Caring for Animals
I’m writing to respond to Sigve Tonstad’s article, “Ecology, Ethics, and Ecumenism” (July 10, 2014).
It is about time we included in our health message mercy to animals as a reason for vegetarianism. In our health magazines, we list many reasons for being vegetarians that benefit our health, quite forgetting about those poor animals and what they go through as an important reason to abstain from flesh eating. How it must sadden the heart of our Lord to see us treat His creation in such an inhumane way. Organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and other animal advocacy groups publish much in their literature about taking care of God’s creation. It is time we join them.
I am thankful for the attention Tonstad gave to Ellen White’s statements regarding human cruelty to nonhuman creatures. This was one of the reasons she gave for giving up meat to her friends W. H. and Harriet Maxson in 1896. Ellen White told them that she felt “ashamed and distressed,” that by eating meat she had contributed to animal cruelty.
I was disappointed to see that the Review editors chose to place this article on the very last page of the issue, instead of putting it in a more prominent spot.
Sigve Tonstad’s premise that we should promote vegetarianism on the basis of animal rights sounds reasonable at first, but the implications of such a philosophy are problematic.
It is obviously true that animals will not be killed in heaven or on the new earth. And most Christians would support the idea that we are to use our power over animals wisely and kindly. However, the author neglects to realize just how much animal death occurs because of the choices humans make, even vegetarians. Urban sprawl, and its resulting destruction of animal habitats, the use of oil to fuel our vehicles and produce countless material items, and the pollution caused by human lifestyles have no doubt led to deaths of animals that are at least comparable to the deaths of animals because of meat eating.
As Adventists, we cannot say that we are not part of many of these activities, even if we are vegetarians. If you follow the author’s thesis, all animals are worthy of life, not just domestic, farm animals (which have been bred for thousands of years for the sole purpose of providing meat, milk, and eggs; they cannot just be set free to live in the wild).
On a more local level, animal products are found in the most strictly vegetarian church on any given Sabbath in the form of leather-covered Bibles, shoes, purses, and so on.
North Americans definitely eat too much meat, and I am not saying that vegetarianism is a bad choice to make, either for health or ethical reasons. But our church should stick to promoting vegetarianism as a health principle and avoid venturing into the territory of associating it with animal rights. If we go down that path, we have to follow it to its full conclusion and not just focus on one element of animal rights.
I daresay that in other aspects of this issue, we can’t say we’ve done so well. After all, how many polluting airplane flights do our leaders make each year? I don’t say this to criticize, just to point out how much animals have been affected by our sinful world and the human activities in it. In many respects, we’ll have to wait for the new earth to go back to the Eden model.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Light and Dark
I appreciate very much the online version of Adventist Review. I do take issue with Delbert Baker’s reference to Barbara Brown Taylor, whose quote he used wherein she wrote, “I need darkness as much as I need light.” She also wrote, “But here’s the thing about that cloud of unknowing, which even the saints take on trust: it’s not there to get through, like a test or a fever. It is God’s home. It is the place where God dwells.” This quote is taken from a sermon she gave at the 2014 Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis in May.
I cannot and will not buy this concept. I will stick with God being a God of light and living in the light. Why do we persist in giving credence to those who, in this case preach “darkness?” What have we done with the message of Isaiah 8:20? Is that no longer valid instruction?
I understand all of us have dark “moments.” But are we to live there, believing that God makes His home there?
College Place, Washington
Catching up on back issues of the Review, we noted with regret Thomas Geraty’s obituary (Jun. 19, 2014). The Geratys—Tom and Hazel—stand tall among the honor guard of distinguished Seventh-day Adventist educators.
We were privileged to be their colleagues during their years at Andrews University. We saw first-hand how their lives influenced their students: she in the elementary school, he in the university. Now they both rest from their labors, but their exemplary works follow them.
and Marilyn Bauer
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Modesty for All
Thank you for Laura Sámano’s article “Modesty: A Thing of the Past?” (Jun. 12, 2014). It is refreshing to have the topic in print and expanded.
An important question to ask is, “Whom do I want to please?” When the answer is our heavenly Father, modesty will follow a higher standard in behavior, appearance, conversation, and dress, whether for church, home, or work.
Thank you for the issue “My Heart Is Stirred by a Noble Theme” (Apr. 24, 2014), highlighting poetry by and for readers. I enjoyed the contributions by the various talented members of the remnant.
Berrien Springs, Michigan