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CVA Weekly Newsletter
July 17, 2013

  1. Essay: Principles of Institutions Guided by Christ
  2. Issue No. 97 of The Peaceable Table is online
  3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Essay: Principles of Institutions Guided by Christ

To my reading, the Gospel accounts do not describe Jesus trying to start a new religion. Rather, he aimed to reform Judaism, restoring the faith of prophets such as Micah, who announced that God wanted the faithful “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). Indeed, in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus twice declared, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13; 12:7), recalling the words of Hosea 6:6.

In recent essays, I have highlighted how institutes are grounded on scapegoating, and sacrificial violence is the most obvious manifestation of scapegoating. As I discussed in detail in my book Guided by the Faith of Christ, I think Jesus aimed to show how we could have communities grounded on love rather than scapegoating. How might this be accomplished?

I think that when Jesus talked about the “Realm of God” he had in mind communities grounded in love. Perhaps because people were unprepared for his radical notions, he often chose to describe the Realm of God with parables. Now that we have 2000 years to reflect on Jesus’ teachings, we might be in a better position to more directly describe what the Realm of God might look like.
I suggest that, first and foremost, there is no scapegoating in the Realm of God. I don’t think there is a single formula to avoid scapegoating, and specific policies might reflect unique attributes of different communities, but I offer the following principle as a starting point: When making difficult decisions, community members should always be guided by the question, “What is the most compassionate choice in this setting?”

With this principle, several others follow. For example, when determining how to prevent people from hurting other individuals, community members should do everything in their power to avoid having vengeance play a role in their deliberations. Also, communities should do their best to avoid the strong temptations to punish people for dishonoring institutions. People might request that others not show disrespect for their institutions because it hurts their feelings, but they should not enforce respect for institutions with violence or threats of violence.

Such principles, I think, would help contemporary society move toward Jesus’ vision of the Realm of God “on earth, as in Heaven.” Next week, I’ll discuss, and attempt to expand on, John Rawls’ book A Theory of Justice.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

2. Issue No. 97 of The Peaceable Table is online.

Contents include:

*  The Editor's Corner Essay, "Return to Eden, Part II:  The Holyday," deals with the Jewish weekly celebration of the Sabbath as a remembrance of the "holiday" the Creator took to enjoy his/her newly finished universe. The creation myth of the day's origins suggests that the Sabbath is in part a recapitulation ofEden--where humans were assigned a plant-based diet.  This festal holy day is rich in its implications for other people of faith as well as Jews.

*  Did you know that in India, dophins have now been officially recognized as persons?  See the NewsNotes.

*  The Pioneer in this issue is Australian philanthropist Philip Wollen, who calls himself an "ahimsan." He created a foundation that supports some 500 projects, many benefiting vulnerable children and animals.

* The two tempting summer recipes on offer in this issue are Cold Curried Green Pea Soup from *The Vegetarian Shabbat Cookbook* by Roberta Kalechofsky and colleague, and a Blueberry Coconut Popsicle from our own Angie Cordeiro.

To read this issue, see http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue97.html.

In Friendship for all,
Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Regaining the Image of God

Your question and comments are welcome

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