Kinship and Killing: The Animal in World Religions

Kobo ebook | March 22, 2009

byKatherine Wills Perlo

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Through close readings of Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist texts, Katherine Wills Perlo proves that our relationship with animals shapes religious doctrine, particularly through the tension between animal exploitation and the bonds of kinship. She pinpoints four different strategies for coping with this conflict. The first is aggression, in which a divinely conferred superiority or karma justifies animal usage. The second is evasion, which emphasizes benevolent aspects of the human-animal relationship within the exploitative structure, such as the image of Jesus as a "good shepherd." The third is defense, which acknowledges the problematic nature of killing, leading many religions to adopt a propitiation mechanism, such as apologizing for sacrifice. And the fourth is effective-defensive, which recognizes animal abuse as inherently unethical.

As humans feel more empathy toward animals, Perlo finds that adherents revise their interpretations of religious texts. Preexisting ontologies, such as Christianity's changing God or Buddhism's principle of impermanence, along with advances in farming practices and technology, also encourage changes in treatment. As cultures begin to appreciate the different types of perception and consciousness experienced by nonhumans, definitions of reality become complicated and humans lean more toward unitary accounts of shared existence. These evolving attitudes exert a crucial influence on religious thought, Perlo argues, moving humans ever closer to a nonspeciesist world.

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Through close readings of Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist texts, Katherine Wills Perlo proves that our relationship with animals shapes religious doctrine, particularly through the tension between animal exploitation and the bonds of kinship. She pinpoints four different strategies for coping with this conflict. The first is a...

Katherine Wills Perlo is an independent scholar and a veteran animal rights campaigner. Her articles have appeared in Ecotheology, Society and Animals, and the Journal for Critical Animal Studies.
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:March 22, 2009Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231519605

ISBN - 13:9780231519601

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Hebrew Bible
2. Judaism
3. Christianity
4. Islam
5. Buddhism
6. Change and the Effective-Defensive Strategy
7. Seeing as a Whole: The Animal Perspective
8. The Problem of Oneness
9. Animal Rights: The Next Step in Human Moral Evolution
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Katherine Wills Perlo has turned the traditional discourse on animals and religion inside out. Instead of focusing on the impact of religion on our treatment of animals, she reveals the distortions that our prejudices toward our nonhuman neighbors have had on religious teachings. A remarkable marriage of insightful scholarship and deep compassion, Kinship and Killing is a seminal work that will influence the direction of the debate on religion and animals for decades to come."