On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals

On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals

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Oxford University Press, USA
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On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals

Many of us keep pet animals; we rely on them for companionship and unconditional love. For some people their closest relationships may be with their pets. In the wake of the animal rights movement, some ethicists have started to re-examine this relationship, and to question the rights of humans to "own" other sentient beings in this way.

In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Stephen Webb brings a Christian perspective to bear on the subject of our responsibility to animals, looked at through the lens of our relations with pets—especially dogs. Webb argues that the emotional bond with companion animals should play a central role in the way we think about animals in general, and—against the more extreme animal liberationists—defends the intermingling of the human and animal worlds. He tries to imagine what it would be like to treat animals as a gift from God, and indeed argues that not only are animals a gift for us, but they give to us; we need to attend to their giving and return their gifts appropriately. Throughout the book he insists that what Christians call grace is present in our relations with animals just as it is with other humans. Grace is the inclusive and expansive power of God's love to create and sustain relationships of real mutuality and reciprocity, and Webb unfolds the implications of the recognition that animals too participate in God's abundant grace.
Webb's thesis affirms and persuasively defends many of the things that pet lovers feel instinctively—that their relationships with their companion animals are meaningful and important, and that their pets have value and worth in themselves in the eyes of God. His book will appeal to a broad audience of thoughtful Christians and animal lovers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195152296
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 01/28/2002
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword: Voyage to the Animal Worldix
Introduction: Pet Theories3
ISurveying the Options
1God and the Giving of Animals17
Theological Method17
The Biblical Record20
The Christian Tradition28
Hauerwas and Berkman on a Biblical Foundation for Animal Welfare35
Andrew Linzey and the Theology of Animal Rights38
2Ecology versus the Peaceable Kingdom44
Process Thought and the Luring of Animals44
Environmental Theology and the Reclamation of Nature51
Ecofeminism and Animal Compassion55
The Rhetoric of Rights and the Demands of Care57
IIThinking about Pets
3What Are Dogs For?69
The Other as More of the Same?69
The Other as Social Self72
The Other as Personal Self78
4The Difference That Dogs Make85
Pets, Women, Meat, and Rhetoric85
Vicki Hearne on the Language of Training91
Keeping the Other Other95
Reading Excess98
Excess as More Than Other102
IIIA Theology for the Dogs
5Theology and Dogtalk109
The Sensibility of Sentiment109
Evolution and the Problem of Animal Pain115
God as a Lover of Dogs123
6The Sacrificial Economy of Christian Theology128
Economics and Sacrifice128
Karl Barth's Sacrificial Economy of Animals130
Hebrew Sacrifice and the Covenant134
The End of Sacrifice144
7Jesus Christ and the Future of Animals155
A Vegetarian Eucharist155
The Cosmic Christ and the Church for All Creatures167
Animal Afterlife174
Epilogue: God's Nature as the Future of the World181

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