Books
The Longest Struggle: Animal Rights from
Pythagoras to Peta.
Lantern Books, New York,
2007. 368 pages. $20

From the first hominids who hunted woolly
mammoths to today's factory farms and
bio-engineering labs,
The Longest Struggle:
Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras
to PETA tells
the story of animal exploitation and the battle for
animal justice. After describing the roots of
animal rights in the ancient world, author Norm
Phelps follows the development of animal
protection through the Enlightenment, the
anti-vivisection battles of the Victorian Era, and
the birth of the modern animal rights movement
with the publication of Peter Singer's Animal
Liberation.

In a brisk, readable narrative, The Longest
Struggle traces the campaigns of animal rights
pioneers like Henry Spira, Alex Hershaft, and
Ingrid Newkirk, as well as leaders who have
come more recently on the scene like Heidi
Prescott, Karen Davis, and Bruce Friedrich.
The Great Compassion: Buddhism and
Animal Rights.
Lantern Books, New York,
2004. 240 pages. $16.

Buddhism ought to be an animal rights religion
par excellence. It has long held that all life
forms are sacred and considers kindness and
compassion the highest virtues. Moreover,
Buddhism explicitly includes animals in its
moral universe. Buddhist rules of conduct—
including the first precept, “Do not kill”—apply
to our treatment of animals as well as to our
treatment of other human beings.

Consequently, we would expect Buddhism to
oppose all forms of animal exploitation, and
there is, in fact, wide agreement that most forms
of animal exploitation are contrary to Buddhist
teaching. Yet many Buddhists eat meat—
although many do not—and monks, priests, and
scholars sometimes defend meat-eating as
consistent with Buddhist teaching.

The Great Compassion studies the various
strains of Buddhism and the sutras that
command respect for all life. Norm Phelps, a
longtime student of Buddhism and an
acquaintance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
answers the central questions of whether
Buddhism demands vegetarianism and whether
the Buddha ate meat. He is not afraid to
examine anti-animal statements in Buddhist
lore—particularly the issues of whether
Buddhists in non-historically Buddhist countries
need to keep or to jettison the practices of their
historical homelands.
The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights
According to the Bible.
Lantern Books, New
York, 2002. 208 pages. $15.

Many commentators have, over the centuries
and up to the present day, used the Bible to
argue that animals have no rights, that they were
put on this earth for our use, and that we have
no moral obligations to them. In
The Dominion
of Love
, Norm Phelps shows that the right of
animals not to be enslaved and slaughtered for
human benefit flows as naturally from the
Bible's message of boundless love and
compassion as does the right of human beings
not to be enslaved and slaughtered. And he
backs this up by responding honestly and
cogently to the defenses of animal exploitation
that are often made based on the Bible. Fully
researched and annotated,
The Dominion of
Love
sets key Biblical passages in their
historical context and discusses the precise
meaning of Hebrew and Greek terms where this
is important to understanding the meaning of a
passage.

Written to encourage all who revere the Bible as
holy scripture to open their hearts to the unjust
suffering that we inflict upon our nonhuman
neighbors,
The Dominion of Love argues
persuasively for a compassionate and
non-exploitative reading of Holy Scripture.
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animals and ethics