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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Andrew Linzey

I received my latest issue of The Way yesterday, and it has some interesting articles ... the one that I want to mention is by Andrew Linzey. Here's what Wikipedia has, in part, to say about him ...

The Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey, PhD, DD, is an Anglican priest, a theologian, a writer, and is internationally known as an authority on Christianity and animals.

He is a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford, and holds the world’s first academic post in Ethics, Theology and Animal Welfare — the Bede Jarret Senior Research Fellowship at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford. From 1987 to 1992, he was Director of Studies of the Centre for the Study of Theology in the University of Essex, England, and from 1992 to 1996, he was Special Professor in Theology at the University of Nottingham, England. In 1998, he was Visiting Professor at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham, England, and Special Professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago.

Andrew Linzey is the director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, opened in November 2006. The centre aims to encourage academic research into, and improve public debate on, the issues surrounding animal-related ethics. More than 100 academics in various fields currently act as advisers to the centre.

In the same year and in recognition of his role in the creation of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Andrew Linzey was named the Henry Bergh Professor of Animal Ethics at the Graduate Theological Foundation in the U.S., the first such professorship of its kind in the world ...

What attracted me to the article was its subject of animals ... I've been interested in them, and have had an empthy for them, since I was a little kid (hence the vegetarianism and my attachment to my four cats). Here below is the beginning part of Fr. Linzey's article in The Way - Animals As Grace (I'd post more of the article if it was available online, but my bad eyes and two-fingered typing make it hard to copy from the journal) ...


Barney was a refugee. Abandoned, he subsequently found a home in the local animal sanctuary. It was there that we first met him. His shaggy hair, dark brown eyes, and exuberant temperament endeared him to the Linzey family .... One day he began to have fits, an incurable neurological condition was diagnosed. Euthanasia was the advised course of action .... As we stood around the open grave, I fumbled to find some appropriate words of parting.

But there were no prescribed words .... The Christian heritage of 2,000 years of spirituality and scholarship has produced only liturgical silence over the deaths of millions of members of other species, even those who share and enrich our lives. A tradition that has countenanced the blessing of cars and houses has never even registered a pastoral need in relation to the death of companion animals.

Struck by the existence of this lacuna, I was determined to do something .... What was the problem then that I sought to address? Quite simply; the invisibility of animals in Christian worship. Christians currently worship God as though the world of animals does not exist .... But to maintain such a position is increasingly problematic once it is fully understood that God is the creator not only of the human species but also of millions of other living things. Can the God who nourishes and sustains the entire created universe really only be interested in one species? ....


The opinion in the article may be a minority report, but it's one with which I agree :-)

- Fr. Linzey


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Cystal! This is really interesting and addresses questions sometimes raised in the course of ministry - especially as it regards the death of a beloved pet. Thanks for the links and post.

11:59 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

You're more than welcome :-)

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Crystal. I've been rather busy for blogging, or even commenting, but I have been stopping by.

I think the only time animals are brought into the liturgy is at the feast of St Francis and the blessing of the animals. I've taken our cat Mishea to our church for that. My Jesuit friend has also blessed her at our apartment. It hasn't kept her from scratching my sister there.

2:11 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam,

how's it going with the charters?

I've never seen the blessing of the animals in person ... I should take Kermit the next time.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Schatze said...

Hi Crystal, I just picked up Linzey's book Animal Gospel and am devouring it. I couldn't agree more. If you have some time, here's my first blog attempt (hence the length!) that treats this same issue.

12:11 PM  

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