Every Creature a Word of God – review
Every Creature a Word of God, by Annika Spalde and Pelle Strindlund, Wild Goose Publications, 2008 (originally published in Swedish in 2005), 162 pages, ISBN: 978-1849520720, RRP £8.50 (e-book)
Every Creature a Word of God seeks to answer the question of what God’s love for all creatures looks like and why a focus on animals is needed when so many people are suffering. That the authors practise what they preach is emphasised by the way each chapter begins with part of a description of a non-violent action to liberate suffering animals such as chickens.
This book’s biggest strength is the way it uses a multitude of examples to emphasise the long history of concern for animals by people of God within the Christian tradition. Those involved in animal rights and non-violent disobedience on behalf of animals because of their Christian faith will find great encouragement in the assurance of this text that they are not alone. Every Creature a Word of God is a powerful criticism of factory farming of animals and a call to vegetarianism.
Spalde and Strindlund advocate preaching the good news to animals not through words but in the only way they can understand – our actions. They believe our care and respect must testify to the love of God currently obscured by the pain and hurt so many animals suffer at our hands. The central premise is that animals are the children of God, that God’s mercy reaches beyond the borders of humanity and that those who experience God’s love should be able to feel tenderness towards all creatures. Other themes include animals as neighbours, the intertwining of our destinies, the responsibility that comes from our power over the rest of Creation, stories from different traditions about Jesus’ relationship with animals, and Jesus’ idea of love as compassion that leads to action and tending to the needs of others even when this requires personal sacrifice.
This is not a theological challenge in the vein of one of Andrew Linzey’s books on animal theology, but it is a strong, faith-based plea for compassion on God’s creatures and the end of human violence towards them. A reasonably quick and light read, this is not a book to present to a hardened sceptic, but will encourage and inspire those who are open to the ideas or already interested in the area.