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For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action Paperback – October 4, 2013
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....[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
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 rightparticularly 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
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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.Read more ›
... [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.Read more ›
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."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wow! This book will familiarize yourself with the avoided obvious (factory farming), and you will be stunned at how you didn’t realize these things all along. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Susie L.
Very interesting point of view. As a Vegitarian I agree with the author. As a Buddhist, I was a little shocked at how Christians treat animals.Published 20 months ago by Jonathan Perea
Whether you're a meat-eater or vegan, this book merits reading and thought. Camosy is a unique intellect that presents both sides of the issue. Read morePublished on June 29, 2014 by DM Robertson
It only took to page 8 to see that Charles Camosy reveals that his POV is not consistent with Catholic moral principles. Read morePublished on May 18, 2014 by -JP
There are only a handful of books that challenge our way of thinking. Most of those books are from our days in college and graduate school. Read morePublished on April 22, 2014 by Jonathan Dail Lace
A refreshing read for folks who want Christian input on the topic and this man IS making a name for himself. Read morePublished on April 14, 2014 by Mary Z Kohak
Hear Charles Camosy speak at a book signing/introduction event at the Catholic Information Center in Washington DC. Go to cicdc. Read morePublished on March 27, 2014 by J. Harkin
I chose this book because it has a Christian perspective and many people I know always claim that God wants us to dominate the animals and after reading a wonderful book entitled... Read morePublished on February 3, 2014 by Belinda Burton