mental illness, who will be resurrected but are insufficiently morally accountable and are hence not mukallaf. Not every mind that faces eternity in heaven is fully competent.37 A further insight is supplied by Ibn ‘Ashur, who cites the Sicilian Arab jurist al-Mazuri (d. 1141), who taught that the resurrection and recompense of the animals exists to show humankind God’s perfect justice. Thinking legally, Mazuri continues by observing that the verse requires believers to be kind to animals because the animals have rights (huquq). If animal resurrection and the restoration of their rights at that time applies to animal-on-animal injustice, then it is even more appropriate that animals should be recompensed for wrongs visited upon them by human beings. Here Ibn ‘Ashur cites a well-known hadith in which the Prophet describes a woman who went to hell for starving her cat to death.38 In this context Islamic law accepts that animals possess rights. Although animal rights are treated in a rather scattered way in the legal manuals, the following definition by one of the leading jurists, al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam (d. 1262), may be taken as normative: These are the rights over man which are vested in animals. Man must spend on them appropriately, even on animals which are old or sick and are no longer of benefit. An animal has the right not to be burdened beyond its capacity. It must not be placed in 169

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the same enclosure as any animal of its own species or another which would harm it by breaking its bones, wounding it or goring it.39 He adds further rights, including the right to access animals of the opposite gender. Of course, the jurists also permit animals to be slaughtered for food, but this is strictly on the grounds of a divine permission, which is invoked at the moment of slaughter; to eat an animal killed without such a blessing is to commit the sin of eating carrion. The permission exists not because it reflects the purpose of the animal’s creation, as in Aquinas,40 but simply because of divine fiat, which confirms the human species in its place in the natural order. And so Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam adds to the list of animal rights the right to a good death. A few brief remarks to conclude: One notes how hard the mainstream theology, and not only the Sufis, strained to find a maximalist account of animal rights and souls. It is evident that measured against most medieval Christian discussions, the advent of Muslim revelation did indeed provide some significant ethical and even ontological breakthroughs. The language of animal rights, a term still contested by some in our day, is naturally at home in the Islamic scriptural, legal, and prophetic universe: animals are in a real sense “like ourselves”; moreover, they are to be resurrected and shown justice by an all-loving God. These rights are intrinsic, not instrumental: whether or not an animal is someone’s possession is disregarded. In this way, Islamic constructions of animal life, strongly rooted in prophetic teaching, form part of the larger pattern of the revalorization of nature brought by the Qur’anic dispensation, enshrining an agenda of reparation constructed against the then regnant paradigms of nature that, for reasons on which I am not competent to pronounce, had been incorporated into the worldview of early Christianity.

Notes 1 The reference list includes Herbert Eisenstein, Einführung in die arabische Zoographie: Das tierkundliche Wissen in der arabisch-islamischen Literatur (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1991); Mohammed Hicne Benkheira, Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, and Jacqueline Sublet, L’Animal en islam (Paris: Les indes savantes, 2005); Richard Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005); Sarra Tlili, Animals in the Qur’an (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). 2 See Neal Robinson, “Islam: Ants, Birds, and Other Affable Creatures in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sufi Literature,” chapter 7 in this book. 3 For the texts see Al-Hafez B. A. Masri, Islamic Concern for Animals (Petersfield: Athene Trust, 1987), 21–22. 4 al-Tahir ibn ‘Ashur, Tafsir al-Tahrir wa’l-Tanwir (Tunis: al-Dar al-Tunisiyya li’n-Nashr, 1984), vol. 7, 213. 5 See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality,Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure (London: Penguin Books, 1985); Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988). 6 Cf. Ze’ev Maghen, Virtues of the Flesh: Passion and Purity in Early Islamic Jurisprudence (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 3–40. 7 Rodney Blackhirst, “Symbolism of Islamic Prayer,” The Matheson Trust, accessed July 25, 2014, http:// pdf . 8 Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 32. 9 Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad (Cairo: al-Maymaniyya, 1313 AH), vol. 1, 228. 10 Sahih Muslim, Zakat 48. 11 Sahih Bukhari, Anbiya’ 54. 12 Ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, 404; Abu Daud, Jihad 112; translation in Masri, Islamic Concern, 62. According to the lexicographers, the hummara may be a sparrow or a lark. 13 Abu Daud, Jihad 51; Tirmidhi, Jihad 30. 14 For the prohibition of blood sports, see Masri, Islamic Concern, 23; for the wider hunting culture, see the survey in Eisenstein, Einführung, 169–82.


“Nations like Yourselves” 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

30 31 32

33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Nasa’i, Dahaya 42; Ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 2, 166. Sahih Muslim, Sayd 60. Abu Daud, Jihad 44. Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. A. Guillaume (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955), 228. Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, 21–29. Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1983), 119. Louis Massignon, “L’umma et ses synonymes: Notion de ‘communauté sociale’ en Islam,” Revue des Études Islamiques 15 (1947): 151–57; Frederick Denny, “The Meaning of Ummah in the Qur’an,” History of Religions 15 (1975): 34–70. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Tafsir Mafatih al-Ghayb (Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-Bahiyya, 1938), vol. 12, 213, first published in 1357. Razi, vol. 12, 213–14. Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Qurtubi, al-Jami‘ li-ahkam al-Qur’an (Damascus: Dar al-Fikr, 1998), vol. 6, 328. Razi, vol. 12, 213. The hadith is in Sahih Bukhari, Adhan 90. Ruzbehan al-Baqli al-Shirazi, ‘Ara’is al-bayan fi haqa’iq al-Qur’an (Cawnpore: Naval Kishwar, 1300AH), 205. Ruzbehan, ‘Ara’is al-bayan, 205. ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha‘rani, al-Jawahir wa’l-durar (Misr, Egypt: n.p., 1276AH), 4–7. In particular from Aristotle’s De Anima and Plato’s Timaeus. See Deborah Black, “Psychology: Soul and Intellect,” in The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, ed. Peter Adamson and Richard C. Taylor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 308–09. Shihab al-Din al-Alusi, Ruh al-ma‘ani fi tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim wa’l-sab‘ al-mathani (Cairo: Mu’assasat al-Halabi, n.d.), vol. 7, 217–19. Alusi, Ruh al-ma‘ani fi tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 7, 219. Muhammad Rashid Rida, Tafsir al-Manar, 3rd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Manar, 1368AH), vol. 7, 401. For an overview of the discussions, see Alma Giese, “‘Vier Tieren auch verheissen war, ins Paradies zu kommen’ – Betrachtungen zur Seele der Tiere im islamischen Mittelalter,” in Die Seele der Tiere (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001), 111–31. Cited in Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife, trans. T. J. Winter (Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1989), 200–01; cf. Ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, 72. Ghazali, The Remembrance, 200, narrated by al-Bazzar and al-Tabarani. ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Mawardi, al-Nukat wa’l-‘uyun (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, n.d.), vol. 2, 113. For more on the arguments over animal resurrection, see Tlili, Animals in the Qur’an, 196–202. Qurtubi, al-Jami‘ li-ahkam al-Qur’an, vol. 6, 328. Tlili, Animals in the Qur’an, 202–20. Ibn ‘Ashur, Tafsir al-Tahrir wa’l-Tanwir, vol. 7, 215–16. For the hadith see Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 20; Masri, Islamic Concern, 29. ‘Izz al-Din ibn ‘Abd al-Salam al-Sulami, Qawa’id al-ahkam fi masalih al-anam (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1421AH), vol. 1, 238. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, cited in Andrew Linzey and Tom Regan, eds., Animals and Christianity: A Book of Readings (London: SPCK, 1989), 124.

References Abbas, Fakhar-i-. Animal Rights in Islam: Islam and Animal Rights. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag, 2009. al-Alusi, Shihab al-Din. Ruh al-ma‘ani fi tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim wa’l-sab‘ al-mathani. Cairo: Mu’assasat al-Halabi, n.d. Benkheira, Mohammed Hicne, Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, and Jacqueline Sublet. L’Animal en Islam. Paris: Les indes savantes, 2005. Black, Deborah. “Psychology: Soul and Intellect.” In The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, edited by Peter Adamson and Richard C. Taylor, 308–26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Blackhirst, Rodney. “Symbolism of Islamic Prayer.” The Matheson Trust. Accessed July 25, 2014.


Tim Winter Brown, Peter. The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. Denny, Frederick. “The Meaning of Ummah in the Qur’an.” History of Religions 15 (1975): 34–70. Eisenstein, Herbert. Einführung in die arabische Zoographie: Das tierkundliche Wissen in der arabisch-islamischen Literatur. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1991. Foltz, Richard. Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures. Oxford: Oneworld, 2005. Foucault, Michael. The History of Sexuality,Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure. London: Penguin Books, 1985. al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife. Translated by T. J. Winter. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1989. Giese, Alma. “‘Vier Tieren auch verheissen war, ins Paradies zu kommen’ – Betrachtungen zur Seele der Tiere im islamischen Mittelalter.” In Die Seele der Tiere, 111–31. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001. Ibn ‘Ashur, al-Tahir. Tafsir al-Tahrir wa’l-Tanwir. Tunis: al-Dar al-Tunisiyya li’n-Nashr, 1984. Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad. Al-Musnad. Cairo: al-Maymaniyya, 1313 AH. Ibn Ishaq. The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by A. Guillaume. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955. Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam al-Sulami, ‘Izz al-Din. Qawa’id al-ahkam fi masalih al-anam. Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1421AH. Ikhwan al-Safa. The Animals’ Lawsuit against Humanity. Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2005. Lings, Martin. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1983. Linzey, Andrew, and Tom Regan, eds. Animals and Christianity: A Book of Readings. London: SPCK, 1989. Maghen, Ze’ev. Virtues of the Flesh: Passion and Purity in Early Islamic Jurisprudence. Leiden: Brill, 2005. Masri, Al-Hafez B. A. Islamic Concern for Animals. Petersfield: Athene Trust, 1987. Massignon, Louis. “L’umma et ses synonymes: Notion de ‘communauté sociale’ en Islam.” Revue des Études Islamiques 15 (1947): 151–57. al-Mawardi, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad. Al-Nukat wa’l-‘uyun. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, n.d. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. The Encounter of Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man. London: Allen and Unwin, 1968. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Religion and the Order of Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. al-Qurtubi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad. al-Jami‘ li-ahkam al-Qur’an. Damascus: Dar al-Fikr, 1998. al-Razi, Fakhr al-Din. Tafsir Mafatih al-Ghayb. Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-Bahiyya, 1938. First published in 1357. Rida, Muhammad Rashid. Tafsir al-Manar. 3rd ed. Cairo: Dar al-Manar, 1368AH. al-Sha‘rani, ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Al-Jawahir wa’l-durar. Misr, Egypt: n.p., 1276AH. al-Shirazi, Ruzbehan al-Baqli.‘Ara’is al-bayan fi haqa’iq al-Qur’an. Cawnpore: Naval Kishwar, 1300AH. Schimmel, Annemarie. Islam and the Wonders of Creation: The Animal Kingdom. London: Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2003. Tavakkoli, Saeid Nazari. Animal Welfare Acts and Utilization Limits in Islam. London: CreateSpace, 2015. Tlili, Sarra. Animals in the Qur’an. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.


17 INVOKING ANOTHER WORLD An Interreligious Reflection on Hindu Mythology Michael Barnes

For years I lived in the multicultural town of Southall in West London. There I was soaked in the religious culture of the subcontinent of India and made to think about matters of faith, meaning, and value by daily interactions with the Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus who were my neighbors. Many aspects of that culture I quickly took for granted, especially what I saw daily in the three Hindu temples. Major theistic figures such as Rama and Krishna stand alongside obscure Vedic creator-gods such as Viśvakarman and more contemporary sants who are considered in some way to manifest the divine mystery to human beings. Even the most cursory glance reveals a gorgeously vibrant religious hinterland, populated by elephants and horses, bulls and snakes, monkeys and peacocks – though they are not there merely to form a sensuous aesthetic ambience. Nonhuman animals very often accompany the gods as allies and helpers, whether as their vehicle or vahana or in a more substantive role, such as Hanuman the “monkey-god,” who aids Rama in his battle with the demon Ravana. The animal world pervades all dimensions of the Hindu vision of things, even the practice of yoga, where so many of the postures or asanas are described through animal imagery – dog, cat, fish, cobra, and so on. Yet relatively little attention is paid to these figures in the ever-expanding survey literature on contemporary Hinduism. There are, no doubt, good reasons for that – not least the need to map a comprehensible path through a world that often seems deeply ambivalent about the nature of human flourishing, let alone anything to do with human attitudes toward and treatment of nonhuman animals. I will return to this point later. More immediately, it is important to note that what colonial administrators and Western historians of religion have constructed as “Hinduism” is not a singular system but a whole range of abstract philosophies and theistic spiritualities, ways of meditation, and practices of devotion, which have as their object not a systematic account of divine interaction with the world but a densely structured religious imaginary in which myriad levels and forms of existence, including but not limited to the human and the animal, coalesce and mingle together in blissful chaos. There is no single Hindu position on anything. The original idea behind this chapter was to provide a brief animal-focused supplement to the more anthropocentric accounts of Hindu religiosity. However, just categorizing the different nonhuman animal forms and tracing the history of their development, let alone sorting out any sort of “Hindu line” on meat-eating and vegetarianism or delving into the fascinating topic of what might be called “animal spirituality,”1 would take me beyond the limits of a brief chapter. What I offer here is no more than a way in. I restrict myself to two figures I know from 173

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those Southall temples: the avatar (literally “descent”) of Vishnu as Narasimha, the man-lion, and Ganeśa, the ever-popular elephant-headed son of Śiva – probably the most familiar icon of Hinduism. I choose these two because they are both “anthropo-theriomorphs”; they cross the boundary between human and nonhuman animal. Such hybrids are familiar from the more exotic fringes of religious mythology, from mermaids, werewolves, and centaurs to Egyptian gods with jackal heads and massive Assyrian guardians with the bodies of bulls. No doubt, each tells a particular story. My question is what can be learned from two Hindu figures that continue to inspire deep religious devotion. I write as a non-Hindu, indeed as a Christian theologian, in order to explore that mysterious boundary-world in which one tradition begins to speak to another. I do this from within the perspective of comparative theology, a program of reflective interreligious learning in which one religious tradition is read through the lens of another.2 In outlining one or two strands in the mythologies and making a few tentative comments, what I hope to do is open up the possibility of learning not just from the data, the literary material that gives form to a religious world, but also from secondary reflection on the experience of crossing the boundary into another world where what the Buddhists call “sentient beings” interact with each other and where talk about ultimate meaning and value becomes possible. I am not, in other words, out to appropriate the sacred wisdom of another world in order to build a more robust version of Christian faith but am seeking to explore the limits of understanding itself. Can a Christian faith that, if it thinks about the value of nonhuman animal life at all, tends to subordinate it to human needs learn from a Hindu faith that appears to merge all such animal–human distinctions? Raising such a question may not provoke profound insights into either the Hindu or the Christian account of things, but in its focus on the often unreflective valuation human beings give to the animal world, it may say something about the limitations in a multicultural society of working out of a single tradition-specific perspective.

Fighting for Justice Let me begin by recounting the story of Narasimha. There was once a mighty demon called Hiranyakaśipu who performed severe austerities and kept complete silence for 11,000 years. Brahma was so impressed with this that he offered to grant him whatever he wanted. The demon replied that he desired immortality and inviolability: “May neither gods nor human beings nor beasts be able to kill me. Neither by arrows nor missiles, nor by wet nor dry, neither by night nor day may I be slain. I will become the sun and the moon, wind, fire and rain, the god of all.” “So be it,” replied Brahma. When the gods and great sages heard this, they all approached Brahma. “Because of what you have granted him, the demon will kill us!” they said. And sure enough, Hiranyakaśipu did grow arrogant from the powers that he had gained. He oppressed the world, harassing the great sages, vanquishing the gods in heaven, and granting the fruits of the sacrifice to the demons. So in response to the pleas of the gods, Brahma allowed Vishnu to come to the aid of the world to bring an end to Hiranyakaśipu’s reign. Vishnu went to the abode of Hiranyakaśipu and made his form half-man and half-lion. At dusk when the demon appeared on the verandah of his house, Vishnu seized him and, placing him upon his lap, tore him apart with nothing but his claws, leaving him lifeless, whereupon the gods all worshipped Vishnu-Narasimha and he vanished from their sight.3 There are a number of versions of this story, some brief, some much longer, many making great play of the violent ending. Let’s leave that aspect to one side for the moment and focus first on the literary genre. Although much of the material in the popular illustrations that cover the walls of the Southall temples can be traced back to earlier antecedents, it is the texts called puranas 174

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that most occupy our attention. The word means literally “ancient”; the puranas are collections of legends, genealogies, and stories about gods and heroes, the most powerful expressions of bhakti or devotional religion that speak about the various manifestations of Bhagavan, the “Blessed Lord.” Traditionally, there are supposed to be eighteen “great puranas,” but there are many more than that, of all shapes and sizes, not to mention a whole range of sthalapuranas, those attached to particular places or temples and telling the story behind their foundation. As a genre of religious literature, their origins lie with the sutas or bards who were responsible for their oral recitation. They may not be regarded as śruti, divine words “heard” by the ancient sages.4 Nevertheless, they do carry a meaning that is to be linked right back to the authoritative Vedas. Thus, ancient hieratic and more local “popular” or sectarian traditions are made to mingle in an ever-creative liturgical performance, part of the ritual round that gathers together and forms a community. Even the most literary and developed text, the Bhagavata Purana, begins with a dialogue in which the suta is asked to extol the way of “devotion, spiritual knowledge and renunciation” that can overcome the demonic power of this “terrible Kali age.”5 That perhaps is the place to begin. The Narasimha myth is one of a tradition that recognizes ten avatars associated with Vishnu. Four of the ten have animal characteristics: preceding the man-lion in the classical list are the fish, the tortoise, and the boar. All are given a sort of theological justification as versions of what is explained in the Bhagavad Gita as the saving intent of the god Vishnu. Here are the words of another avatar of Vishnu, Krishna, speaking to the young charioteer Arjuna: “Whenever the law of righteousness (dharma) withers away and lawlessness (adharma) raises its head, then do I generate myself [on earth]. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers, for the setting up of the law of righteousness, I come into being age after age.”6 If there can be said to be one great theme uniting all these classical myths, it is that which underlies Indian religion more generally: cosmic justice and the dilemmas of pursuing dharma, the cause of right, in a less than perfect world. More is at stake than some version of a clash between the forces of good and evil – more even than the cathartic effect of witnessing the demons get their just deserts. Wendy Doniger talks provocatively about the “Dionysian current in Indian thought”: “only when living creatures are in conflict – the gentle against the cruel, the truthful against the false – only when the powers of evil are allowed to rise up against the powers of good (albeit only to be inevitably, if temporarily, quelled), only when death exists to threaten life can life realize its full value.”7 If we think in terms of a liturgy or dramatic performance, the myths introduce us as participants – not spectators – in a religious world permeated by a controlling vision of creation, dissolution, and recreation, successive ages of existence in which a golden age of perfection deteriorates into the present age of chaos and destruction. More important than the mechanics of the drama itself are the reactions of the dramatis personae – the gods, demigods, human animals, and nonhuman creatures – whose ideals and actions are compromised by the tragic ambiguity of “the terrible Kali age.” Against this background it is possible to understand the roles played by Vishnu-Narasimha himself as an emissary of Brahma, performing a task that the god may not do himself, and as a mediator, positioning himself on behalf of the suffering groups. Vishnu takes on a certain disguise in order to get close to the demon, practicing a degree of trickery, by which he is able to exploit a chink in the armor that the demon has constructed. This may be a tragically chaotic world, but it is still one in which living creatures of all kinds can and do bring a measure of order through acts of dharma, justice, and truth. Nothing is completely fixed; there is always room for maneuvering as one individual or group finds faith in another. The position of the avatar or god-figure as a source of liminality, a passageway through everyday ambivalence, is one that becomes much clearer when we turn to Ganeśa. 175

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Passage through Ambivalence Ganeśa belongs properly within another great “family” of Hindu myths, that which clusters around the ascetic-erotic figure of Śiva, a quintessential manifestation of ambivalence if ever there was one. The great annual festival Ganeśa Chaturthi sees the murti or “form” of the god solemnly invested with elaborate ceremonies and processions and then taken to the river, where it is immersed and dissolved. The powerful image of the clay of the earth formed into a sacred artifact and then returned to its origins is reflected in the primal myth of Ganeśa.8 One day, it is said, Śiva the great ascetic left his wife Parvati to indulge his need for meditative seclusion. Parvati in her loneliness conceived a great desire for a son who would protect her. So in her bath she scraped the cleansing oils off her body and fashioned the material into the form of a young man. Breathing life into him, she placed him at the doorway of her bath with strict instructions to let no one enter. Śiva meanwhile returned from his ascetical pursuits and found his wife’s private chamber blocked by an unknown stranger who steadfastly refused to let him pass. In his anger he lashed out at the young man and cut off his head. Parvati emerged and was enraged by what her husband had unwittingly done. In her anger and grief she threatened to destroy the entire universe. So Śiva sent his servants off in pursuit of a replacement head. The first creature they came across was an elephant; they cut off the animal’s head and brought it back, and Śiva fixed it on the shoulders of the young man’s body. As the young man revived, Śiva gave him his name and decreed that the one who had overcome a fearful personal obstacle should be worshipped as the one who overcomes all obstacles. Ganeśa means “leader of hosts,” a reference to Śiva’s spirit-hordes that inhabit the twilight world and that in some way Ganeśa controls. There are endless variations on and additions to this story. One places responsibility for Ganeśa’s birth with Śiva. When a beautiful young hero sprang forth as the fruit of Śiva’s meditation, it was Parvati who was jealous of this upstart interloper and cursed him to be ugly, with an elephant’s head. This action was countered by Śiva, who decreed that Ganeśa would be the center of all spiritual and worldly affairs and a source of blessing and insurance against any form of failure. The beheading motif is supplemented by the image of the broken tusk. Once, when Ganeśa was acting as gatekeeper to the ever-irascible Śiva, a rather self-important visitor insisted on being allowed to pass. A fight ensued, and the angry visitor threw his axe at Ganeśa and broke his tusk. Parvati intervened and decreed that in compensation Ganeśa was to be worshipped by all the other gods. This theme of Ganeśa’s unlikely preeminence comes out in my favorite story, the sthalapurana attached to the temple of Palni in Tamil Nadu. The story goes that Śiva and Parvati offered a prize of a piece of fruit to whichever of their two sons could go around the world the fastest. Ganeśa’s brother Murugan set off with all eagerness and speed. Ganeśa just sat there for a while pondering; then he got up and trotted around his mother and father – for they were the center of his world – and promptly gained the promised prize. Murugan came back sometime later and was angered to find that he had been outwitted; he retired to the top of the mountain, where he spent his days in feats of disgruntled asceticism. Very few temples are dedicated to Ganeśa alone, but the icon of this enigmatic figure with an elephant head, potbelly, short dwarfish legs, and four arms clutching various objects is present everywhere, in Indian homes as throughout the Hindu diaspora. He is celebrated as the remover of obstacles and the one invoked at the beginning of any new enterprise; in the power battles that always go on in the world of the gods, Ganeśa acts as an ever-reliable intermediary. The stories give us something about the character of the god: warm, gentle, courageous, heroic. Yet he is not to be trifled with; his stolid, faintly comic, ponderous appearance hides a sagacity that is as old as the hills. It is, of course, the elephant imagery behind Ganeśa that is most intriguing and 176

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perhaps goes some way toward revealing how the offspring of Śiva and Parvati is more than the sum total of their attributes. The Indian elephant may be more placid than his African cousin, but not all Indian elephants are safely domesticated tourist attractions in large temple complexes. The sheer bulk and magnificence of these awesome creatures is reflected in the Vedic imagery of the free elephant who “rushes this way and that, mad with heat.”9 Like great gray monsoon clouds drenching the parched earth, bringing new life but also destruction in their wake, so the elephants for all their benign appearance are an ambivalent force, standing at the boundary between the free and the tamed, between jungle and kingdom, between sheer brute strength and cultivated virtue. Ganeśa is a guardian of the threshold, controlling entries and exits, beginnings and endings. Even more so than Vishnu-Narasimha, Ganeśa teaches his devotees how to move between the divine and material worlds, holding together the cycles of creation and destruction and mediating a transition between the inexorable demands of cosmic justice and the more immediate demands of practicing svadharma, the justice proper to this place and this moment.

Strategies for Living in an Imperfect World What theological meaning is to be gained from these stories? Do they encourage a naive sentimentalism toward the animal world, or do they raise serious questions about the nature of divine reality and its ethical implications for the way “sentient beings” of all kinds should respond to each other? Perhaps the most important principle I have learned from talking to people of faith, reading their scriptures, and visiting their places of worship is to begin – and stay for as long as possible – “in the middle of things.” That is not just a limp nod in the direction of the “insider – outsider” problem; the intent is, rather, to ensure that one learns from the deep but creative ambivalence that runs through all religious traditions, including my own. I began by saying that whatever we mean by “Hinduism,” it is not a singular system but an aggregation of spiritual intuitions that have developed organically over a period of time. One of these is a sort of egalitarian universalism, illustrated most powerfully in the idea that all beings participate somehow in a single reality or atman. Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita it is said that the wise “see the self-same thing in a Brahman wise and courteous as in a cow or an elephant, nay, as in a dog or outcaste.”10 Yet Hinduism, as noted earlier, is also dominated by the demands of cosmic justice and the very real particularities of age, caste, gender, and even species that are to be explained in terms of the law of karma. All beings are subject to an inexorable process of transmigration; what we are now is in continuity with what we once were – and the result of what we did in an earlier life. Thus, the Chandogya Upanisad speaks of those of “pleasant conduct here” entering the womb of high-caste persons; at the same time, those of “stinking conduct here” enter the womb of a dog or swine or of an outcaste.11 Very roughly: a vision of an allencompassing unity across species sits alongside a more pragmatic realism that seeks to account for difference. On the one hand, an ethic of respect and reverence for all forms of life is cultivated by a principle of continuity: all creatures participate in a sort of universal consciousness or spirit. On the other, the demands of justice that are to be worked out through the concept of transmigration over countless ages create a principle of hierarchy that justifies the status quo and govern a thoroughly anthropocentric account of other creatures. Hinduism, however, never allows such deep-set ambivalence to descend into a destructive binary, and one of the fruits of theological reflection by an outsider on this tradition is the odd insight into how it remains creative and fruitful. Many – perhaps most – Hindu texts, such as the puranas discussed previously, are composite, the result of years and years of aggregation. Even the tradition of the dharmaśastras, the books of law, represents not a single standard code but a commentary on varnaśramadharma, the dutiful life based on stage and state of life that includes the 177

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world of the gods and runs into the nonhuman animal kingdom. The most significant of these texts, The Laws of Manu, gathers together much practical wisdom and authoritative interpretation in order to generate strategies for everyday living. The compiler is concerned not with inner consistency but with understanding and justifying human action. His main focus is on the messy world of power and inequality – a world dominated by the matsyanyaya, or “logic of the fishes,” in which the weak get gobbled up by the more violent. Manu can be interpreted as an attempt to bring this more brutal account of nature as sanctioned by the ancient sacrificial cult of the Veda into some sort of correlation with other forms of human religiosity – most obviously the ascetical practices of the “renouncer tradition” and the devotional cults that form around popular god-figures.12 Thus, to go back to the terms of the fundamental ambivalence noted earlier, the latter traditions are exemplified in terms of that wonderful word ahimsa, usually translated as “nonviolence” but more exactly meaning “wishing no harm or violence.” A familiar symbolic figure for this attitude is the cow, reverently regarded as gomata, our mother, sacred because of the gentle passivity with which she provides the basic staples of life. The other meaning emerges from the more obviously violent spirit appropriate to the culture of the kshatriya caste and the ritual of sacrifice that runs through so much of the ancient Vedic literature. If there is a contrasting symbolic figure, maybe it lies with the bloody corpses of goats I once noticed in the corner of a Kolkata temple dedicated to the goddess Kali. Manu does not reconcile the two with a neat bit of theological justification. All we get are a few hints – but these hints do open up a space within which our questions about the value of the animal world can be addressed. The first and last chapters of The Laws of Manu form a sort of “theological frame” for the whole; the first focuses on the principle of karma and the various classes and groups of creatures, whereas the last expands on the results of action and the character of different types of creatures. Pride of place is given to the theory of the gunas or “strands” that are said to pervade all of reality: sattva, lucidity and lightness; rajas, energy and creativity; and tamas, darkness and lethargy. “Now I will tell you, in a nutshell and in order, the transmigrations in this whole (universe) that one achieves by each of these qualities: people of lucidity become gods, people of energy become humans, and people of darkness always become animals; this is the threefold level of existence.”13 That seems pretty unequivocal: a rigid karmic hierarchy sets human beings on a trajectory away from an intrinsically lower animal existence and toward an eternal destiny, through reincarnation in heaven with the gods – or indeed as a god. Read on a little further, however, and it all becomes a little less than clear, for Manu adds an immediate qualification: “But it should be realized that this threefold level of existence, which is dependent on the qualities, is itself threefold: lowest, middle and highest, according to the specific act and learning (of the actor).”14 We then get a further set of distinctions that cut across the human–animal divide. Under the “hindmost level of existence” typified by the guna of darkness, bugs, elephants, lions, and tigers occupy the same level as servants, despised barbarians, and “strolling actors.” The guna of energy is slightly more homogeneous: pugilists, arms dealers, gamblers, and drunks are to be distinguished from an intermediate level that includes kings and “those obsessed with the battle of words,” whereas the higher level gathers together a motley crew of centaurs, genies, and celestial nymphs. The guna of lucidity distinguishes such worthies as ascetics and priests from sages and gods and, at the most rarified level, “the creators of the whole universe,” the “great one and the unmanifest.”15 It is clear throughout the text that what is commended are qualities of intelligence and clarity of vision, typical of the enlightened human being, and the opposites are condemned: ignorance, stupidity, and violence, which are more typical of the nonhuman world. And yet Manu is not consistent. There remains the possibility that a human being can fail to achieve the appropriate balance of the gunas, whereas an animal may succeed. Although this encyclopedic compendium 178

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provides all sorts of examples of what should and should not be done and the likely consequences of informed and thoughtless action, it is impossible to be exhaustive. The mistake is to think that Manu gives us only one side of a strategy for living, the rules that must be followed. In fact, the text is seeking to cultivate the space within which life in an imperfect world can be lived with some sort of integrity. In a very different context, commenting on a papal encyclical, the Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe came up with an interesting distinction of literary genres. Regarding authoritative statements, he said, one needs to ask whether they are to be read as a coaching manual for playing the game or as the rules that define the game itself.16 Manu, like so many Hindu texts, contains elements of both. It is both prescriptive, gathering the best wisdom and advice about correct behavior, and descriptive, with its own “inner mythology” or form of discourse that invites its readers into the life associated with the inner practices that form a religious world. If that is correct, then it needs to be read not against but in dialogue with the sort of puranic stories we have been considering. It is not necessary to invoke some all-encompassing definition of myth to know that as performative utterances, stories about heroes and exemplary figures are intended to provide a practical way through a logical contradiction. Myths are to be lived out in ordinary life rather than dissected in a seminar. Impossible feats inspire effort and console failure. If that is correct, then no doubt, all mythological figures perform a liminal function for a community of faith: in participating in a sacred drama, devotees find themselves caught up in a movement into a sacred space that as ordinary mortals they cannot take. All the avatars of Vishnu, for example, are heroes who enter into the world of suffering humanity and vindicate people from the oppression of demonic powers. In that sense the theriomorphic figures – from Hanuman to Ganeśa and Narasimha – remind us that human and nonhuman creatures are all part of one great continuum. There is something of the nonhuman in each of us because, in the Hindu account of things, human animals were once nonhuman – and vice versa. That may go some way toward appreciating how the human tendency to anthropomorphize what is strictly beyond form by projecting particular qualities onto ultimate reality gets extended from the human to the nonhuman animal world. But what finally about our hybrid “anthropo-theriomorphs”? Images of the ultimate that cross the species barrier, especially those that build hybrids, may strike us as quaint and sentimental. But maybe there is something more profound at work. Bhakti, or the way of devotion, ranges from the measured intellectualism of the Bhagavad Gita to the intense eroticism of the Bhagavata Purana and includes figures as intimately appealing as Krishna and as dark and threatening as Kali. If there is one idea that holds them together, it is the typically bhakta sensibility that refuses to let violence and greed and loss have the last word. Hindu myths never close off avenues of thought; indeed, they keep us on our toes by reminding us that however divine mystery is conceived in metaphorical terms, strictly it has no bounds, any more than love and loyalty can be limited in their object. Neither the principle of the continuum of creation nor the principle of the hierarchy of stage and state of life is enough on its own. We are speaking here of the “deep structure” of faith, a sort of regulative instinct that needs always to be configured in ever-imaginative ways. And in allowing for an element of surprise and subversion, the stories keep alive the hope that even in the darkness of the Kali-yuga, human beings – and animals too – are not constrained. Somehow a better future is always possible.

Notes 1 See, for example, Lance Nelson, “Cows, Elephants, Dogs, and Other Lesser Embodiments of Atman,” in A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science and Ethics, ed. Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton (New York: Columbia University Press), 179–93.


Michael Barnes 2 The best introduction is to be found in Francis X. Clooney, Comparative Theology: Deep Learning across Religious Borders (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). Clooney defines comparative theology as “acts of faith seeking understanding which are rooted in a particular faith tradition but which, from that foundation, venture into learning from one or more other faith traditions. This learning is sought for the sake of fresh theological insights that are indebted to the newly encountered tradition/s as well as the home tradition” (10). 3 Summary adapted from Deborah A. Soifer, The Myths of Narasimha and Vamana (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991). 4 Friedhelm Hardy links the formation of these texts with the growing emergence of autonomous kingdoms that needed somehow to identify and preserve a “common history.” Bards were often employed at court to celebrate ancient lineages and trace royal descent by linking the deeds of ancestors and heroes to the world of the gods. See Friedhelm Hardy, The Religious Culture of India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 266–69. 5 Bhagavata Purana 1.4. 6 Bhagavad Gita 4.7–8. Translation from R. C. Zaehner, trans., The Bhagavad Gita, with a Commentary Based on the Original Sources (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969). 7 Wendy Doniger, trans., Hindu Myths (London: Penguin, 1975), 13. 8 The fullest study is Paul B. Courtright, Ganeśa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). 9 Rig-Veda 1.64.7. 10 Bhagavad Gita 5.18. Zaehner notes that “self-same thing” is defined in the next stanza as Brahman, quoting Ramanuja: “because wisdom has one and the same form everywhere.” Zaehner, Bhagavad Gita, with a Commentary. 11 Chandogya Upanisad 5.10.7–8; using R. E. Hume’s translation: The Thirteen Principal Upanisads (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977). 12 Wendy Doniger, in the introduction to her excellent translation of The Laws of Manu (London: Penguin, 1991), puts it neatly: “Vedism and Hinduism meet in Manu” (xliii). 13 Doniger, The Laws of Manu, 12.40. 14 Doniger, The Laws of Manu, 12.41. 15 Doniger, The Laws of Manu, 12.50. 16 McCabe is commenting on Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor. See Herbert McCabe, “Manuals and Rule Books,” The Tablet, December 18, 1993, 9–10.

References Clooney, Francis X. Comparative Theology: Deep Learning across Religious Borders. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Courtright, Paul B. Ganeśa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Doniger, Wendy, trans. Hindu Myths. London: Penguin, 1975. Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. London: Viking, 2009. Doniger, Wendy, trans. The Laws of Manu. London: Penguin, 1991. Hardy, Friedhelm. The Religious Culture of India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Hume, R. E., trans. The Thirteen Principal Upanisads. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977. McCabe, Herbert. “Manuals and Rule Books.” The Tablet, December 18, 1993. Mittal, Sushil, and Gene Thursby, eds. The Hindu World. Abingdon: Routledge, 2004. Nelson, Lance. “Cows, Elephants, Dogs, and Other Lesser Embodiments of Atman.” In A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science and Ethics, edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton, 179–93. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Soifer, Deborah A. The Myths of Narasimha and Vamana. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991. Zaehner, R. C., trans. The Bhagavad Gita, with a Commentary Based on the Original Sources. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.


18 A NEW ETHIC OF HOLINESS Celtic Saints and Their Kinship with Animals Edward C. Sellner

From ancient to modern times, indigenous peoples have long had a deep spiritual awareness that in this world all things are related to one another and, especially when it comes to humankind, that we are intrinsically linked with Gaia, our Mother Earth. As the phenomenon of global warming is increasingly making clear, when we harm her, we harm ourselves. Native Americans, including those who live in my part of the world, Minnesota, have long had this sense of reality and have fostered it in their daily lives and spirituality. It is reflected in the Sioux Indian phrase that is said repeatedly in their ceremonies: mitakuye oyasin, “all my relatives,” an affirmation that we are connected with everyone and everything – not only with those people who travel with us on our pilgrimage through time, but also with animals who often act as teachers, healers, and guides. This awareness was shared with the ancient Celts, who passed on this perspective to those early Celtic Christians who built monasteries that eventually grew into a Celtic Church much different from the one influenced by the dominant Roman culture that arose on the continent of Europe.1 A sense of kinship with animals and, really, all creation became a major characteristic of their Celtic Christian spirituality. One of the major themes that appear in the stories of the early Celtic Church’s saints is how intimate they were with animals. This chapter will examine the stories of these saints as they express that special affinity and what these stories, these old tales, have to teach us today about what I would call “a new ethic of holiness.”

The Ancient Celts and the Stories of the Saints Long before Christianity arrived on their shores, the ancient Celts dominated the center of Europe from the Black Sea to Iberia and from the Mediterranean to the North Sea and Ireland. A branch of the Indo-European family from which most present-day European, Middle Eastern, and Indian races are descended, these Celts eventually settled in those places we now call Ireland, Scotland, Wales, northern England, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany, and Galicia in Spain. The daily life of these ancient Celts was lived in close proximity to nature, and their spirituality reflected what the Welsh call hud: a sense of wonder and awe at the divine residing in everything. Their spiritual leaders believed that spirits were everywhere: in ancient trees and sacred groves, in mountaintops and rock formations, in rivers, streams, and holy wells.2 Influenced by that ancient spiritual heritage, Celtic Christians found it natural to address God as “Lord of the Elements” and 181

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to experience communion with God in their natural surroundings. In the stories of their saints, they are often found establishing their monasteries and oratories in places where the druids and druidesses had once taught and worshipped: in the midst of oak groves or near sacred springs, on the shores of secluded lakes, or on misty islands far out at sea. This attitude of deep respect for the environment was also manifest in their quiet care for all living things. The flowering of Celtic monasticism that began with “the golden age” of the early Celtic saints who lived primarily in the sixth and seventh centuries was followed in the late seventh to thirteenth centuries CE with the writing of their stories in hagiographies, or lives. In the history of Christian spirituality, hagiography is a genre of writing developed in the early church that is specifically concerned with the lives and holiness of these spiritual leaders. The term comes from two Greek words: graphe, which means “writing,” and hagoi, “about saints.” The Christian storytellers who first wrote down the legends of the saints drew upon the rich oral tradition of storytelling about the saints that had been kept alive for centuries, preceding any writing.3 Although these stories cannot be considered historical in the strict sense that we understand that term today, they do provide insights into the historical context of the early monastic communities of the Celtic Church and into specific values associated with their leaders. Hagiographers wrote the lives primarily because they believed that the saints whose lives they were describing had something important to teach people about Christian holiness, prayer, service, and union with God.4 Ultimately, these stories were written to inspire later generations of Christians in leading a life reflecting the values of the original founder, Jesus, who loved all of creation and who saw God’s love as inclusive of the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, and especially all those who are suffering (cf. Luke 13:34, Matt. 6:26ff.). In grieving over the fate of Jerusalem, Jesus even compares himself to a mother hen who wants to gather her chicks to protect them (Matt. 23:37–39). With this purpose of the hagiographers in mind, then, it strikes the reader of hagiographies as highly significant that such numerous stories of the Celtic saints portray them as intimate with animals and birds and loving them as fellow creatures.

The Saints and Their Creature-Partners In almost every saint’s written life, some mention is made of the saint befriending or protecting animals. This familiarity of the saints with those creatures was possibly due to the influence of their ancestors, the ancient Celts, who were worshippers of nature and who considered certain animals, such as the wolf, boar, fox, and stag, as sacred. Even one of their oldest fertility deities, Cernunnos, “the stag-god,” was pictured as half-human and half-animal, with the antlers of a stag on his head, and surrounded by animals.5 In early Irish and Welsh stories, birds also are portrayed as having supernatural qualities. The most common of these were the swan, crane, eagle, and raven.6 Besides the influence of their ancestors, early Celtic Christians’ love for animals was probably due to their living in a rural environment filled with those free-roaming creatures on a daily basis. We also know that dogs and cats were found in their homes and monasteries. Judging from the Brehon Laws of Ireland, both dogs and kittens were often a “child’s first playthings.” These same ancient laws were careful to protect dogs from cruelty, with fines being given for “maiming a chained dog.”7 Even in one of the saints’ lives, that of Kenneth of Scotland, a terrible penance is given to a woman by the saint for cruelty to a dog.8 Cats were also loved as companion animals and were especially appreciated for hunting mice and rats. In the stories of Patrick, Brigit, and Columcille, “the Holy Trinity of Celtic Saints,” we find numerous examples of the saints’ loving treatment of animals. St. Patrick (c. 380–461 CE) makes reference in his autobiographical work The Confession to his shepherding flocks of sheep on a mountainside during his youthful years as a slave in Ireland and recalls how it was there, 182

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surrounded by his woolly companions, that “more and more the love of God and fear of him grew strong within [him], and as [his] faith grew, so the Spirit became more and more active.”9 The earliest hagiography of Patrick, by Muirchu, written some two hundred years later, contains stories relating how, after Patrick’s escape from Ireland and then his return there as a missionary, he at one point changed himself and his men into deer in order to hide from a pursuing chieftain who wanted to capture them. Another deer story tells how on the hilltop where a church still stands today, he came upon a hind (a female deer) with her fawn while searching for a place to build his monastery. “Patrick’s companions wanted to take hold of the fawn and kill it,” Muirchu says, “but the saint refused and did not allow it; indeed the saint himself took the fawn, carrying it on his shoulders; and the hind followed him like a very gentle, docile ewe, till he had let the fawn go free in another wood lying to the north side of Armagh.”10 St. Brigit (c. 452–524) of Ireland also displays great compassion for both humans and creatures in the stories told by her hagiographer, Cogitosus, writing about 650 CE. In one story she is portrayed as feeding a hungry dog to whom she gives a generous portion of pork that she was cooking for guests. However, when the meat is taken from the pot where it was cooking and divided among the guests, “it [is] found to be complete, as if nothing had been taken from it.” Another story is of Brigit taming a free-ranging boar who lived in the forest. Being hunted one day, the animal fled in terror from his natural habitat and found refuge among a herd of Brigit’s pigs. When the saint spotted the boar among her animals, rather than attacking him, she blessed him, and from then on, the boar, fearless and friendly, remained with the other pigs. A story about ducks summarizes how Brigit’s holiness drew both people and free-living animals to her and, through her, to the God who made them all: On another day, the blessed Brigit saw some ducks swimming on the water, occasionally taking wing. Being moved with affection for them she commanded them to come to her. A great flock of them flew over to her on feathered wings with eager obedience to her words and showing no fear, as if they were used to people. She touched them with her hand and caressed them for a while, before they returned to their place of origin . . . From all these miracles we can easily conclude that all kinds of wild animals, flocks, and birds listened to her.11 Columcille (521–97) of Iona also has stories expressing his care for animals and birds. One of the most famous tells of his solicitude toward a tired crane who was being driven to Iona, the small island off the coast of Scotland, by fierce winds. The saint told one of his monks to prepare for the bird’s coming, to “treat the bird tenderly,” and “to kindly and carefully nurse it and feed it” until the bird was ready to fly back to Ireland, from where she had originally come.12 Another story, less well known, is worth telling in its entirety, for it suggests that Columcille and the community he founded on Iona were vegetarian, if not outright vegan: Another time, a certain brother called Molua approached the saint while he was writing, and said, “Please bless this implement which I am holding.” Stretching out his holy hand a little, with the pen still in it, he made the sign of the cross over it without looking up from the book which he was copying. Now when Molua had gone away with the blessed implement, Columcille said, as an afterthought, “What was that implement which I blessed for our brother?” “A knife,” said Diarmait, his faithful attendant, “for slaughtering bulls and cattle.” “I trust in my Lord,” the saint replied, “that the implement I blessed will do no harm to people or animals.” These words of Columcille came true that very hour. For the same brother went out beyond the enclosure of the 183

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monastery intending to kill a bullock. Three times he tried, pressing hard, but he could not pierce the skin. So the skillful monks melted down the iron knife and coated all the implements of the monastery with it, and after that none of these could do any harm, since the saint’s blessing remained on them so strongly.13 Considering the saint’s compassion, it is no wonder that in another highly poignant story, when Columcille, “bowed down with old age,” was one day resting on the side of the road, a white packhorse approached him, “neighing plaintively,” laid his head on the saint’s chest, and wept “copious tears,” somehow knowing that his master was soon to die. Columcille, moved by the animal’s grief and obvious love for him, “blessed the horse which sadly turned away.”14

Tales of Other Saints’ Compassion The preceding are a few stories associated with the Holy Trinity of Celtic Saints, but they are only just a few. So many other saints have stories alluding to this sense of kinship the saints felt with animals and their compassion toward them. Maedoc of Ferns (550–632) is portrayed as a monk who had much sympathy for free-ranging animals. One story tells of Maedoc meeting on one of his travels “a mother wolf, wretched, weak, and starving,” who approached him “gently, as if seeking his attention.” Maedoc gave her what he had. Another story tells of Maedoc seeing a stag being pursued by hounds while the saint was praying deep in the forest: “The stag stopped by him, and Maedoc threw the corner of his cloak over its horns to protect it from the hounds. When they came running by, they could neither see nor smell the stag, and after they had gone, it ran for safety back into the forest.”15 This act of saving animals being pursued by hunting dogs is a common storyline in the lives of the Celtic saints. Kevin of Glendalough (d. 616), besides being loved by a cow who used to lick his feet at night and a blackbird who built a nest in his outstretched hands while he was praying, is depicted as saving the life of a wild boar who was being chased by hunters and their dogs. Petroc (d. 564) of Padstow, Cornwall, saved a fleeing stag who was being hunted by the men of a rich man; the latter man was at first outraged at being denied his venison but eventually converted to Christianity. Then there is Melangell of Wales, who protected a wild hare who was being chased by the hunting dogs of a prince. This hare evidently had a mind of his own, for when he sought refuge under the young woman’s dress, the hare then defiantly “set its face toward the dogs.” When the prince cried out to the dogs, “Get it; get it!” they only howled and fled. “Altogether astonished,” the prince gave Melangell the lands on which she lived as a “perpetual sanctuary, refuge, or safe haven for the oppressed.” Thus, not only did rabbits “surround her every day of her life just as if they had been tame or domesticated animals,” but Melangell, besides offering these rabbits a sanctuary, also trained other young women in helping the oppressed.16 Of all the saints, only Godric is portrayed as impatient with free-ranging animals. His reason was his objection to the animals eating from his garden when the food was for the poor, he said, “not beasts.” Even so, he was gentle as he led them away, putting up a fence to keep them out. As the hagiographer said, not only was “the gentleness of his heart” directed “in kindness to men, but his wise solicitude watched over the very reptiles and the creatures of the earth.” In winter, “when all about was frozen stiff in the cold, he would go out barefoot, and if he lighted on any animal helpless with misery of the cold, he would set it under his armpit or in his bosom to warm it . . . And if anyone in his service had caught a bird or little beast in a snare or a trap or a noose, as soon as he found it he would snatch it from their hands and let it go free in the fields or the glades of the wood.”17 184

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Their Fellow Creatures’ Reciprocity Although the stories reveal these acts of compassion the saints performed, one should not overlook what their fellow creatures contributed to the lives of the saints. Ciaran of Clonmacnois (c. 516–44) had a fox who, in response to the saint’s gentleness, acted as a sort of mail carrier between him and another monk. He also had a stag who used to visit him and who would allow Ciaran to place his books on his antlers while the saint read.18 A different Ciaran, Ciaran of Saighir (c. 501–30), had his monastery built with the help of a wild boar, a wolf, a badger, a fox, and a deer, all of whom stayed with him, “tame and gentle,” obeying him, “as if they had been his monks.”19 Another saint, Colman, was “a great lover and keeper of evangelic poverty” who so despised possessions that he had none, the hagiographer tells us, “unless you could call property three small creatures”: a rooster, a mouse, and a fly. The rooster acted as a sort of alarm clock, waking him for lauds at night, and the mouse, “sometimes by gnawing at his clothes, sometimes by nibbling at his ear,” would also get him up, not allowing him to sleep “beyond the fixed hour” that he desired. The service of the third creature, the fly, was “scarcely less remarkable”: “For when the man of God had leisure to read his holy books, the fly would trot up and down his codex; and should someone call him, or he had to go about other business, he would instruct the fly to sit down upon the line at which he had halted, and keep his place until he should return.”20 One of the most endearing stories of a saint and animals is that of Cuthbert (c. 634–87), monk, bishop, and hermit of Northumbria, whose body rests in Durham Cathedral, along with the greatest of English storytellers, Bede the Venerable. Despite leading a very active life, it was Cuthbert’s custom, Bede tells us, “to rise in the dead of night, while everyone else was sleeping, and to go out and pray, returning just in time for morning prayers.” What was even more unusual was that he prayed while immersed in the ocean, “up to his arms and neck in deep water . . . throughout the dark hours of the night.” At daybreak, according to an observer, two otters would emerge from the sea and warm his feet with their breath, even trying to dry him with their fur. “When they had finished, they received his blessing, and slipped back to their watery home.”21 There are many other stories too: of the bear who helped St. Gall (c. 550–620) build a fire when the saint had twisted his ankle in a fall;22 of the white bird who guided Brendan (c. 484– 577) on his voyage to the Promised Land23 and the whale, Jasconius, who provided his back for Brendan’s boat to rest on;24 of the swans who used to sing for Colman Ela (553–610) and his monks as they worked.25 In effect, what all these stories reveal is that the animals often became a significant part of the saints’ daily lives and important members – “consociates” or “lay oblates,” if you will – of the monastic community. As we look back, then, over the stories of saints and creatures in fellowship, a pattern can be discerned: one of reciprocity that transcends species differences so that all benefit in the circle of life. The saints’ kindness, compassion, and loving respect elicits from their creature-partners trust, caring, and love – which in turn increases the happiness of everyone. A story of Columban (543–615), the great Irish missionary to France, Switzerland, and Italy, tells how he would call to the creatures as he walked through the woods. “They would come at once to his call, and he would stroke them with his hand and caress them; and the wild things and the birds would leap and frisk about him for sheer happiness, jumping up on him as puppies jump on their masters.” Even the squirrel “would come at his call from the high tree-tops, and the saint would take it in his hand and set it on his shoulder, and it would be running in and out of the folds of his cowl.”26 The joy is certainly evident in this story, a happiness that is shared by the animals and the saint himself. 185

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The Saints as Lovers of Animals and Their Dietary Choices The lives of these Celtic saints constitute the largest body of hagiographies of any group in Christian history to have so many creature stories included in them. Charles Plummer suggests that aside from any mythical or magical associations with them, there obviously “seems evidence that the early and medieval Irish were really lovers of animals, and that the saints shared this quality to the full.”27 Although Native American and Hawaiian peoples as well as certain Asian spiritual traditions have stories about animals, only the Celtic saints have so many references to them as fellow creatures. This sense of kinship was an intrinsic aspect of Celtic Christian spirituality that not only affected those living in Celtic lands but also influenced some of the spirituality and theology of later saints who were raised in geographical areas on the Continent ministered to by Irish missionaries, such as Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), and Joan of Arc (1412–31). It can be asked, however, whether this sense of kinship translated into any of the early Celtic saints’ dietary choices. Judging from the saints’ lives as well as certain monastic rules, the evidence is mixed. St. Columcille on Iona, as related previously, evidently followed a vegan diet and expected his monks to do the same. St. Brendan was vegan. According to the story of his voyage in search of the Promised Land, while allowing his monastic colleagues to eat meat, St. Brendan told them when they were loading the boat “to fill the containers and other vessels and collect plants and roots for his own use,” his hagiographer writes, “for the father from the time of his ordination to the priesthood tasted nothing in which the spirit of life drew support from flesh.”28 St. David of Wales (c. 500–89), according to his hagiography, rejected wine, beer, and everything intoxicating “and led a blessed life for God on bread and water only.”29 The daily diet of Finnian of Clonard (470–549) consisted of “a bit of barley-bread and a drink of water,” but on holy days “he would eat a slice of wheat bread and piece of broiled salmon, and drink a full cup of clear mead or of ale.”30 Many monks after these early saints seem to have followed their example. In the latter half of the eighth century, Maelruain (d. 792), the founder of the Celi De reform movement, at his monastery of Tallaght, outside of Dublin, allowed only vegetables, a dry egg, cheese, and an occasional morsel of fish – but no other meat – and no beer for most meals. “From the moment of his initiation into the clerical state,” his Rule of Tallaght said, “a man did not eat the fat of bacon, or mutton, or venison or the meat of any other animal” – not even at the great celebration of Easter. At times, however, a monk could “content himself with salmon.”31 In their admiration for the ascetic desert monks who had preceded them, early Celtic monks seem to have followed a highly restrictive diet. Some were vegan, whereas many others followed a mostly vegetarian diet in which fish was allowed occasionally. Whether their vegetarian or vegan diets were at all related to a respect for and compassion toward animals is difficult to know, but surely some, such as Columcille, who decided to not allow any animals to be killed or eaten on Iona, did so as the result of their compassion and sense of interrelatedness – dimensions found in the stories of their saints.

A New Ethic of Holiness “What is more wonderful than the incomparable tremendous story?” an Irish monk wrote back in the eleventh century, almost a thousand years ago.32 He clearly knew the power of stories to nourish the soul, to strengthen the heart, and to influence a person’s behavior. Celtic hagiographers knew this too, and in telling the stories of their saints, they sought to teach lessons and reinforce a perspective that humans and animals are all related to one another and that we are meant to enjoy each other’s company as well as alleviate each other’s pain. Considering the prominence 186

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of this characteristic in their stories, it seems that, for them, one of the most significant criteria for sainthood itself was the compassionate treatment not only of human beings but of all creation, especially our fellow creatures. Celtic hagiographers are thus suggesting to their readers that to be a holy person, one must have this same type of relationship and awareness. What is it, then, that we might learn from them today in a world that is becoming, both East and West, increasingly more urbanized – and thus more removed from direct contact with nature and animals, free-living or domesticated? From Patrick’s protection of innocent deer when others wanted to kill them, we might challenge those who consider the hunting of ordinary as well as so-called trophy animals to be a “sport,” encouraging them to find other forms of recreation that do not involve the killing of fellow creatures. From Brigit’s concern for a terror-stricken boar and a flock of ducks, we might consider how animals are treated today in labs and factory farms and the extreme cruelty and often prolonged suffering and terror they endure. From Columcille’s decision that “the implement I bless will do no harm,” we might work toward ending the slaughter of animals for food simply because we like the taste of meat. Maedoc’s sympathy for a starving wolf might make us more attentive to our treatment of wolves today, which often results in attempts at their annihilation. Kevin’s patient caring for a blackbird’s nest and Melangell’s care for rabbits may induce us to start shelters ourselves or support them for animals of all kinds. Even Godric has something to teach us about the treatment of those who are perceived as invaders to our gardens, inviting us to, yes, perhaps set up fences but still to treat animals “kindly” – not destroying them for their simple desire to share our wealth. Above all, what the stories show is how much our fellow creatures can contribute to our own lives without having to give up theirs, so that we can all experience, like Columban, the shared joy of partnership. In response to this renewed awareness of our kinship with animals, we too might reorient our lives, as many of the Celtic monks did, by choosing different approaches to our consumption of food, asking whether it is necessary for us to choose a vegetarian, if not a vegan, diet. All of this presupposes a new ethic of holiness from that which has often been taught – and which increasing numbers of people, young and old, are rejecting, especially if raised in the Christian tradition. Instead of teaching that holiness is all about sexual continence and only a specific sexual orientation, the stories of the saints might remind us of the importance of developing an ethic of caring for creation in all its wondrous diversity. Instead of preaching or lecturing on the importance of rules and respect for the hierarchy or elders, the example of the saints might rather teach the need for engaging in ministries of service and servant leadership. Instead of concentrating attention on the wealthy and the privileged, the saints’ lives might affirm the importance of attending to the poor, the neglected, the marginalized, and all those who suffer, human and otherwise. In the development of a new ethic of holiness, these stories of the Celtic saints encourage us to pursue a genuine spirituality of reverence for all forms of life, as Albert Schweitzer suggests,33 and, if we are Christian, “to see the face of the Crucified in the faces of suffering animals,” as Andrew Linzey recommends.34 The lives of the Celtic saints especially reveal what Elizabeth Johnson in her latest book, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love, states so strongly: “We all share the status of creaturehood; we are all kin in the evolving community of life.” We humans especially have the responsibility of affirming in our lives “the compassionate presence of God.”35

Conclusion The Celtic saints reflected the same awareness as Johnson in their lives and their spirituality. Their sense of kinship with all of creation and their awareness of the reciprocity and friendship that we 187

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can have with our fellow creatures is perhaps best expressed in a ninth-century poem, written by an Irish monk about his cat: I and Pangur Ban my cat, ’Tis a like task we are at: Hunting mice is his delight, Hunting words I sit all night. Better far than praise of men Tis to sit with book and pen; Pangur bears me no ill will, He too plies his simple skill. ’Tis a merry thing to see At our tasks how glad are we, When at home we sit and find Entertainment to our mind. Oftentimes a mouse will stray In the hero Pangur’s way; Oftentimes my keen thought set Takes a meaning in its net. ’Gainst the wall he sets his eye Full and fierce and sharp and sly; ’Gainst the wall of knowledge I All my little wisdom try. When a mouse darts from its den O how glad is Pangur then! O what gladness do I prove When I solve the doubts I love! So in peace our tasks we ply, Pangur Ban, my cat, and I; In our arts we find our bliss, I have mine and he has his. Practice every day has made Pangur perfect in his trade; I get wisdom day and night Turning darkness into light.36

Notes 1 See Catherine Thom, “Meaning of Celtic Church,” in Early Irish Monasticism: An Understanding of Its Cultural Roots (London: T&T Clark, 2007), xxv–xxvii. For the best overall exploration of that ecclesial entity, see Nora Chadwick, The Age of the Saints in the Early Celtic Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1961). 2 For an examination of the ancient Celts, see chapter 1, “People of the Oak, of Poetry,” in Edward C. Sellner, The Celtic Soul Friend (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2002), 21–47. 3 See Kathleen Hughes, “Introduction to a History of Medieval Ireland,” in David Dumville, ed., Kathleen Hughes: Church and Society in Ireland, A.D. 400–1200 (London: Variorum Reprints, 1987), 1–33.


A New Ethic of Holiness 4 For a more in-depth discussion of the literary influences, sources, and motivations of Celtic hagiographers, see Edward C. Sellner, “Celtic Stories and Storytellers,” in Stories of the Celtic Soul Friends: Their Meaning for Today (New York: Paulist Press, 2004), 13–49. 5 See Miranda Green, “Cernunnos: The Stag-God,” in Animals in Celtic Life and Myth (London: Routledge, 1992), 231–34. He is portrayed on the Gundestrup Caldron, a silver ritual vessel, dating back to about the first century BCE with stag-horns and animals and holding a large serpent in one hand. 6 Green, “Cernunnos,” 171–81. 7 See Laurence Ginnell, The Brehon Laws (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1894), for an excellent discussion of these laws as they affected and shaped Irish culture. 8 Charles Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910), vol. 1, cxlvi. 9 See John Skinner, trans., The Confession of St. Patrick (New York: Image Books, 1998), 38. 10 For the two stories of Patrick and the deer, see A. B. E. Hood, ed. and trans., St. Patrick: His Writings and Murichu’s Life (London: Philimore, 1978), 90–91, 96. 11 See Oliver Davies, trans., “The Life of St. Brigit the Virgin by Cogitosus,” in Celtic Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1999), 124–25, 129–30. 12 See Edward C. Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints: Revised and Expanded Edition (St. Paul, MN: Bog Walk Press, 2006), 113. 13 See Mary Low, “Columba and Molua’s Knife,” in Cherish the Earth (Glasgow: Wild Goose, 2003), 104. 14 Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 114–15. 15 Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 211, 213–14. 16 Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 202–04, 207, 250, 218–19. 17 See Helen Waddell, trans., “St. Godric’s Garden and the Wild Deer,” in Beasts and Saints (London: Constable, 1934), 80–83. 18 See Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 89–90. 19 See Waddell, Beasts and Saints, 104. 20 Waddell, “St. Colman and the Cock, the Mouse, and the Fly,” in Beasts and Saints 145–47. 21 See Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 124–25. 22 Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 172. 23 See Waddell, “St. Brendan and the White Birds,” in Beasts and Saints 115–19. 24 See John O’Meara, trans., The Voyage of Saint Brendan (Channel Islands: Colin Smythe, 1991), 18–19. 25 See Charles Plummer, “Life of Colman Ela,” in Lives of Irish Saints (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), vol. 2, 166. For more on the life of this saint, see Edward C. Sellner, “Colman of Land Ela: Mentor and Midwife,” in Stories of the Celtic Soul Friends, 175–219. 26 See Waddell, “St. Columban in the Vosges,” in Beasts and Saints 50–52. 27 Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, vol. 1, cxlvi. 28 O’Meara, The Voyage of Saint Brendan, 42. 29 Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 132. 30 Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, 166. 31 References here to the monastic rules are found in Uinseann O’Maidin, The Celtic Monk: Rules and Writings of Early Irish Monks (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1996), 100–02, 110, 111, 124, 84, 56. For an excellent scholarly work on the Celi De movement, see Westley Follett, Celi De in Ireland: Monastic Writing and Identity in the Early Middle Ages (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2007). 32 Kenneth Jackson, Studies in Early Celtic Nature Poetry (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1935), 30. 33 See Albert Schweitzer, Civilization and Ethics (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1946), 2, and Harold Robles, Reverence for Life: The Words of Albert Schweitzer (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993). 34 See Andrew Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), and Andrew Linzey, Animal Gospel (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 2. 35 See Elizabeth Johnson, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), especially chapter 10, “The Community of Creation,” 260–86. 36 Robin Flower, The Irish Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1947), 24–25.

References Chadwick, Nora. The Age of the Saints in the Early Celtic Church. London: Oxford University Press, 1961. Davies, Oliver, trans. Celtic Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1999. Flower, Robin. The Irish Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1947.


Edward C. Sellner Follett, Westley. Celi De in Ireland: Monastic Writing and Identity in the Early Middle Ages. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2007. Ginnell, Laurence. The Brehon Laws. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1894. Green, Miranda. Animals in Celtic Life and Myth. London: Routledge, 1992. Hood, A. B. E., ed. and trans. St. Patrick: His Writings and Murichu’s Life. London: Philimore, 1978. Hughes, Kathleen. “Introduction to a History of Medieval Ireland.” In Kathleen Hughes: Church and Society in Ireland, A.D. 400–1200, edited by David Dumville, 1–33. London: Variorum Reprints, 1987. Jackson, Kenneth. Studies in Early Celtic Nature Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935. Johnson, Elizabeth. Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. London: Bloomsbury, 2014. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Gospel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998. Linzey, Andrew. Why Animal Suffering Matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Low, Mary. Cherish the Earth. Glasgow: Wild Goose, 2003. O’Maidin, Uinseann. The Celtic Monk: Rules and Writings of Early Irish Monks. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1996. O’Meara, John, trans. The Voyage of Saint Brendan. Channel Islands: Colin Smythe, 1991. Plummer, Charles. Lives of Irish Saints. Vol. 2. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. Plummer, Charles. Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910. Robles, Harold. Reverence for Life: The Words of Albert Schweitzer. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993. Schweitzer, Albert. Civilization and Ethics. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1946. Sellner, Edward. The Celtic Soul Friend. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2002. Sellner, Edward. Stories of the Celtic Soul Friends: Their Meaning for Today. New York: Paulist Press, 2004. Sellner, Edward. Wisdom of the Celtic Saints: Revised and Expanded Edition. St. Paul, MN: Bog Walk Press, 2006. Skinner, John, trans. The Confession of St. Patrick. New York: Image Books, 1998. Thom, Catherine. Early Irish Monasticism: An Understanding of Its Cultural Roots. London: T&T Clark, 2007. Waddell, Helen, trans. Beasts and Saints. London: Constable, 1934.



Francis of Assisi is well known to Catholics and non-Catholics alike for his loving and joyful approach to God’s creation. He believed that because all creatures share the same Creator, we form a “spiritual family” of brothers and sisters, bound by deep fraternal ties. He has been acclaimed universally as the official patron of ecology and the environment, and his well-known song “Canticle of the Creatures,” considered the first text in vernacular Italian, gives praise to the earth and its many resources. In addition to his love and respect for the natural world, Francis also had a profound and tender relationship with animals; in fact, it is his love for animals that is best known to the general public. During a conversation with some of my university students, one commented, “Everyone knows that Franciscans love nature and animals!” Another admitted that she thought all Franciscans were vegetarians. As naive or humorous as these comments may seem, they illustrate a common perception: Francis and Franciscans are seen as having the kind of compassion that transcends species. Nonetheless, Andrew Linzey has stated that despite the animal ethics, welfare, and rights fields’ significant growth in scope and import, “Franciscans have been notably, if ironically, lacking in their stated concern for animals.”1 Linzey is not alone in making this striking observation; Deborah M. Jones has also asked “why so little has been advanced on the subject of animals by Franciscans in the centuries since the death of the founder of the Order.”2 Even “secular” animal rights and welfare proponents have questioned the absence of Franciscan voices. What would prompt Linzey and others to assert that Franciscan silence about animals is “ironic”? An examination of Franciscan books, documents, and websites readily yields the answer to that question: although Francis, the founder of the many Franciscan religious communities that have emerged since his death, demonstrated a profoundly loving and protective nature toward animals, Franciscans have yet to acknowledge or make a statement regarding any of the contemporary ethical issues involving animals. Although “creation” is addressed in initiatives of the Office for Justice, Peace, and Integrity, this term refers only to the natural world, and so animals, if mentioned at all, are included only in discussions about conservation or in spiritual discussions about “fraternity.” Since no acknowledgment of the suffering and cruelty animals face in a vast 191

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number of arenas exists, no practical initiatives exist for their advocacy. This glaring omission prompted me, as a secular Franciscan, to ask myself, if Francis protected animals, why don’t we?

Early Franciscan Documents: Francis’s Protection of Animals Francis does not reference animals directly in the “Canticle” or in any other documents in his own hand that have survived, but in fact, the animal legends are much more numerous than the “nature” accounts. We know from the hagiographical accounts of those who were with him that his compassion extended beyond human and ecological borders: Francis had a profound relationship with animals. He called them “brother” and “sister” and treated them with familial affection. This is beautifully related in Celano’s The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, in the account of the birds who came to his table for crumbs and who later presented their offspring to him: “The saint rejoiced over them, and caressed them, as was his custom . . . the chicks grew tame with the brothers and used to perch on their hands. They stayed in the house, not as guests but as members of the family.”3 He also offered them his peace, the word of God, and urged them to give praise to their Creator. Although many early Christian saints had a remarkable relationship with animals, Francis’s encounters with animals appear to be something radical and original in hagiographical literature because in these interactions, not only were the animals impacted in significant ways, but “the impact the encounters had on him do appear to be something new.”4 In many accounts, we see Francis freeing animals from human constraints and even preventing them from being killed: he freed a hare from a hunter’s trap and a pheasant given to him as food, and in several cases, he sold his tunic to obtain lambs going to slaughter. In all of those encounters, “Francis sets an example of special regard for creatures by refusing to kill them needlessly.”5 Time and again, we also see him extending his hand in peace and nonviolence to God’s creatures. When he greeted the birds in Bevagna, it was with his “usual” greeting: “May the Lord give you peace.”6 In the famous encounter with the Wolf of Gubbio, who had been ravaging the countryside, it was not only the townspeople Francis was concerned with; realizing that Brother Wolf ’s violence was a result of his hunger, Francis had compassion for him and brokered a peace that satisfied both parties.7 Keith Warner’s use of the term “horizontal” is valuable for describing Francis’s relationship with animals and nature because it contradicts a hierarchical or “vertical” schematic, with humanity dominating at the top.8 This horizontal approach is reflected in several encounters with animals where Francis offers gentle admonitions to them (e.g., not to be caught in a trap) but never dominates them. In fact, quite the opposite is true – he first gives them physical freedom and then encourages them to praise their Creator, listen to the word of God, or return to the safety of the woods, sky, or water. Examples abound; for instance, instead of making a meal of the pheasant he was given, he asks the brothers to free the animal, saying, “Let’s make a test now to see if Brother Pheasant wants to remain with us, or if he’d rather return to his usual places, which are fit for him.”9 In another case, a cricket perched herself on a tree next to his cell. He touched her gently and asked her to sing, but after more than an hour of rejoicing in her song, he returned her to the branch. After eight days, Francis told his brothers, “Let us give permission to our sister cricket to go where she wants. She has consoled us enough.”10 There is a moving account in Celano about a fisherman who presented Francis with a little water bird as he was crossing the lake at Rieti. Although Francis attempted to release her several times, each time she returned to the safety of his hands. Finally, after holding the bird gently in a moment of deep contemplation, he “sweetly told the little bird to return to its original freedom.”11 In these and many other cases, he takes pleasure in an animal’s company for a time and then, invariably, sets the animal free. “Like the Creator, Francis loved creatures by letting them be, by encouraging them 192

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to grow in their uniqueness and by sharing with them their being.”12 He never fails to place the instincts, needs, and well-being of animals above his own pleasure. Although it is true that Francis had a special affection for animals who reminded him of his beloved savior (such as lambs, who were meek and gentle like the Lamb of God), he never failed to extend loving care to crickets, fish, worms, ants, bees, rabbits, and other animals for their own sake. By his example, Francis showed his brothers and those who were with him that because animals were precious in the sight of their Creator, they were precious to him as well.

Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation – and the Absence of Animals In addition to their love for creation, Franciscans are well-known for their work with the poor and disenfranchised, primarily within a “justice and peace” framework. Originally created as the “Justice and Peace Commission,” the General Definitorium of the Order of Friars Minor expanded the commission to include “the Integrity of Creation” (JPIC) in 1991, officially acknowledging the dire state of our planet and a concern for Mother Earth. All branches of the Franciscan family now have JPIC offices or ministers, address JPIC concerns in their formation programs, and maintain websites and statements about their work in this area. Although JPIC is not unique to Franciscans, or Catholics for that matter, it serves as an important framework for Franciscans in particular, since it addresses injustice from specifically Franciscan theological, spiritual, and historical perspectives at local, national, and international levels. The commission encourages action in the field and offers opportunities and initiatives for Franciscans who want to work for peace and justice on a grassroots level. Many Franciscans have told me that they believe animals are “implied” within the creation discussion. Although they may be “implied,” the general consensus is that in the JPIC context, “creation” is synonymous with nature, environmental justice, or eco-justice, and that appears to be so. As noted previously, animals, if mentioned at all, are included only in occasional references to endangered species and the importance of conservation or in spiritual discussions about Franciscan fraternity. But those familiar with the animal rights and ethics fields know that there are a myriad of complex animal-related issues reflected in current philosophical and ethical discussions that need to be addressed: the question of sentience and suffering; genetic engineering; cruelty in the factory-farming, clothing, and entertainment industries; medical and product testing; meat-eating versus vegetarianism and veganism; and the complicated “rights” discussion, to name a few. A review of books, journals, and websites devoted to animal welfare, rights, or ethics reveals the notable absence of Franciscan statements of concern about any of these topics. Even more surprisingly, a review of Franciscan websites, books, and documents devoted to JPIC reveals the same lack of concern about those issues. A few representative samples follow. In the OFM document Care for Creation in the Daily Life of the Friars Minor, published in Rome in 2011 by the Office for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation, mention is made of Mandate 43.2 from the OFM 2009 General Chapter, which states, “In the next six year period (2009–2015) all the Entities of the Order, with the help of the JPIC office, should commit themselves to examine the impact of our lifestyle on creation, especially regarding climate change.”13 The document promotes “moderate, sober and just use of resources, beginning with the famous three R’s of ecology (reduce, reuse and recycle).”14 Numerous in-depth pages are devoted to lifestyle changes, covering water; energy; garbage and waste; packaging; paper; batteries and toxic substances; transportation; food; fair trade; and liturgy and prayer. These pages also include suggestions for practical, grassroots action. The only mention of animals is a “Blessing of the Animals,” which reads, “Such a blessing, organized with appropriate readings and prayers, can be a 193

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great opportunity for evangelization.”15 The cruelty and exploitation that animals experience in the factory-farm system, for example, should be acknowledged within the “food” section but is not. Moreover, even if Franciscans are not concerned with the violence that animals face in the marketplace, one would expect some acknowledgment of the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment and the ramifications it has for the poor. Again, there is none. The JPIC Commission is not the only arena where Franciscans have failed to acknowledge or advocate for animals. An examination of international formation materials reveals that despite the increasing time and energy devoted to “Sister Mother Earth,” with few exceptions, animals are nowhere to be found. These publications and sites encourage us to recycle, to conserve energy, and even to feel the pain of the earth, yet sadly, the pain of millions of animals is rarely, if ever, mentioned. In 2011, while serving as the education coordinator for the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University, I had the opportunity to review Build with Living Stones: Formation for Franciscan Life and Work as the 2002 version was being revised. This work, based on the Comprehensive Course on the Franciscan Missionary Charism, came into being when “when several key members of the Franciscan family recognized a need for a comprehensive course or resource that could act as a formation tool for the entire Franciscan family.”16 Divided into fourteen units, it offers insights into contemporary issues such as the economy, peacemaking, and the environment and is utilized in Franciscan formation, parishes, universities, and retreats. Chapter 13 is titled “Brother Sun and Sister Moon: A Franciscan View of the Environment.” In this case, the word “creation” is not even used, and as expected, the chapter focuses on ecological concerns. The stated objective of the unit is “to understand why Francis was named the ‘patron of ecology,’ in light of his writings and the hagiography.”17 I submitted a list of suggested changes for incorporating animals into the unit; for example, I recommended that the word “environment” be changed to “creation” in the title and throughout the text. I also suggested that where the exploitation of the environment and the plundering of natural resources was being discussed, animals be included. As of today, it appears that the older edition is still being used, and no revisions have been made, but if this publication is any example of those utilized in Franciscan formation, then clearly, animals are not yet a part of the all-important creation discussion. Given the rich Franciscan history of working for “justice in the marketplace,” Franciscan silence about animals is puzzling also since it is precisely in the marketplace (pharmaceutical testing, food, clothing, and entertainment industries) where animals are perceived solely as “things” and commodities and subjected to unfathomable cruelty and suffering – all in the name of profit. Because the topics in the animal rights, welfare, and ethics fields have engendered international – and frequently heated – debate, and because we are known for our compassion for all creatures, Franciscan silence on these topics is both noticeable and ironic. It highlights the disparity between the way Franciscans are perceived by those outside the tradition and reality: we simply do not advocate for animals. Franciscans espouse peace and justice and advocate for the poor and the natural world – but where, then, does that leave the billions of animals we share the planet with? Are they any less entitled to peace and justice than “the environment”? Ironically, have Franciscans, who are known for their love of all creation, defined a creation without creatures? And why?

Eight Hundred Years of Silence If we acknowledge that his encounters with nature and animals had a deep spiritual significance for Francis and really did “communicate the importance of this dimension of his religious life,” then why have Franciscans addressed the pressing environmental issues of the day but not those facing animals?18 194

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One reason for the silence may be obvious, especially to Franciscans. Because Francis was exceedingly tender and even motherly in his affection for animals, there is a tendency to romanticize and sentimentalize the animal legends. This “birdbath mentality” is frequently bemoaned by Franciscans as a one-dimensional portrait: that of a madman preaching to a wide variety of furry creatures. There is also a tendency to allegorize the accounts; for example, one interpretation of the famous encounter between Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio is that the peace that Francis facilitated between the animal and the townspeople symbolizes the need for reconciliation and peacemaking. Others may interpret the Wolf as “a symbol of punishment for sins or even as an allusion to a wholly human thief.”19 But the early hagiographical accounts are more than mere sentimental or saccharine tales; they give us insight into Francis’s spiritual and theological relationship with animals. Franciscan historian Michael Cusato, OFM, says that “those accounts serve as profound theological statements about the harmony that Francis had with all creation . . . after he began to see reality through the eyes of God in Jesus Christ.”20 For this reason, they hold significant spiritual and theological import. Linzey would agree: “As we grow in union with, and love for, God in the Creator, so we should likewise grow in communion with, and love of, God’s other creatures. Far from being some kind of aberration, or distortion of the Gospel, concern for animals is a sign of true spirituality.”21 Cusato offers additional insight into why contemporary Franciscans have found it necessary to demythologize the animal accounts, saying that perhaps there is so little light or energy around the issue of animals because: after the Second Vatican Council, the renewal of Franciscanism required that the texts from which we have traditionally drawn our identity as Franciscans . . . be subjected to the process of demythologizing. Franciscans were in search of a real Francis for a real world; one in which Francis would be looked upon as one whom a friar or Franciscan could identify with, relate to for one’s spiritual journey, and not as a kind of eccentric who talked to birds and animals. Hence, on their face, the famous stories of Francis and the animals were rejected as being either silly or overly-romanticized, and not “relevant” to the needs of our times.22 Perhaps Franciscans also have failed to advocate for animals because even though Francis was enormously revered both during his lifetime and after his death, his approach to nature and the personal example he set of kinship with all creatures never became the “moral norm” within Christianity.23 With the growth of the Franciscan intellectual tradition, emphasis was placed on rationality, and so Francis’s example of a simple and more direct relationship with the natural world was lost. Franciscan scholar George Marcil, OFM, noted that despite the fact that Franciscan intellectuals drew inspiration from Francis after his death, they still “pursued theological interests in Christology and metaphysics rather than develop his compassionate response to the plight of animals.”24 For Franciscan and other Christian intellectuals, animals were clearly non-rational and “earthly” and therefore classified as “things” – and “our intuitions concerning our fellowship with other ‘things’ have not been high on our spiritual agenda.”25 Although the concept of fraternity and the sacredness of all beings was not completely lost after the death of Francis, “the cause of animals finds no champion.”26 Even in secular circles, the needs of humanity are generally thought to outweigh those of nonhuman creation. Franciscan JPIC initiatives understandably mirror church dogma, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that the concerns of humanity outweigh those of nonhumans. Four paragraphs under “Respect for the Integrity of Creation” deal with animals 195

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(paras. 2415–18). From the outset, we are told to respect God’s creatures, not for the sake of animals themselves but because “any disordered use of things . . . would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.”27 Deborah Jones analyzes the Catechism in depth in The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals and points to the contradictions inherent in those four paragraphs.28 We are told that animals are God’s creatures and worthy of respect, but we are also told that they are created primarily for the good and service of humanity. The Catechism offers the gentleness of Francis of Assisi and Philip Neri as ideal examples of how to treat animals on one hand (para. 2416) but at the same time cautions us not to give animals the affection and love due only persons (para. 2418). The Catechism also says it is wrong to spend money on animals that could go toward the relief of human misery (para. 2418). It is not surprising to find that in keeping with church dogma, Franciscan JPIC websites and documents frequently quote these important paragraphs dealing with animals. Ironically, however, the Catechism’s use of St. Francis as an example to illustrate its points serves only to highlight its contradictions, for Franciscan hagiography is replete with accounts of Francis’s deep, even emotional affection for animals. Moreover, several times the saint sold his cloak and spent the money to buy lambs who were going to slaughter; in fact, Henri d’Avranche tells us that anytime he had an opportunity to dispel an animal’s pain through prayer or payment, he would do so – every time.29 Nowhere in the early documents do we see examples of Francis using animals for his own good, or in “the service of humanity.” They are loved and respected for their own worth. Although Franciscans are not alone in their belief in the primacy of humans (Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest, says that early in his ministry, many of his parishioners found the idea “that a priest, of all people, should spend time fostering concern for other suffering creatures . . . to be faintly ridiculous”30), Franciscans, above all other religious orders, are perceived as caring about the sanctity of all life, and as such, we have a special responsibility to advocate for all members of our spiritual family.

Conclusion Although Franciscan “fraternity” appears to be an important spiritual doctrine, it offers no realworld implications for animals. Although Franciscan publications and websites clearly utilize hagiographical accounts as a foundation for JPIC work against human and environmental exploitation and violence, the same documents are not used to obtain justice for animals within the justice and peace framework. Because working for the environment has become an important facet within the Franciscan orders, it may be a surprise to hear that early in his career, environmentalist Keith Warner, OFM, was subjected to frequent ridicule as he began to advocate for the earth; nonetheless, he questioned the silence of Franciscan voices by asking, “Why do other groups seem to be more excited about Francis as the patron saint of ecology than Franciscans?”31 The time has come to ask ourselves the same question about animals. In the eight hundred years since “the thought of St. Bonaventure and St. Francis . . . there has been such a colossal narrowing of concern that we may be at a loss to explain it. But account for it we must if we are to understand our contemporary spiritual poverty and find a way back to the fullness of the tradition.”32 Andrew Linzey believes that “Franciscan theology speaks powerfully at a time when there is increasing ethical concern about our use of the environment and our treatment of animals in particular.”33 He is right, of course. Franciscans are in a unique position to offer the world a strong Christian, specifically Franciscan argument for the ethical treatment of animals. We who 196

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profess the sanctity of all creation must take a bold step in that direction, and soon, for to continue our selective advocacy, espousing compassion and justice for men, women, and the earth but excluding animals from our care and initiatives, is unjust. Only when we begin to dialogue about animals in truly significant ways will be able to think “beyond the birdbath” that we so often ridicule and rightly call ourselves brothers and sisters of all creation.

Notes 1 Andrew Linzey quoted taken from God and Animals, accessed June 7, 2008, www.godandanimals. comPAGES/edits/linzey/church3/html. 2 Deborah M. Jones, The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals (Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 2009), 72. 3 Regis J. Armstrong, J. A. Wayne Hellmann, and William J. Short, eds., Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2001), vol. 2, 279. 4 Keith D. Warner, “Taking Nature Seriously: Nature Mysticism, Environmental Advocacy and the Franciscan Tradition,” in Franciscans and Creation: What Is Our Responsibility?, ed. Elise Saggau (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 2003), 63. 5 Roger D. Sorrell, St. Francis of Assisi and Nature: Tradition and Innovation in Western Christian Attitudes toward the Environment (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 78. 6 Armstrong, Hellmann, and Short, Francis of Assisi, vol. 1, 234. 7 Armstrong, Hellmann, and Short, Francis of Assisi, vol. 3, 482–85. 8 Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2008), 77. 9 Armstrong, Hellmann, and Short, Francis of Assisi, vol. 2, 356. 10 Armstrong, Hellmann, and Short, Francis of Assisi, vol. 2, 217–18. 11 Armstrong, Hellmann, and Short, Francis of Assisi, vol. 2, 355. 12 Eric Doyle, St. Francis and the Song of Brotherhood and Sisterhood (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1997), 44. 13 Office for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation, Care for Creation in the Daily Life of the Friars Minor (Rome: Office for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation, 2011), 6, accessed August 10, 2014, www. . 14 Office for JPIC, Care for Creation, 6. 15 Office for JPIC, Care for Creation, 24. 16 Build with Living Stones (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 2002), 4, accessed August 11, 2014, 17 Build with Living Stones, 96. 18 Warner, “Taking Nature Seriously,” 63. 19 Chiara Frugoni, Il Cammino di Francesco: Natura e incanto nella Valle Santa Reatina (Milano: Federico Motta Editore Spa, 2006), 20. Frugoni cites F. Cardini, “il lupo di Gubbio: Dimensione storica e dimentsione antropologica di una leggenda,” Studi francescani 74, no. 3–4 (1977): 315–43. 20 Michael F. Cusato, personal correspondence, July 2010. 21 Andrew Linzey, “Franciscan Concern for Animals,” in Joy in All Things: A Franciscan Companion, ed. Damian Kirkpatrick, Philip Doherty, and Sheelagh O’Flynn (Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press), 69. 22 Cusato, personal correspondence, July 2010. 23 Andrew Linzey, Animal Rites (London: SCM Press, 1999), 7. 24 George Marcil, “The Franciscan School,” in The History of Franciscan Theology, ed. Kenan Osborne (New York: Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, 1999), 311–20. 25 Linzey, Animal Rites, 9–10. 26 Jones, School of Compassion, 73. 27 Quoted in Jones, School of Compassion, 141. 28 Jones, School of Compassion. 29 Henri d’Avranche cited in Armstrong, Hellmann, and Short, Francis of Assisi, vol. 1, 501. 30 Linzey, Christianity and the Rights of Animals, 3. 31 Warner, “Taking Nature Seriously,” 59. 32 Linzey, Animal Rites, 7. 33 Linzey, “Franciscan Concern for Animals,” 70.


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References Armstrong, Regis J., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, and William J. Short, eds. Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2001. Build with Living Stones. St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 2002. Accessed August 11, 2014. www. . Delio, Ilia, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood. Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2008. Doyle, Eric. St. Francis and the Song of Brotherhood and Sisterhood. St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1997. Frugoni, Chiara. Il Cammino di Francesco: Natura e incanto nella Valle Santa Reatina. Milano: Federico Motta Editore Spa, 2006. God and Animals. Accessed June 7, 2008. www.godandanimals.comPAGES/edits/linzey/church3/html. Jones, Deborah M. The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals. Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing, 2009. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Rites. London: SCM Press, 1999. Linzey, Andrew. Christianity and the Rights of Animals. New York: Crossroad, 1978. Linzey, Andrew. “Franciscan Concern for Animals.” In Joy in All Things: A Franciscan Companion, edited by Damian Kirkpatrick, Philip Doherty, and Sheelagh O’Flynn. Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2009. Marcil, George. “The Franciscan School.” In The History of Franciscan Theology, edited by Kenan Osborne. New York: Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University, 1999. Office for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. Care for Creation in the Daily Life of the Friars Minor. Rome: Office for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation, 2011. Accessed August 10, 2014. www. . Sorrell, Roger D. St. Francis of Assisi and Nature: Tradition and Innovation in Western Christian Attitudes toward the Environment. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Warner, Keith D. “Taking Nature Seriously: Nature Mysticism, Environmental Advocacy and the Franciscan Tradition.” In Franciscans and Creation: What Is Our Responsibility? St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 2003.


Killing and Exploitation

20 ANIMALS IN CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM THOUGHT Creatures, Creation, and Killing for Food Carl Tobias Frayne

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France

Introduction In industrialized societies where mechanistic forms of killing have become the norm, animal exploitation is more widespread than ever before. Animals (with the exception of companion animals) are often seen as little more than mere objects, commodities, or food machines to be used for human ends. The number of animals exploited is staggering; in the United States alone, fifty-eight billion of them are killed each year, and countless others suffer various forms of ill-treatment such a being hunted for sport or used in fights for entertainment. Yet at the same time, moral sensitivity to animals has grown significantly in the past forty years. Philosophers such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and many other contemporary ethicists have argued that the inclusion of certain animals in our circle of moral concern is rationally justified. Could concern for animals also be warranted on theological grounds? A rising number of religious scholars are now speaking out against animal abuse.1 However, these individuals tend to draw influence primarily from the secular Western animal rights movement, and their views remain well outside the religious mainstream. In this chapter, I shall offer a comparative exegesis and critical assessment of the Christian and Muslim views of animals. This chapter is divided into three parts. First, I shall examine the similarities between the Christian and Muslim views on the place of animals in creation. Second, I shall look at the two greatest moral exemplars of the two traditions. Third, I shall address the issue of diet and the broader ethical implications of killing for food. My hope is to show that Christianity and Islam are much more sympathetic to the cause of animals than it is often presumed and that these traditions can provide valuable insights into our relations with our fellow creatures.


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Christianity and Islam on the Place of Animals and Humans in Creation Subordination and Exploitation It is sometimes claimed that animals can be exploited because humans have dominion over them. At first glance, there appears to be scriptural evidence supporting this thesis. Genesis 1 tells us, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”2 Carol Bakhos notes that the Hebrew word translated here as “rule” is radâ, which means “power, authority and control of an individual or group over another.”3 Similarly, the Qur’an states, “[Allah] has subjected to [humans] all that is in the heavens and on earth.”4 Thus, it seems that God created a clear hierarchical system in which humans have authority over all other creatures. As St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “all animals are naturally subject to man.”5 Hans Küng goes even further and claims that the whole creation is for humankind: “God wills nothing but man’s advantage, man’s true greatness and his ultimate dignity. This then is God’s only wish: man’s well-being.”6 It is easy to see how such claims lead some to assert that animal exploitation is justified because it is God’s will for creation. In this view, only human beings, human suffering, and human well-being matter. For some, it seems that the order of creation is such that animals are made to be dominated as slaves by humans, who are not only the pinnacle of creation but also its sole purpose.7 In truth, subordination need not entail exploitation. It does not follow from the fact that humans are given dominion over the animals that they can use them as they wish, with no moral limitations whatsoever. As Bakhos rightly argues, “hierarchy . . . does not perforce lead to unmitigated subjugation.”8 Likewise, Paul Waldau writes that “differences in . . . hierarchy . . . do not automatically imply the propriety of dominance, let alone tyranny.”9 The higher hierarchical position of humans over other creatures is not analogous to the relationship between master and slave; it is more akin to the relationship between a father and his children. If a father plants rose bushes in his garden, this does not mean that his children are allowed to trample upon them carelessly. By analogy, humans, as children of the Almighty Father, ought not to treat animals in a reckless manner. Proverbs tells us that “a righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.”10 A hadith recounts the story of a woman who was harshly reprimanded for imprisoning her cat.11 In the same way, the Qur’an specifies, “This she-camel of God is a sign to you; so leave her to graze in God’s earth, and let her come to no harm, or you shall be seized with a grievous punishment.”12 Therefore, it is clear that there are moral constraints in both Christianity and Islam as to how humans ought to treat animals.

Theocentrism One may maintain that humans are entitled to use animals for their own ends and that even if animals do have moral worth, they were created for the benefit of humans alone. As Abu A’la Maududi claims, “everything has been harnessed for [man]. He has been endowed with the power to subdue [animals] and make them serve his objectives.”13 Various Qur’anic verses suggest that animals benefit humans: “[it is he who creates] horses and mules and asses for you to ride.”14 Stressing the moral implications of this account, St. Thomas writes that it is an error to say “that it is sinful for man to kill brute animals, for by divine providence they are intended for man’s use according to the order of nature. Hence it is not wrong for man to make use of them, either by killing them, or in any other way whatever.”15 It may be argued that it is only a small step from this position to conclude that animals have only instrumental value; they been created 202

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to serve human interests. In other words, the sole raison d’être of animals, in this view, is service to humankind. It does not follow from the fact that creation benefits humankind that creation’s sole purpose is to serve humans. It is crucial to stress that the Christian and Muslim worldviews are theocentric; God is the locus of all value. Centuries of anthropocentrism have greatly obscured this fundamental theological point.16 The anthropocentric view of creation is arrogant and petty, as well as biblically and Qur’anically inaccurate; it deifies the human species. By putting humankind on a golden pedestal, we have turned ourselves into the idols we sought to abolish. This kind of idolatry rests on the assumption that “the interests of human beings [are] the sole, main, or even exclusive concern of God the Creator.”17 This assumption belies the Christian and Muslim views of humans’ place in creation. In reality, for Christians and Muslims, humans are not the measure of all things; creation is first and foremost for the glory of God.18 Both the Qur’an and the Bible specify that creation belongs to the Creator: “to Him belong all that is, in the heavens and in the earth”19; “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”20 Thus, humans do not own animals, let alone the rest of nature; they are, alongside other living beings, part and parcel of creation. Indeed, all creatures originate from the same divine source and share the same inexorable fate: “all things have been created through Him,”21 and “what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”22 The Creator’s interests go beyond the human species. As it is stated in the Qur’an, “the earth He has assigned to all living creatures.”23 There are also numerous biblical passages that point to the importance of the more-than-human world: “The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.”24 “Look at the birds in the sky! They do not plant or harvest. They do not even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them.”25 The church father Basil of Caesarea asserted as early as the fourth century that “animals live not for us alone, but for themselves and for God.”26 In summation, animals have intrinsic value and were not created for human purposes alone. We should not judge them from our severely limited anthropocentric perspective but should always treat them with the respect they deserve as God’s creatures.27

Responsibility In what sense are animals then subordinated to humans? After all, the Qur’an clearly states that humans have a special place in creation: “certainly, we have created Man in the best make.”28 And the Bible declares that God has made humans in his “image and likeness.”29 The special status of humans is that of caretakers of creation; God entrusted humans with the task of caring for creation.30 As beings made in the imago Dei, we are commissioned by God to look after the world. As Andrew Linzey writes, “this image is to be understood not so much ontologically as existentially: it comes to expression not in the nature of man so much as in his activity and function. This function is to represent God’s lordship to the lower orders of creation.”31 Similarly, paraphrasing the Qur’an, Jaafar Sheikh Idris argues that “[humans] shall be rulers who shall judge among the others in accordance with [God’s] commands.”32 It should be borne in mind that all human power is derived and dependent power. We are both lamb and shepherd; we lead, but ultimately, we are also led. As such, we must look after animals as God looks after his creation – namely, with care, compassion, and love. This is clearly expressed in Genesis, where humans are placed in the Garden of Eden to keep it and serve the creatures living in it.33 We are to tend rather than exploit, to serve rather than dominate, and to 203

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cherish rather than abuse. Moreover, as the caretakers of creation, humans are responsible for the way in which they treat animals. As Karl Barth explicitly contends, “if there is a freedom of man to kill animals, this signifies in any case the adoption of a qualified and in some sense enhanced responsibility.”34 This responsibility is the duty to “care for creation as God’s own representatives on earth.”35 Thus, the notion of dominion is better understood as stewardship and “accountable authority.”36 We are the custodians or vicegerents (khalifa)37 of creation. Our only power over animals is the power to care for and look after them in accord with God’s will.38

Animals’ Relation to God Islam and Christianity suggest that animals have a direct relationship with God.39 Various Qur’anic passages indicate that animals worship God in their own way: “there is not a thing but hymneth His praise; but ye understand not their praise.”40 As Abdul Said puts it, animals “have their own form of prayer.”41 They also may receive some kind of divine revelation: “your Lord revealed to the bee, saying: ‘make hives in the mountains . . . ’”42 This is why Muhammad Siddiq claims that “the animal world should be treated as a silent partner . . . of humankind.”43 In a similar fashion, some Sufi practitioners believe that animals have a deep spiritual life that is unknown to us. For instance, Rumi asserts that animals have a “natural, God-given instinct” of which humans often lose sight due to their “intellect and false imaginings.”44 For Rumi, animals may share a closer connection to God than many humans. In Rumi’s own words, “if only creatures had tongues; they could lift the veil from the Divine mysteries.”45 Some Christian scholars also have argued that animals praise God. For instance, Lukas Vischer and Charles Birch claim that “all creation is a single hymn of praise in which humans, animals and nature as a whole praise God with one voice.”46 Animals are sometimes portrayed as “bearers of God” or imitatio Christi, imitators of Christ.47 For example, one story describes a deer being pursued by a hunter. As the hunter is about to kill his prey, he sees a cross in the deer’s antlers and hears the voice of God asking, “Why are you pursuing me?”48 Albeit sometimes anthropomorphic, stories that recount the connection between God and his nonhuman creatures reiterate that animals are intrinsically valuable beings and that the Creator has interests above and beyond the human species.

Moral Exemplars Pious individuals in both the Christian and Islamic traditions have often shown great care for animals. The Sufis Sofyan al-Thauri and Ebrahim al-Khauwas and the Catholic saints St. Francis of Assisi and St. Kevin of Ireland are among the many names that could be mentioned to illustrate this fact.49 Describing the lives and deeds of these great saints, seers, and mystics goes beyond the scope of this chapter. Let us instead focus our attention on the two central figures of Christianity and Islam: Jesus and Muhammad. For Christians, Jesus is God incarnate. Although many scholars acknowledge the significance of Jesus’ humanity, few have realized that this humanity is also “animality.” In other words, by taking human form, God also took animal form, for to be human is to be animal also. Hence, it would be more accurate to say that God took the form of a particular creature: man, or a human being. The Word became flesh so that we may honor all flesh.50 As Stephen Webb puts it, “all bodies matter because God became embodied.”51 Thus, through the incarnation, God affirms the worth of all embodied creatures.52 Jesus is often associated with the animal realm. For example, the author of the Gospel of Mark compares Jesus to the Passover lamb.53 Jesus himself likens the lives of animals to his 204

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itinerant life.54 Furthermore, in the Old Testament, the Messiah is compared to a defenseless and inoffensive animal: “he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”55 In sum, Jesus, as both divine Father and embodied son, dwells among animals and identifies with them. It is also worth noting that many of the early Christians emphasized Jesus’ concern for the animal world.56 As Roderic Dunkerley points out, “kindness to animals was an aspect of Christian charity which the Early Church largely ignored.”57 There are actually several non-canonical texts that illustrate Jesus’ relations with animals. For example, in the Gospel of the Ebonies, Jesus and John the Baptist are portrayed as vegetarians. According to this gospel, Jesus rejects the Passover meal and says, “I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal lamb with you.”58 It has also been suggested that Jesus may have been a member of a Jewish sect called the Essenes, whose members were vegetarians. The historical and theological validity and reliability of these accounts are doubtful, to say the least, but they are valuable nonetheless,59 for although the stories may be exaggerated, they shed light on the different interpretations of Jesus’ message and reveal aspects of his life that may have passed unnoticed in the canon of the New Testament. As Linzey remarks, “early apocryphal Christian literature, from the first to the eighth centuries, often developed and embellished canonical accounts of Jesus’ relations with animals.”60 Therefore, the fact that there are various strands of Christianity, some of which evolved in parallel to the early church, that depict Jesus’ concern for animals is theologically significant. It is important to stress that Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet. His moral teachings thus also hold true for Islam. For Muslims, Muhammad, the last prophet, is also regarded as a great moral exemplar. Indeed, the Qur’an states that he is a “beautiful model” (uswa hasana).61 Muhammad treated animals kindly and compassionately and encouraged Muslims to do likewise.62 Many hadith recount Muhammad’s compassionate behavior toward animals.63 He is reported to have said that “for [charity shown to] each creature [that is alive], there is a reward”64 and that “whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself.”65 According to a hadith, a sinner was forgiven of all his sins after having given water to a dog dying of thirst.66 The many ill-treatments that the Prophet condemned included hunting for sport, using animals in fights for entertainment, branding animals, or hitting an animal on the face.67 Muhammad also reminds Muslims that they are accountable for any life they take: “if anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow . . . he will face God’s interrogation.”68 In short, Muhammad severely rebuked animal abuse and urged people to treat animals with benevolence and mercy.

Diet and Killing for Food The main way that humans use animals is by eating them. One’s diet is no trivial matter; it has momentous moral implications for many areas of life, such as one’s health, the environment, and world hunger. Hence, as Webb tells us, “the unexamined meal is not worth eating.”69 Although there have been (and still are) many individuals from various branches of Christianity70 and Sufi orders71 who have advocated a vegetarian diet, they remain few and far between. Besides, the abstention from eating animal flesh seems, more often than not, to be an ascetic practice rather than an extension of moral consideration to animals as such. Today, the vast majority of (wealthy) Christians and Muslims consume meat, and the predominant view is that doing so is perfectly acceptable. Is this the accurate interpretation of their sacred texts? Is it congruent with the aforementioned teachings of Christianity and Islam regarding the place of animals in creation? 205

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The Christian Diet In the Bible, humans and other animals – who were all made on the final day of creation – were originally given a strictly vegetarian diet: And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.72 It is only after the Fall73 that these dietary restrictions appear to be revised: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”74 Nonetheless, the permission to kill for food is not unconditional: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal and from each human being.”75 Prima facie, this passage appears to be contradictory; how can one kill an animal without the shedding of blood?76 It is important to consider these verses in light of their original context: the world had been corrupted, and God had decided to flood the earth to wash away the sins of humanity. Subsequently, God entered into a new covenant with humanity,77 and he allowed human beings to kill for food as part of this new covenant.78 The permission to kill seems to be a consequence of sin – a “necessary evil” for human survival.79 The eating of flesh is therefore, inter alia, the result of the alienation between humans and animals, which is due to the fall of all creation. As Pope John Paul II writes, “murderous violence profoundly changes man’s environment. From being in the Garden of Eden, a place of plenty, of harmonious interpersonal relationships and friendship with God, the earth becomes the land of Nod, a place of scarcity, loneliness and separation from God.”80 This argument is far from novel; several church fathers noted that animals and humans lived in peace and harmony in the prelapsarian world.81 For example, St. Jerome, a fourth-century doctor of the church, claims that the permission to consume animal flesh after the flood was due to “the hardness of human hearts.”82 More recently, John Berkman, who also argues that the consumption of animal flesh is a description of eating practices in a postlapsarian world, has pointed out that “it is not at all clear that [the eating of flesh] should be seen as a prescription for [all] human eating practices.”83 Rather, it seems that God allows humans to kill for food under conditions of necessity – that is, when not doing so would pose a threat to human survival. This was the case in the post-flood era when food was scarce. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to suppose that the exception of the post-flood era can be turned into a permanent rule.84 Several theologians have contended that the divinely ordained diet for humans is that of Genesis 1. The Garden of Eden should be seen as the quintessential vision of peace – “a primitive golden age” of harmonious coexistence.85 The Catholic tradition has referred to the Edenic state as the state of “original justice.”86 Early on, St. Basil of Caesaria invited Christians to strive to lead a life akin to that of Eden and paradise.87 This includes refraining from consuming animal flesh, for in Eden, humans and animals lived in a state of nonviolence; there was no necessity to kill since the garden’s fruits provided them with sufficient sustenance. As Berkman explains, “eschatological abstinence is an element of a broader perceptive on the Christian life, which seeks to embody a particular vision of the world, a world that existed prior to the Fall and a world that will be restored in the eschaton.”88 Whenever Christians recite the Lord’s Prayer, they pray for the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Universal peace is at the heart of the kingdom of God. There will be “reconciliation in the world of nature, 206

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and the ancient enmity between man and beast shall be done away.”89 In the book of Isaiah, the biblical writers allude to the vision of this peaceable kingdom, which they believe will ultimately be restored in accordance with God’s original plan for creation: Then the world shall live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall grow up together, and a little child shall lead them; the cow and the bear shall be friends, and their young shall lie down together. ... They shall not hurt or destroy all in my holy mountain; for as the waters fill the sea, so shall the land be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.90 To sum up, a Christian theological account of killing animals for human nourishment must take into consideration the doctrines of creation and the Fall as well as the vision of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.

The Muslim Diet Islam allows the consumption of the flesh of some animals who are tended and slaughtered in accord with Islamic law (Sharia). Although some Qur’anic verses seem to promote a plant-based diet,91 several passages explicitly state that eating meat is religiously sanctioned with certain restrictions: “lawful to you is [the flesh of] every beast that feeds on plants,”92 but “forbidden to you is carrion, and blood, and the flesh, of the swine, and that over which any name other than God’s has been invoked, and the animal has been strangled, or beaten to death.”93 Halal, or permissible, meat is flesh taken from the body of an animal who has been kept and slaughtered according to Sharia, Islamic law. However, most people tend to focus only on how the animal is slaughtered, not on how the animal is tended during his or her life. In truth, both are equally important factors and should be given due consideration.94 The problem is that halal meat producers regularly buy animals from farms that do not tend animals in accordance with Sharia.95 Given that in many societies a lot of meat comes from intensive systems of farming, it is almost impossible to be certain that any given animal product is halal.96 For example, eggs and dairy products sourced from mistreated animals are clearly not halal. People are often unaware of the provenance of their food. Were they to find out more about the journey of meat from the killing of the animal to their plate, some might choose to become vegetarians because of their religious convictions. Some Muslim scholars oppose vegetarianism on the grounds that “one may not forbid something which God has made permissible.”97 For example, Mawil Izzi Dien asserts that “vegetarianism is not allowed under the pretext of giving priority to the interest of animals because such decisions are God’s prerogative.”98 As a result, various Muslim individuals who have decided to abstain from eating meat have been heavily criticized by their peers. For example, Abu Nasr ibn Abi Imran, an eleventh-century theologian, reprimanded the poet Abu’l-‘Ala al-ma’arri for “trying to be more compassionate than God.”99 Similarly, Zaynad, a female Sufi, was persecuted for her refusal to eat meat.100 More recently, popular preacher Zakir Naik claimed that “vegetarianism is not permitted (haram) unless on grounds such as unavailability or medical necessity.”101 Thus, it seems that in this account, Muslims are required to eat the flesh of animals. 207

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But it does not follow from the fact that meat is permissible that refraining from eating it is forbidden.102 More importantly, there are some practices, such as slavery (or perhaps polygyny), that were morally sanctioned in the Prophet’s day but that no longer apply today. Likewise, it may be argued that whereas meat was a vital source of nourishment in the time of the Prophet of Islam, it is now a luxury that one can easily do without. Muhammad is reported to have said, “Avoid . . . the killing of breathing beings which God has forbidden except for rightful reasons.”103 In addition, Islamic jurisprudence distinguishes between three levels of necessities: vital needs (masala zaruriyya), comfort needs (masala hajuyya), and luxury products (masala tahsiniyya).104 The category to which meat and other animal products belong will vary depending on the circumstances in which one finds oneself.

Convergence and Temperance Food scarcity was the prevalent condition for the vast majority of people over the course of human history. There are still many societies wherein meat appears to be a vital need. For example, the Innu people could not survive in the harsh environment of the Great White North without the protein, fat, and other nutritional properties of the animal flesh that constitutes most of their diet. Under such circumstances, it may be justified to kill for food. On the other hand, in many affluent industrialized societies, it is perfectly possible for people to sustain a healthy and well-balanced diet without consuming any meat (or any animal products whatever).105 Hence, for people living in such societies, meat is but a luxury product for which killing does not seem morally warranted. It is, in the words of Stephen Clark, “empty gluttony.”106 To reiterate, I am not claiming that it directly follows from Christian and Muslim doctrines that meat should be categorically forbidden. First, the crucial point here is that one should face the fact that meat is the flesh of an animal whose life has been cut short – a life that has intrinsic value in God’s eyes. Second, one should be mindful of the different contexts in which an animal is killed; although it may sometimes be permissible to kill animals, it is not permitted to do so carelessly. As Linzey argues, “properly speaking, there is no right to kill”; “killing is always a grave matter.”107 Similarly, al-Hafiz B. A. Masri writes, “To kill animals to satisfy the human thirst for inessentials is a contradiction in terms within the Islamic tradition.”108 It may be morally justifiable to take the life of an animal for such reasons as drastic food scarcity, self-defense, or mercy killing, but outside of such circumstances, one should refrain from killing. Christians and Muslims ought to reflect deeply on the theological and moral significance of the act of killing in relation to their scriptures and the values they promote. Given the broader moral teachings of Islam and Christianity about love and compassion in addition to animals’ intrinsic worth, there does not appear to be any rightful reason for slaughtering animals in wealthy industrialized societies (not to mention the abhorrent mass killing of factory farming). As Peter Singer argues, “practically and psychologically it is impossible to be consistent in one’s concern for nonhuman animals while continuing to dine on them.”109 The question one should ask oneself is simple: Should I injure what has value in God’s eyes? Should I take the life of that which God loves and hence that which I too ought to love?

Concluding Remarks and Summary In this chapter, I have endeavored to debunk some of the misconceptions about Christianity and Islam regarding their views of animals. I have focused on the similarities between the two traditions and have laid the emphasis on the moral teachings that are sympathetic to the animal cause. However, this chapter is by no means supposed to be an exhaustive survey of the place of animals in Christianity and Islam. It is important to acknowledge that there are various ways 208

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in which these two traditions differ on issues that I have not addressed, such as animal sacrifice. Nevertheless, all in all, I hope to have shown that the Christian and the Islamic religions can be sources of inspiration for our relationships with nonhuman animals. The anthropocentric biases that have invaded Christian and Muslim thought are all too often more Cartesian,110 Aristotelian,111 or Stoic than biblical or Qur’anic.112 The dismissal of the importance of other creatures is largely due to a misconception of the notion of dominion and humans’ place in creation. It often rests on the erroneous view that humans are made in the image of God only insofar as they have a rational soul and that this supreme status gives them absolute authority over animals, who are excluded from the moral community.113 In this view, animals have no value in and of themselves; they were created to serve humankind. I have argued that this anthropocentric account of creation is prideful and fails to do justice to the central tenets of the Abrahamic worldview. In Christianity and Islam, God is the measure of all things, not humankind. The Creator has interests over and beyond the human species; creation is for all living beings. Humans do have a unique status, but it is not one of limitless power over every creature who creeps on the face of the earth. Rather, we are placed as stewards of creation, and as such, we must assume the responsibility to care for animals as God cares for humans – namely, with love, compassion, and mercy. The taking of a life is always a serious matter and can be justified only in certain situations such as drastic food scarcity. Cruelty – that is, inflicting unnecessary suffering upon another sentient being – is never morally warranted. “We may pretend to what religion we please,” writes Humphrey Primatt, “but cruelty is atheism . . . We may trust our orthodoxy, but cruelty is the world of heresies.”114 This is why the current treatment of animals in intensive factory farms – as well as other abusive practices that reduce them to exploitable human property – cannot be justified on Christian or Muslim grounds. For followers of Islam and Christianity, Muhammad and Jesus are seen as paradigm cases and embodiments of divine virtue. As such, they demonstrate the way in which we should relate to our neighbors, be they human or animal. Jesus and Muhammad both promoted an ethics of love and compassion, of respect and protection. Regardless of one’s religious convictions, one cannot deny that they are both great moral exemplars, social reformers, and spiritual sages whose lives we should all strive to emulate. History testifies to the inspiration that many have drawn from their teachings. Contrary to what some animal rights advocates assert, Christianity and Islam have not historically been inimical to concern for nonhuman animals. Michel de Montaigne’s surprise at the sight of “alms and hospitals for animals” in the Islamic world in the sixth century and the creation of the RSPCA by an Anglican priest in 1824 are illustrations of the concern for animal welfare displayed by Muslims and Christians throughout history.115 Unfortunately, caring behavior toward our fellow creatures has not been practiced consistently. Many Christian and Muslim communities have lost sight of and strayed from the moral teachings of their sacred scriptures. Though in recent years, new voices defending animals have been emerging from religious spheres,116 indifference has too often replaced compassion in the face of animal suffering. One must be reminded that God is love (agape/caritas),117 the most compassionate (Ar-Rahman), and the most merciful (Ar-Rahim),118 for as the Qur’an tells us, oftentimes “it is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts.”119 The enlightened way, the path of righteousness, is that of loving kindness.

Notes 1 By all accounts, Andrew Linzey and al-Hafiz Masri have been the principal advocates of a reappraisal of the place of animals in Christianity and Islam in recent decades. Linzey was influenced by Humphrey Primatt’s 1776 essay A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and the Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals. See Andrew Linzey, Animal Theology (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 15–16. For a detailed discussion


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2 3 4 5 6 7

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

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about contemporary Muslim views on animal rights, see Richard C. Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006), 86–103. Gen. 1:28, emphasis added. Carol Bakhos, “Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Attitudes toward Animals,” Comparative Islamic Studies 5, no. 2 (2009): 184. Qur’an 45:13, emphasis added. See also Qur’an 7:10, 16:10–16, 22:65. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, ed. Kevin Knight (New Advent, online edition, 2008), vol. 1, Q. 26, Art. 1. Hans Küng, On Being a Christian (New York: Harper Collins, 1978), 251. This commonly held view is what led Lynn White to claim that the Abrahamic worldview is partially to blame for the environmental crisis in his influential 1967 essay. See Lynn White, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” Science (155)3767 (March 1967): 1203–07. Bakhos, “Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Attitudes,” 185. Paul Waldau, The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 39. Prov. 12:10. Sahih Muslim 4:1215, 1381. Masri notes that this story is recorded by almost all the books of hadith. Al-Hafiz Basheer Ahmad Masri, Animal Welfare in Islam (Leicestershire: Islamic Foundation, 2007), 46. Qur’an 7:73. Abu A’la Maududi, Towards Understanding Islam, trans. Khurshid Ahmad (Indianapolis: Islamic Teaching Center, 1988), 114. Qur’an 16:8. See also Qur’an 16:5–6, 23:22. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, in Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, ed. Anton Pegis (London: Random House, 1945), 222, emphasis added. Aquinas makes a similar point in his Summa Theologiae (vol. 1, Q. 65, Art. 1): “Dumb animals and plants are devoid of the life of reason whereby to set themselves in motion; they are moved, at is were by a kind of natural impulse, a sign of which is that they are naturally enslaved and accommodated to the uses of others.” He follows Aristotle, who claims that “plants exist for the sake of animals, and brute beasts for the sake of man, domestic animals, for his use and food, wild ones for food and other accessories of life, such as clothing and various tools. Since nature makes nothing purposeless or in vain, it is undeniably true that he has made all animals for the sake of man.” Quoted in John Warrington, Metaphysics (New York: Dutton, 1959), 16. Andrew Linzey, “Reverence, Responsibility and Rights,” in Christian Ethics, ed. Samuel Wells (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010), 299. Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah: Animals and the Liberation of Theology (London, UK: Mowbray, 1997), 118. Richard Alan Young, Is God a Vegetarian? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights (Chicago: Open Courts, 1999), 37. Qur’an 30:26–27. See also Qur’an 7:128. All creation will return to the Creator; see Qur’an 3:105–10, 24:36–43, 19:88–98. Ps. 24:1, 104, 115:16. See also Job 12:9–10; Eph. 1:10. Col. 1:16–20. Eccles. 3:18–21. Qur’an 55:10, emphasis added. Ps. 145:9. Matt. 6:25–26, emphasis added. See also Gen. 1:21 and Luke 12:24. Richard Sorabji, Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate (London: Duckworth, 1993), 199. Linzey talks about “theo-rights.” That is, animals, qua God’s creatures, can be wronged because God can be wronged. Andrew Linzey, Christianity and the Rights of Animals (New York: Crossroad, 1987), 87, 96, 98; Linzey, Animal Theology, 27. Qur’an 95:4. Gen. 1:26. Qur’an 2:30. Andrew Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 163, emphasis added. See also Andrew Linzey, Animal Gospel: A Christian Faith as though Animals Mattered (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1998), 14. Jaafar Sheikh Idris, “Is Man the Vicegerent of God?,” Journal of Islamic Studies 1 (1990): 103.


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40 41

42 43 44 45 46 47 48

49 50 51 52

53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67

Gen. 2:15. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (London: T&T Clark, 1961), vol. 3, part 4, 354. Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. 3, part 4, 29. Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters, 163. Literally “successor.” Qur’an 5:65, 2:61, 2:30, 6:165. This “creation-friendly” interpretation has gained an “ever increasing acceptance among biblical scholars.” Gunnlaugur Jónsson, “The Image of God: Genesis 1:26–28 in a Century of Old Testament Research,” Conietanea Biblica Old Testament Series 26 (1988): 219. This is more strongly emphasized in the Islamic tradition. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Islam, the Contemporary Islamic World, and the Environmental Crisis,” in Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust, ed. Richard C. Foltz, Frederick M. Denny, and Azizan Baharuddin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 96; Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 5. Qur’an 17:44. See also Qur’an 24:41, 13:15. Qur’an 61:1, 16:48–56, 22:18, 24:36–43. See also Mohammad Yusuf Siddiq, “An Ecological Journey in Muslim Bengal,” in Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology, 454–55; and Abdul Aziz Said and Nathan C. Func, “Peace in Islam: An Ecology of the Spirit,” in Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology, 163. Qur’an 16:68. Siddiq, “An Ecological Journey,” 454–55. Lynda Clarke, “The Universe Alive: Nature in the Masnavi of Jalal al-Din Rumi,” in Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology, 47. Nasr, “Islam, the Contemporary Islamic World,” 96. Lukas Vischer and Charles Birch, Living with the Animals (Geneva: WWC, 1997), 5. Hobgood-Oster, cited in Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 227. Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend Readings on the Saints (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), vol. 2, 266–67. For further examples of the relationship between God and animals in Christianity, see Helen Waddell, Beasts and Saints (London: Constable, 1934); and Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions. Linzey claims that two-thirds of all saints from both the Eastern and Western traditions have championed the animal cause. Linzey, Animal Gospel, 27. Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah: Animals and the Liberation of Theology (London: Mowbray, 1997), 103. Stephen H. Webb, Good Eating (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2001), 162, emphasis added. This argument is not new; it was already made by some of the church fathers, such as St. Athanasius of Alexandria in Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione, ed. and trans. R. W. Thomson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 115. Mark 14:12. Jesus is compared to a lamb many times in the New Testament. Luke 9:58. Isa. 53:7. Andrew Linzey, “Jesus and Animals in Christian Apocryphal Literature,” Modern Believing (48)1 (January 2007): 48–59. Roderic Dunkerley, Beyond the Gospels (London: Penguin Books, 1957), 143. For further examples of Jesus’ relationship with animals, see Andrew Linzey, Creatures of the Same God (Winchester: Winchester University Press, 2007). For further discussion, see for example, John Todd Ferrier, The Master, Known Unto the World as Jesus the Christ: His Life and Teachings (Charleston, SC: BiblioLife, 1923). Linzey, Creatures of the Same God, 97–98. Qur’an 33:21. Nasr, “Islam, the Contemporary Islamic World,” 97. For example, see Sahih Muslim 4:2593; Muwatta Malik 54:15:38. Sahih Muslim, Bukhari 2:106. Cited in al-Hafiz Basheer Ahmad Masri, Islamic Concern for Animals (Petersfield, UK: Athene Trust, 1987), 4. Masri, Islamic Concern, 4:1216. Masri, Animal Welfare in Islam, 46. See also Muwatta Malik 54:15:38; Sahih Bukhari 67:449; Sahih Muslim 4:2593; Tirmidhi 1480.


Carl Tobias Frayne 68 Cited in Nomanul S. Haq, “Islam and Ecology: Toward Retrieval and Reconstruction,” in Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology, 149. 69 Webb, Good Eating, 144. 70 For example, William Cowherd, founder of the Bible Christian Church, made vegetarianism mandatory. The Seventh-day Adventist Church promotes vegetarianism. Various saints have also expressed a particular concern for animals, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Richard of Chichester, and St. Benedict. See Sorabji, Animal Minds and Human Morals, 203; and Linzey, Animal Gospel, 27. Some of the church fathers practiced vegetarianism, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and John Chrysostom. See Stephen R. Kaufman and Nathan Braun, Good News for All Creation:Vegetarianism as Christian Stewardship (Cleveland: Vegetarian Advocates Press, 2004), 8. Many of the Catholic monastic orders abstain from animal flesh. For further examples, see Linzey, Christianity and the Rights of Animals, 150–59; and Linzey, Animal Theology. 71 For example, the Chishti order advocates vegetarianism. For further examples, see Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), 348–58. 72 Gen. 1:26–30, emphasis added. 73 Gen. 3:1–24. 74 Gen. 9:1–4, emphasis added. 75 Gen. 9:4–5. 76 For the early Hebrews, blood was a symbol for life. See Linzey 1994, 128. 77 This new covenant is known as the Noahic covenant. 78 Gen. 8:1–9:17. 79 Anthony Phillips, Lower than the Angels: Questions Raised by Genesis 1–11 (London: Bible Reading Fellowship, 1983), 48. 80 John Paul II, Evangelium vitae. Encyclical Letter. (Vatican, Holy See, 1995) §9. content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html. 81 John Berkman, “The Consumption of Animals and the Catholic Tradition,” in Food for Thought, ed. Steve F. Sapontzis (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004), 202. 82 Cited in Teresa Shaw, The Burden of the Flesh: Fasting and Sexuality in Early Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), 177. 83 Berkman, “Consumption of Animals,” 203. 84 Andrew Linzey, “The Theological Debate about Meat Eating,” in Food for Thought, ed. Steve F. Sapontzis (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004), 192. 85 George A. Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible (New York: Abingdon, 1956), 486. See, for instance, Clifton J. Allen, Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971), 32; or Linzey, Animal Gospel, 126. 86 Berkman, “Consumption of Animals,” 202. See, for instance, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, §376. 87 Cited in Shaw, The Burden of the Flesh, 197. 88 Berkman, “Consumption of Animals,” 201. The question of eschatology, and the extent to which it can be realized on earth, is a moot point. In contrast with the traditional view, Pope John Paul II contends that “eschatology is not what will take place in the future . . . Eschatology has already begun with the coming of Christ . . . This is the beginning of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Revelations 21:1).” John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (New York: Knopf, 1994), 184–85. 89 Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, 249–50. 90 Isa. 11:6–9, emphasis added. 91 For examples of passages promoting a vegan diet, see Qur’an 15:9–32, 55:1–17. 92 Qur’an 5:1. Marine animals also can be killed for food: “It is He who has made the sea subject, that you may eat the flesh thereof that is fresh and tender.” Qur’an 16:4. See also Qur’an 52:22, 56:21, 6:145, 16:5, 66, 40:79. 93 Qur’an 5:3. See also Qur’an 2:173, 6:145. 94 Food should also be tayyib, “wholesome, pure, nutritious and sage.” Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions, 260. 95 Richard C. Foltz, “Is Vegetarianism Un-Islamic?,” in Food for Thought: The Debate over Eating Meat, ed. Steve F. Sapontzis (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004); Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 118. Foltz notes that some Middle Eastern countries “import much of their meat from places like New Zealand (in which animal remains are typically fed to other animals).” Foltz, “Is Vegetarianism Un-Islamic?,” 216. 96 Social activist Nadia Montasser gives a list of eight questions that are supposed to ensure that a given animal product is halal and argues that in the vast majority of cases, we would be forced to answer in the negative to at least one of these questions. Nadia Montasser, “So You Think Your Meat Is ‘Halal’? Think Again!,” Petpost, September 2006. See also Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 116–17; Richard C. Foltz, “This She-Camel of God Is a Sign to You,” in A Communion of Subjects, Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics, ed. Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 396; and Masri, Islamic Concern, 158.


Animals in Christian and Muslim Thought 97 Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 99; Qur’an 5:87. 98 Mawil Y. Izzi Dien, The Environmental Dimensions of Islam (Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2000), 146. 99 Yaqut, cited in Geert Jan van Gelder, Of Dishes and Discourse: Classical Arabic Interpretations of Food (Richmond: Curzon, 2000), 88. 100 Margaret Smith, The Way of the Mystics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 154–62. 101 Naik, cited in Izzi Dien, Environmental Dimensions, 146. 102 Quite the reverse, according to Masri: the Islamic juristic rule is that “what is not declared as forbidden is permissible.” Masri, Animal Welfare in Islam, 136. 103 Sahih Muslim 1606, 271, emphasis added. 104 Masri, Animal Welfare in Islam, 30–31. 105 It is interesting to note that in the ancient world, meat was widely considered to have medicinal properties. Berkman, “Consumption of Animals,” 200. 106 Stephen Clark, The Moral Status of Animals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 183. 107 Linzey 1994, 131. 108 Masri, Animal Welfare in Islam, 27. 109 Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals (New York: New York Review, 1975), 172. 110 Descartes regarded physics as a way of rending men “the masters and possessors of nature.” Cited in Gary Steiner, “Descartes, Christianity, and Contemporary Speciesism,” in A Communion of Subjects, ed. P. Waldau and K. Patton (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006). 111 Aristotle believed that all animals were made “for the sake of man.” Politics, Book I, chap. 8, para. 1256b12–22, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). 112 I am not claiming that the philosophies of Aristotle, Descartes, and the Stoics are inherently or necessarily anthropocentric, for their respective positions are very complex and cannot be assessed thoroughly in this chapter. 113 See Steiner, “Descartes, Christianity, and Contemporary Speciesism,” for further discussion with respect to the influence of different schools of thought upon Christianity. 114 Quoted in Linzey, “Reverence, Responsibility and Rights,” 182. 115 Cited in Foltz, Animals in Islamic Tradition, 5. 116 For examples, see Mark Oppenheimer, “Scholars Explore Religious Perspective on Animal Rights,” New York Times, December 6, 2013. 117 1 John 4:8. 118 Ubiquitous in the Qur’an. This is written at the beginning of all surahs but one. 119 Qur’an 22:46.

References Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles. In Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, edited by Anton Pegis. London: Random House, 1945. Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae. Edited by Kevin Knight. New Advent. Online edition, 2008. www. Allen, Clifton J. Broadman Bible Commentary. 12 vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971. Aristotle. Politics. In The Complete Works of Aristotle, edited by J. Barnes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. Athanasius. Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione. Edited and translated by R. W. Thomson. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. Bakhos, Carol. “Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Attitudes toward Animals.” Comparative Islamic Studies 5, no. 2 (2009): 117–209. Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics. Vol. 3, part 4. London: T&T Clark, 1961. Berkman, John. “The Consumption of Animals and the Catholic Tradition.” In Food for Thought, edited by Steve F. Sapontzis. New York: Prometheus Books, 2004. Bonaventure. The Soul’s Journey into God. London: Paulist Press, 1978. Buttrick, George A. The Interpreter’s Bible. New York: Abingdon, 1956. Camosy, Charles C. For the Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2013. Camosy, Charles C. “Non-Human Animals.” In Peter Singer and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.


Carl Tobias Frayne Clark, Stephen. The Moral Status of Animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977. Clarke, Lynda. “The Universe Alive: Nature in the Masnavi of Jalal al-Din Rumi.” In Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology. Clough, David L. On Animals,Volume 1: Systematic Theology. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2012. Dunkerley, Roderic. Beyond the Gospels. London: Penguin Books, 1957. Ferrier, John Todd. The Master, Known Unto the World as Jesus the Christ: His Life and Teachings. Charleston, SC: BiblioLife, 1923. Foltz, Richard C. Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures. Oxford: Oneworld, 2006. Foltz, Richard C. “Is Vegetarianism Un-Islamic?” In Food for Thought: The Debate over Eating Meat, edited by Steve F. Sapontzis. New York: Prometheus Books, 2004. Foltz, Richard C. “This She-Camel of God Is a Sign to You.” In A Communion of Subjects, Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics, edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Foltz, Richard C., Frederick M. Denny, and Azizan Baharuddin, eds. Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. Haq, Nomanul S. “Islam and Ecology: Toward Retrieval and Reconstruction.” In Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology. Idris, Jaafar Sheikh. “Is Man the Vicegerent of God?” Journal of Islamic Studies 1 (1990): 99–110. Ikhwan, al-Safa. The Case of the Animals versus Man before the King of the Jinn: A Tenth-Century Ecological Fable of the Pure Brethren of Barsa. Translated by Lenn Evan Goodman. Boston: Twayne, 1978. Izzi Dien, Mawil Y. The Environmental Dimensions of Islam. Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2000. John Paul II. Crossing the Threshold of Hope. New York: Knopf, 1994. John Paul II, Evangelium vitae. Encyclical Letter. Vatican, Holy See, 1995. john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html. Jónsson, Gunnlaugur. “The Image of God: Genesis 1:26–28 in a Century of Old Testament Research.” Conietanea Biblica Old Testament Series 26 (1988). Kaufman, Stephen R., and Nathan Braun. Good News for All Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian Stewardship. Cleveland: Vegetarian Advocates Press, 2004. Kemmerer, Lisa. Animals and World Religions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Kemmerer, Lisa. In Search of Consistency: Ethics and Animals. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Küng, Hans. On Being a Christian. New York: Harper Collins, 1978. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Gospel: A Christian Faith as though Animals Mattered. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1998. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Theology. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Linzey, Andrew. Christianity and the Rights of Animals. New York: Crossroad, 1987. Linzey, Andrew. Creatures of the Same God. Winchester: Winchester University Press, 2007. Linzey, Andrew. “Jesus and Animals in Christian Apocryphal Literature.” Modern Believing (48)1 (January 2007): 48–59. Linzey, Andrew. “Reverence, Responsibility and Rights.” In Christian Ethics, edited by Samuel Wells. Oxford: Blackwell, 2010. Linzey, Andrew. “The Theological Debate about Meat Eating.” In Food for Thought, edited by Steve F. Sapontzis. New York: Prometheus Books, 2004. Linzey, Andrew. Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Linzey, Andrew, and Dan Cohn-Sherbok. After Noah: Animals and the Liberation of Theology. London: Mowbray, 1997. Masri, al-Hafiz Basheer Ahmad. Animal Welfare in Islam. Leicestershire: Islamic Foundation, 2007. Masri, al-Hafiz Basheer Ahmad. Islamic Concern for Animals. Petersfield, UK: Athene Trust, 1987. Maududi, Abu A’la. Towards Understanding Islam. Translated by Khurshid Ahmad. Indianapolis: Islamic Teaching Center, 1988. Montasser, Nadia. “So You Think Your Meat Is ‘Halal’? Think Again!” Petpost, September 2006. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Islam, the Contemporary Islamic World, and the Environmental Crisis.” In Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology. Oppenheimer, Mark. “Scholars Explore Religious Perspective on Animal Rights.” New York Times, December 6, 2013. Ozdemir, Ibrahim. “Towards an Understanding of Environmental Ethics from a Qur’anic Perspective.” In Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology.


Animals in Christian and Muslim Thought Phillips, Anthony. Lower than the Angels: Questions Raised by Genesis 1–11. London: Bible Reading Fellowship, 1983. Said, Abdul Aziz, and Nathan C. Func. “Peace in Islam: An Ecology of the Spirit.” In Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology. Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975. Shaw, Teresa. The Burden of the Flesh: Fasting and Sexuality in Early Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998. Siddiq, Mohammad Yusuf. “An Ecological Journey in Muslim Bengal.” In Foltz, Denny, and Baharuddin, Islam and Ecology. Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals. New York: New York Review, 1975. Smith, Margaret. The Way of the Mystics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Sorabji, Richard. Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate. London: Duckworth, 1993. Steiner, Gary. “Descartes, Christianity, and Contemporary Speciesism.” In A Communion of Subjects, edited by P. Waldau and K. Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Tlili, Sarra. Animals in the Qur’an. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Van Gelder, Geert Jan. Of Dishes and Discourse: Classical Arabic Interpretations of Food. Richmond: Curzon, 2000. Vischer, Lukas, and Charles Birch. Living with the Animals. Geneva: WWC, 1997. Voragine, Jacobus de. The Golden Legend Readings on the Saints. Vol. 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Waddell, Helen. Beasts and Saints. London: Constable, 1934. Waldau, Paul. The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Warrington, John. Aristotle’s Metaphysics. New York: Dutton, 1959. Webb, Stephen H. Good Eating. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2001. White, Lynn. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.” Science (155)3767 (March 1967): 1203–07. Young, Richard Alan. Is God a Vegetarian? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights. Chicago: Open Courts, 1999. Zaid, Iqtidar. “On the Ethics of Man’s Interaction with the Environment: An Islamic Approach.” Environmental Ethics 3 (1981): 35–47.



The Old Testament food laws (Lev. 11 and Deut. 14) have been a source of endless speculation over the centuries as to their exact rationale. In fact, “food laws” is something of a misnomer because they refer not to food in general – that is, all types of nourishment of which humans might partake – but to the living creatures who are in the eyes of the legislators permitted for human consumption, delineating those who are acceptable for such use and those who are not. Even though the laws do assume that animal flesh is an appropriate source of nutrition for humans, I shall consider what they might have to offer from the perspective of animal ethics, with a primary focus on Leviticus 11.

Preliminary Remarks Before we start the actual discussion of Leviticus 11, though, a word about methodology: What I propose to do here is present a “final form” reading of the text; that is, I am not making any claims as to the historical validity of my reading. No one can say for certain exactly when the stipulations in Leviticus originated, nor is it possible to determine when the text as we now have it came into being or began to be observed. Many scholars think that the most likely date for the present text’s formation and implementation is somewhere between 550 and 450 BCE, but there can be little doubt that aspects of the content of the text – such as the prohibition against pig meat and products – date from significantly earlier, and there are a number of scholars who argue that the text itself as we have it also was composed earlier, sometime in the eighth century BCE rather than the fifth. This would make it the product of quite a different religious and political situation.1 There is also the question of how much the book of Leviticus – including the so-called food laws – was actually implemented or whether it was primarily or even purely 216

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an ideological text, a prescriptive manifesto rather than a descriptive catalogue. But perhaps most significantly, the rationale behind the various restrictions in chapter 11 is obscure. The text claims (Lev. 11:43–45) that the question of cleanness and uncleanness is a matter of holiness and thus a matter of identity: abstaining from unclean animals enables the people of Israel to maintain the holiness that is appropriate for people who belong to a holy God. But such a claim does nothing to explain the underlying principles that cause certain animals to be deemed unclean, and the “reasons” that are given – such as deeming pigs unclean because they have cloven hooves like ruminants but do not chew the cud (Lev. 11:7) – are more obfuscating than enlightening. A range of theories exists as to the basis on which the distinctions between clean and unclean animals are made,2 but no single theory can account for every distinction, and there are probably several impulses at work in the categorizations as we now have them. Indeed, it is likely that individual taboos, such as those relating to the pig, predated any explicit formulation of rules and that the biblical categorizations are an after-the-fact systematization of prohibitions that originally had nothing to do with each other.3 That said, several apparent tendencies can be observed in the systematization: the avoidance of animals who feast on carrion or other animals (blood and death taboos; Lev. 11:13–19, 27);4 the idea that creatures anomalous for their category (e.g., fish without fins and scales; Lev. 11:9–12) are unclean; the sense that creatures who impose on culture from nature (such as mice and geckos who get into people’s houses; Lev. 11:29–30)5 are unclean; and the “demonization” of creatures who compete with humans for their sources of nutrition (such as some of the larger birds of prey or predatory quadrupeds; Lev. 11:13–19, 27). Then there are the theories that attribute the distinctions to hygienic or cultic concerns: unclean creatures may either have been known as disease carriers (shellfish) or have had associations with pagan (i.e., idolatrous) worship in neighboring cultures (the pig). But when all is said and done, it is not possible to state definitively what was in the minds of those who composed the text, what precisely the system of constraints meant to them, or why they deemed some animals unclean and others not. Nor am I trying to do that. I am offering a suggestion as to how the text might be understood in the light of modern-day concerns about animal ethics, not claiming that those modern-day concerns were the motivation of the texts’ authors two and a half millennia ago.

Leviticus 11 – Introductory Remarks Having established these methodological principles, then, let us look at the text. As already remarked, Leviticus 11 gives a summary list of which creatures are deemed acceptable for human consumption and which are not. It is not an exhaustive listing of fauna; rather, it works through the various categories of living creatures that were established in the narrative of creation in Genesis 1. Beginning with land creatures, it describes all animals who are cloven-hoofed and who chew the cud as allowable for food, proscribing everything else (Lev. 11:2–8). Then of water creatures, Leviticus says that all with fins and scales are allowable, but water creatures without fins or scales are not (Lev. 11:9–12). Next, a list of forbidden birds (which includes bats) is given (Lev. 11:13–19), and then winged insects who go on all fours are forbidden, with the exception of locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers (Lev. 11:20–23). The final grouping of creatures is the swarming creatures who swarm upon the earth. There are two different versions here of how they are to be regarded. The first defines eight species of such creatures (all rodents and reptiles) as “unclean” to the Israelites (Lev. 11:29–31), whereas the second version describes every swarming being as an abomination to the faithful and not to be eaten (Lev. 11:41–43). Perhaps the first point to emphasize is that there is no restriction in the dietary laws on the consumption of plants – the only restrictions are on eating living creatures. Although this may seem an obvious point, it does indicate that a different view is taken on animals versus vegetable 217

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matter as a source of food and that the way in which animals are treated and evaluated as nutrition must be regulated.6 It is not a no-holds-barred approach. Rather, this point reflects the idea that there are limits on what is appropriate for humans to eat. From an animal ethics perspective, this can be viewed as saying that animals do not exist merely to provide fodder for the human stomach, but they have an intrinsic value and a right to exist without being subject to indiscriminate human predation. Of course, the lists of permitted and forbidden animals in Leviticus are unaware of large amounts of the world’s fauna, so a literalistic reading would no doubt mean that many more animals than those stipulated here would be deemed edible. Nevertheless, the principle remains: although humans are permitted to kill and eat certain members of the animal kingdom, indiscriminate consumption and use of animal products is unacceptable for those who claim to self-identify as the people of Yahweh, the holy God.

Humans Originally Vegetarian When we consider the very beginning of the Old Testament and the narrative of creation in Genesis 1, we see that humans do not eat meat at all – they are created vegetarian. Each life-form on earth is given its own food source; domesticated and free-living animals and birds have the grass and the green plants to eat, and humans are given seed-bearing plants and trees (Gen. 1:29–30). Thus, the dominion that humans are given over the earth and the animal kingdom in Genesis 1:28 does not give them the right to kill and eat animals. A similar picture appears from the narrative in Genesis 2, where a single human is created from the dust (Gen. 2:7) and then animals are created, also from the dust, in an effort to provide the human with companions (Gen. 2:18–19): the human names them (Gen. 2:20), which implies some sort of determinative power over their nature, but they are of the same order of creation as the human, and there is no hint that the way they are to help the human is to grace the dinner table. Even when they prove unsuitable to provide the human with companionship, leading to the creation of woman, who is the appropriate companion (Gen. 2:20–23), the animals are not reassigned to the human menu. Indeed, the human’s food source in this narrative, as in Genesis 1, is entirely plant-based: he is permitted to eat the fruit from the trees of the garden in which he is placed (Gen. 2:16–17), and as long as he is in the garden, there should be no need for any alternative source of nourishment. It is interesting, too, that when the humans eat from the one tree from which they are forbidden to eat, resulting in various negative consequences, including being driven from the garden, the curses addressed to the human male involve his having to work the ground to grow food but also make the earth unresponsive to his efforts at cultivation (Gen. 3:17–19), implying once again that humans are fundamentally vegetarian.7 Although in the subsequent narrative both Abel (Gen. 4:1–4) and Noah (Gen. 8:20) offer animal sacrifices to the Lord, the right of humans to consume animals does not officially come about until after the flood, when God seems to recognize that humans, whose wickedness and violence are what has caused him to bring about the flood, are not what he wanted them to be, and he makes concessions to them in terms of what they can and cannot eat. Now, apparently, the entire animal kingdom is available for human consumption (Gen. 9:2–3), in a radical revision of the relationship that was established between humans and animals in Genesis 1. At creation, humans had dominion over the animals (Gen. 1:28); now, the animals are given into the humans’ power (literally, into their hands), and animals will live in fear and dread of humans (Gen. 9:2). But even though consumption of animal flesh is now sanctioned by God, humans still have to drain the blood from animal carcasses and not eat it, as a recognition of blood’s significance as the representative life force (Gen. 9:4). The nature of the human–animal relationship may have changed, but there are still limits on what humans can consume. Indeed, making the dread of humans fall on the animals can be seen as a way of protecting the animals: humans may be allowed 218

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to eat animals, but they have to catch them first, and if animals fear and dread humans, they will either attack humans or flee from them.

Meat-Eating Subsumed within the Sacrificial Cult This, then, is the position to which the food laws in Leviticus respond. Humans have been granted the right to consume animal flesh, but animals will flee from humans, and humans are not allowed to consume animal blood in recognition of blood’s function as the bearer of life force – the equivalent of what in other systems would be termed the soul. The position is further refined when the laws that define the people of Israel are given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod. 19–31; Lev.; Num. 1–10). The dietary laws in Leviticus 11 are given after detailed laws about worship have been set out, laws that assume an extensive system of animal sacrifice. The order in which the laws are given is as follows: First, there are instructions about making and setting up the tabernacle, or tent-shrine (Exod. 25–27, 30–31), together with laws about priests and how to ordain them (including some sacrifices) (Exod. 28–29). Then the tabernacle is set up (including the use of goat hair and ram skins in the tabernacle’s construction) (Exod. 40), and the instructions for sacrificial worship are given (Lev. 1–7). Then the priests are dressed and ordained (Lev. 8–9), and after an incident in which the priests are adjured to separate clean from unclean (Lev. 10), the food laws (i.e., the meat laws) are given (Lev. 11). So the food laws are the first laws to be given that speak about life outside of worship and its relationship to worship, after the description of how animal carcasses and blood are required to be used as part of worship.8 This gives a strong sense that what you eat is firmly connected to where the center of your life is focused. As noted earlier, the food laws define which individual species of the various classes of animals are allowed to the Israelites for food and which are not. The effect of the stipulations is to limit the Israelites’ meat diet largely to domesticated animals who are readily available to them – who are mostly (though not entirely) the same kind of animals allowed for sacrifice. There is thus a link between the sacrificial cult and the rules for animal consumption. Indeed, according to Leviticus 17:3–4, people cannot eat domesticated animals without first offering them as sacrificial victims, which includes ritual offering of the blood to Yahweh. Although this may not sound very inspiring from an animal ethics perspective, it gives a sense that eating other living beings is not something to be taken lightly. It makes a deliberate ritual act of killing an animal, so that an individual must stop and reflect every time he or she does it, rather than just killing thoughtlessly.9 It also points to the idea that one’s eating habits betray a significant amount about one’s overall perspective on life: in this instance, the person who is prepared to follow such stipulations is focused on the desire to live in the world in accordance with the demands of a holy God rather than on simply gratifying his or her own personal desires. Finally, it places the maintenance of human life on a continuum with the maintenance of other forms of life, so that maintenance of human life does not take absolute priority over maintenance of all other forms of life.10 It is difficult to argue that the biblical laws place human and animal life on the same level, but neither is animal life an irrelevance that can simply be eliminated by humans at will.

The Different Kinds of Uncleanness One final consideration may help illustrate this last point about respect for animal life.11 In the list of prohibited and acceptable creatures, Leviticus has two different categories of prohibition: creatures who are “unclean,” which means that they are not to be eaten and that their carcasses, if touched, cause cultic impurity until nightfall (Lev. 11:24–28, 39–40); and creatures who are “abominable,” about which no further comment is made. It is interesting to note that the 219

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creatures deemed “unclean” are all land creatures – namely, forbidden animals (including the pig and the camel) who do not part the hoof and chew the cud (Lev. 11:4–8), animals who go on their paws (Lev. 11:27), and the eight swarming rodents and lizards (Lev. 11:29–31). Creatures of the water and the air are either acceptable or “abominable,” as are all other “swarming” species among the land animals except for the eight rodents and lizards. Is there a difference between these two types of creatures – the “unclean” and the “abominable”? Are the “abominable” unclean by definition, or are the “unclean” abominable by definition? Why is nothing said about avoiding contact with the carcasses of “abominable” creatures, whereas the carcasses of “unclean” creatures are specifically forbidden? Should we assume that the effects of contact with “unclean” creatures apply equally to contact with “abominable” creatures?12 It seems to me that the categories “unclean” and “abominable” relate to how likely these creatures are to come into human contact. Quadrupeds such as camels, horses, dogs, and donkeys who are unclean for eating are nevertheless liable to have other uses in human society; and note that it is only their carcasses that impart uncleanness, not the animals themselves. So there is an acknowledgment that there may well be human contact with these animals and indeed some non-fatal use of them, but they cannot be consumed in any way after their death, whether that means eating them or making them into shoes or handbags. Quadrupeds such as lions, bears, and wolves may well cross human paths as predators, and this may necessitate killing them for the safety of humans or flocks and herds, but again their carcasses make those who touch them unclean, so killing them simply for their own sake or in order to use their remains is to be avoided. As for mice, lizards, and geckos, who are deemed “unclean” rather than “abominable,” they may well turn up in human houses, and again they may have to be destroyed, but killing them results in cultic impurity, which has to be recognized and the cultic penalty paid if the Israelites’ life is to continue long-term in its proper equilibrium. For all other animals, who are deemed abominable, the message is that the Israelites have no business messing with them. There is no need to get involved with them at all – just leave them alone. Indeed, in Leviticus 11:43–44, the swarming creatures of the earth who are deemed “abominable” are said to cause defilement, and no remedy is given for such defilement. This may not seem like much of a deterrent; after all, we are not talking about sudden death or misfortune or some visible physical consequences for people who contravene these requirements. Nevertheless, there is a sense in Leviticus, expressed particularly in chapter 26, that to ignore the laws as they have been set out in the entire book is to invite disaster. There may not be any immediate consequences for those who disregard the laws, but there will be a steady build-up of uncleanness that will ultimately result in the destruction of the Israelites’ life as they have known it because the land will reject them and God will expel them from it (Lev. 26:14–33; cf. Lev. 18:24–30, 20:22–26). There is a proper way to live life as the holy people of a holy God, and that way of life includes respect for animal life rather than indiscriminate exploitation and destruction of it.

Summary To sum up, then, it is true that the biblical laws not only permit animal slaughter and consumption but also link it to divine worship, so that the God of Israel requires animal sacrifice. This does not appear very animal-friendly. On closer examination, however, there are strict limitations on which animals are permitted for consumption and sacrifice and on human interaction with all types of animal life. Though these stipulations may not be ideal from a modern animal ethics perspective, they can be read as embodying a sense of respect for animal life that opposes indiscriminate exploitation and destruction of such life and that warns against taking even permitted animal consumption lightly. 220

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Notes 1 An overview of these issues can be found in the introductions to the standard commentaries on Leviticus. A helpful and still – valid summary appears in Philip J. Budd, Leviticus, New Century Bible (London: Marshall Pickering, 1996), 5–12. 2 For a wide-ranging review and evaluation of theories, see Walter J. Houston, Purity and Monotheism: Clean and Unclean Animals in Biblical Law (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 68–123. MacDonald reviews what he regards as significant contributions to scholarship on the food laws over the last fifty years or so, particularly those of Houston, Milgrom, and Douglas. Nathan MacDonald, Not Bread Alone: The Uses of Food in the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 17–46. 3 Although this is the view of many commentators, Firmage argues that the selection of unclean animals in Lev. 11 can be explained without reference to preexisting taboos, by simply excluding as food animals who do not conform to the types of creatures who can be sacrificed; in this way, the people’s diet becomes analogous to the deity’s, so that following the dietary laws functions as a kind of imitatio Dei. E. B. Firmage, “The Biblical Dietary Laws and the Concept of Holiness,” in Studies in the Pentateuch, ed. J. A. Emerton (Leiden: Brill, 1990), 177–208. However, Firmage’s theory is less inclusive than it appears; Firmage acknowledges that the pig prohibition was probably based on an ancient taboo (193–94) and regards the permission to eat locusts as an exception to the basic principle because locusts were probably eaten when other food was scarce (192). For a detailed critique of Firmage’s position, see Houston, Purity and Monotheism, 117–20. Levine argues that the sacrificial creatures were selected from those regarded in the first instance as pure, rather than being models for what other creatures should be deemed pure. Baruch A. Levine, Leviticus (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 246. He also denies that the pig was the impure animal par excellence in biblical times before the second century BCE and thinks pigs were singled out in Lev. 11 only because they are a borderline case (247). 4 It should be noted, though, that the precise identification of the species of prohibited birds in Lev. 11:13–19 is highly speculative. 5 Again, there is some uncertainty over the precise translation of the Hebrew terms here, but to interpret them as small reptilian species seems reasonable. 6 Gerstenberger attributes similar scruples to the text’s originators and tradents: “the restriction of these dietary commandments to the animal realm clearly shows that the consumption of animals that must be killed (and whose death has something in common with human dying) was problematical in and of itself.” Erhard S. Gerstenberger, Leviticus, trans. Douglas W. Stott (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 133. 7 God clothes the humans with “skin” (Heb. ‘ôr), presumably animal skins, when they are expelled from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:21), but this is something that the deity does, not the humans. Presumably as the creator of the animals, God has the right and the power to deal with them as he chooses. 8 A similar observation can be made about the food laws in Deut. 14: they come after rules about where to offer sacrificial worship (and rules for profane slaughter of meat) (Deut. 12) and rules about not listening to false prophets (Deut. 13). This is admittedly not quite as pointed a juxtaposition as that in Leviticus; nevertheless, as in Leviticus, the food laws are still one of the earliest sets of laws to be given, immediately following laws about the fundamentals of worship. 9 The idea that there is an ethical basis to the prohibitions in Leviticus is by no means new. As Houston shows (Purity and Monotheism, 74–76), the idea of some kind of moral or ethical basis behind the prohibitions is evidenced as early as the writings of Philo of Alexandria (c. 1 CE), and versions of the same idea have been adopted by interpreters ever since. Perhaps the idea’s most notable exponent in modern times has been Jacob Milgrom. See Milgrom, “The Biblical Diet Laws as an Ethical System,” Interpretation 17 (1963): 288–301; and Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16 (New York: Doubleday, 1991), 704–36. See also Houston’s later discussion of Philo, Milgrom, and Douglas in “Towards an Integrated Reading of the Dietary Laws of Leviticus,” in The Book of Leviticus: Composition and Reception, ed. Rolf Rendtorff and Robert A. Kugler (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 142–61. However, the reading adopted in the present study differs from these other readings in that it proposes the ethical stance as a possible contemporary appropriation of the text rather than as the explanation for why first-millennium BCE legists drew up the prohibitions in the first place. 10 This at least is the effect of the Leviticus rules. Deuteronomy is somewhat different, in that it seems to allow indiscriminate slaughter of herd and flock animals as long as the blood is not consumed (Deut. 12:15–16, 12:20–25). But too much of that would decimate the flocks, so there is a matter of personal logic and survival to be taken into account when choosing how much meat to eat. Also, the people can eat meat only to the extent that God blesses them – that is, gives them increase of flocks and herds and


Deborah W. Rooke land (Deut. 12:15, 12:20); and they can experience those blessings only by maintaining the law as they are told (Deut. 12:28, 12:32). 11 The arguments in this section are in some respects similar to, though not dependent on, those put forward by Douglas regarding the status of the swarming creatures. Mary Douglas, “The Compassionate God of Leviticus and His Animal Creation,” in Borders, Boundaries and the Bible, ed. Martin O’Kane (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 61–73; Mary Douglas, Leviticus as Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 152–75. 12 Meshel offers an elaborate discussion of these issues, arguing that creatures may be clean and yet forbidden for consumption, or indeed unclean and yet permitted for consumption on condition that consumers subsequently purify themselves as appropriate. Naphtali S. Meshel, “Food for Thought: Systems of Categorization in Leviticus 11,” Harvard Theological Review 101 (2008): 203–29. Meshel’s reading assumes that the resultant categorization system is theoretical rather than practical; it also views Lev. 11 as giving exact instructions rather than enumerating principles that are accompanied by illustrative examples. He is therefore employing a different set of assumptions from those that undergird the present study.

References Budd, Philip J. Leviticus. New Century Bible. London: Marshall Pickering, 1996. Douglas, Mary. “The Compassionate God of Leviticus and His Animal Creation.” In Borders, Boundaries and the Bible, edited by Martin O’Kane, 61–73. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002. Douglas, Mary. Leviticus as Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Firmage, E. B. “The Biblical Dietary Laws and the Concept of Holiness.” In Studies in the Pentateuch, edited by J. A. Emerton, 177–208. Leiden: Brill, 1990. Gerstenberger, Erhard S. Leviticus. Translated by Douglas W. Stott. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996. Houston, Walter J. Purity and Monotheism: Clean and Unclean Animals in Biblical Law. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993. Houston, Walter J. “Towards an Integrated Reading of the Dietary Laws of Leviticus.” In The Book of Leviticus: Composition and Reception, edited by Rolf Rendtorff and Robert A. Kugler, 142–61. Leiden: Brill, 2003. Levine, Baruch A. Leviticus. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989. MacDonald, Nathan. Not Bread Alone: The Uses of Food in the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Meshel, Naphtali S. “Food for Thought: Systems of Categorization in Leviticus 11.” Harvard Theological Review 101 (2008): 203–29. Milgrom, Jacob. “The Biblical Diet Laws as an Ethical System.” Interpretation 17 (1963): 288–301. Milgrom, Jacob. Leviticus 1–16. New York: Doubleday, 1991. Wright, David P. “The Spectrum of Priestly Impurity.” In Priesthood and Cult in Ancient Israel, edited by Gary A. Anderson and Saul M. Olyan, 150–82. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991.


22 EDEN’S DIET Christianity and Vegetarianism Samantha Jane Calvert

Vegetarianism as a spiritual choice is most often associated with Eastern religions or perhaps with the asceticism of the early church. Modern Christianity is perceived to have left these traditions behind, and the mainstream churches have little to say on the subject of a flesh-free diet. Today the practice of fasting and the Lenten observance of a meat-free diet have been lost to such an extent that many of these traditions are observed only among religious orders or by laypeople attending spiritual retreats. However, there is a long-standing tradition of vegetarianism in the history of Christianity. From the asceticism of the Essenes1 to the dualism of Manicheanism and the Bogomils2 to the idea of materiality as the creation of the devil to be found in the teachings of the Cathars3 and Mani,4 many Christians – or perhaps they might be considered quasi-Christians or even heretics – have found much to recommend in the practice of vegetarianism. Christian mystics Jacob Boehme (1575–1624) and later Thomas Tryon (1634–1703) kept the Pythagorean ideals of the “kinship of nature” to the fore and were to influence theosophy and the thought of a number of radical nonconformist sects. It is also the case that many of these early beliefs and teachings can be found in the writings and teachings of Christian and quasi-Christian sects in the modern period.5 The growth of vegetarianism has been one of the most distinctive and widely influential cultural trends in the United Kingdom and the United States since the 1960s, but the history of “modern vegetarianism” has its roots in sectarian Protestantism. Vegetarianism is one of the many areas in which sectarian Protestants have made a contribution to British and American life that is out of proportion to their numbers. Despite slowing down a little in recent years, vegetarianism remains one of the fastest-growing food trends in the United Kingdom. Currently, 2 percent of adults in the United Kingdom are vegetarian, and another 5 percent claim to be “partly vegetarian,” defined as avoiding some types of meat or fish.6 It is something of a paradox that although the modern vegetarian movement has little connection with Christianity today, the Vegetarian Society in Britain was founded by a group of Christians whose founding minister was a former Anglican clergyman, the somewhat appropriately named Reverend William Cowherd. During the nineteenth century several Christian sects that made vegetarianism a condition of membership, such as the Order of the Cross, the Order of the Danielites, and the Order of the Golden Age, were established, although only the order of the Order of the Cross still continues to this day. The nineteenth century also saw several larger and 223

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more mainstream groups espouse the benefits of, and necessity for, a vegetarian diet, including the Seventh-day Adventists, the Quakers, and the Salvation Army. My research considers the relationship between modern Christian vegetarian sects and those mainstream groups that promoted vegetarianism to their flock and the secular vegetarian movement. My work sets out to show that there is a distinctive modern Christian vegetarian tradition outside of monasticism and that this tradition was surprisingly coherent throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These modern Christian vegetarians had an influence on the creation of secular vegetarian societies and sometimes functioned as auxiliary vegetarian societies within a Christian context. There is a paucity of research on the connection between modern Christianity and the vegetarian movement. Although there have been studies of the vegetarian movement in nineteenth-century Britain such as Julia Twigg’s groundbreaking thesis “The Vegetarian Movement in England” and James Gregory’s The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain, these works have had little to say about the specifically Christian aspects of vegetarianism. Much of the published work on religion and vegetarianism and the history of vegetarianism reflects more on the traditional associations of vegetarianism with the “religions of the East.” Scant attention has been paid to the founders of these Christian vegetarian sects or denominations that promoted the vegetarian diet, to their writings and influences, or to the theology and practice of these Christian vegetarian communities. Grumett and Muers’s Theology on the Menu gives relatively slight attention to the idea of “fasting by choice” in the modern period.7 It is this perceived lack that my research attempts to address. This chapter represents some of the conclusions of my recently completed PhD thesis. The main themes in Christian vegetarianism include such ideas as biblical vegetarianism and/ or an attempt to bring about a new golden age, humanitarianism, reincarnation, dualism and purity, and concern about meat-eating creating a barrier between man and God and flesh-eating inflaming the “passions.” These beliefs have produced varied results, ranging from Gnostic sects that have little impact on society at large to those groups whose vegetarian teachings have spawned food lines, hospitals, and teams of “health ministers.” Some of the themes found in modern Christian vegetarianism have been common to all periods, but others seem to be peculiar to a particular period or zeitgeist. Humanitarian concerns are as much an issue for contemporary Christian vegetarians as they were for their counterparts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Another common theme that can be seen in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as today is a concern for human health. Those groups that have continued into the twentyfirst century are often, though not always, those that stress the benefits of a vegetarian diet to the health and longevity of humankind. This is a particular concern of Ellen G. White and the Seventh-day Adventists and of George Malkmus of Hallelujah Acres. This may indicate that our postmodern obsession with health, longevity, and reduction in aging makes vegetarianism for health reasons a particularly attractive message. However, other groups, both mainstream and sectarian, stress the importance of animal welfare and compassion rather than the benefit to human health (though they may mention the case for human health and longevity as well in support of a compassionate diet). Examples of such groups today might include the Quakers and the Order of the Cross. Christian vegetarian groups today rarely claim that vegetarianism will subdue the passions. This idea seems to have been lost to contemporary Christian vegetarians, who are more likely to claim that the vegetarian diet enhances health and vitality rather than quells aspects of its adherents’ desires. Such ideas of abstinence and purity are not generally prized by contemporary society and may go some way to explaining why these ideas are not current. The ideas that have been most persuasive among Christian vegetarian groups in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been those of humanitarianism and a desire for the return 224

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of Eden, or the golden age. The scriptural text most frequently quoted by Christian vegetarians is Genesis 1:29, which is taken by many Christian vegetarian groups as a biblical justification for vegetarianism. As already discussed, most Christian vegetarian groups have a concern for animal welfare or rights. Almost all groups also express a desire for the return of Eden or the golden age, which they believe can be partly expressed by the return of Christians to God’s original diet for humankind. A more marginal theme in Christian vegetarianism is reincarnation, which is generally expressed by mystic sects that have greater Eastern or theosophical influences and that are prone to a reinterpretation or rewriting of the Gospels. Where more mainstream Christian groups have promoted vegetarianism, they have done so for a range of reasons that usually grow out of a group’s existing concerns, including the pacifism and reverence for all life of the Quakers, the belief that vegetarianism reduces the desire for alcohol in the case of the nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century Salvation Army, and a concern for human health for Seventh-day Adventists. Christian vegetarianism in the United Kingdom developed in four main stages: the first beginning in the early nineteenth century and culminating in 1847 with the founding of the Vegetarian Society, the second in the late nineteenth century, the third in the early twentieth century, and the fourth from the 1960s. At each stage vegetarianism has been influenced by other important ideas in society.8 However, vegetarianism’s social location and religious connotations have changed with each phase. In its first phase vegetarianism was linked to northern artisan and lower-middle-class radicalism. The role of sectarian Protestantism in particular was crucial to the development of the vegetarian movement. William Cowherd’s Bible Christian Church in North West England and James Pierrepont Greaves’s utopian community were responsible for the movement’s establishment. During this first phase a number of other sects were established that promoted vegetarianism to their flocks either as a condition of membership or as a preferred and beneficial way of living the temporal and/or spiritual life. These included the Seventh-day Adventists, the Order of the Golden Age, the Salvation Army, and the Order of the Danielites. Only the more mainstream denominations, for which vegetarianism was not a condition of membership – the Salvation Army and the Seventh-day Adventists – have survived to the present day. As the development of Christian vegetarian ideas moved into its second phase, the movement retained its established artisan, radical constituency but also reached out to middle-class progressives and advocates of “new thought” such as the theosophists.9 The role of Christianity was reduced, although it remained significant. By the end of this second period, most groups established in the first period no longer existed, and by the fourth period of vegetarianism, the 1960s, they were largely forgotten, even by the vegetarian community. Although the Quakers existed from the 1650s, the first denominational animal welfare organization, the Friends’ Anti-Vivisection Society, was founded by Quakers in 1890. Twelve years later, the first denominational vegetarian society was also established by the Friends. The Orders of the Golden Age, Cross, and Danielites all flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and although small, the Order of the Cross has survived into the twenty-first century. By the 1960s vegetarianism had become most commonly associated with youth culture, counterculture, and alternative lifestyles, leading to the mistaken impression today that modern vegetarianism dates from this period. Although the market for health foods and vegetarian restaurants grew in this period, vegetarianism was not part of mainstream culture. The famous London vegetarian restaurant chain Cranks was founded in 1961 in the then quiet backwater of Carnaby Street: the name was a self-deprecating comment on how the founders felt followers of a whole-food vegetarian diet were viewed at that time. 225

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Since the 1880s the enthusiasm for Eastern religions had become widespread, and vegetarianism in the 1960s was influenced, at least in part, by the youth and countercultural interest in religions and practices of the East such as Buddhism, meditation, and yoga, many of which had close ties to vegetarianism. From the 1960s individual Christians within mainstream churches sought support from their churches for animal welfare and vegetarianism. Frequently disappointed, some were inspired to set up a new wave of denominational or ecumenical animal welfare and vegetarian groups. As well as specifically denominational Christian animal welfare groups, ecumenical groups of Christians exist seeking to promote animal welfare and vegetarianism, including the Christian Vegetarian Association UK and the Fellowship of Life. Although these small grassroots groups may not have a great impact on the mainstream churches, they demonstrate that Christian vegetarians have always sought some outlet for their views and like-minded fellowship. Without the option of joining a vegetarian church such as the Bible Christian Church, and perhaps uncomfortable with the heterodox aspects of the mystical alternatives such as the Order of the Cross, some Christians in the later twentieth century created new versions of the Order of the Golden Age – a specifically Christian response to the issues of animal welfare and vegetarianism. One surprising aspect of Christian vegetarian sects is how little these groups’ liturgy has reflected their dietary beliefs and practices. Vegetarianism and the protection of the animal kingdom might be expected to be a constant refrain in the liturgy. However, only the Bible Christians and the Order of the Danielites had a specifically vegetarian liturgy with some hymns and prayers reflecting the diet of the membership. Even in these groups the vegetarian aspect was relatively small. Other groups such as the Order of the Golden Age never sought to create a separate church; their members continued to be active within their own Christian communities. Although the larger denominations in which vegetarianism was not a condition of membership might not have wished to be seen as elevating dietary reform within their churches, why the Order of the Cross – a group that remains a fellowship of vegetarians – makes only a few slight references in hymns to animals remains a mystery. Hymns such as No. 133, with verses such as “Make me a friend of helpless things/Defender of the weak,” which could apply to animals, and No. 141, which refers to “Creatures too, both great and small – /Father-Mother’s children all,” are two examples.10 Inquiries of a trustee of the Order of the Cross about why there were so few references to animals in the order’s hymns and liturgy were met with surprise, as though it was not a matter that she had previously considered. However, she was not able to offer an explanation. Perhaps when a community is in agreement on a matter, it is not terribly important to inculcate that message at every opportunity. Contemporary attempts have been made to create a modern-day liturgy for animals, such as Hymns for Creatures Great and Small, an ecumenical booklet of forty selected animal hymns, set to well-known hymn tunes for use at animal blessing services, demonstrations, and vigils. This text was published by the self-titled “animal’s padre,” James Thompson, whose previous affiliations include being a minister in the Baptist, Congregational, and Anglican churches. His own website describes him as the “most outspoken cleric on the subject of animal liberation within Britain today.”11 However, such hymns as Thompson’s version of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” titled “Against the Cull: A Hymn for the Care of Cows and Badgers,” will perhaps be judged too radical to win the hearts and minds of mainstream churches for some time yet: Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war; Overcoming evils in Welsh farming law. Fighting for our bovine friends, tethered through their life; Foully abused as milk machines: a terrifying plight! 226

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Onward Christian soldiers; Christ will be our light. We will fight this evil as champions for the right.12 Thompson’s efforts do, however, have a certain continuity with William Cowherd’s attempts at verse in defense of vegetarianism, which were later set to music in the Bible Christian hymnbook in the nineteenth century.13 Those nineteenth century groups where vegetarianism was mandatory were small sectarian ones and by and large remained so. Vegetarianism never truly reached out into the mainstream churches like the comparable message of temperance, which was taken up by all the mainstream churches – nonconformist, established, even Catholic – by the end of the nineteenth century.14 Advocates of vegetarianism often referred to their diet as the “higher form of temperance” in this period and spoke of a simple vegetarian diet as a “temperate diet.” However, whereas temperance moved from a secular movement to one that its original proponents felt had become wholly concentrated on preaching to the converted within the movement, vegetarianism remained, with a few exceptions, a secular movement that never infiltrated the mainstream churches.15 Meateating was not associated with the same evils as alcohol – the public house, gaming, and drunken behavior – and those evils’ consequent negative effects on society. As a result meat-eating was not seen as a particular challenge to the Christian life, either as a distraction from the spiritual life or as an impetus to stray from the duties of hearth and home. However, the temperance movement provided a social location for vegetarian activity, and female temperance workers, in common with their male counterparts, were drawn to vegetarianism. Women were active in both the secular Humanitarian League diet department and in the Women’s Vegetarian Union, established by Alexandrine Veigelé with the aim of “promoting a purer and simpler dietary.”16 Many Christian vegetarian sects in this period eschewed the gin palace and the ale house along with the “fleshpots.” William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, believed vegetarianism reduced the desire for alcohol, and in the 1920s a vegetarian diet was still mandatory in Salvation Army “homes for inebriates.”17 Among contemporary Christian vegetarian groups, abstinence from alcohol is also quite usual, but the reasons differ from the nineteenth century and are now most often connected with health benefits or the concept of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. There was even an attempt at a junior league of vegetarianism, the Ivy Leaf Society, founded by Frances Boult, and journals aimed at children, such as the Children’s Garden and later the Daisy Basket, were produced. However, these secular vegetarian organizations for children were never so numerous – or so widespread – as the temperance Bands of Hope. Julia Twigg notes that although vegetarianism has been connected with sectarianism – notably in the Cowherdite period, though also through Seventh Day Adventism – its more common communitarian association is with groups whose basis is more fragile and whose consciousness of self is more weakly perceived . . . Vegetarianism is an extraction of certain foods from the generality of food; it is an extraction of certain persons from the generality of people. It sets one apart and gives one a sense of being set apart, while yet being in society. This sense of being in society is important because those who take up alternative ideas – pacifism, growth movement, socialism – find themselves within a minority within society, but unlike the sect, it is not a minority sustained by a community.18 Although there are social subgroups that bring vegetarians together, these bonds are weaker than those of kinship or of the sect or church. Social groups are a collection of individuals with 227

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shared ideas. This idea of the vegetarian as “outsider” is also noted by Spencer, referring to the counterculture of the 1960s.19 Vegetarianism never became part of the mainstream of society and similarly was never a cause taken up by the mainstream churches, unlike temperance. For Gregory the nineteenth-century vegetarian movement never stood a chance: meat-eating was entrenched; animal-derived materials were too difficult to substitute; provision for vegetarians was lacking; and vegetarians suffered geographical isolation and family opposition.20 All of these factors conspired to draw people back to the “fleshpots,” and the gin palace and ale house with their addictive wares were more likely to win back their customers. The key difference was that meat, unlike alcohol, did not take people away from home and hearth, cause financial hardship or ruin to families, or provide them with an alternative to the church and chapel pews. The churches did not have the same motive to promote vegetarianism as a “social good” as they had with temperance and teetotalism. The success or failure of the vegetarian movement, and particularly of Christian vegetarian churches and organizations, depended in part on the funds available – many finally foundered for lack of adequate financial support – and on the drive and ambition of charismatic and often determined leaders. Macro-environmental issues certainly played their part in the growth, or otherwise, of vegetarianism. War might impose food shortages or rationing, but peace might bring about a desire for the animal products that were in short supply in the war years. Vegetarianism’s failure to penetrate the mainstream is perhaps due in part also to the humanitarian cause’s relative lack of success. Humanitarianism was always a strong argument for vegetarianism. Society changed over the period studied; a number of humanitarian groups were established in the nineteenth century, but these represented Twigg’s “minority in society.”21 Their concern for domesticated animals and their campaigns against vivisection, cock fighting, and fox hunting were always from a position of the outsider and the minority hoping to influence society at large. Even within this humanitarian minority, vegetarianism was seen as extreme. Lewis Gompertz of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) – later the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – was a vegetarian who refused to travel by horse-drawn carriage, for which he was roundly ridiculed by fellow SPCA members. Legislation on animal welfare often followed rather than led the change in public habits, and nineteenth-century attempts to prevent cruel animal practices often stemmed from a fear of misrule rather than genuine horror at animal fights.22 Vegetarianism demands much more of its adherents than carnism. Every time they eat, they must choose from a more limited range of foods than previously, even when this is inconvenient or socially difficult or when the food is more expensive or time-consuming to prepare. As a result, campaigns for vegetarianism are always a hard sell when compared to the “soft” campaigns of hunting or fur. Although Britain has always defined itself as a nation of animal lovers, the animals Britons love are their companions, and with the exception of a small subset of society, this compassion has never extended to all sentient beings. Animals are routinely divided into “pet” and “food,” prompting the Vegetarian Society’s “Puppy on a Plate” poster from 1992. Featuring an attractive and healthy puppy sitting on a dinner plate with a knife and fork on either side, it asked, “Why not? You eat other animals don’t you?”23 For much of the period discussed here, pacifism was a sectarian cause that was not taken up by the mainstream churches. However, like temperance, pacifism in the twentieth century gained significant levels of support from a minority of mainstream churches, possibly because of the experience and fear of modern warfare. Many mainstream Christians in the late twentieth century supported such causes as the campaign for nuclear disarmament. The non-sectarian churches may similarly take up vegetarianism if the environmental case becomes sufficiently pressing, through the churches’ own experience, for them to do so. 228

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Until recent times, vegetarianism has invariably been part of an alternative culture or counterculture and consequently has had a minority identity. Mainstream churches have been self-consciously part of popular culture and the establishment. They have been generally conservative and suspicious of alternative cultures, but further secularization in Western society may make even mainstream Christians more conscious of being a minority culture themselves and, as a result, more open to alternative cultures and ideas such as vegetarianism. Andrew Linzey argues that the mainstream churches need to address animal welfare and rights issues, including vegetarianism. If there is to be any real humanitarian progress in these areas, the churches need to lead the way: We desperately need a whole new generation of Christians, lay and ordained, who will grasp this issue of an inclusive ministry to all creation. Of course, we must be concerned with the salvation of human beings. Alone among creation, the human species is cruel, greedy and sinful – we certainly need salvation. But animals need also to be saved from cruel, greedy, sinful human beings. Here is a whole new agenda for each national Church, and for every local church.24 In this context of human animals as “cruel, greedy, sinful,” nonhuman animals are the victims and take on the role of the perfected innocents – the paschal or sacrificial lamb whose life is taken, often brutally, for human beings who place their preference for the taste of animals’ flesh above the fear and suffering they are causing to their fellow sentient beings. Meat-eaters may yet be led to appreciate the importance of food practices. Grumett and Muers write, Indeed, for vegetarians it is not necessarily a concession to accept that historic reasons for meat abstention sometimes had little to do with animal welfare. Rather, by acknowledging the variety of motives for abstention, present-day vegetarians can find in past practice principles which challenge all modern views of food consumption, and so draw meat eaters into a debate that, even if not leading them immediately to vegetarianism, will engender more reflective food practices. Food issues are not just about healthy eating, but about how humans live under God.25 The vegetarian movement, including Christian vegetarians and Christian vegetarian organizations, has had an impact on wider society and on the diet of society over the last two centuries. The movement has arguably led to healthier food choices among the populations of the United Kingdom and United States, particularly in the area of health foods – from peanut butter, corn flakes, granola, and muesli through to soy products – and has encouraged and supported wider acceptance of a vegetarian diet and the reduction in meat consumption. However, this success has been very limited – the movement never led to large numbers of strict vegetarians. At its height in Britain in 1992, the Vegetarian Society had 21,000 members, including 6,500 junior members, and levels of vegetarianism in the population as a whole were never realistically claimed to be more than 7 percent of the adult population. In October 2009 a leading story in the Times discussed Lord Stern’s view that methane emissions from cows and pigs put “enormous pressure” on the world and his prediction of how much current attitudes and behaviors regarding meat-eating must be altered in order to address climate change.26 Such environmental concern and actions taken by governments worldwide to provide sustainable solutions might be what will finally bring society to reconsider the vegetarian diet in large numbers. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, environmentalism and animal welfarism often have gone hand in hand as a “package” of beliefs. Although environmentalism was not a key issue for nineteenth-century vegetarians, the protection of the environment through a 229

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vegetarian or vegan diet will no doubt be a key refrain in the campaigning of future Christian vegetarians. The requirements of our overpopulated planet may lead the international community to start to regulate animal husbandry and encourage meat and dairy reduction for environmental reasons. Mainstream churches and society as a whole may embrace vegetarianism in the future from self-interest if not compassion.

Notes 1 For more information on the Essenes and vegetarianism, see Colin Spencer, Vegetarianism: A History (London: Grub Street, 2000), 109–12. 2 For more information see Spencer, Vegetarianism: A History, 146–53. 3 For more information see Spencer, Vegetarianism: A History, 146–53. 4 For more information see Spencer, Vegetarianism: A History, 146–53 5 For a detailed discussion of religious affiliation in the vegetarian movement in Victorian England, see James Gregory’s Of Victorians and Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2007). 6 Department of Health and Food Standards Agency, “National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2012: Survey of 1582 Children (1.5–18 Years), 1491 Adults, Years 1, 2 and 3 of the Rolling Programme, 2008/9– 2010/11,” 2012, 7 David Grumett and Rachel Muers, Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet (London: Routledge, 2010). 8 Julia Twigg, “The Vegetarian Movement in England 1847–1981: A Study in the Structure of Its Ideology” (PhD diss., London School of Economics, 1981), 59. 9 The “new thought” movement developed in the nineteenth century as a belief system that brought together a collection of religious organizations, authors, secular organizations, and individuals who developed the American philosopher, mesmerist, healer, and inventor Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s (1802–66) teachings on illness originating in the mind as a consequence of erroneous teachings. 10 Hymns for Worship with Tunes (London: The Order of the Cross, 1984). 11 James Thompson, “The Animal’s Padre,” accessed June 5, 2012, Page%201.html. James Thompson (born in 1930 in Holywell in Clwyd, Wales) studied at Glasgow Bible Training Institute in 1948 for a term, became a full-time Baptist pastor in Bradford, studied congregational ministry for four years, and became a Congregationalist minister in 1962. In 1966 he received further training at Oxford University and became a Church of England minister in Doncaster. He first experienced vegetarian food in 1954 in the halls of an American sect in London, the Pillar of Fire Christian Centre, and the Alma White Bible College in Hendon. His concern for animal welfare grew over a long period through his contact with farming and hunting in his parishes. For more information on Thompson, see John M. Gilheany, Familiar Strangers: The Church and the Vegetarian Movement in Britain (1809–2009) (Cardiff, UK: Ascendant Press, 2010), 173–85. 12 James Thompson, “Hymn against the Cull: A Hymn for the Care of Cows and Badgers,” accessed September 28, 2009, 13 For examples of Bible Christian liturgy, see Samantha Jane Calvert, “The Beefsteak Chapel: A Study of the Influence of William Cowherd’s Bible Christian Church, Salford on the Modern Vegetarian Movement in England 1809–1932” (master’s thesis, University of Gloucestershire, 2004), Appendix A, 50–52. 14 Brian Harrison, Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question in England, 1815–1872 (London: Faber and Faber, 1971), 165. Although Catholic teetotalism was quite limited, Father Mathew and a few other priests in Ireland achieved considerable success. For more information see Harrison, Drink and the Victorians, 165. 15 The temperance reformer Joseph Livesey held this view by the end of his lifetime. See Harrison, Drink and the Victorians, 192. 16 Cited in James Gregory, Of Victorians and Vegetarians, 167. 17 James Gregory, Of Victorians and Vegetarians, 121. 18 Twigg, “Vegetarian Movement,” 426–29.


Eden’s Diet 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Spencer, Vegetarianism: A History, 298. Gregory, Of Victorians and Vegetarians, 187. Twigg, “Vegetarian Movement,” 429. See Emma Griffin, England’s Revelry: A History of Popular Pastimes, 1660–1830 (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2005), 245. Deborah Lupton, Food, the Body and the Self (London: Sage, 1996), 117. Andrew Linzey, Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology (Winchester: Winchester University Press, 2007), 168. Grumett and Muers, Theology on the Menu, x. Robin Pagnamenta, “Climate Chief Lord Stern: Give up Meat to Save the Planet,” The Times, October 27, 2009,

References Calvert, Samantha Jane. “The Beefsteak Chapel: A Study of the Influence of the Rev. William Cowherd’s Bible Christian Church, Salford on the Modern Vegetarian Movement in England 1809–1932.” Master’s thesis, University of Gloucestershire, 2004. Calvert, Samantha Jane. “A Taste of Eden: Modern Christianity and Vegetarianism.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 58, no. 3 (2007). Department of Health and Food Standards Agency. “National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2012: Survey of 1582 Children (1.5–18 Years), 1491 Adults, Years 1, 2 and 3 of the Rolling Programme, 2008/9– 2010/11.” 2012. Gilheany, John M. Familiar Strangers: The Church and the Vegetarian Movement in Britain (1809–2009). Cardiff, UK: Ascendant Press, 2010. Gregory, James. Of Victorians and Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2007. Griffin, Emma. England’s Revelry: A History of Popular Pastimes, 1660–1830. Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2005. Grumett, David, and Rachel Muers. Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet. London: Routledge, 2010. Harrison, Brian. Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question in England, 1815–1872. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. Hymns for Worship with Tunes. London: The Order of the Cross, 1984. Linzey, Andrew. Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology. Winchester: Winchester University Press, 2007. Lupton, Deborah. Food, the Body and the Self. London: Sage, 1996. Pagnamenta, Robin. “Climate Chief Lord Stern: Give up Meat to Save the Planet.” The Times. October 27, 2009. Spencer, Colin. Vegetarianism: A History. London: Grub Street, 2000. Thompson, James. “The Animal’s Padre.” Accessed June 5, 2012. Page%201.html. Thompson, James. “Hymn against the Cull: A Hymn for the Care of Cows and Badgers.” Accessed September 28, 2009. Twigg, Julia. “The Vegetarian Movement in England 1847–1981: A Study in the Structure of Its Ideology.” PhD diss., London School of Economics, 1981.


23 RELIGION, ETHICS, AND VEGETARIANISM The Case of McDonald’s in India Kay Peggs

In 2004 it was announced that the global fast-food corporation McDonald’s would be authorized to publicize its procurement of UK Vegetarian Society approval on some of its food products.1 This meant that McDonald’s would be permitted to use the Vegetarian Society Approved symbol, purported to be the most recognized vegetarian-approved trademark in the world,2 on its menu alongside products such as french fries. Critical observers and analysts of our increasingly industrialized food industry who heard about this development must have been surprised for at least two reasons: (1) it was unexpected that the UK Vegetarian Society would allow its seedling trademark to be used by a corporation with a long history of selling products that depend on the slaughter of billions of nonhuman animals, and (2) following exposure of the misleading McDonald’s 100 percent vegetable oil advertising campaign in 1990, the french fries could not, in any event, be presumed to be vegetarian.3 These concerns are central to this chapter. By means of an analysis of McDonald’s expansion in India, I discuss the links and tensions between religion, ethical commitment to vegetarianism, and the translation of ethical concerns and religious beliefs into sources of profit-maximization by global corporations. In addition, through considering the relationship between the UK Vegetarian Society and McDonald’s global fast-food empire, evidenced by the permitted use of the Vegetarian Society trademark, I engage critically with what has been described as “the moral malaise of McDonaldization.”4 In order to explore these issues, I consider the growth of vegetarianism as an additional source of profit-maximization for the food industry, this in the context of ethical commitments and religious beliefs of individuals who maintain a vegetarian diet. It has been suggested that although the number of vegetarians remains fairly static, there is an increased acceptance of vegetarianism, exemplified by the increased presence of vegetarian products and menus in food outlets and restaurants, a development driven to some extent at least by the profits that can be made from vegetarian products.5 In order to explore the complexity of the issues, I reflect on vegetarianism as an ethical choice and as a lifestyle preference and then go on to think about the growing acceptance of vegetarianism and the increasing embrace of vegetarianism by global corporations. I do this by examining the effects of McDonald’s expansion in relation to Hinduism in the United States and India, effectively a case study, in which significant issues arising from the complex articulation of ethical concerns, religious beliefs, and vegetarianism in a corporate world are encapsulated. I do not 232

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attempt to give a full account of Hinduism and vegetarianism, but rather, I aim to explore themes and issues associated with religion and vegetarianism, especially centering on corporate ethics. I focus my attention not only on India and the United States but also on the United Kingdom because it is the UK Vegetarian Society that has allowed its trademark to be used by McDonald’s. The United Kingdom and the United States are central to the established McDonald’s empire, and the growing market in India is an important element of the corporation’s continued expansion. In order to contextualize the discussion, I begin with a brief overview of the McDonald’s corporation, drawing on George Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldization,6 and I locate this within the context of an increasing global preference for nonhuman animal-based food products.

McDonald’s, McDonaldization, and Meat The McDonald’s corporation website confirms the scale of the McDonald’s empire. The corporation declares that it is the world’s largest restaurant chain, with more than 35,000 outlets worldwide.7 In the lower forty-eight states of the United States, one is never any more than a 145-mile car drive away from a McDonald’s outlet.8 Via outlets in around 120 countries,9 the corporation supplies its products to nearly 70 million customers each day.10 As Barry Smart observes, “the globalization of capitalism . . . brings everyone within the ambit of the economic empires or powerful enterprises eager to encourage us to develop a taste for their products, to acquire a need for their services, and to accommodate to their ways of doing things.”11 The 1 percent of the world’s population that eats McDonald’s products12 has been so brought in, and George Ritzer’s13 analysis provides important insights into the reasons for this. The principles of efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control, which Ritzer views as being at the heart of the McDonald’s empire, are demanded by many – so much so that these principles “are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society and an increasing number of other societies throughout the world.”14 Ritzer famously amalgamates these principles, which are based in the Fordist approach to production, into a set of rationalizing processes that he calls “McDonaldization,” which extends well beyond the McDonald’s corporation itself.15 In the case of McDonald’s, customers get their food products fast (the delivery is efficient, and waiting time is minimized); they know what they will get wherever they buy it (the food product and the service are standardized and predictable); they know what their chosen product will consist of (each food item is calculated so that customers can quantify the food portion in relation to cost); and their food product will have gone through a regulated technological process (it is controlled by standardized processes and uniform employees). The Big Mac (which consists of two 1.6 oz. hamburgers) is consumed 900 million times a year and is the second most popular item on the McDonald’s menu.16 The most popular item is french fries. By weight, approximately 9 million pounds of fries are sold each day.17 However, these extraordinary sales figures are underpinned by a seeming paradox; a survey conducted by Consumer Edge reveals that although customers go back to McDonald’s time and again, they are often dissatisfied with the food products they buy there.18 Only 22 percent of McDonald’s customers said that they were “extremely satisfied” with their last visit to a McDonald’s outlet, but 64 percent of customers said that they were “extremely likely” to visit again.19 According to the survey, “great-tasting food is only the 8th most important factor in driving [customer] loyalty” to fast-food chains.20 David Decker, the president of Consumer Edge, reportedly comments that “for quick-service restaurant patrons the most important factors that drive loyalty to a brand are good value and convenience, with low prices and quick-service being very important as well.”21 The McDonald’s corporation, as Decker concludes, “has a clear image lead on all of these factors . . . [the company’s] high repeat-purchase intention scores despite their 233

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lower satisfaction scores illustrates the strength of their brand on the attributes that matter most to quick-service customers.”22 It seems that Ritzer is right in his analysis. “Great-tasting food” might not be the main driver, but the successful advertising-engineered growing global desire for nonhuman animal-based (especially meat-based) products is a central element of the success of the McDonald’s empire. McSpotlight reports that McDonald’s is the world’s largest user of beef, and in consequence, the corporation is responsible for the slaughter of millions of cows every year.23 Americans alone consume one billion pounds of beef annually from McDonald’s outlets – that is five and a half million cows a year.24 The increased preference for animal-based products is one of the factors driving up the global “production of meat,” which is projected to double from 229 million tons in 1999/2001 to 465 million tons by 2050.25 In order to cope with growing demands, there have been historical changes in farming, with a move from “animal husbandry to animal industry”26 that centers on intensifying production while minimizing costs.27 “Animal industry” is based in a Fordist approach that is designed to raise the affordability, profitability, and consumption of animal-based products.28 Maximizing profits means that there is little interest in the welfare of nonhuman animals, and thus, Aaron Stibbe argues,29 those who work in the industry are encouraged to focus on profits and to neglect the suffering of the nonhuman animals. Those humans who are employed in the industry that is producing the amount of nonhuman animal flesh and animal products that are wanted for consumption are not the only ones responsible for the suffering inflicted. The consuming human populations consent implicitly to this suffering through their willingness to buy products that are sourced from the mass incarceration of nonhuman animals in intensive farms and the industrialized killing that follows their confinement.30 The effects of factory farming on nonhuman animals – and on the humans who work on them – are truly dreadful.31 The distressing reality for the nonhuman animals subjected to such treatment is truly awful, as Tom Regan makes clear: “The vast majority of these animals, literally billions of them, suffer every waking minute they are alive. Physically, they are sick, plagued by chronic, debilitating diseases. Psychologically, they are ill, weighed down by the cumulative effects of disorientation and depression.”32 Many, but not all, of the most horrifying intensive farming practices have made media headlines,33 but how many of us can really know the often-concealed, routinized, sheer agony of being one of the 112,000 cows who endure living on a huge intensive farm in what Rhoda Wilkie tells us is known as the “beef belt”?34 Even though we do not know, we can guess, notes Stibbe, so every time a consumer buys nonhuman animal products, he or she “explicitly or implicitly agrees to the way animals are treated.”35 The McDonald’s corporation has been accused of cruelty to nonhuman animals in a number of high-profile cases and campaigns, from what has become known as the McLibel trial in the 1990s36 to the more recent McCruelty campaign run by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).37 So the corporation has not won over everyone with its “good value and convenience . . . low prices and quick-service,”38 and many of the criticisms of the corporation have come from vegetarians. Vegetarian groups such as PETA and individuals such as the vegetarian bus driver who refused to distribute promotional hamburger leaflets to bus passengers39 center their action on consumer boycotts. The vegetarian boycott of all flesh products (and the vegan boycott of all nonhuman animal products) turns the individual into the self-aware author of her or his own moral integrity and ethical being.40

Vegetarianism While acknowledging that there is considerable difficulty in calculating the total number of vegetarians around the world, Leahy et al. made an informed attempt in 2010 and estimated that there are roughly one and a half billion vegetarians.41 Precise calculations are problematic not 234

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least because definitions of vegetarianism differ; for example, should the definition be based solely on vegetarianism exercised by choice, or should it include also vegetarianism as an inevitability, determined by socioeconomic circumstances? If we are thinking about only those who have chosen to be vegetarian, Leahy et al. estimate that 75 million are vegetarians by choice. “The other 1,450 million are vegetarians of necessity. They will start to eat meat as soon as they can afford it.”42 People in developing countries currently eat on average one-third of the flesh and one-quarter of the milk products that those in the developed countries in the richer northern hemisphere consume.43 This significant difference is a reflection of global economic inequalities and associated disparities in wealth “rather more than food preferences.”44 Paradoxically perhaps, within wealthier nations vegetarianism tends to be more common among better-educated and higher-income groups,45 and thus it is likely that the number of vegetarians will gradually grow with increasing affluence and education.46 The actual and potential market for dietary vegetarian products is very large indeed. In the United Kingdom alone, meat-free sales were valued at £607 million in 2012,47 and between 2008 and 2013, the meat-free sector recorded a 17 percent increase in the volume of sales.48 The markets in India, the United States, and the United Kingdom are important to the McDonald’s empire, and they are also important to vegetarianism worldwide. The World Food Survey reveals that India has the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world, with a total annual consumption of 3.2 kg per person in 2007, compared with 125.4 kg per person in the United States (ranked second after Luxembourg) and 85.8 kg per person in the United Kingdom (ranked twenty-second).49 According to Vegetarians New Zealand, India has more vegetarians than the countries of the rest of the world combined, with around 500 million of the total population being vegetarian.50 But the World Food Survey reveals a shift toward less-strict vegetarianism, with 58 percent of households following a less strict or nonvegetarian diet, though this still leaves 42 percent of households in India as strictly vegetarian.51 As a 2012 Gallup poll survey confirmed, the United States has far fewer vegetarians, with only 5 percent of the population identifying themselves as vegetarian and 2 percent as vegan.52 Newport comments that “vegetarianism in the U.S. remains quite uncommon and a lifestyle that is neither growing nor waning in popularity. The 5 percent of the adult population who consider themselves to be vegetarians is no larger than it was in previous Gallup surveys conducted in 1999 and 2001. The incidence of veganism is even smaller, at a scant 2 percent of the adult population.”53 Most recent statistics for the United Kingdom reveal that in terms of the vegetarian proportion of the population, the United Kingdom stands behind the United States, with only 2 percent of adults and children being vegetarian and a further 1 percent being vegan.54 Despite this, the United Kingdom is a central player in the vegetarian movement worldwide because the UK Vegetarian Society is an important organization that is seeking to influence, conduct, and promote the sales of meat-free products. The society’s approved trademark is now displayed on a diverse range of more than six thousand product lines available in the United Kingdom and beyond, and some of these food products are produced by and sold in McDonald’s outlets.55 The presence of the Vegetarian Society Approved trademark on a product is an important marker for vegetarians because in the words of the Vegetarian Society, “you can be confident that the product or food has undergone stringent checks to meet our vegetarian criteria.”56 The trademark is intended to convey confidence about a product bearing it and to banish concerns about issues associated with the (mis)treatment of nonhuman animals and genetic modification.57 It is especially important to those whose motivations for becoming vegetarian include concern about cruelty to nonhuman animals, world hunger, and the environment, three of the four motivations for vegetarianism suggested by Barbara McDonald.58 In addition to such altruistic motivations, McDonald notes that some people become vegetarian primarily for reasons of personal health.59 235

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However, in many instances a combination of motivations is evident, with an appreciation of the physical health benefits of vegetarianism likely to be accompanied by a professed ethical commitment to the welfare of nonhuman animals.60 For example, a 2008 study in the United States indicated that over half (53 percent) of vegetarians in the country ate a vegetarian diet to improve their overall health, and a similar percentage (54 percent) cited the welfare of nonhuman animals as the motivator.61 In a comparable manner those who choose vegetarianism in the United Kingdom often voice concerns for animal welfare or the environment, as well as their own health.62 Clearly, although concern about health has been a significant motivator for giving up meat and/ or dairy products, ethical concerns have remained a major factor. In short, “compassion for animals is one of many motivations for becoming vegetarian or vegan.”63 Religion is a further factor that warrants consideration here. Although religious belief is an important additional motivator for vegetarianism among certain ethnic groups in the United Kingdom,64 in India it is the principal root of vegetarianism.65 In India vegetarianism is common among Brahmins (55 percent), though it is less common among Christians (8 percent) and among Muslims (3 percent).66 However, concern for the welfare of nonhuman animals is a major element of religious observance in India, where the teaching of ahimsa (nonviolence) emphasizes compassion for all living creatures. Ahimsa is part of India’s constitution67 and stands out as exceptional in the context of a world in which “many religious traditions are known for being anything but animal-friendly.”68 Many religions share three central features – namely, (1) anthropocentrism (humancenteredness), (2) a hierarchical ordering of species (within which humans are seen as the most important species), and (3) instrumentalism (humans’ needs are regarded as paramount, and thus nonhuman animals are diminished and seen as a human resource and valuable for human use), features that have resulted, Andrew Linzey argues, in nonhuman animals generally being relegated to a marginal status and being considered to have little (if any) moral standing.69 Environmentalist Lynn White argues that Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen because “by destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.”70 Linzey agrees that Christianity is quite possibly “the most anthropocentric of all religions,”71 but in common with other religions, he argues, Christianity has “substrands or subtraditions” that are nonhuman animal-friendly.72 Vegetarianism has the “most natural connection” with advocacy for nonhuman animals;73 however, in the history of the Christian church, the vegetarian diet has never been advocated, though some Christians choose to be vegetarian.74 Does this go some way toward explaining why predominantly Christian societies such as the United States (78.4 percent of adults identify themselves as Christian75) and the United Kingdom (59.3 percent profess to be Christian76) seem less inclined toward vegetarianism and nonhuman animal advocacy than some other societies in which other religious faiths predominate? In contrast, in India, where the Hindu religion is dominant (80.5 percent of Indians are Hindu), there is a strong tradition and prominent presence of vegetarianism.77 However, as Jo Ann Davidson notes, the prominence of vegetarianism within Hinduism today seems generally to be motivated by and bound up with “issues connected with reincarnation.”78 Because reincarnation in the form of a nonhuman animal is a possibility, “animals cannot be treated differently from humans; their lives and feelings must be respected.”79 What might be revealed here is not so much a concern for nonhuman animals as humans “showing concern for their own spiritual development.”80 Additional possible confirmation of the priority accorded to human self-interest in this regard is provided by some versions of reincarnation in which being reincarnated as a nonhuman animal is considered to be a sign of relegation for bad karma.81 Nevertheless, belief in reincarnation does constitute, in some respects at least, a crossing of a moral boundary because there is a conception of the commonality of all 236

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souls that has something in common with vegetarianism. As Malcolm Hamilton observes, “both ethical vegetarianism and belief in reincarnation/transmigration incorporate the animal into the human world or extend the boundary of the human to the wider community of sentient beings. Both see animals as belonging to the same moral community and express the unity of sentient life.”82 There is no room here to discuss additional different perspectives on the relation between a belief in reincarnation and advocacy for nonhuman animals, but what is clear is that ahimsa (the belief in nonviolence regarding conduct toward all living beings) is adhered to by Hindus in India and beyond. Early in the current century, the McDonald’s corporation came under severe attack from Hindus for causing them to unknowingly transgress religious observance of the teaching of ahimsa and their belief in the sacredness of the cow, after it was learned that they had unwittingly consumed beef products present in McDonald’s french fries that were misrepresented as vegetarian.

McDonald’s, Vegetarianism, and Religious Belief In 2001 a furor erupted over the beef fat that is used in the preparation of McDonald’s french fries in the United States. Following the declaration in 1990 that all McDonald’s french fries would be cooked in 100 percent vegetable oil, many people who lived in the United States who had wanted to eat the fries but could not do so because of a vegetarian ethic or because their religious faith forbade the eating of cows began eating the fries. For Hindus, eating beef is taboo,83 and although not all Hindus are vegetarian, “the cow is a unique and deeply felt religious symbol for Indian Hindus.”84 Following the corporation’s announcement, many Hindus began eating McDonald’s french fries. But a later news report revealed that the fries were seasoned with beef flavoring before they were shipped to be cooked in vegetable oil. Brij Sharma was among those appalled to hear the news. A resident of Seattle in the United States and a practicing Hindu, Sharma had been eating the fries in the belief that they were vegetarian. Upon learning about the beef seasoning, he told the New York Times, “I feel sick in the morning every day, like I want to vomit . . . Now it is always there in my mind that I have done this sin.”85 In India, McDonald’s outlet windows were smashed, statues of Ronald McDonald were smeared with cow dung, and Hindu nationalist politicians called for the McDonald’s chain to be evicted from the country.86 Despite this, a representative of McDonald’s said they did not propose to change the recipe. A lawsuit duly followed. Meanwhile, Sharma sought to find ways to cleanse himself, commenting, “I am now planning to go to India to take a dip in the Ganges . . . I am thinking that it should reduce my sin. But the damage is already done.”87 The lawsuit resulted in a settlement of millions of dollars, the majority of which went to vegetarian groups. As is the case with many other fast-food corporations, McDonald’s views India’s population of 1.2 billion as a major market awaiting exploitation.88 At the time of the lawsuit in the United States, the corporation had already opened its first outlet in India (in 1996).89 From this small beginning, McDonald’s now has “242 restaurants operating in India serving over 500,000 customers everyday.”90 These outlets do cater to vegetarians, and they were the first McDonald’s outlets to serve “non-beef and non-pork items.”91 In addition, each outlet “practices Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Segregation right from processing to serving and uses 100 per cent vegetable cooking oil.”92 McDonald’s has come a long way from the ire that led to smashed windows, dung-covered clowns, and the call for expulsion from India, to gain “the most trusted family restaurant brand in the country award in 2009, 2010, 2011 by Reader’s Digest.”93 But the number of outlets in India (fewer than 300) represents only a small proportion of the 35,000 McDonald’s outlets worldwide.94 McDonald’s is seeking to increase its market share, and in 2013 it opened its first designated vegetarian-only outlet, and it did so in India.95 Why open vegetarian-only 237

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outlets when vegetarians are catered to already in regular outlets in India? Margherita Stancati96 reportedly suggests that the corporation saw “an opportunity in a very specific market: religious pilgrims,” an unexploited niche market. A spokesperson for McDonald’s, Rajesh Kumar Maini, said, “A vegetarian store makes absolute sense in the places which are famous as pilgrimage sites.”97 The first vegetarian outlet is two hundred meters from the Sikh religion’s holiest site,98 the Golden Temple in the holy city of Amritsar in northern India.99 The manager of this outlet, Harjinder Singh, is reported to have said, “Prior to paying obeisance in the Golden Temple it is good to have vegetarian food. I request and invite people to grab a vegetarian bite before going to the shrine.”100 Vegetarian-only food outlets are essential near religious shrines because “many religious pilgrims are strictly vegetarian and could take offence if others around them ate non-vegetarian food.”101 However, noting that most of the customers are tourists, Singh observes that “surprisingly, many foreigners, too, have appreciated the vegetarian restaurant as nowadays many people prefer vegetarian food due to health concerns.”102 The corporation plans to open another vegetarian-only outlet in northwestern India, near the Vaishno Devi cave shrine in Kashmir, which is a Hindu pilgrimage site that attracts around ten million visitors a year.103 How does this serve vegetarian ethics and religious beliefs?

Concluding Remarks: “The Moral Malaise of McDonaldization,” Vegetarian Ethics, and Religious Beliefs The inclusion of vegetarian items on the McDonald’s menu, UK Vegetarian Society approval of these items, and the opening of vegetarian-only outlets near religious shrines represent significant changes in the attitudes and conduct of the McDonald’s corporation and the UK Vegetarian Society, and they have a bearing on the viability of the McDonaldization thesis. Starting with Ritzer’s fourfold schema of McDonaldization (efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control), in the case of vegetarian food, the principle of “predictability” is seriously compromised. For example, although in the United Kingdom, India, and other countries of the world, the french fries are vegetarian, in the United States beef flavoring is still an ingredient in fries.104 In fact, the McDonald’s US website states, “None of our products are certified as vegetarian.”105 Thus, McDonald’s customers who are vegetarian and who buy french fries while traveling from country to country do not know what they will get wherever they buy it. In short, the food product and the service are not standardized and not predictable, not anymore. In 1993, at the time he was writing his McDonaldization thesis, Ritzer could not have foreseen that McDonald’s would become so attentive to adapting its range to local demand that it would forgo the predictability of its most popular product, the french fry. Thus, contra the predictability driver outlined by Ritzer, the quest for an increasing global market has meant that products are not “pretty much the same from one geographic setting to another.”106 As with vegetarians, Hindus in the United States still can’t eat McDonald’s french fries but would be able to consume them if they traveled to other parts of the globe. The McDonald’s corporation’s wish to expand its market is not surprising; what is much more surprising is that a charity that seeks to promote vegetarianism would allow its symbol to be used by a global corporation that not only does not promote vegetarianism but is responsible for the industrial slaughtering of billions of nonhuman animals used in the company’s products every year. But perhaps the stance of the UK Vegetarian Society is not so surprising, considering that it states that the charity “exists to influence, inspire and support people to embrace and maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.”107 Is this reference to “lifestyle” just an unfortunate turn of phrase? Does the emphasis placed on “lifestyle” vegetarianism represent the marginalization of ethical vegetarianism – the replacement, to use Keith Tester’s words, of “the being of the ethical conduct of life 238

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with the doing of the consumer”?108 In his discussion of “the moral malaise of McDonaldization,” Tester refers to Singer’s argument that vegetarians bring together “conduct and ethics”; they are not merely indulging in a dietary preference, but rather, they are conducting their lives around an “appreciation of what is taken to be the moral fact that the human interest in eating meat is less important than the preference for an animal to live a life without the experience of unnecessary pain.”109 This was perhaps at the root of the formation of the UK Vegetarian Society. In recounting the history of the movement, the charity states that for its nineteenth-century originators, “though health was undoubtedly part of their reasoning, the basis of their vegetarianism was asceticism – living as simple and morally accountable a life as possible.”110 Does this original focus speak to the notion that “vegetarianism is a form of boycott”111 that “turns the individual into the self-aware author of her or his own moral integrity and ethical being”?112 Has this been lost? Although it is ethical vegetarianism that is promoted by Singer, lifestyle vegetarianism is the current predominant form in the West, and this form of vegetarianism “is easily compatible with the relationship and procedures of a McDonaldized environment.”113 In 1999 Tester commented that “vegetarianism itself is liable to become McDonaldized”114 – and it seems he was right. He was referring to the profits that can be made from vegetarian products, and the display of the UK Vegetarian Society trademark enhances the marketing of those products. A boycott of meat is essential if we are to avoid colluding with cruel and intensive farming practices and avoid contributing to the prosperity of the owners of such industrial farming complexes.115 By allowing its trademark to be displayed on vegetarian products sold by a global corporation that is making vast profits out of a range of other products that are sourced from the mass incarceration and killing of nonhuman animals, the UK Vegetarian Society is consenting implicitly to the suffering of nonhuman animals. Moreover, by authorizing the use of its trademark, the Vegetarian Society is encouraging individual customers to buy their vegetarian products from McDonald’s and thus take part in this implicit consent. The UK Vegetarian Society Approved trademark on a specific commodity allows us, in the terms of McDonaldization, to predict and to feel secure and confident that the particular product in question meets the UK Vegetarian Society’s “strict criteria for vegetarian suitability,” but it evidently does not allow anything more than that, and it certainly does not indicate that the company that is allowed to use the symbol in respect to a specific product operates more generally in accordance with the same criteria. The positioning of vegetarian-only McDonald’s restaurants in close proximity to religious shrines does not appear to compromise the consumer who wants to eat a vegetarian product in a vegetarian outlet. But such outlets are part of a global corporation whose defining product relies on the suffering and mass slaughter of nonhuman animals. Is religious vegetarianism being undermined and replaced by a corporate-engendered, commercialized lifestyle vegetarianism, a form of vegetarianism that can be readily satisfied in a convenient McDonald’s outlet that simultaneously contrives to earn the loyalty of a significant new and sizable niche market? The meat-free market is becoming increasingly lucrative for companies, perhaps especially so when the products are approved by a charity that is widely recognized and revered for its vegetarian stance. By virtue of the speed of the production process through which fast food is manufactured and the rising profits that are a corollary of the growing global market, lifestyle vegetarianism appears to have achieved the upper hand, rendering vegetarianism as a form of boycott, whether ethical or religious, as marginal, even for the UK Vegetarian Society.

Acknowledgments Thank you to Barry Smart for his valuable comments on an earlier draft of this chapter. Any errors and mistakes that remain are entirely my own. 239

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Notes 1 S. Brook, “Vegetarian Society Backs McDonald’s Products,” Guardian, October 1, 2004. 2 Brook, “Vegetarian Society.” 3 For example, see E. Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal Is Doing to the World (London: Penguin, 2002), 47. 4 K. Tester, “The Moral Malaise of McDonaldization: The Values of Vegetarianism,” in Resisting McDonaldization, ed. B. Smart (London: Sage, 1999), 207. 5 D. Maurer, Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment? (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002). 6 G. Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 1993). 7 McDonald’s Corporation, “Fast Facts,” accessed May 22, 2014, Aboutus/Newsroom/facts_and_stats0/fast_facts.html. 8 S. Von Worley, “Where the Buffalo Roamed: How Far Can You Get from McDonald’s?,” Data Pointed, September 22, 2009, 9 McDonald’s, “Fast Facts.” 10 G. Lubin and M. Badkar, “17 Facts about McDonald’s That Will Blow Your Mind,” Business Insider, December 7, 2012, 11 B. Smart, “Resisting McDonaldization: Theory, Process and Critique,” in Resisting McDonaldization, ed. B. Smart (London: Sage, 1999), 1–19. 12 Lubin and Badkar, “17 Facts.” 13 Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society. 14 G. Ritzer and E. Malone, “Globalization Theory: Lessons from the Exportation of McDonaldization and the New Means of Consumption,” American Studies 41, no. 2–3 (2000): 99. 15 Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society. 16 W. Harris, “10 Most Popular McDonald’s Menu Items of All Time,” HowStuffWorks, April 7, 2009, 17 Harris, “10 Most Popular.” 18 Huffington Post, “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers Are Likely to Return, Fast Food Survey Says,” January 18, 2013, 19 Huffington Post, “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers.” 20 Quoted in Huffington Post, “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers.” 21 Quoted in Huffington Post, “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers.” 22 Quoted in Huffington Post, “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers.” 23 “The Issues: Animals,” McSpotlight, accessed July 4, 2011, html. 24 K. Feridum, “Origins: McDonald’s Hamburger,” Side Dish, August 20, 2010, index.cfm/origins/article/id/19582A04-7B59-4464-9073B7CB1AD90478. 25 R. M. Wilkie, Livestock/Deadstock: Food Animals, Ambiguous Relations, and Productive Contexts: Working with Farm Animals from Birth to Slaughter (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010), 10. 26 Wilkie, Livestock/Deadstock, 7. 27 A. Franklin, Animals and Modern Culture (London: Sage, 1999), 130. 28 Franklin, Animals and Modern Culture, 130. 29 A. Stibbe, “Language, Power and the Social Construction of Animals,” Society and Animals 9, no. 2 (2001): 145–61. 30 Stibbe, “Language, Power,” 145. 31 For discussion, see, for example, K. Peggs, Animals and Sociology (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 90–106. 32 T. Regan, Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), 89–90. 33 For example, the incarceration of calves in veal crates in which they could barely move made headline news in the United Kingdom. These crates were banned in the United Kingdom in 1990 and in the European Union in 2007, and some states in the United States are phasing in such bans. Compassion in World Farming, “Colorado Bans the Veal Crate and the Gestation Crate,” May 19, 2008, accessed June 30, 2011, 34 Wilkie, Livestock/Deadstock, 10.


Religion, Ethics, and Vegetarianism 35 Stibbe, “Language, Power,” 147. 36 The “McLibel” trial in the United Kingdom led to a global movement against McDonald’s. In 1990, the same year that the company was promoting its 100 percent vegetable oil advertising campaign, McDonald’s was suing five activists in Britain for libel, over their alleged distribution of a leaflet titled “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s: Everything They Don’t Want You to Know.” The leaflet charged McDonald’s with cruelty to nonhuman animals, with destruction of the environment, with the exploitation of employees, and with selling unhealthy food. The website campaign against McDonald’s and other such companies that ensued reported an average of 1.75 million hits a month. For more details, see Ritzer and Malone, “Globalization Theory,” 113. 37 The PETA campaign accuses McDonald’s of using cruel methods for killing chickens. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, “McCruelty: I’m Hatin’ It,” accessed 2014, 38 Huffington Post, “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers.” 39 Referred to in Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 207. 40 Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 207. 41 E. Leahy, S. Lyons, and R. S. J. Tol, “An Estimate of the Number of Vegetarians in the World” (ESRI Working Paper No. 340, Economic and Social Research Institute, 2010), 2. 42 Leahy, Lyons, and Tol, “An Estimate,” 2. 43 C. L. Delgado, “Rising Consumption of Meat and Milk in Developing Countries Has Created a New Food Revolution,” in “Animal Source Foods to Improve Micronutrient Nutrition and Human Function in Developing Countries,” supplement, Journal of Nutrition (2003): 3907S. 44 Franklin, Animals and Modern Culture, 147. 45 Franklin, Animals and Modern Culture. 46 Leahy, Lyons, and Tol, “An Estimate,” 2. 47 Mintel Group, Meat-Free and Free-from Foods – UK – September (London: Mintel Group, 2012). 48 Mintel Group, Meat-Free and Free-from Foods – UK – September (London : Mintel Group, 2013). 49 “Meat Consumption per Person,” accessed July 20, 2014, 50 Katie, “500 Million Vegetarians in India,” Vegetarians New Zealand, June 23, 2013, www.vegetarians. 51 “Meat Consumption per Person.” 52 F. Newport, “In U.S., 5% Consider Themselves Vegetarians,” Gallup, July 26, 2012, poll/156215/consider-themselves-vegetarians.aspx. 53 Newport, “In U.S., 5% Consider Themselves Vegetarians.” 54 B. L. Bates, A. Lennox, A. Prentice, and C. Bates, National Diet and Nutrition Survey Headline Results from Years 1, 2 and 3 (Combined) (London: NatCen, 2013). 55 Vegetarian Society UK, “The Vegetarian Society Seedling Symbol Application Form,” accessed May 31, 2014, 56 Vegetarian Society UK, “Approved Products,” accessed May 27, 2014, corporate08/product_accreditation.asp. 57 To gain approval, the product must conform to five standards: (1) be free from animal flesh (meat, fowl, fish, or shellfish), meat or bone stock, animal or carcass fats, gelatin, aspic, or any other ingredients resulting from slaughter; (2) contain only free-range eggs, where eggs are used; (3) be free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs); (4) be cruelty-free – no animal testing; and (5) be exposed to no cross-contamination during the production process. See Vegetarian Society UK, “Approved Products.” 58 B. McDonald, “Once You Know Something, You Can’t Not Know It: An Empirical Look at Becoming Vegan,” Society and Animals 8, no. 1 (2000): 2–3. 59 McDonald, “Once You Know Something.” 60 P. Singer, Animal Liberation: Towards an End to Man’s Inhumanity to Animals (London: Jonathan Cape, 1976). 61 Vegetarian Times, “Vegetarianism in America,” May 25, 2014, vegetarianism-in-america/. 62 E. Clery and R. Bailey, Food Technologies: Findings from the 2008 British Social Attitudes Survey (London: NatCen Social Science Research Unit Food Standards Agency, 2010). 63 R. M. MacNair, “McDonald’s ‘Empirical Look at Becoming Vegan,’” Society and Animals 9, no. 1 (2001): 64. 64 Clery and Bailey, Food Technologies, 17. 65 B. K. Sharma and S. Sharma, “The Treatment of Animals in India,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. Andrew Linzey (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), 32–35. 66 Y. Yadav and S. Kumar, “The Food Habits of a Nation,” The Hindu, August 14, 2006, 1.


Kay Peggs 67 Sharma and Sharma, “The Treatment of Animals in India.” 68 A. Linzey, “Changing Religious Perspectives,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. Andrew Linzey (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), 240. 69 Linzey, “Changing Religious Perspectives,” 240. 70 L. White, “The Historic Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” Science 155 (1967): 1203. 71 Linzey, “Changing Religious Perspectives,” 241. 72 Linzey, “Changing Religious Perspectives,” 241. 73 M. Mika, “Framing the Issue: Religion, Secular Ethics and the Case of Animal Rights Mobilization,” Social Forces 85, no. 2 (2006): 917. 74 J. A. Davidson, “World Religions and the Vegetarian Diet,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 14, no. 2 (2003): 114–30. 75 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, accessed July 31, 2014, http:// 76 Office for National Statistics, Religion in England and Wales 2011 (Office for National Statistics, December 11, 2012), 77 “Hindu Population in India,”, accessed 2014, population/hindu-population-in-india.html. 78 Davidson, “World Religions,” 115. 79 M. Hamilton, “Eating Ethically: ‘Spiritual’ and ‘Quasireligious’ Aspects of Vegetarianism,” Journal of Contemporary Religion 15, no. 1 (2000): 72. 80 B. G. Norton, “Environmental Ethics and Weak Anthropocentrism,” Environmental Ethics 6, no. 2 (1984): 136. 81 Linzey, “Changing Religious Perspectives,” 240. 82 Hamilton, “Eating Ethically,” 73. 83 D. N. Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow (London: Verso, 2002). 84 G. Pitale, “Holy Cow! India’s Sacred Cow Revisited,” Popular Anthropology Magazine 2, no. 2 (2011): 14. 85 L. Goldstein, “For Hindus and Vegetarians, Surprise in McDonald’s Fries,” New York Times, May 20, 2001. 86 Goldstein, “For Hindus and Vegetarians.” 87 Goldstein, “For Hindus and Vegetarians.” 88 M. Stancati, “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims,” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2012. 89 McDonald’s Corporation, McDonald’s India (North and East Region): Fact Book (McDonald’s India, 2013), 3. 90 McDonald’s Corporation, McDonald’s India, 3. 91 McDonald’s Corporation, McDonald’s India, 3. 92 McDonald’s Corporation, McDonald’s India, 3. 93 McDonald’s Corporation, McDonald’s India, 7. 94 Stancati, “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims.” 95 But public relations functionaries of the fast-food giant deny that McDonald’s at Amritsar is the first vegetarian counter in India. They maintain that their first such outlet is the Kurukshetra restaurant where the menu was changed to all-vegetarian to comply with the extension of the zone that prohibited the sale of nonvegetarian food. U. Kaur, “McDonald’s Goes All-Veg outside Golden Temple,” Hindustan Times, May 5, 2014, 96 Stancati, “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims.” 97 BBC News, “McDonald’s Opens Vegetarian-Only Restaurant,” BBC News, September 4, 2012, www. 98 Kaur, “McDonald’s Goes All-Veg.” 99 Stancati, “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims.” 100 Kaur, “McDonald’s Goes All-Veg.” 101 Stancati, “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims.” 102 Kaur, “McDonald’s Goes All-Veg.” 103 Stancati, “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims.” 104 McDonald’s Corporation, “Go On Grab One: World Famous Fries,” accessed May 22, 2014, www. 105 McDonald’s Corporation, “Go On Grab One.” 106 G. Ritzer, Globalization: The Essentials (Chichester: Wiley, 2011), 168. 107 Vegetarian Society UK, “About Us,” accessed August 3, 2014,


Religion, Ethics, and Vegetarianism 108 Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 218, emphasis in original. 109 Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 212. 110 Vegetarian Society UK, “History of the Vegetarian Society,” accessed August 3, 2014, history. 111 Singer, Animal Liberation, 175. 112 Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 213. 113 Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 218. 114 Tester, “The Moral Malaise,” 217. 115 Singer, Animal Liberation, 175.

References Bates, B. L., A. Lennox, A. Prentice, and C. Bates. National Diet and Nutrition Survey Headline Results from Years 1, 2 and 3 (Combined). London: NatCen, 2013. BBC News. “McDonald’s Opens Vegetarian-Only Restaurant.” BBC News, September 4, 2012. Brook, S. “Vegetarian Society Backs McDonald’s Products.” Guardian, October 1, 2004. Clery, E., and R. Bailey. Food Technologies: Findings from the 2008 British Social Attitudes Survey. London: NatCen Social Science Research Unit Food Standards Agency, 2010. Compassion in World Farming. “Colorado Bans the Veal Crate and the Gestation Crate.” May 19, 2008. Accessed June 30, 2011. Davidson, J. A. “World Religions and the Vegetarian Diet.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 14, no. 2 (2003): 114–30. Delgado, C. L. “Rising Consumption of Meat and Milk in Developing Countries Has Created a New Food Revolution.” In “Animal Source Foods to Improve Micronutrient Nutrition and Human Function in Developing Countries,” supplement, Journal of Nutrition (2003): 3907S – 10S. Feridum, K. “Origins: McDonald’s Hamburger.” Side Dish. August 20, 2010. index.cfm/origins/article/id/19582A04-7B59-4464-9073B7CB1AD90478. Franklin, A. Animals and Modern Culture. London: Sage, 1999. Goldstein, L. “For Hindus and Vegetarians, Surprise in McDonald’s Fries.” New York Times, May 20, 2001. Hamilton, M. “Eating Ethically: ‘Spiritual’ and ‘Quasireligious’ Aspects of Vegetarianism.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 15, no. 1 (2000): 65–83. Harris, W. “10 Most Popular McDonald’s Menu Items of All Time.” HowStuffWorks. April 7, 2009. http:// “Hindu Population in India.” Accessed 2014. hindu-population-in-india.html. Huffington Post. “Even Dissatisfied McDonald’s Customers Are Likely To Return, Fast Food Survey Says.” January 18, 2013. “The Issues: Animals.” McSpotlight. Accessed July 4, 2011. Jargon, J. “Subway Passes McDonald’s.” Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2011. Jha, D. N. The Myth of the Holy Cow. London: Verso, 2002. Katie. “500 Million Vegetarians in India.” Vegetarians New Zealand. June 23, 2013. articles/500-million-vegetarians-in-india/. Kaur, U. “McDonald’s Goes All-Veg outside Golden Temple.” Hindustan Times, May 5, 2014. www.hindustan Leahy, E. L., S. Lyons, and R. S. J. Tol. “An Estimate of the Number of Vegetarians in the World.” ESRI Working Paper No. 340, Economic and Social Research Institute, 2010. Linzey, A. “Changing Religious Perspectives.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey, 240–41. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Lubin, G., and M. Badkar. “17 Facts about McDonald’s That Will Blow Your Mind.” Business Insider, December 7, 2012. MacNair, R. M. “McDonald’s ‘Empirical Look at Becoming Vegan.’” Society and Animals 9, no. 1 (2001): 63–69. Maurer, D. Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment? Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002.


Kay Peggs McDonald, B. “Once You Know Something, You Can’t Not Know It: An Empirical Look at Becoming Vegan.” Society and Animals 8, no. 1 (2000): 1–23. McDonald’s Corporation. “Fast Facts.” Accessed May 22, 2014. Newsroom/facts_and_stats0/fast_facts.html. McDonald’s Corporation. “Go On Grab One: World Famous Fries.” Accessed May 22, 2014. www. McDonald’s Corporation. McDonald’s India (North and East Region): Fact Book. McDonald’s India, 2013. “Meat Consumption per Person.” Accessed July 20, 2014. Mika, M. “Framing the Issue: Religion, Secular Ethics and the Case of Animal Rights Mobilization.” Social Forces 85, no. 2 (2006): 915–41. Mintel Group. Meat-Free and Free-from Foods – UK – September. London: Mintel Group, 2012. Mintel Group. Meat-Free and Free-from Foods – UK – September. London: Mintel Group, 2013. Newport, F. “In U.S., 5% Consider Themselves Vegetarians.” Gallup, July 26, 2012. poll/156215/consider-themselves-vegetarians.aspx. Norton, B. G. “Environmental Ethics and Weak Anthropocentrism.” Environmental Ethics 6, no. 2 (1984): 131–48. Office for National Statistics. Religion in England and Wales 2011. Office for National Statistics, December 11, 2012. Peggs, K. Animals and Sociology. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “McCruelty: I’m Hatin’ It.” Accessed 2014. www.mccruelty. com/. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Accessed July 31, 2014. http:// Pitale, G. “Holy Cow! India’s Sacred Cow Revisited.” Popular Anthropology Magazine 2, no. 2 (2011): 11–17. Regan, T. Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004. Ritzer, G. Globalization: The Essentials. Chichester: Wiley, 2011. Ritzer, G. The McDonaldization of Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 1993. Ritzer, G., and E. Malone. “Globalization Theory: Lessons from the Exportation of McDonaldization and the New Means of Consumption.” American Studies 41, no. 2–3 (2000): 97–118. Schlosser, E. Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal Is Doing to the World. London: Penguin, 2002. Sharma, B. K., and S. Sharma. “The Treatment of Animals in India.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey, 32–35. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Singer, P. Animal Liberation: Towards an End to Man’s Inhumanity to Animals. London: Jonathan Cape, 1976. Smart, B. “Resisting McDonaldization: Theory, Process and Critique.” In Resisting McDonaldization, edited by B. Smart, 1–19. London: Sage, 1999. Stancati, M. “McDonald’s Targets Indian Pilgrims.” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2012. Stibbe, A. “Language, Power and the Social Construction of Animals.” Society and Animals 9, no. 2 (2001): 145–61. Tester, K. “The Moral Malaise of McDonaldization: The Values of Vegetarianism.” In Resisting McDonaldization, edited by B. Smart. London: Sage, 1999. Vegetarian Society UK. “About Us.” Accessed August 3, 2014. Vegetarian Society UK. “Approved Products.” Accessed May 27, 2014. product_accreditation.asp. Vegetarian Society UK. “History of the Vegetarian Society.” Accessed August 3, 2014. history. Vegetarian Society UK. “The Vegetarian Society Seedling Symbol Application Form.” Accessed May 31, 2014. Vegetarian Times. “Vegetarianism in America.” Accessed May 25, 2014. vegetarianism-in-america/. Von Worley, S. “Where the Buffalo Roamed: How Far Can You Get from McDonald’s?” Data Pointed. September 22, 2009. White, L. “The Historic Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.” Science 155 (1967): 1203–1207. Wilkie, R. M. Livestock/Deadstock: Food Animals, Ambiguous Relations, and Productive Contexts: Working with Farm Animals from Birth to Slaughter. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010. Yadav, Y., and S. Kumar. “The Food Habits of a Nation.” The Hindu, August 14, 2006, 1.


24 THE SACRED AND MUNDANE COW The History of India’s Cattle Protection Movement Kelsi Nagy

“The cow is a poem of pity.” – M. K. Gandhi

Like many things in India, cattle occupy a paradoxical status. They are revered as sacred entities by the political majority of the population and are protected from slaughter throughout much of the nation. At the same time, many cattle live lives of hardship and abuse and despite legal protection fall victim to a brutal and largely unregulated slaughter industry. It may come as a surprise to learn that a nation famous for cow veneration has recently become one of the top beef exporters in the world,1 with the volume of beef exports surpassing the export of basmati rice in 2014.2 The story of cattle is one of a rapidly changing India – a nation that has one foot rooted in a long-standing cultural and religious heritage and another charging forward to become a democratic and neoliberal world power. Cattle are caught in the whirlwind of an increasingly urbanized and industrial nation of diverse people and customs. Cattle have been imbued with religious, political, and economic symbolism at various points in Indian history. This gives us insight into the importance of cattle to various human communities throughout India’s history. From literature, religious verse, legal codes, and art, we can glean some idea about the roles cattle played and even some idea of what cattle’s lives might have been like, though these inferences are always limited.3 How the past is interpreted informs the present moment, and I would argue that the cow as a symbol in India is a fulcrum upon on which the past and present swing. The cow represents a tie to an agricultural heritage in a rapidly urbanizing nation and to a Hindu past led by the priestly Brahmin caste that evolved to advocate for a vegetarian lifestyle based on the philosophies of dharma (law), ahimsa (nonviolence), and karma (personal spiritual retribution), and because of taboos on the eating of cattle flesh and sacrifice, the cow is an animal who came to represent a Hindu identity increasingly intolerant of Muslim religious practices. The symbol of cattle in India’s history has had an agency of its own and one that I would argue is separate from the lives and well-being of cattle themselves. 245

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India’s cattle appear caught between the sacred and the modern, both on city streets and as a political and cultural symbol. Because of cattle’s religious and legal status in Hindu culture, many assume cows experience exemplary welfare in India, but in reality cattle welfare is much more complicated than it might appear. This chapter will situate the nuanced issue of cattle welfare in a historical context, where cattle have played important roles as both symbol and sustenance in India for centuries. An understanding of the historic importance of cattle informs their current status in human livelihoods, culture, and politics. The symbol of the cow can, at times, obscure the realities of cattle as living creatures. The disconnect between the cow as a symbol and cows as living entities may also shed light on reasons that legal protection has not guaranteed well-being for many of India’s cattle. It will also aid in an understanding of the current need for a cattle protection movement in India today, which involves different actors and ideologies. The chapter begins with an overview of current welfare issues faced by cattle in contemporary India. The second part of the chapter offers a discussion of the history of the cattle protection movement and the symbolic roles – religious, economic, and political – that have been attributed to cattle throughout India’s history. The chapter ends with a discussion about the different ideologies driving the cattle protection movement in India today.

Mundane Lives of Sacred Cows An overview of welfare hardships that many cattle currently face in India will underline the importance of the cattle protection movement within the broader animal protection movement today. A cursory understanding of India’s human and cattle demographics will aid in understanding the challenges of cattle protection laws in practice. Home to 1.2 billion people and 300,000 million bovines, the Indian subcontinent harbors a dense concentration of humans and cattle. Although Hindus make up the demographic majority of the nation, India is also home to the world’s second-largest population of Muslims,4 in addition to people of other religious identities, including Buddhist, Christian, Parsi, and various indigenous tribal faiths. The Hindu faith is diverse within itself, and certain castes of Hindus – depending on occupation, family caste, or personal inclination – also eat beef or are involved in the slaughter of cattle.5 Brahmins are the priestly caste of Hindus and have the strictest taboo on meat- and beef-eating and will be referred to throughout the chapter. In a nation with a population as diverse as India, there are varied relationships and attitudes toward cattle. India is the world’s largest democracy, and Hindus make up the political majority throughout much of the country. Hindu Loyalists, which include some Jains and Sikhs, largely determine policy and regulations governing cattle management and protection. The fact that India is home to such a large cattle population is due in no small part to the fact that India is also one of the world’s leading dairy producers. Milk is a valued commodity for both economic and cultural reasons. Milk has been a symbol of nourishment and purity for centuries and is used in Hindu cooking and ritual worship.6 To increase milk production the government has promoted the cooperative model of dairy production through dairy development schemes since the late 1960s.7 Through subsidized medical care and breeding schemes, the cooperative model makes it profitable for farmers to keep small dairy herds – from one to ten cows. The income earned is either a sole or additional revenue stream for millions of families.8 Lactating animals produce milk only after giving birth. Therefore, an increase in milk production will ultimately result in an increase in the population of cattle. Marvin Harris has made the argument that cattle are part of a cultural ecology in India in which cattle have kept a balance between the resources they consume and what they give back in labor and fertilizer,9 a somewhat controversial argument.10 Yet it remains true that for centuries cattle have existed on native 246

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grasses, shrubs, and seedpods in addition to by-products of human agriculture, such as kitchen scraps, rice stalks, and the fibrous cake left after oil is expelled from mustard, sesame, or peanut oil production. Few dedicated crops have been grown for cattle feed. Cattle have contributed to agriculture through their use as bullocks and as sources of fertilizer. In this historic model of agriculture, milk production was not the sole purpose of keeping cattle, as is the focus of the dairy industry today.11 Adopting a Western model of dairy production has created an increase in “surplus” cattle, who either are turned loose to find their own food and shelter, often foraging on trash,12 or are slaughtered for meat and leather. In this way, the dairy industry is directly linked to the beef and leather industries.13 Two other factors have helped make India a top exporter of beef: water buffalo and hybrid cattle. First, cattle make up only half the dairy industry, with water buffalo composing the other half.14 The price farmers are paid for milk is determined by weight and milk fat content. Because water buffalo milk has a high fat content, these animals are a better choice for farmers to keep in some respects. Water buffalo are biologically similar to cattle but do not have the same sacred and legal status. There are fewer regulations governing the slaughter, possession, and sale of water buffalo, or “buff,” meat. Second, from the 1970s to the present day, the government has sponsored and subsidized dairy development programs that introduced artificial insemination technology to the dairy industry. To improve milk yield, the industry bred Holstein-Friesian, Jersey, and Brown Swiss European breeds with native Zebu cattle, in order to produce high-milk-yielding hybrid cattle.15 The first generation of cattle outperform native cattle, though subsequent generations of hybrid cattle do not produce exceptionally high milk yields; therefore, there has been constant pressure on native-bred female stock to produce hybrid calves.16 Unfortunately, mismanagement of the hybrid breeding program has resulted in some native breeds of cattle becoming rare or extinct.17 Hybrid cattle are also not well adapted to heat, parasites, and disease and require more care and veterinary intervention to stay healthy in India’s climate. Like European breeds, hybrid cattle do not need their calves present to let down their milk, as their native Zebu counterparts do, and male cows are not generally used as bullocks in farming. Therefore, male hybrid calves do not serve an economic or cultural function, and it is common for these calves to be turned loose to make their own way on the streets or to enter the slaughter industry. States are responsible for determining laws that apply to cattle slaughter.18 Anti-slaughter laws exist in the majority of India’s states, with the notable exceptions of Kerala and West Bengal, and it falls on the states to determine the level of restriction for the slaughter of cows, bulls, and bullocks. In some states it is legal to slaughter bulls and male calves, but not cows or bullocks. In other states, such as Karnataka, cattle can be slaughtered only after a certain age (twelve years in Karnataka) or if they are “permanently incapacitated, for breeding, draught, or giving milk, due to injury, deformity or any other cause.”19 Though these laws are the strongest cow protection laws in the world, there are economic and logistic challenges to the enforcement of these laws. India is a country of limited resources for humans and animals, and it is rare that a farmer would have the economic resources to care for a cow, bull, or bullock to the natural end of his or her life. So cows are often sold for slaughter in the following manner: Hindus who would not dream of eating beef often sell old cows “to the village,” ostensibly to let them out to graze on good grass for a happy old age; but this is often a euphemism for handing them over (surreptitiously) to a middleman who eventually gives them to someone who kills them and eats them.20 These middlemen have emerged as a powerful and wealthy community with well-organized trade networks.21 One alternative to slaughter occurs in Hindu, Jain, or Sikh-run sanctuaries. 247

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Pinjrapoles (animal homes) and goshalas (cow sanctuaries) are facilities where cattle are allowed to die a natural death, but it is an unfortunate reality that such sanctuaries are often too full to accept new cattle.22 Therefore, many cattle are slaughtered before the legal age requirement. The existence of anti-slaughter laws has ironically led to conditions where gross abuses of cattle occur. Reports of cattle slaughter reveal that the cattle trade is often unregulated and brutal.23 Transport of cattle to Kerala and West Bengal is illegal, but when illegal transport occurs, it is often unregulated because authorities are understaffed or do not have the necessary resources to enforce the laws. For example, police don’t have facilities to care for cattle, which they are legally obligated to provide, when they do catch traffickers.24 Officials also often overlook illegal activities when given bribes.25 Reports of cattle abuse are notably brutal in the slaughter industry: They are crowded mercilessly in trucks over long journeys without food and water. Sometimes the collapsing animals are severely beaten, and chili pepper powders are sprayed in their eyes. These and similar actions are performed in order to procure a certificate of their “sickness” on one hand and their “fitness” for slaughter on the other. Since it is illegal to kill healthy young cattle, they are often maimed or poisoned so that they can be declared fit for slaughter.26 Additional reports of the abusive and inhumane process of cattle slaughter are equally horrific. Cattle are often left without food or water for days before slaughter to increase the amount of hemoglobin in their flesh, which is thought to be desirable. Methods of slaughter to obtain premium leather include spraying cattle with 200-degree Celsius water before slaughter to soften the hide27 and skinning cattle alive, often in plain sight of other cattle who await the same fate.28 Despite laws that restrict or prohibit the slaughter of cattle, India produces 1.53 million tons of beef every year.29 Recent bans on beef in states such as Haryana30 and Madhrapradesh31 highlight the beef industry by targeting consumers and butchers as the source of inhumane treatment of cattle, but the dairy and leather industries are not often mentioned, even though they are often intimately linked with the beef trade.32 It is clear that the symbolic role of cattle as sacred entities has not ensured their welfare even with legal protection. This apparent paradox between the cow as sacred symbol and the cow as a material commodity will be discussed at length in this chapter through an analysis of the role of cattle in India’s history. Comprehension of the evolution of the cow as a symbol of Hindu identity and the history of the cattle protection movement will also aid in an understanding of the friction between policy and practice problematizing the efficacy of the cattle protection movement.

Genesis of the Sacred Cow: “Symbol and Sustenance” Knowledge of the role that cattle played for the early agrarian authors of the Vedic texts situates the importance of cattle in India’s history and offers insight into the sanctity of cattle in Hindu spirituality. It also provides an understanding of the dual value of cattle as a sacred symbol and an economic commodity. Anthony Parel defines the power of symbols in three ways: (1) a symbol relates meaning to material objects, and the meaning symbols convey can be charged with emotion, (2) symbols help define a community, and (3) symbols may have a revolutionary function in that they can serve as a catalyst to promote social change.33 To add to the first point, as a symbol, the cow is viewed as a collective object and not as a group of individual subjective entities. Also, if a symbol imbues meaning to a “material object,” the symbol is valued not in itself but for the meaning it conveys. The cow then becomes a “missing referent,”34 her image co-opted by the meaning the symbol refers to, whether that be a religious identity, economic prosperity, or 248

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a political party. During the Vedic period, cattle and their products were so pervasive in human life and its flourishing that they became symbols of the cosmos, divine mothers, and gods. But cattle were at this time still killed and eaten as part of religious sacrifice. Zebu cattle were domesticated by the agrarian Harappan civilization six thousand years ago.35 It is difficult to overstate the importance that cattle would have had to the early South Asian agrarians and herders. Cattle were important sources of material abundance for these agriculturalists, and possessing cattle ensured the provision of goods and services that far surpassed milk, meat, and leather. Not only did cows mother human beings by providing nourishment through milk, but cattle manure also would have become part of the grain, fruits, and vegetables of the earth and the materials that provided all manner of shelter, clothing, tools, art, medicine, and fuel. Even cow urine had important agricultural and medicinal uses, and cow dung was believed to have purifying properties.36 It is easy to imagine the significance that cattle products and labor had in Harappan and early Vedic societies because cattle are still used for all of these purposes in India today. From the beginning, cattle’s spiritual value originated in their utility to humans. The Vedic people were Aryan-speaking pastoralists who occupied northern India from 1500 to 500 BCE, and their livelihoods were largely organized around tending to cattle and livestock and utilizing their products.37 The importance of the cow is illustrated in the hymns, poems, and sacrificial formulas that make up the Vedas. The cow, bull, and ox are mentioned more than any other animal species.38 Several Sanskrit words used to describe battle also contain the root word go or gau, meaning “cow”; a chief was described as gopati, “lord of the cows,” and a wealthy man was a gomat because cattle were possessions of the highest value in Vedic culture.39 Metaphors that appear in the Rig-Veda, inspired by cattle biology and behavior, indicate the importance of cattle to the lives and livelihoods of Vedic pastoralists.40 The bull, associated with the god Shiva, became a cosmic symbol of fertility, and cows symbolized the divine nature of femininity, fecundity, maternity, and life-giving sustenance. The Atharvaveda described the cow as an “all-producing and all-containing universe” (10.10.1), and the Rig-Veda describes the cow as the earth, the mother of gods, and the rain clouds that poured forth rain like milk from cosmic udders. The divine mother cow was also described as producing the cosmic waters through which the universe was created.41 The frequent and persistent identification of the cow with various deities in the Vedas, especially in the context of sustenance and fertility in the universe resulted . . . in the word or words for cow becoming “ . . . a symbol of the holiest of those entities . . . The metaphor or symbol had run away from those who employed it. They ceased to distinguish it from the objects it had been meant to adorn or represent and thus the cow had acquired their holiness as a quality of its own.”42 Beginning with the Vedic culture, the symbol of the cow would transcend the mundane lived realities of cattle. The extreme importance of cattle in Vedic culture may lead one to assume that their status as inviolable animals dates from Vedic times, but there is significant textual evidence suggesting that cows, bulls, and oxen were killed in sacrificial rituals and their flesh eaten.43 Sacrifice of animals was a well-documented defining feature of Vedic culture,44 and several passages in Vedic texts mention the sacrifice of cattle.45 The Sanskrit word for guest, goghna, literally translates as “cow killer,” which may indicate that cattle sacrifice was relatively commonplace.46 Textual evidence suggests that animal sacrifice was an important part of Vedic culture because of the belief that ritual sacrifice of animals helped maintain the cosmic order or harmony of the world.47 249

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Although it appears almost certain that cattle sacrifice occurred during the Vedic period, there is also evidence that the Indo-Aryans experienced anxiety over the killing of cattle. In her book The Hindus: An Alternative History,48 Wendy Doniger gives two examples of stories that indicate Vedic people felt uncomfortable killing cattle. The first story discusses the belief that at one point in time humans had furry hides and cattle had skin. Cattle convinced humans to trade their protective hairy hides for the cattle’s smooth skin. As a boon to the trade, cattle allowed humans to use their hides after they died.49 Another story describes the afterlife as a place of symbolic retribution: “Just as in this world men eat cattle and devour them, so in the other world cattle eat men and devour them . . . Whatever food a man eats in this world, that [food] eats him in the other world.”50 An alternate interpretation describes this story as a warning to those who improperly sacrificed cattle.51 Nonetheless, these allegories speak to a concern about killing cattle and using their products for human utility. But despite these moments of reflection on the suffering of cattle, it remains very likely that cattle were killed and eaten by Vedic people, including female cows. It is important to note that different rules would have applied to the ritual sacrifice of cows, bulls, and oxen, just as different laws apply to the different genders and ages of cattle in India today. The knowledge that Vedic people sacrificed and ate cattle is a source of much controversy in present-day India. The matter is so provocative that when University of Delhi professor D. N. Jha wrote The Myth of the Holy Cow in 2002, his publisher received death threats.52 Current Hindu political ideology from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalist groups promoting a return to Vedic values, which includes cattle protection, has become a point of controversy because it suggests a return to an imagined past that may never have existed. It also reveals how modern-day Hindu political identity is bound up in the cow as a symbol of a time before Buddhist, Jain, and then Muslim and Christian influence in Indian history. But historical evidence from texts, legal codes, and edicts from the late Vedic period of India’s history suggests that a cross-pollination of Jain, Buddhist, and Brahmin philosophy concerning belief in the sanctity of animal life was in a process of change during the late Vedic period. During this time of ideological ferment, the Brahmin belief in the inviolability of the cow evolved, and cattle protection as a defining feature of Hindu practice became widely adopted after the Vedic period.53 Buddhist writings reveal that the Buddha opposed animal sacrifice, although Buddhists, including Buddha, were permitted meat if offered it.54 Ashoka, India’s Buddhist emperor from 269 to 232 BCE, banned the sacrifice of animals at festive gatherings and exempted certain species of animal from slaughter. One of his edicts also claimed to make arrangements for the medical treatment of animals, but there is no mention of cattle specifically.55 Jain texts reveal that strict food taboos on meat were prevalent in Jain culture, and Jains had adopted a vegetarian diet before Brahmins.56 Although cattle were not yet inviolable, there is evidence that during this time period Brahmins were beginning to view cows as having a special status. Two main sources of Brahminical legal codes, Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra (290 BCE – 300 CE) and the Laws of Manu (600 BCE – 300 CE), provide some indication of the acceptable social customs related to cattle during the late Vedic period. The Laws of Manu is one of the most authoritative codes of Indian customs and laws of this time period and is fairly ambivalent on the treatment of cattle and food taboos. There are complex and contradictory laws pertaining to the eating of meat, and in places “killing for sacrifices is not killing.”57 In the Arthaśāstra, Kautilya metes out punishment to people who kill a cow or a calf or who steal cattle or even milk a cow twice a day,58 but in other places he is equivocal about killing cattle.59 Some scholars offer an alternate theory to the belief that cow sanctity evolved from the adoption of ahimsa, proposing that during this time Brahmins may have recognized cows as more valuable to people for the goods and services they provided while alive,60 and this “utilitarian conservationism” led to belief in the inviolability of 250

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the cow.61 Whatever the reason, by the fourth century CE, cow devotion and the taboo on beef had become part of the Brahmin moral code, and the belief in cattle protection would be further solidified by the invasion of Muslims and British rulers in subsequent centuries.62

Bovine Politics: Appropriation, Ahimsa, and Abuse Invasions by Muslim rulers began in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Moghul rule lasted until the British occupation of India. Under Muslim rule, cattle protection took on an even more important religious and political significance. “The Moslem invaders were eaters of beef and killers of cows, and thus the sanctity of the cow came to be regarded as a symbol of Hindu culture, a rallying point for Hindu resistance against the spread of Islam.”63 Muslims not only ate beef; they also practiced the ritual sacrifice of cattle and other animals, and both practices remain extremely sensitive issues between Hindus and Muslims in India today. At times cattle protection became a matter of diplomacy between Muslim rulers and their Hindu subjects. Rulers such as Babar banned the slaughter of cattle to gain the allegiance of Hindu subjects. “Avoid especially the sacrifice of the cow by which thou canst capture the hearts of the peoples of India,” Babar advised his son and successor Humayan.64 Not all Moghul rulers were as interested in pacifying their Hindu subjects, and the existence of early cow sanctuaries, especially in western India, is due in large part to Moghul rule of India.65 The connection between cow protection and Hindu orthodoxy would be further advanced by the rise of the cult of Krishna during India’s medieval period. India’s era of Moghul rule witnessed the rise of the Vaishnava movement, a bhakti (devotional) movement that evolved from a Brahmin scriptural lineage and to this day maintains a long history of cow protection. Followers of this sect of Hinduism worship Vishnu above all other gods. Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, is the particular focus of devotion as a charismatic, princely cattle herder who practiced govinda (cow devotion) in the Bhagavad Gita and as a great hero-warrior in the Mahabharata. He remains one of the most popular deities of the Hindu pantheon. The Vaishnava movement was started in the late 1400s by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1533), a revered religious ecstatic who promoted Krishna as the embodiment of universal love. In addition to focusing spiritual devotion upon Krishna above other gods, Chaitanya was a social reformer. He openly opposed the caste system through a philosophy of a universal doctrine open to all and led India’s first civil disobedience protests.66 Followers of Vaishnava principles are vegetarians and practice compassion toward all living creatures with a special emphasis on cattle. “Devotees of Krishna see an intrinsic value in [cows] as a blessed creature; and her virtue and usefulness are based on common sense, practical concerns – and because she is dear to Krishna.”67 Tending to cattle is much more than an occupation. Following Krishna’s example, the care of cattle is a spiritual pursuit, and a particular ethic is promoted by Vaishnava dairy farming practices, which includes not killing cattle and allowing calves to suckle from their mothers.68 The ethos of cattle protection that evolved under Muslim rule would play a key role in Hindu political expression during British rule of India through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. British rule strengthened cattle protection ideology among Hindus for several reasons. The British inclination to favor beef did not engender trust between orthodox Hindus, and beef-eating became further identified with conflicting cultures.69 Goshalas, cattle sanctuaries, became an important aspect of the cattle protection movement under British rule.70 Cattle protection efforts in general increased as an act of resistance to foreign rule and customs throughout India during this time with limited efficacy. The animal rights movement in Britain and the Americas was taking shape among Christians at the same moment in history, and some British patriots also became active participants in the cattle protection movement because the conditions of 251

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many cattle remained notably poor during colonial rule.71 The movement had limited success in improving cattle welfare, but as an ideology cow protection became a symbol that unified Hindus of different classes and castes and unified Hindus against both foreign rule and Muslims. British officials tried to resolve religious conflicts between Hindus and Muslims through the implementation of “zones of tradition.” These laws dictated that whatever a region’s cultural majority, those traditions would become law. Cattle sacrifice, an important point of contention between Hindus and Muslims, became formally legislated. But instead of quelling tension between Hindus and Muslims, zones of tradition only heightened tensions between groups by strengthening ties to cultural identities. To maintain one’s cultural identity, a person might have to move to a different zone, practice his or her tradition illegally, or change his or her religious tradition.72 The cattle protection movement helped appropriate cattle as a symbol of cultural and political identity for many Hindus and increased the territorialization of religious practice and eventually became a source of communal violence. Before the nineteenth century, people of both faiths identified more strongly with their caste or tribal identities than with the monolithic social groups of “Hindu” or “Muslim,” as we lackadaisically group people today.73 Despite evidence that cattle protection was likely not a feature of Vedic culture, during the late nineteenth century cattle protection was appropriated as a return to Vedic principles. When Dayanda Saraswati founded the Cow Protection Society in 1882, he helped establish cattle as an important, if not defining, feature of Hindu politics. Cow protection received more media coverage than even the Congress movement, which was established at roughly the same time, and was partially responsible for the communal tension the Congress party had to navigate at the end of the nineteenth century.74 The Congress movement eventually adopted the iconic image of the cow and calf as the symbol of its party.75 Tensions between Hindus and Muslims increased, and riots sparked by ritual Muslim cow sacrifice occurred with increasing frequency after 1882 – at times costing human lives – until partition.76 This is the political climate the young lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi faced in the years before partition. His position on cattle protection would further solidify the cow as a symbol of Hindu identity, though not in the manner he intended. Gandhi strongly advocated for cattle protection because he felt that the cow was an essential part of the nation’s agrarian roots and that agriculture would play an essential role in the future of India’s economic recovery. Even as late as 1942, Gandhi believed that the destinies of India and the cow were bound up together. “If she [the cow] dies, we also die along with her – we, i.e. our civilization, I mean our essentially non-violent and rural civilization . . . Our life is wrapped up with our animals.”77 He also believed that cattle protection could work within the principles of ahimsa and remain economically beneficial. In his own words Gandhi outlined his idea of cattle protection: “Cow protection . . . included cattle-breeding, improvement of the stock, humane treatment of bullocks, formation of model dairies, etc.”78 His vision of “enlightened management” worked to make a live cow more profitable than a dead one because cattle protection would succeed only if it were economically sustainable.79 At the same time cattle protection exemplified the notion of respect and nonviolence toward humans and nonhumans. When he wrote that “the cow represents all of dumb creation,”80 he alluded to his belief that the beautiful, gentle, mute, helpless, and benevolent cow should be given care and respect by humans and that the ethic cultivated by cattle protection would then extend to all other animals and the natural world. Gandhi had a nuanced perspective on the manner in which ahimsa was embodied through cow protection: (1) Violence toward Muslims undermines the principle of ahimsa, which cattle protection is founded upon. He stressed that cattle protection must proceed from friendship with Muslims. (2) The cruel treatment of cattle in India was a clear violation of ahimsa and led Gandhi to claim it was possible that cattle in India had the worst welfare in the world: “I do not know 252

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that the condition of the cattle in any other part of the world is so bad as in unhappy India. We may not blame the Englishman for this. We may not plead poverty in our defense. Criminal negligence is the only cause of the miserable condition for our cattle.”81 In addition to the slaughter of cattle, several other practices of cattle husbandry in India were particularly loathsome. First, the poor condition of bullocks (oxen) in India was worrisome. They suffered visibly when made to pull heavy loads without adequate food or comfort. Second, calves, especially male calves, were often starved. Third, the practice of phooka (also known as “blowing”) was markedly cruel. Phooka refers to the practice of inserting a hollow tube into the cow’s uterus during milking time and filling it with air. The air exerts pressure on the udder and pushes out the remaining drops of milk until blood starts to flow from the udder.82 These practices were severe enough to warrant the description of “criminal.” Fourth, the export of livestock to Australia and Europe, mainly for use in the leather industry, was another important violation of ahimsa remarked on by Gandhi. And finally, the poor management of goshalas became a concern. These cattle shelters were often located in cities without the space or finances to provide adequate care for the cattle in their charge.83 Gandhi set up goshalas at his ashrams, and these facilities utilized a mix of traditional and modern husbandry practices. These goshalas provided milk for the inhabitants of the ashram and sold surplus milk as a source of revenue. Some Gandhian goshalas also trained new farmers in dairy husbandry and management skills.84 Gandhi was clear in pointing out the hypocrisy inherent in the cow’s status as a political symbol if and when Hindus failed to do their utmost to practice nonviolence toward cattle. Though he made strong statements about improving the welfare of cows, he made it clear that cattle protection should never under any circumstance justify violence toward Muslims: “It is a denial of Hinduism and Ahimsa to kill a human being to protect a cow. Hindus are enjoined to protect the cow by their tapasya, by self-purification, by self-sacrifice. The present-day cow protection has degenerated into a perpetual feud with the Musalmans, whereas cow protection means conquering the Musalmans by our love.”85 Cattle protection necessarily included behaving with tolerance toward humans and treating Muslims with kindness and dignity as required by the philosophy of ahimsa. Gandhi also stated that cattle protection was not something that could be legally forced upon Muslims.86 Hindus should live the practice of cow protection so fully as to inspire their Muslim brethren to take up these same sentiments of their own free will. Unfortunately, Gandhi’s vision of cattle as a symbol of peace was never realized. Members of India’s new government overlooked Gandhi’s nuanced argument for cattle protection after partition. At this point the symbolic capital of cow protection had long been outside of Gandhi’s sphere of influence.87 Cattle protection was written into the constitution under Article 48. Directives set forth fundamental principles that were not legally enforceable but that states were strongly encouraged to follow.88 Directive 48 states, “The State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves and other milk and draught cattle.”89 Critics of the directive believed it would be a violation of a secular nation to include a law such as cattle protection that was religious in nature, and the law has become a source of cultural and legal contention. Several court cases have challenged subsequent state laws in India’s Supreme Court.90 As Gandhi predicted, legal protection of the cattle has not improved relations between Hindus and Muslims, nor has it improved cow welfare. After partition the government began a plan to improve milk production in India through the implementation of dairy development in what were called five-year plans (1951–56). The first five-year plan tried to address the matter of cow welfare with the introduction of a new type of cattle sanctuary, the gosadan – a state-sponsored facility to provide for the care of “old, infirm, or otherwise useless” cows. These camps offered an alternative to slaughter. Gosadans were set up 253

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in isolated forested areas where cattle would be free to forage without eating crops or possibly spreading diseases to other cattle. Gosadans housed cattle, sterilized them to prevent breeding, and pooled cattle in one place to maximize the products made from their dung and carcasses. Tanneries were located on premise, as Gandhi had advised, to help make the facilities profitable. Unfortunately, gosadans did not prove to be financially viable. One study reported that it cost up to three times more per animal at a gosadan than it cost per person for education.91 The failed state-sponsored gosadan scheme influenced the Supreme Court to favor cow protection laws that “allowed for the slaughter of useless cattle and allowed for the protection of useful ones,” with one notable exception. The court upheld the rights of all female common cattle, a policy that favors Hindu religious sentiment toward cows.92 These laws continue to provoke tension between Hindus and Muslims while remaining largely ineffective in improving cattle welfare. The laws banning cattle slaughter are some small victory for animal rights, but the existence of anti-slaughter legislation is far from winning the war for those who care deeply about cattle protection in India. Since the 1960s, ongoing five-year dairy development plans have helped increase India’s dairy cattle population, making India the world’s top dairy producer, but the government has failed to provide viable solutions for the high cost to farmers of allowing all cattle to live out their natural life spans. As a symbol of economic prosperity, cows see their welfare improved only if and when improvements increase their monetary utility.93 At the same time, the policies to “protect” cows, as a sacred symbol of Hindu identity, from slaughter have done far more to intimidate and discipline Muslim and low-caste Hindus into adopting high-caste Hindu customs and food taboos than they have done to improve the well-being of cattle.94 Even if a farmer does feel affection for his or her livestock, once a cow no longer brings in income to a family, there are generally three options: turn her loose to make her own way foraging on shrubs and refuse in the city, pay for her care in a goshala/pinjrapole, or sell her to a dealer where she will eventually be slaughtered. Without resources to care for cattle, it is inevitable that many cattle end up in the lucrative black-market slaughter industry.95 With little regulation or enforcement, legal rights do not ensure justice96 for many of India’s cattle. To someone outside the dairy, leather, or meat industries, the perception of the cow as a sacred symbol combined with the existence of anti-slaughter laws may contribute to the illusion that cattle are cared for and protected, which may contribute to the prevalence of cattle welfare problems remaining hidden in plain sight. Overwhelmingly, protection of so-called useless cattle remains in the hands of religious institutions that run goshalas and pinjrapoles or animal protection NGOs – all institutions that have finite resources and are unable to provide for the care of the millions of cattle in need. It is against this historical backdrop that current cattle protection efforts carry on today.

Beyond Symbolism: Contemporary Cattle Protection in India Even with the welfare challenges that cattle face in India, many Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs hold a real and deep affection for cattle. Many people enjoy having cattle living among them, even in cities. Kitchen scraps are regularly offered to cattle on sidewalks or when a cow passes by a house, and cattle have right of way on the roads and often dictate the flow and pace of traffic. Several festivals celebrate cattle and give thanks for the goods and services cows and bullocks provide for humans. The reverence and tolerance that many people feel for free-roaming cattle on city streets is real and is a feature of India. This attitude of tolerance makes India unique in the world. There are many people working toward cattle protection in India – more, arguably, than in any other country – and many other citizens feel a moral duty to donate money to cattle sanctuaries and NGOs working on behalf of cattle protection. Looking past the role of cattle as symbols of human identity and prosperity, the effort to confront the day-to-day realities of millions of cattle 254

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is a monumental challenge. There is no unified vision for the future of cattle protection in India but a multiplicity of philosophies and goals for the well-being of cattle in India’s future. The following section will outline the major efforts for cattle protection today. There are different aims for cattle protection based on the different values of the organizations working to protect cattle in India. Hindu, Jain, and Sikh religious organizations manage farms or sanctuaries for cattle and are based on a utilitarian protectionism. The utilitarian protectionist ethic operates under the philosophy that cattle can be used for human utility but not abused or killed – a “rights without liberation” ethic.97 This type of ethic will be described in more detail with a discussion of Hare Krishna cattle-keeping practices. Other NGOs working for cattle protection take two main philosophic positions: First, there is an “industrial animal-welfare science” ethic, a phrase I will use to describe the influence of Euro-American industrial cattle husbandry practices on India’s dairy cattle industry. An industrial animal-welfare science ethic will be explained further with a look at the goals of World Animal Protection, an NGO that works to improve the welfare of dairy cattle while at the same time working with farmers to maximize the productivity of their cattle. Second, there is an abolitionist animal rights ethic, promoted by organizations such as PETA, which advocates for the abolition of animals used for food and leather and the adoption of a vegan lifestyle. These are three ways of thinking about the underlying theories driving cattle protection in India today, but they are by no means the only moral principles at play, nor are they mutually exclusive. For example, Hindu and Jain organizations also may advocate for a vegan lifestyle from a Hindu perspective, and Hindu organizations may use practices from the industrial animal-welfare science perspective to improve the conditions for confined dairy cattle. Though not mutually exclusive perspectives, there are some conflicts between these ideologies, and at the moment there is no overarching goal across organizations for cattle protection efforts in India today. Hindu cattle protection efforts largely focus on dairy cattle at temples and farms or cattle sanctuaries that take in stray cattle. In addition to funding from religious donations, both types of organizations utilize cattle products to pay for the upkeep of cattle. An overview of the principles exemplified by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) followers (commonly referred to as Hare Krishnas) provides a useful understanding of the Hindu Vaishnava ethic, which many goshalas work to exemplify. Four principles of cattle protection are supposed to be observed by ISKCON members: (1) cows are never killed, (2) cows are milked by hand, (3) calves suckle directly from mothers, and (4) bulls are given meaningful work.98 Dairies and farms are usually adjacent to temples or are part of ashrams, and ISKCON members care for cattle as work, but work as a form of devotional practice. Other forms of Hindu, Jain, and Sikh cattle protection are seen in cow sanctuaries as well. Mentioned throughout this chapter, goshalas and pinjrapoles are places that take in abandoned and injured animals, and they have a centuries-long history in India in both Jain and Hindu culture. There are different types of cattle sanctuaries based on the organization running the sanctuary and the organization’s aims. Pinjrapoles traditionally have Jain origins and are animal hospitals that take in a variety of animals. A famous pinjrapole would be the Bird Hospital in Delhi, but other pinjrapoles take in all manner of animals, including cattle. One pinjrapole in Mysore, Karnataka, provides shelter and care for between two thousand and three thousand injured or abandoned cattle, illustrating that pinjrapoles can play an important role as cattle shelters.99 Goshalas are Hindu-run organizations that house cattle. There are different types of goshalas based on the goals of the organization sponsoring the sanctuary, but there are generally two types of goshalas: temple goshalas and “charity” goshalas. Temple goshalas keep cattle to provide dairy products for temple food and ceremonial purposes. Temple cow sanctuaries may or may not take in stray cattle. Vania goshalas, or “charity” goshalas, are funded by people in the merchant 255

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or shopkeeper castes who set up cow sanctuaries as a form of cow protection and dairy development. These goshalas may take in stray cattle (but not buffalo), or they may be centers of desi (native) cattle breeding or development. Temple goshalas that utilize dairy products generally embody a utilitarian protectionist ethos. But because temple goshalas are dairies, these facilities encounter the same problems of providing lifelong care for male cattle as the rest of the dairy industry, and some temple goshalas even play a role in the illegal trade in beef cattle.100 Other goshalas look for solutions to lifelong cattle protection through a mix of vegan protectionist practices and Gandhian ingenuity. A best-practices goshala in Haryana does not utilize cattle for dairy products but keeps the stray bulls and cows it shelters on separate farms to prevent the breeding of more cattle.101 Instead of raising funds through the production of dairy products, the sanctuary raises money through the sale of manure compost and a carefully monitored adoption program for healthy cows and bullocks. The matter of euthanasia may be one area of contention between a Euro-American conception of protection and a Hindu one. The Hindu belief in letting a cow die a natural death has at times been criticized as unnecessarily cruel from a secular protectionist point of view, which advocates for terminally ill animals to be euthanized.102 The matter of euthanasia shows that even among those who care deeply for cattle welfare, there are points of contention as to what constitutes ideal cattle protection practices. Efforts for cattle protection extend beyond goshalas to the NGO sector. Not-for-profit work is composed of a mix of national and international organizations. These organizations have different goals for cattle protection based on the values promoted by each organization, but they generally serve two main functions: (1) working directly with animals to treat medical problems and/or shelter cattle and (2) engaging in educational outreach. The Karuna Society for Animals and Nature103 and the Blue Cross104 are both organizations that strive to find solutions to cattle welfare through a mix of sheltering, education, and community projects. These organizations both exemplify a vegan animal protectionist ideal. Blue Cross advises people to give up leather and draft animal use, and the Karuna Society has a line of “ahimsa” products that are made without the exploitation of animals. Both work to solve animal abuse by adopting an animal rights model that extends beyond a Hindu utilitarian ethic and embodies a philosophy started with the Western animal rights movement that began in the 1990s with US and UK organizations such as PETA.105 The vegan animal rights ethic looks to strengthen connections between religious ideals, and ideas that align with animal rights – for example, the philosophy of ahimsa – but also envisions a world that exceeds religious dogma and works for a universal ideal of animal protection. Other organizations do not work to abolish the use of cattle, but work to improve the welfare of cattle through outreach programs to farmers. The Indian organization People for Animals takes a multipronged approach using a mix of animal shelters, veterinary care, and educational programs for schools, police officers, vets, policy makers, and farmers. People for Animals works to advance welfare practices toward cattle and other animals through an appeal to a Hindu utilitarian sensibility. The group’s pragmatic approach recognizes that humans cannot live without animals and advances the “partnership between [humans and animals] and further[s] it for the good of all animals – both on two legs and four.”106 The international NGO World Animal Protection also works with farmers and authorities to “develop sustainable and humane agriculture practices for high welfare milk production.”107 Good-quality feeding, a high level of care, and genetics appropriate to the local environment, which may include European breeds such as Holstein Friesians, are some of the objectives promoted by the group’s best-practices dairy, which produces six times the national average of milk.108 These examples illustrate that there are a range of approaches to cattle protection in India today. A Hindu utilitarian ethic and an industrial animal-welfare science ethic are compatible in some instances. Other organizations advocate for 256

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the abolition of animal products and labor and see an animal rights protectionist ethic as the best way to keep cattle from harm. The problems with cattle protection in India are emblematic of animal-protection problems faced elsewhere in the world. Like the animal protection movement in other places in the world, the cattle protection movement in India is composed of diverse actors and differing ideologies. Also like other places in the world, the issue of livestock abuse is connected to other issues of social justice in the slaughter industry. In the Global North the slaughter of livestock is bound up with cheap and vulnerable populations of laborers, such as migrant and undocumented labor.109 In India the situation also involves minority groups who are made vulnerable because anti-slaughter laws are difficult to uphold. Many of India’s citizens do not hold the same values as lawmakers, and demand for the slaughter of cattle is greater than the government’s ability (or inclination) to enforce it.110 Despite the best efforts of those working in the cattle protection movement, there is a danger that cattle protection efforts could be used for Hindu nationalist ends, which at face value have been more successful at promoting intolerance toward Muslims than at improving the welfare of cattle.111 The long-held symbolism of cattle as sacred animals has contributed to the practice of govinda by certain Hindus and many anti-slaughter laws, but bridging the ideology of cattle protection with the realities of millions of cattle and people who make their livelihoods profiting from cattle products makes achieving the goals of cattle protection a significant challenge. Despite the hurdles to cattle protection in India, the affection and familiarity many people have for cattle may provide more hope for the efficacy of the cattle protection movement than elsewhere in the world, where fewer people see cattle or feel a social responsibility toward them.

In Conclusion Perhaps more than any other animal, cattle have helped shape the livelihoods and histories of the Indian people. The saying that there are 330 million gods inhabiting every atom of a cow speaks to the supreme importance cattle have had to Hindu culture and human flourishing for centuries. The enduring deity Kamadhenu, “the wish fulfilling cow,” is another symbol of the cow as a source of material and economic utility to humans. Cattle remain important to the livelihoods of millions of people in India today, which is one reason cattle protection remains a politically fraught issue. At times cattle have come to mean more as symbols of human identity and economic utility than as creatures deserving of great compassion because of their vulnerability and silence.112 This is a significant challenge to the cattle protection movement because cattle are often victims of discordant economic and legal policies, despite many dedicated people working to improve their welfare. With cows serving as creatures of symbolism and sustenance in India, perhaps the metaphor of the cow as mother, gomata, is the most apt. She is an entity of supreme generosity, patience, and forbearance, giving much while receiving little in return.

Notes 1 Ajay Modi, “Buffalo Meat Exports Are Thriving under Modi Government but Worries Remain,” Business Today, April 12, 2015, accessed April 24, 2015, 2 P. K. Krishnakumar, “We Can’t Kill Cows, but Globally Lead in Beef Exports,” Economic Times, April 23, 2015, accessed April 25, 2015, we-cant-kill-cows-but-globally-lead-in-beef-exports/articleshow/47020416.cms. 3 Erica Fudge, “What Is It Like to Be a Cow?,” The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, ed. Linda Kalof (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming), doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199927142.013.28.


Kelsi Nagy 4 Drew DeSilver, “World’s Muslim Population More Widespread Than You Might Think,” Pew Research Center, June 7, 2013, accessed April 7, 2015, worlds-muslim-population-more-widespread-than-you-might-think/. 5 Ramnarayan S. Rawat, Reconsidering Untouchability: Chamars and Dalit History in North India (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2011); Paul Robbins, “Meat Matters: Cultural Politics along the Commodity Chain in India,” Cultural Geographies 6, no. 4 (1999): 399–423. 6 Andrea Wiley, “Milk for ‘Growth’: Global and Local Meanings of Milk Consumption in China, India, and the United States,” Food and Foodways 19, no. 1 (2011): 14. 7 Bruce Scholten, India’s White Revolution: Operation Flood, Food Aid, and Development (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2010). 8 Jyotika Sood, “New Milky Way,” Down to Earth: Science and Environment Online, February 15, 2014, accessed April 7, 2015, 9 Marvin Harris, Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture (New York. NY: Vintage Books), 11–32. 10 Paul Diener, Donald Nonini, and Eugene E. Robkin, “The Dialectics of the Sacred Cow: Ecological Adaptation versus Political Appropriation in the Origins of India’s Cattle Complex,” Dialectical Anthropology 3, no. 3 (1978): 221–41; Stanley A. Freed et al., “Sacred Cows and Water Buffalo in India: The Uses of Ethnography,” Current Anthropology 22, no. 5 (1981): 483–502. 11 Marvin Harris, “The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle,” Current Anthropology 7, no. 1 (1966): 51–66. 12 Kumal Vohra, dir., The Plastic Cow (New Delhi: Altair Films, 2012), 13 Yamini Narayanan, “Criminalising Beef, Not Dairy,” Hindu Center for Politics and Public Policy, March 12, 2015, accessed March 15, 2015, 14 Government of India, “19th Livestock Census – 2012 All India Report,” accessed April 15, 2015, http:// 15 Scholten, India’s White Revolution. 16 R. E. McDowell, J. C. Wilk, and C. W. Talbott, “Economic Viability of Crosses of Bos taurus and Bos indicus for Dairying in Warm Climates,” Journal of Dairy Science 79, no. 7 (1996): 1212–303. 17 P. Sainath, “Very Few Specimens – But a Lot of Bull,” in Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India’s Poorest Districts (New York: Penguin, 2000), Kindle loc. 218–89; Jay Mazoomdaar, “The Desi Cow Almost Extinct,” Tehelka, February 2, 2013, accessed April 15, 2015, the-desi-cow-almost-extinct/?singlepage=1. 18 Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, “Main Features of Legislation Enacted by the States/UTs on Cow Slaughter,” Annex 11 (8), Paragraph 17.4 (Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries), accessed April 20, 2015, 19 Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, accessed April 20, 2015, 20 Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History (New York: Penguin Press, 2009), 658. 21 Robbins, “Meat Matters,” 409. 22 Anusha Narain, “What’s Behind That Glass of Milk?,” The Hindu, May 4, 2013, accessed April 25, 2015, 23 Samiparna Samanta, “Calcutta Slaughterhouse: Colonial and Post-Colonial Experiences,” Economic and Political Weekly 41, no. 20 (2006): 1999–2007; B. K. Sharma and Shailja Sharma, “The Treatment of Animals in India,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. Andrew Linzey (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), 32–35. 24 Sophie Gregar (international project development for the nonprofit Animal’s Angels), in discussion with the author, January 18, 2015. 25 Sharma and Sharma, “The Treatment of Animals in India,” 34. 26 Sharma and Sharma, “The Treatment of Animals in India,” 34. 27 Sharma and Sharma, “The Treatment of Animals in India,” 34. 28 Samanta, “Calcutta Slaughterhouse.” 29 Sena Desai Gopal, “Selling the Sacred Cow: India’s Contentious Beef Industry,” Atlantic, February 12, 2015, accessed April 7, 2015, 30 Sukhbir Siwach, “Haryana Makes Sale of Beef a Non-Bailable Offence,” Times of India, March 15, 2015, accessed April 23, 2015,


The Sacred and Mundane Cow 31 Neha Thirani Bagri, “Indian State Bans Possession and Sale of Beef,” New York Times, March 3, 2015, accessed April 23, 2015, 32 Yamini Narayanan, “Criminalising Beef, Not Dairy.” 33 Anthony Parel, “The Political Symbolism of the Cow in India,” Journal of Commonwealth Studies 7, no. 3 (1969): 180. 34 Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (New York: Continuum, 2010). 35 Deryck O. Lodrick, “Symbol and Sustenance: Cattle in South Asian Culture,” Dialectical Anthropology 29 (2005): 61. 36 Frank J. Korom, “Holy Cow! The Apotheosis of Zebu, or Why the Cow Is Sacred in Hinduism,” Asian Folklore Studies 59 (2000): 193–195. 37 Deryck O. Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places: Origins and Survivals of Animal Homes in India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 49. 38 D. N. Jha states, “The term gau, meaning cow, in different declensions occurs 176 times . . . and, the total number of occurances of cattle related terms in the text could be around 700.” The Myth of the Holy Cow (London: Verso, 2002), 28. 39 Jha, Myth of the Holy Cow, 28. 40 Lodrick, “Symbol and Sustenance,” 67. 41 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 52–53. 42 Lodrick, “Symbol and Sustenance,” 68. 43 Jha, Myth of the Holy Cow, 30. 44 Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 40–49. 45 Jha, Myth of the Holy Cow, 28. 46 Doniger, The Hindus, 149–50. 47 Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism, 40–41; Korom, “Holy Cow! The Apotheosis of Zebu,” 187. 48 In 2014, Doniger’s book Hindus: An Alternative History was banned in India. 49 Wendy Doniger (distinguished professor of history of religions, University of Chicago School of Divinity), in discussion with the author, November 19, 2013; Doniger, The Hindus, 147. 50 Doniger, The Hindus, 149–50. 51 Doniger, The Hindus, 149–50. 52 Lucian W. Pye, “The Myth of the Holy Cow” (review), Foreign Affairs, November–December 2002, accessed May 5, 2015, 53 Ludwig Alsdorf, The History of Vegetarianism and Cow Veneration in India, trans. Bal Patil (London: Routledge, 2010), 4. 54 Alsdorf, History of Vegetarianism, 61–64. 55 Jha, Myth of the Holy Cow, 65–66. 56 Alsdorf, History of Vegetarianism. 57 Alsdorf, History of Vegetarianism, 20. 58 M. K. Sridhar and P. Bilimoria, “Animal Ethics and Ecology in Classical India: Reflections on Moral Tradition,” in Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges, ed. P. Bilimoria, J. Prabhu, and R. Sharma (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 310. 59 Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 181. 60 Harris, “Cultural Ecology.” 61 Korom, “Holy Cow! The Apotheosis of Zebu,” 182. 62 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 155. 63 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 64. 64 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 64. 65 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 64–65. 66 Steven J. Rosen, Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights (New York: Lantern Books, 2004), 5. 67 Rosen, Holy Cow, 36. 68 Anna S. King, “Krishna’s Cows: ISKCON’s Animal Theology Practice,” Journal of Animal Ethics 2, no. 2 (2012): 188. 69 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 70. 70 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 69.


Kelsi Nagy 71 Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 195; Katherine Mayo, Mother India (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1927); Janet M. Davis, “Propagating the Gospel of Animal Kindness: Sacred Cows, Christians, and American Animal Welfare Activism with Reference to India at the Turn of the Century,” in Speaking Truth to Power: Religion, Caste, and the Subaltern Question in India, ed. Ghagavan Manu (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008). 72 Reece Jones, “Sacred Cows and the Thumping of Drums: Claiming Territory as ‘Zones of Tradition’ in British India,” Area 39, no. 1 (2007): 55–65. 73 Jones, “Sacred Cows,” 57; Peter Gottschalk, Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 74 Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 184. 75 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 70. 76 Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 183–84; Partha Chatterjee, “Agrarian Relations and Communalism in Bengal, 1920–1935,” in Subaltern Studies: I, ed. Ranajit Guha (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981). 77 Quoted in Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 186. 78 Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, trans. Mahadev Desai (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948), 521. 79 Florence Burgat, “Non-Violence towards Animals in the Thinking of Gandhi: The Problem of Animal Husbandry,” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 14 (2004): 240. 80 M. K. Gandhi, ed., Young India 1919–1931 in Thirteen Volumes, Vol. III: 1921 (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House for New Order Book, 1981), 36. 81 Mahatma Gandhi, “Talk to Villagers,” Harijan, September 1, 1940. 82 Phooka was made a criminal offence in 1960 under chapter 3, section 12, of India’s Animal Protection Act. A farmer could be punished with a 1,000-rupee fine and up to two years in prison if found guilty of the crime, and the government would take ownership of the cow. awbi01.html. 83 Burgat, “Non-Violence towards Animals,” 235–37. 84 Lodrick, Sacred Cows, Sacred Places, 25–26. 85 Gandhi, Young India, 36. 86 Gandhi, Young India, 36. 87 Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 185–86. 88 Frederick J. Simoons, “The Sacred Cow and the Constitution of India,” in Food, Ecology, and Culture: Readings in the Anthropology of Dietary Practices, ed. John R. K. Robson (New York: Gordeon and Breach, 1980), 119–33. 89 Simoons, “The Sacred Cow and the Constitution of India,” 119–33. 90 Simoons, “The Sacred Cow and the Constitution of India,” 119–33. 91 Simoons, “The Sacred Cow and the Constitution of India,” 126. 92 Simoons, “The Sacred Cow and the Constitution of India,” 126. 93 Burgat, “Non-Violence towards Animals,” 239. 94 Shaddha Chigateri, “‘Glory to the Cow’: Cultural Difference and Social Justice in the Food Hierarchy in India,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 31, no. 1 (2008): 10–35. 95 Kamala Kelkar, “The Short, Unhappy Life of a Cow in India,” Voactiv, April 29, 2014, accessed May 6, 2015, 96 Cary Wolfe, Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012). 97 Alasdair Cochrane, Animal Rights without Liberation: Applied Ethics and Human Obligations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012). 98 King, “Krishna’s Cows,” 188. 99 Shwetha Halambi, “Pinjrapole, A Silent Service,” Pen Folio (blog), February 18, 2009, accessed April 25, 2015, 100 Yamini Narayanan, “Animals and Urban Informality in Sacred Spaces: Bull-Calf Trafficking in Simhachalam Temple, Vishakapatnam” (forthcoming). 101 Vishnu Charitable Trust, accessed April 29, 2015, 102 Wayne Pacelle, “Protecting Animals in India No Small Task,” A Humane Nation: Wayne Pacelle’s Blog, November 26, 2012, accessed April 29, 2015, protecting-animals-in-india-no-small-task.html. 103 Karuna Society, 104 Blue Cross of India,


The Sacred and Mundane Cow 105 PETA India, 106 People for Animals, “Chairperson’s Message,” php. 107 World Animal Protection, “Protecting Dairy Cows and Buffalo in India,” www.worldanimalprotection. 108 World Animal Protection, “Protecting Dairy Cows and Buffalo in India.” 109 Timothy Pachirat, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011). 110 Parel, “Political Symbolism,” 191. 111 Davis, “Propagating the Gospel of Animal Kindness.” 112 Burgat, “Non-Violence towards Animals,” 226.

References Adams, Carol J. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. New York: Continuum, 2010. Alsdorf, Ludwig. The History of Vegetarianism and Cow Veneration in India. Translated by Bal Patil. London: Routledge, 2010. Bagri, Neha Thirani. “Indian State Bans Possession and Sale of Beef.” New York Times, March 3, 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015. Blue Cross of India. Burgat, Florence. “Non-Violence towards Animals in the Thinking of Gandhi: The Problem of Animal Husbandry.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 14 (2004): 223–48. Chatterjee, Partha. “Agrarian Relations and Communalism in Bengal, 1920–1935.” In Subaltern Studies: I, edited by Ranajit Guha. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981. Chigateri, Shaddha. “‘Glory to the Cow’: Cultural Difference and Social Justice in the Food Hierarchy in India.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 31, no. 1 (2008): 10–35. Cochrane, Alasdair. Animal Rights without Liberation: Applied Ethics and Human Obligations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Davis, Janet M. “Propagating the Gospel of Animal Kindness: Sacred Cows, Christians, and American Animal Welfare Activism with Reference to India at the Turn of the Century.” In Speaking Truth to Power: Religion, Caste, and the Subaltern Question in India, edited by Ghagavan Manu. New Delhi: Oxford University Press: 2008. DeSilver, Drew. “World’s Muslim Population More Widespread Than You Might Think.” Pew Research Center. June 7, 2013. Accessed April 7, 2015. Diener, Paul, Donald Nonini, and Eugene E. Robkin. “The Dialectics of the Sacred Cow: Ecological Adaptation versus Political Appropriation in the Origins of India’s Cattle Complex.” Dialectical Anthropology 3, no. 3 (1978): 221–41. Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Penguin Press, 2009. Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Freed, Stanley A., et al. “Sacred Cows and Water Buffalo in India: The Uses of Ethnography.” Current Anthropology 22, no. 5 (1981): 483–502. Fudge, Erica. “What Is It Like to Be a Cow?” The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, edited by Linda Kalof. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming. Gandhi, Mahatma. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Translated by Mahadev Desai. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948. Gandhi, Mahatma. “Talk to Villagers.” Harijan, September 1, 1940. Gandhi, M. K., ed. Young India 1919–1931 in Thirteen Volumes, Vol. III: 1921. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House for New Order Book, 1981. Gopal, Sena Desai. “Selling the Sacred Cow: India’s Contentious Beef Industry.” Atlantic, February 12, 2015. Accessed April 7, 2015. Gottschalk, Peter. Religion, Science, and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.


Kelsi Nagy Government of India. “19th Livestock Census – 2012 All India Report.” Accessed April 15, 2015. http:// Halambi, Shwetha. “Pinjrapole, A Silent Service.” Pen Folio (blog), February 18, 2009. Accessed April 25, 2015. Harris, Marvin. Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture. New York, NY: Vintage Books. Harris, Marvin. “The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle.” Current Anthropology 7, no. 1 (1966): 51–66. Jha, D. N. The Myth of the Holy Cow. London: Verso, 2002. Jones, Reece. “Sacred Cows and the Thumping of Drums: Claiming Territory as ‘Zones of Tradition’ in British India.” Area 39, no. 1 (2007): 55–65. Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964. Accessed April 20, 2015. http:// . Karuna Society. Kelkar, Kamala. “The Short, Unhappy Life of a Cow in India.” Voactiv, April 29, 2014. Accessed May 6, 2015. King, Anna S. “Krishna’s Cows: ISKCON’s Animal Theology Practice.” Journal of Animal Ethics 2, no. 2 (2012): 179–204. Korom, Frank J. “Holy Cow! The Apotheosis of Zebu, or Why the Cow Is Sacred in Hinduism.” Asian Folklore Studies 59 (2000): 181–203. Krishnakumar, P. K. “We Can’t Kill Cows, but Globally Lead in Beef Exports.” Economic Times, April 23, 2015. Accessed April 25, 2015. we-cant-kill-cows-but-globally-lead-in-beef-exports/articleshow/47020416.cms. Lodrick, Deryck O. Sacred Cows, Sacred Places: Origins and Survivals of Animal Homes in India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. Lodrick, Deryck O. “Symbol and Sustenance: Cattle in South Asian Culture.” Dialectical Anthropology 29 (2005): 61–84. Mayo, Katherine. Mother India. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1927. Mazoomdaar, Jay. “The Desi Cow Almost Extinct.” Tehelka, February 2, 2013. Accessed April 15, 2015. McDowell, R. E., J. C. Wilk, and C. W. Talbott. “Economic Viability of Crosses of Bos taurus and Bos indicus for Dairying in Warm Climates.” Journal of Dairy Science 79, no. 7 (1996): 1212–1303. Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. “Main Features of Legislation Enacted by the States/UTs on Cow Slaughter.” Annex II (8), Paragraph 17.4. Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries. Accessed April 20, 2015. Modi, Ajay. “Buffalo Meat Exports Are Thriving under Modi Government but Worries Remain.” Business Today, April 12, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2015. Narain, Anusha. “What’s Behind That Glass of Milk?” The Hindu, May 4, 2013. Accessed April 25, 2015. Narayanan, Yamini. “Animals and Urban Informality in Sacred Spaces: Bull-Calf Trafficking in Simhachalam Temple, Vishakapatnam,” forthcoming. Narayanan, Yamini. “Criminalising Beef, Not Dairy.” Hindu Center for Politics and Public Policy, March 12, 2015. Accessed March 15, 2015. Pacelle, Wayne. “Protecting Animals in India No Small Task.” A Humane Nation: Wayne Pacelle’s Blog, November 26, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2015. protecting-animals-in-india-no-small-task.html. Parel, Anthony. “The Political Symbolism of the Cow in India.” Journal of Commonwealth Studies 7, no. 3 (1969): 180. Pachirat, Timothy. Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. People for Animals. “Chairperson’s Message.” PETA India. Pye, Lucian W. “The Myth of the Holy Cow” (review), Foreign Affairs, November–December 2002. Accessed May 5, 2015. Rawat, Ramnarayan S. Reconsidering Untouchability: Chamars and Dalit History in North India. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2011. Robbins, Paul. “Meat Matters: Cultural Politics along the Commodity Chain in India.” Cultural Geographies 6, no. 4 (1999): 399–423.


The Sacred and Mundane Cow Rosen, Steven J. Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights. New York: Lantern Books, 2004. Sainath, P. “Very Few Specimens – But a Lot of Bull.” In Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India’s Poorest Districts. New York: Penguin, 2000. Kindle edition. Samanta, Samiparna. “Calcutta Slaughterhouse: Colonial and Post-Colonial Experiences.” Economic and Political Weekly 41, no. 20 (2006): 1999–2007. Scholten, Bruce. India’s White Revolution: Operation Flood, Food Aid and Development. London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2010. Sharma, B. K., and Shailja Sharma. “The Treatment of Animals in India.” In The Global Guide to Animal Protection, edited by Andrew Linzey. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013. Simoons, Frederick J. “The Sacred Cow and the Constitution of India.” In Food, Ecology, and Culture: Readings in the Anthropology of Dietary Practices, edited by John R. K. Robson. New York: Gordeon and Breach, 1980. Siwach, Sukhbir. “Haryana Makes Sale of Beef a Non-Bailable Offence.” Times of India, March 15, 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015. Sood, Jyotika. “New Milky Way.” Down to Earth: Science and Environment Online, February 15, 2014. Accessed April 7, 2015. Sridhar, M. K., and P. Bilimoria. “Animal Ethics and Ecology in Classical India: Reflections on Moral Tradition.” In Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges, edited by P. Bilimoria, J. Prabhu, and R. Sharma. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. Vishnu Charitable Trust. Accessed April 29, 2015. Vohra, Kumal, dir. The Plastic Cow. New Delhi: Altair Films, 2012. Wiley, Andrea. “Milk for ‘Growth’: Global and Local Meanings of Milk Consumption in China, India, and the United States.” Food and Foodways 19, no. 1 (2011): 11–33. Wolfe, Cary. Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. World Animal Protection. “World Animal Protection, “Protecting Dairy Cows and Buffalo in India.” www.


25 EXPOSING THE HARM IN EUTHANASIA Ahimsa and an Alternative View on Animal Welfare as Expressed in the Beliefs and Practices of the Skanda Vale Ashram, West Wales Samantha Hurn

The Skanda Vale ashram, also known as the Community of the Many Names of God (CMNG, henceforth “the community”), is a multifaith, multispecies community based in west Wales. The ashram is ostensibly Hindu,1 but the monks and nuns also take vows of the Franciscan