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For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action Paperback – October 4, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


Should Christians eat meat, hunt, or have pets? Does a consistent pro-life conviction require recognizing the moral life of non-human animals? Catholic bioethicist Camosy (Peter Singer and Christian Ethics) convincingly argues that the Bible, Christian tradition, and Catholic social doctrine all require these questions to be addressed seriously and thoroughly. Camosy is fully aware that his thesis is a hard sell. Discussion questions and suggestions for further reading make this an excellent primer for a group discussion that begins in Genesis and concludes with Michael Vick's dogfighting conviction. Some readers may stumble over Camosy's accusation of "speciesism" or his foray into treatises on angels and extraterrestrials to explain why humans are not the only rational beings capable of moral reasoning, but those who persevere will be rewarded with fine definitions of justice; complex, applicable explanations of "cooperation with evil" (especially in the context of factory farming); and a serious, well-argued challenge to baser market forces that make an idol of utilitarianism. Justice for animals must be part of a consistent ethic of life, Camosy concludes, giving readers grave second thoughts about the next order of McNuggets. —Publishers Weekly

Charles Camosy, a professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, has written a provocative little book entitled For Love of Animals that challenges Catholics to consider not only what we eat but also how we relate to animals in light of Christian tradition. His concern is that we have become ethical slouches....Drawing on Scripture, the Church’s teaching regarding creation, and recent papal statements—especially Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate—Camosy concludes that a consistent Christian principle of justice leads to vegetarianism, cessation of factory farming, hunting and using animals for research, as well as reconsidering how we relate to pets.

....[T]his book achieves something important: it offers Catholics a chance to reflect on what we eat, how we relate to God’s creation and ultimately who we are. —Scott Kline, The Christian Herald, Toronto

Every once in a while, a book comes along that does something few books ever do, which is to change something fundamental about the way you live your life. For some people reading these words, theologian Charles Camosy’s For Love of Animals will be that book.

And for good reason: its subject—the rights and wrongs of our modern treatment of animals, especially (though not only) mammals, and especially (though not only) the creatures of factory farms—is simultaneously morally urgent and widely ignored by many people, including and inexplicably by many well-meaning but hitherto under-informed Christians.

Dr. Camosy has now remedied that defect with this lively, thoughtful, and original book. It ranges widely but with a teacherly touch over subjects as diverse as the history of Christian vegetarianism; papal and other pronouncements about creation; the development of Christian theology concerning nonhuman persons, such as angels; the morality of dogfighting; the relevance of laws against child labor; the question of pets; the truth about factory farming; and much more. Throughout, the author convinces the reader both that our culture’s treatment of defenseless creatures is morally indefensible much of the time; and also that “those of us who follow Jesus Christ,” in particular, “should give animals special moral consideration and attention.”

It is rampant and unexamined Western consumerism, more than anything else, that “disconnects[s] us from the process by which pig meat gets on our plate.” I would add to that analysis the friendly amendment that this same consumerism encourages the formation of a habit that is suspect wherever and whenever it appears, but that chronically gets a pass where animals are involved: that is, a practiced desire to remain ignorant of those things about which we wish not to know.It would be gratifying if the book were also to start a serious discussion in Christian religious quarters. One wonders, for example, whether vegetarianism for some believers might be a unique “sign of contradiction” in its own right—particularly in a time of relative plenty marked by rampant consumerism, and particularly given what Pope John Paul II decried as an accompanying “culture of death.” Wanton cruelty to animals, of the sort that is now pitiably routine, is arguably part and parcel of that same culture, and it further deadens the general moral sense at a time when it’s arguably needed most. As a vegetarian named Leo Tolstoy once put it, in a powerful 1909 essay that he wrote about a slaughterhouse: “[W]e cannot pretend that we do not know this. We are not ostriches, and cannot believe that if we refuse to look at what we do not wish to see, it will not exist.”

The community of people now struggling to understand as much, and to do right by creatures both great and small, is in the process of constructing a wholly new big tent. Thanks to Camosy’s welcome contribution, it just got noticeably bigger. —from the Foreword, Mary Eberstadt, Senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, DC, August 2013

About the Author

Charles Camosy is an assistant professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University. He holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, and has a particular interest in the fields of bioethics, healthcare and clinical ethics, moral anthropology, and Catholic social teaching, among other areas. His early work focused on medical and clinical ethics with regard to stem cell research and the treatment of critically ill newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit, which was the focus of his first book, Too Expensive to Treat? Finitude, Tragedy, and the Neonatal ICU, awarded second place in the Social Issues category by the Catholic Press Association. His second book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, uses intellectual solidarity in an attempt to begin a sustained and fruitful conversation between Peter Singer and Christian ethics. Camosy also convenes the bioethics section for the Catholic Theological Society of America and the ethics section for the College Theology Society.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Franciscan Media; 1 edition (October 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616366621
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616366629
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If killing prenatal children is unjust, reasons Charles Camosy, then so is torturing nonhuman animals. Comosy, an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University, sees both practices as a violation of the rights of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized, the populations favored again and again by Christ. In the opening pages of For Love of Animals, the author defines Christian justice as working consistently and actively to ensure that individuals and groups are given what they are owed.

Camosy emphasizes that though he writes as a Catholic/Christian, those of different traditions with an interest in ethical living will find his ideas thought provoking. The moral principles he cites include:
* All that is created by God is good.
* Nonhuman animals are created by God as companions, not food, for humans.

In the first six chapters, Camosy lays out the foundation for his conclusions, addressing the call to reform injustice in both our personal lives and our culture. He frequently admits that these are hard lessons for most of us, and the first step is to begin thinking seriously about the issues in light of our own lives. He gives a personal example: It took him six years after accepting the arguments made in this book to make the commitment to give up eating meat.

Chapter seven contains stark information on factory farming. In addition to the impact on animals, Camosy outlines effects of factory farming on humans such as ecological devastation, economic inefficiency, destruction of rural communities; heart disease and cancer; drug resistant bacteria and bird flu; and treatment of immigrant workers. Chapter 8 presents issues to consider when deciding whether to eat meat and offers alternatives to factory-farm products.
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Format: Paperback

... [go to link for intro]

As this first Advent of Francis' papacy is upon us, I would like to suggest a book for this time of preparation and contemplation that honors the spirit of our new Pope: For Love of Animals, by Fordham theology professor and Christian ethicist Charles Camosy. The book examines the faith basis of concerns for animals and puts together an expertly-crafted argument that ties concern for animals to the longstanding Christian preferential option for the unconsidered and reviled in our communities.

And in a particularly fortuitous although not surprising twist, the book is published by Franciscan Media.

Although important and noteworthy that Pope Francis' first homily was so overtly pro-creation and pro-animal, Prof. Camosy reminds us that the sentiments expressed by His Holiness go back in our tradition to the time of the Hebrew Scriptures, from the Garden of Eden which was peacefully vegetarian, through to the eschaton visions of complete nonviolence foreseen by the prophets.

Camosy reminds us that John Paul II declared that other animals have souls, and that "It is my hope that the inspiration of St. Francis will ... remind us of our serious obligation to respect and watch over [animals and the environment] with care." Benedict XVI went even further, stating that "animals, [like humans], are God's creatures." Benedict explicitly denounced as unchristian and anti-Biblical the "degrading of living creatures to a commodity," specifically singling out battery cages, which confine 95 percent of our nation's egg-laying hens.

We should not be surprised to find such strong statements from the heir of St. Peter, Camosy explains.
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By MCC on January 7, 2014
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I've never before seen any theology, except Hinduism, address the subject of the violence associated with eating meat. This is a great book that explores and invites thought on the subject, calling all to reconsider our "right" to eat meat, not just the health consequences of such. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Charles Camosy has produced a great book, which forces readers to reconsider habits whose noxious consequences we often conveniently ignore. It is a book that will speak most eloquently to Christians, but the chapter on factory farming is something that everyone who buys food in supermarkets should read. Camosy presents a persuasive and compassionate moral framework from which we should consider the decisions we take in today's world, particularly with regard to animals. It managed to persuade me to stop eating meat.

Something else that is great about this book: it reads easily, even glowingly. While having scholarly references, it reads more like an amicable conversation than a dry scholarly work. Some passages are well-reasoned, well-written calls to consistency in our ethical choices. Here is just one example from early on in the book: "Our consumerist social structures disconnect us from the process by which pig meat gets on our plate. There are ways to get protein that are more consistent with just treatment of animals, but most of us are not even thinking about them when we buy and eat our food. And on the rare occasions where we do think about them, we tell ourselves that they are too inconvenient or too costly. And sometimes, damn it, don't we just 'need' to have a hot dog? At bottom, our choice to eat pigs and other kinds of animals often comes down to the fact that we have power and they do not."
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