Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The wolf shall live with the lamb

‘The wolf shall live with the lamb …
… and a little child shall lead them …
… they shall not hurt or destroy.’ Isaiah 11.6

The picture of peace which the Messiah inaugurates is not just for humanity, but for all the world.

This year it was heartening to hear that one more form of animal cruelty, the so-called ‘dancing bears’ of India, had come to an end after a seven-year campaign.

It is part of a world wide move to end cruelty to animals. In Barcelona, there has already been a vote to outlaw bull fighting, and the parliament of Catalonia, in the east of the Spain, is considering a proposal to change local animal protection laws. The people of Catalonia, who suffered intense tyranny during the time of Franco, associate bullfighting with the kind of oppression they endured at the hands of the fascist regime. As a result they identify much more with the doomed bull than with the matador. Few locals in Barcelona want bullfighting: it is far more important to have a top football team. They don’t want to be known as supporters of blood sports, and, in the approach to Christmas, the words of Isaiah sound a message which encourages their campaign.

How revolting it is then, at Christmas, to hear that the Conservative Party in Britain is proposing to allow legislation to legalise once more our own barbaric blood sport, the hunting of deer and foxes with hounds. I question whether this has wide appeal. Animal charities and the RSPB have massive support from millions of people today. It is possible that the number of people who encourage foxes by feeding them in their gardens far exceeds the number of those who might want to hunt; even if they don’t go to the lengths of a former neighbour who provided Waitrose chickens to the vixen with her cubs in the garden. Isn’t it time, as we listen to the song of the angels, to heed the message of the prophet and seek peace rather than ritualised torture and slaughter of dumb animals? And then ‘they will not hurt or destroy … for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord’ (Isaiah 11.9).

Tom Ambrose is a priest living in Cambridge.

Posted by Tom Ambrose on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 5:50am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

How revolting it is then, at Christmas, to hear that the Conservative Party in Britain is proposing to allow legislation to legalise once more our own barbaric blood sport, the hunting of deer and foxes with hounds.

I am not in favour of hunting, but was not in favour of outlawing it either. Also, given the passion this issue raises on both sides, is it not revolting that many people seem to care more deeply about the rights of foxes than of the unborn child?

Posted by: Neil on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 11:30am GMT

Sorry Neil. There are a load of red herrings and tendentious associations in your statement.
It's not about caring more about foxes than about the 'rights of the unborn child'. It's perfectly possible to hold differing and various views about differing and various topics. How do you know anyway? No doubt there will be many people who will not like having their views described as 'revolting' just because we don't necessarily share all of yours.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 2:42pm GMT

The Catalans think of bull fighting as barbaric because it's something that the poorer and less educated Castilians of central Spain do. This is regional identity and socio-economic pride wearing the mask of humanitarianism.
Imagine if white Americans went to Mexico and told the Mexicans "Stop this-this is barbaric! We associate this with one party rule, poverty and fewer rights for women/machismo".

Posted by: Brad Evans on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 3:58pm GMT

Thank you Richard for your staement. So easy to condem others whose views you object to. As a countryman born and bred I have concern for the welfare of all Gods creatures. But understand the need to cull, and also to control certain species. But have a deep love of all animals and their wellbeing.

Yes and the needs of young children which I see being abused by lack of love, lack of parental teaching, and general lack of good parenting and example. BUT I ALSO SEE IN MANY FAMILIES MUCH LOVE, DISCIPLINE AND GENERAL GROWTH .


Fr John

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 4:03pm GMT

The Tories are showing once again that they're still the "nasty Party". By resurrecting this issue it shows they have their priorities wrong. How about showing more concern for the unborn child? Typical of a Party led by an Old Etonian. Oops. Sorry to mention "class".

Posted by: Rev Ivan Ackeroff on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 5:27pm GMT

I was under the impression that it would be an adaptation of the American hunt practice of not killing the fox. Or is this just another round in the Tory/labor class warfare thing?

Posted by: John Robison on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 6:36pm GMT

Fr John
"But understand the need to cull, and also to control certain species."

Absolutely. That's why in most countries wildlife control is left to trained game keepers who are also responsible for the whole environmental health of the countryside they cover.

It's about as far removed from blood sports as you can get.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 6:45pm GMT

Drag hunting is legal. The sense of community, pageantry, heritage, and jobs are all still intact and yet these disgraceful people can’t manage to enjoy themselves unless they are terrifying and killing animals.

Please if you support the hunting act, get your name on the R.O.A.R. (Register Online Against Repeal), an ‘all party’ list at: http://www.campaignfordecency.org.uk

Posted by: mhayworth on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 7:10pm GMT

"the American hunt practice of not killing the fox."

I think this varies geographicaly and/or from hunt to hunt in the states. In Virginia, clergy who wish to, may bless the hounds ... but not, of course, same gender unions. I don't see a anything particularly humane about chasing and terrorizing an animal, cornering it, and then letting it go.

Culling by people who know animals and environment is another thing - a way of restoring some of the imbalance we have caused. Urban deer and non-migratory Canadian geese come to mind. I don't know about in England, but here some golf courses use speciallly trained border collies to harass and annoy and herd from place to place the damn geese.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 7:40pm GMT

"How revolting it is then, at Christmas, to hear that the Conservative Party in Britain is proposing to allow legislation to legalise once more our own barbaric blood sport, the hunting of deer and foxes with hounds."

Absolutely right, Mr Ambrose, and thank you for taking this stand. Good luck to you, sir!

The Hunting Act 2004 must not be repealed or otherwise undone. If anything, it needs strengthening so that we can be sure that chasing and killing wild animals for fun is clearly and for ever unlawful and regarded by all with well-deserved revulsion. If Cameron, Hague, Herbert, etc., think that repeal of the Act would be a vote winner in rural areas, they are very much mistaken.

And as for the vile 'sport' of hare coursing, please sign my NoToHareCoursing E-Petition at -

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoToHareCoursing/

Posted by: Geoffrey Woollard on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 7:44pm GMT

The Hunting Act 2004 must not be repealed or otherwise undone. If anything, it needs strengthening so that we can be sure that chasing and killing wild animals for fun is clearly and for ever unlawful and regarded by all with well-deserved revulsion. If Cameron, Hague, Herbert, etc., think that repeal of the Act would be a vote winner in rural areas, they are very much mistaken.

Posted by: Geoffrey Woollard on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 8:06pm GMT

As a Yank, I probably am in the position of what Brad Evans says about the Castillians and Catalans. Nevertheless, I think fox hunting is appalling. I also understand that the hunters could literally ride roughsod over the property and rights of others who class status and land holdings were, shally we say, less exalted. I also consider Oscar Wilde's comments about the "unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible" to be succinct, precise, and to the point.
Whatever one thinks of Margaret Thatcher, my impression is that she made some efforts to give the Conservative Party appeal to the masses. Bringing back fox hunting is hardly an issue to continue to do that.
Thank you, Fr. Ambrose for your commentary. I think the way we humans sometimes treat animals is appalling, especially factory farms, and certain forms of hunting. And it's an issue that can cross theological lines. A couple of years ago, I read a book by a conservative evangelical Christian, a man who sneered at certain liberal ideals. Nonetheless, he wrote a cogent argument, based on sound evangelical ideas, about why we should be horrified at factory farming of animals, caging chickens in too confined a space, leg-hold traps, and other shameful acts. I believe the book was called "Dominion". His essential idea is that if we as humans have been indeed been given dominion over the animals by God, then we are accountable to God how we treat them. He also made the argument, made by others, that the Hebrew word translated as "subdue" in the KJV is far more nuanced and subtle than that word, and may include the idea of stewardship.
None of these ideas is original to this author. But to see him make the them from a conservative point of view was fascinating.

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 8:15pm GMT

Hey, Tory or anybody else are welcome to come over here in rural Ohio and take a shot at "Rudolph" or any of his buddies, as I demolished my car driving from midnight mass to the old home at 0200 Christmas morning! It's documented that there are more deer than people in my home county.

As for fox hunting, the LGBT community laughed that off years ago, as parishes had blessings for the hounds (they still do at a hunt club east of my city) but not for committed same-sex couples. Personally, I wouldn't want to deprive my children of the spectacle of the "unthinkable chasing the unimaginable".

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 9:51pm GMT

Choirboy - actually it's 'the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible' by the sainted Oscar Wilde.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 30 December 2009 at 10:31am GMT

How do you know anyway?

Just my experience of a High Court Judge in the Family Division who appeared to thinkt more highly of animals than of human beings!

Which really WOULD be revolting ;)

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 31 December 2009 at 12:02am GMT

"Drag hunting"-you mean the men dress as ladies? Wow.
Here in the states, this is pseudo-aristocratic anglomania at its worst, the pretentious in pursuit of the ridiculous.

Posted by: brad evans on Thursday, 31 December 2009 at 1:23am GMT

Thank you Richard Ashby...I now see my mis-quotation thanks to an earlier posting, and....if anybody's interested (I can wait to hear the 'ugh's', 'ewwww's' and 'bloody disgusting's' from the "posh" set here)...I drove by the place where I hit the deer four days ago and lo and behold, the frozen carcass still sat by the road. So what did any country boy like myself do????

I got my hunting knife out and......GOT THE HEAD!!!!!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 31 December 2009 at 2:14am GMT
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