Skip to content

Guest Opinion: The Spirituality of Caring for All Living Creatures as Stewards

By Susan Vogt
8/5/2010 (6 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It was with some trepidation that I agreed to explore the spirituality of animals for this article.

Yes, our pets are usually cute and cuddly. They take responsible ownership. That's what we teach our children, don't we? But pets are not the only animals who deserve our respect. If we are to be responsible stewards of creation we need to look at all of creation, not just the ones we play with. The way we treat some creatures reflect the respect for life that we have for all creatures including the human ones.

I wasn't even familiar with the term 'factory farms' when I started this self education project. Now, I know too much about where some of the food we eat comes from, and I'm disturbed.

I wasn't even familiar with the term "factory farms" when I started this self education project. Now, I know too much about where some of the food we eat comes from, and I'm disturbed.

Highlights

By Susan Vogt
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/5/2010 (6 years ago)

Published in Green


P>COVINGTON, KY (Catholic Online) - The Humane Society of the United States Faith Outreach program welcomes writers to share their stories about animals and faith in The Francis Files.

I'm not a vegan. I'm not even vegetarian, although my husband and I have tried to reduce the amount of meat we eat on a regular basis.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to explore the spirituality of animals for this article.

Sure, I loved reading about the talking animals in Narnia, and we've had our share of critter pets around the house over the past 30 years.

Yes, I'm fond of St. Francis and certainly believe in the humane treatment of animals, but that's not a very high bar. But, I had agreed to at least read The Humane Society of the United States' booklet, A Religious Case for Compassion for Animals,  and watch their documentary DVD Eating Mercifully. Now I'm ruined. I know too much, and it's hard to go back.

I wasn't even familiar with the term "factory farms" when I started this self education project. Now, I know too much about where some of the food we eat comes from, and I'm disturbed.

If you've read to this point, it means you're brave enough to let your lifestyle be challenged also. Here's a summary of what I learned. See what you think:

Most cattle, pigs, and chickens whose meat is sold in the supermarket are raised in crowded, inhumane conditions called factory farms. They are called this because the more livestock an entrepreneur can squeeze into a small space, the lower the production cost.

Because of the crowded conditions, the animals are more at risk for disease and, therefore, are usually given antibiotics as a preventive measure to ensure they will make it to market. The problem is that the increased used of antibiotics contributes to the mutation of microorganisms, thus increasing their resistance to antibiotics. This means that infections that humans get are increasingly resistant to antibiotics also.

So does this mean the conscientious animal lover should give up eating meat, milk products, and poultry? Well, some people will go that route, but others won't, and we have options. Not all animals are raised on factory farms, but it takes a bit of looking to find out where the true "farmers" are. It also costs a bit more to look for labels like "free range" chicken or "cage-free" eggs.

But what's this all got to do with spirituality? The Bible is not a textbook on animal husbandry, but Genesis does talk about right relationships with all of creation. "Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, and all the living creatures that move on the earth." (Genesis 1:28) God created all these creatures of the earth and let us have dominion over them-and it was good.

With dominion, however, comes responsibility. Creation will not remain "good" if we abuse it.

So what's a humane person to do?

First, don't take my word for it. Do your own research. I think that if you watch Eating Mercifully, your heart will be touched. Check out the facts. Read books like Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation.

Once you've confirmed the reality of factory farms, consider whether you're ready to go whole hog (cold turkey if you prefer poultry) or if you're more of a baby step-type person. If you're like me, you'll start to make some minor changes in your shopping and eating habits. Our family started with buying only free-range eggs and organic milk.

Once your family has become accustomed to these modest eating changes, consider additional dietary adjustments. You might eliminate or greatly reduce your consumption of certain kinds of meat.

As you become more knowledgeable about what goes into your body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, you might have the courage to speak out about the inhumane treatment of animals through educating others or working for legislative restrictions on the worst of the factory farm systems of raising our food.

Yes, our pets are usually cute and cuddly. They take responsible ownership. That's what we teach our children, don't we? But pets are not the only animals who deserve our respect. If we are to be responsible stewards of creation we need to look at all of creation, not just the ones we play with. The way we treat some creatures reflect the respect for life that we have for all creatures including the human ones.

It took me about one hour to write this article, one week to research it, but one year to start living the changes it prompted me to consider. Perhaps I've saved you some time.

-----

Susan Vogt is a freelance speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, and spirituality. She and her husband live in Covington, KY, and love animals (although they are not fond of mosquitoes, snakes, or wasps, as necessary as they are to the web of life). To find out more about The Francis Files and The HSUS Faith Outreach program, visit humanesociety.org/faith.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the Web at humanesociety.org.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for APRIL 2017
Young People.
That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.


Comments


More Green

Decades-old conundrum solved by chance - Can one of nature's squiggly insects change the fate of the world? Watch

Image of Are wax worms the answer to our plastic waste problem?

What if one of the world's more significant issues can be corrected with help from one of the smallest, seemingly insignificant of ... continue reading


Oroville Dam Breach? DWR Investigating Leaking - Hasn't Revealed this to the Public Watch

Image of The green area on the face of the dam suggests water is seeping though the dam.

A Leak in the core of an Earthen Dam is known to trigger catastrophic failure within hours.  Oroville's Earthen Dam has a persistent ... continue reading


Scientists discover a scary Antarctic mystery - how worried should we be? Watch

Image of Antarctica is melting, but without more data, it's too soon to worry.

Antarctica may be melting faster than thought, according to a new study. Antarctica is a region of concern because its ice, if melted, ... continue reading


The Arctic is drowning in plastic, and it could kill us all Watch

Image of A sea lion is tangled in a net, the result of decades of human disregard for the environment.

Our planet is drowning in plastic, and this is becoming obvious, even in the pristine Arctic. Researcher now estimate that up to 1,200 tons ... continue reading


5 Things God wants us to remember about the Earth Watch

Image of What does God say about preserving the Earth?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. What happened next changed everything. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.