Vegangelical: How caring for animals can shape your faith by Sarah Withrow King
What difference does caring for animals make and is it really a matter of justice? Sarah Withrow King in her new book, Vegangelical, answers these questions and more as she draws together the rich tapestry of Scripture concerning creation and her research on the use and abuse of animals in our world. What turns out to be no so much an apology for the vegan way of life, but a vision for how to rightly treat animals and how God has made the world in such a way as to promote the flourishing of all of creation.
Drawing on her experience picking up a booklet on the suffering of animals and their use for food, Sarah was propelled to stop eating meat, join PETA and advocate for animals and oppose testing on them (14-17). Yet, there was a certain disconnect between those in the church who were like-minded with Sarah and a whole host of others who thought Christianity had little to do with animals. It was in seminary that she also began to connect the two, seeing in the Scriptures and in theology a way of affirming her love for animals and advocacy on their behalf.
Sarah brings together some key theological foundations that help undergird her perspective on animals. One, how does the image of God in man relate to the treatment of animals? Second, “what does it mean to steward creation?” And third, “how are we called to extend mercy to the least of these and who is our neighbor (25)?” The section in chapter 3 devoted to loving the least of these and our neighbor has some excellent points. Sarah writes, “Exclusion by assimilation demands the subject of exclusion to give up their identity, to be subsumed into the identity of the dominant power. The animals we keep as pets, in zoos, and in circuses fall into this category (70-71).” These animals are transplanted from their natural environment into a man designed one, often with consequences. This master/subject relationship gives the upper hand to the owner, and yet there is a slice of mercy here, since many pet owners lovingly take care of their animals, in sickness and in plenty.
At times, the book seemed to be overdone with the endless Scriptural quotations and exposes of the treatment of animals. But, I do believe Sarah’s point about bringing us back to a healthy understanding of God, animals, and neighbor is on target.
Thanks to BookLookBloggers and Zondervan for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.