Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics
A Communion of Subjects is the first comparative and interdisciplinary study of the conceptualization of animals in world religions. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including Thomas Berry (cultural history), Wendy Doniger (study of myth), Elizabeth Lawrence (veterinary medicine, ritual studies), Marc Bekoff (cognitive ethology), Marc Hauser (behavioral science), Steven Wise (animals and law), Peter Singer (animals and ethics), and Jane Goodall (primatology) consider how major religious traditions have incorporated animals into their belief systems, myths, rituals, and art. Their findings offer profound insights into humans' relationships with animals and a deeper understanding of the social and ecological web in which we all live.
Contributors examine Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism, Confucianism, African religions, traditions from ancient Egypt and early China, and Native American, indigenous Tibetan, and Australian Aboriginal traditions, among others. They explore issues such as animal consciousness, suffering, sacrifice, and stewardship in innovative methodological ways. They also address contemporary challenges relating to law, biotechnology, social justice, and the environment. By grappling with the nature and ideological features of various religious views, the contributors cast religious teachings and practices in a new light. They reveal how we either intentionally or inadvertently marginalize "others," whether they are human or otherwise, reflecting on the ways in which we assign value to living beings.
Though it is an ancient concern, the topic of "Religion and Animals" has yet to be systematically studied by modern scholars. This groundbreaking collection takes the first steps toward a meaningful analysis.
"This substantial contribution opens up a broad field and will clearly be inspiration to further work on animals and religion. It is very much welcome." — Ingvild Sælid Gilhus, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"A Communion of Subjects delivers a wealth of resources for stirring the conscience and stoking the imagination." — Matthew Halteman, Christian Century
"Unique, compassionate, and far-reaching" — Frederick M. Smith, Religious Studies Review
"This groundbreaking volume contains an impressive number of useful and thought-provoking articles organized in an accessible and helpful manner. It will serve as a terrific teaching tool in introductory and cross-disciplinary courses. The editors, who are themselves leading figures in the field, have skillfully blended the essays such that all of the major discourses (religion, science, art, law, ethics, environmentalism) surrounding "the animal question" are addressed. This is a volume that I and several other instructors will find immensely valuable." — Matthew Calarco, chair and assistant professor of philosophy, Sweet Briar College, Virginia, and editor of Animal Philosophy
"An outstanding collection, ranging over most aspects of the lives of animals in the human world. The essays on the place of animals in religious traditions are particularly authoritative, but all the contributions are thoughtful, well-informed, and enlightening." — J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
"A Communion of Subjects is a rich collection that reveals the surprising extent to which religious and ethical traditions worldwide have recognized animals as living subjects, not objects for human exploitation. Supported by meticulous scholarship, this pioneering volume of over fifty articles covers a vast range of traditions from African mythology to Confucianism, making it a monumental contribution to both religious studies and animal studies, an indispensable resource for all interested in and concerned about the moral and cultural status of animals in human society." — Josephine Donovan, University of Maine
"A Communion of Subjects is an impressive achievement that enriches religious studies by its thoroughness and diversity of perspectives." — Barbara Darling-Smith, Wheaton College
Heritage of Volume - Mary Evelyn Tucker
Prologue - Loneliness and Presence - Thomas Berry
Introduction - Paul Waldau and Kimberly Patton