A Communion of Subjects
Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics
Edited by Paul Waldau and Kimberley Patton
The first comparative and interdisciplinary study of humans' conceptualization of animals in world religions.
Cultural historian Thomas Berry eloquently insists that "the world is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects." Using the implications of this statement as a starting point, the contributors to this collection treat animals as subjects and consider how major religious traditions have incorporated them into their belief systems, myths, and rituals. Their findings offer profound insight into humans' relationships with animals and a deeper understanding of the social and ecological web in which we all live.
Leading scholars from a wide range of disciplines and religious traditions, including Marc Bekoff (cognitive ethology), Wendy Doniger (study of myth), Peter Singer (animals and ethics), Jane Goodall (biology), and Thomas Berry (theology), have supplied original material for this volume. They address issues such as sacrifice, animal consciousness, suffering, and stewardship in innovative methodological ways. By grappling with the nature and ideological features of these religious views, the contributors cast religious teachings and practices in a new light. They also reveal how we either intentionally or inadvertently marginalize "others," whether they are human or otherwise, and the ways in which we construct value.
Though it is an ancient concern, the topic of "religion and animals" has yet to be systematically worked out by modern scholars. This groundbreaking collection takes the first steps toward a meaningful analysis.
Paul Waldau is the director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Boston. He is also cochair of the Animals and Religion Consultation at the American Academy of Religion and president of the Religion and Animals Institute. Kimberley Patton is professor in the comparative and historical study of religion at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of many books, including the forthcoming The Sea Can Wash Away All Evils: Modern Marine Pollution and the Ancient Cathartic Ocean (Columbia).