The dialogue between Gregory and Macrina is one of the gossamer threads in Christian tradition. Unlike Soul, much of Christian theology emphasized distinctions between humans and animals, rather than stitching connections between aspects of creation (indeed, Macrina even develops a connection between humanity and plant life). Dividing creation into superior and inferior ranks
served as an excuse for rampant injustice on the part of Christians toward the rest of creation—and, sadly enough, toward other human beings (for example, women denied the priesthood or race-based slavery). What if instead of organizing humans and animals into hierarchical ranks, Christians had theologically developed the commonality of creation so tantalizingly suggested
in the fourth century?
Friday, July 27, 2007
Michael Vick, Theology and the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Yesterday I posted a piece from Sightings raising the possibility that chimps might have religion of some sort. Today I read a piece on God's Politics by my friend Diana Butler Bass on the ethical treatment of animals, in light of the charges that Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick engaged in dog fighting. Diana is working on a book on church history and has been reading Gregory of Nyssa and his sister Macrina, who deal with this very issue. Funny how the ancient church could wrestle with modern issues like our relationship to the animal world.
Where we go with this, I do not know? I'm not a vegetarian, but too often we treat animals, including dogs and cats as disposable things. Vick hasn't been convicted and needs to be given his day in court, but the premise of dog fighting is truly reprehensible and not within the biblical call to care for creation.