- Activist Report
- This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and
- Statement on Fishing
1. Activist Report
I leafleted at Acquire the Fire in Cleveland and distributed
about 200 CVA booklets. The young audience was generally quite
receptive, and I even got a hug from one attendee who was delighted to
see CVA at this event.
Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Protecting the Temple of God
3. Statement on Fishing
by Phil Whitehead
As I child, I
anticipated our family’s annual trip to a cottage in northern Ontario
because of its opportunities for fishing. Bass, perch and – by
chance - pike could be caught in the lake that was abundant with fish.
I enjoyed the feel of the fish nibbling at the bait, followed by
the tug against the line after the fish had been caught and was being
drawn to the surface. But then, at about the age of ten, my
attitude began to change. That sensation, formerly enjoyable,
began to feel weird. Creepy even.
My change of reaction
included the recognition that I was torturing the fish by pulling its
entire body mass at the point of a puncture wound caused by a narrow
piece of metal that had pierced its skin. When the fish
was pulled to the surface, the significant tearing of the skin in the
region of the mouth was apparent. I started to become disturbed
at the sight.
Only those fish caught of a legally specified
minimum length were killed and eaten, while smaller fish were released
back into the water. The assumption behind releasing those fish
was that the animals would resume their normal lives and grow into
fully-grown and healthy fish. However, a fishing session that
lasted for any length of time proved this assumption to be incorrect.
Many of those small fish that were released eventually floated to the
surface, dead from their injuries.
I rationalized my fishing
by assuming that a fish felt no pain because it showed no facial
expression. However, a fish fighting against the line, and
thrashing endlessly after being brought into the boat, belied that
The final step in my growing disdain for
fishing was the realization that the process started by my
psychological torturing of the fish. A worm, other creature or lure
was placed before the fish as bait. The hungry fish, seeking to
fulfill its need for food, was deceived into biting into the bait on
the assumption that its hunger was about to be sated. One
terrifying moment later, it found itself in pain as an unknown object
and force pulled it upward. It struggled in fright and panic to
release itself, usually to no avail. If it did succeed in
extricating itself from capture, it carried a grievous wound.
Did I really want to treat animals this way? Was this how I wanted to
live and think? Would my interaction with fish not be more enriching
if it took the form of looking down into the lake, on a placid morning
or evening, and simply watching the fish living within their
Looking back at those childhood days, my initial
enjoyment of fishing probably was the result of my acceptance of a
common practise in this society.
The popularity of fishing
suggests that the recreational killing of fish – more so than of land
or avian animals, for some reason - has become engrained into this
culture as a commendable means for achieving the necessary release of
personal stress. Persons of high standing have conducted
numerous photo opportunities of themselves fishing. The act of
subjecting a fish to a protracted death process is purported to be an
act of relaxation that re-energizes them for public service. It
demonstrates their ability to leave behind temporarily the burdens of
In a recent example (July, 2013), Russian President
Vladimir Putin was photographed holding a 21 kg. (46 lb.) pike in
Lech Walesa, when he was leader of the Solidarity
labour movement in Poland during the 1980s, allowed himself to be
filmed on a fishing trip. He stated that he was getting away
from the incessant demands of leading a movement that challenged the
President George H.W. Bush demonstrated fly
fishing techniques to a group of school children. President George W.
Bush smiled while brandishing collections of dead fish before press
corps cameras during fishing outings to bolster his implied claim to
having not abandoned the thought forms of ordinary citizens after
ascending to an extraordinary office. Vice-President Dick Cheney
frequently was photographed fishing with his buddies.
Canada, politicians have staged photo opportunities of themselves
fishing to establish their "ordinary guy" credentials: Bob Rae, while
a member of parliament, spent an afternoon fishing with a comedian for
a segment of a television program; Preston Manning (a politician who,
incidentally, attempted overtly to integrate his evangelical faith
into his approach to national affairs) published in his memoirs a
picture of himself and others standing beside a float plane after the
conclusion of a fishing expedition; Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto bragged
about fishing with Prime Minister Stephen Harper; and Mayor Hazel
McCallion of Mississauga reeled in a salmon from Lake Ontario to
attest to her ongoing ability to lead the city at the age of 92.
So associated is fishing with relaxation that the expression "gone
fishing" is a euphemism for renouncing the accumulated stresses of
life by entering retirement.
I still have not identified what
prompted my change in attitude toward fishing. However, at an
early age, I rejected the conditioning that society had imposed upon
me and that I initially had accepted “hook, line and sinker.”