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In the latest PETA magazine, Ingrid Newkirk shared this story about author Loren Eiseley who had trapped two sparrowhawks to send to a zoo. While he was moving them around, the male bird bit him, which distracted him enough to allow the male’s mate to escape. The next morning, Eiseley built a cage, but when he picked up the hawk to put him into it, he could feel his little heart beating very fast and saw that he was staring up into the sky. In a flash of compassion, the author released him. Of that transformative moment, he wrote, “He flew up into the towering emptiness of light and crystal that was so intense that my eyes could scarcely bear to penetrate it. There was silence. Then, from far up somewhere, a cry. When I heard that cry my heart turned over. Coming down straight out of the sun’s eyes, where she must have been soaring restlessly above us for untold hours, hurtled his mate. And from far up, ringing from peak to peak, came a cry of such unutterable and ecstatic joy that it sounds down across the years as I write.” --Contributed by Judy Carman Photo of sparrowhawk mates ©️ by Mia McPherson. (It is not of the hawks in the story.) Editor’s Corner Pioneer Essay: Grand Duchess Elisabeth Romanov (1864 - 1918) Few persons have been better situated in the traditional world of European royalty than Elisabeth of Hesse. Born the daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse in Germany, and the intellectual, compassionate Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, she was moreover sister of none other than Czarina Alexandra, controversial consort of Nicholas II, the last czar. Not only that, Elisabeth was the wife of another Romanov, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, son of Czar Alexander II. Well-placed amid that ill-fated house's many plots and palaces, her life finally took another direction, and she spent her last years a vegetarian working tirelessly among the poor and sick of Moscow. On her last day she was the victim of revolutionary murder by the Bolsheviks. Not only did Elizabeth come from English royalty and one of the noblest dynasties in Germany, she was also stunningly beautiful. As a young woman she had no lack of suitors, including the future Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. But in the end, like her sister, she chose to marry into the Russian imperial house, and, also like Alexandra, converted from Lutheranism to Russian Orthodoxy. The wedding, to Sergei (pictured below), younger son of Czar Alexander II, took place in 1884. Her bridegroom at first seemed unprepossessing, being shy and often withdrawn. But she found herself drawn to him because of shared interests and experiences. Both knew early sorrow--she had lost her mother to diphtheria; he -- --lost his father, whom he deeply loved, to -- --an assassin. Like her, he appreciated art -- --and literature; he knew personally such -- --Russian luminaries as Dostoevsky and -- --Tolstoy, and learned Italian in order to -- --read Dante. Both in their ways were -- --deeply religious. It didn’t hurt that he -- --was handsome, too. Elizabeth was popular in her adopted country. "Everyone fell in love with her from the moment she came to Russia," wrote a cousin of Sergei. The couple settled happily in the capital, St. Petersburg, making rewarding friendships. Eight years later came what turned out to be a disaster of immense proportions. Sergei's elder brother, Czar Alexander III, appointed him Governor-General of Moscow in 1892. The couple moved to the Kremlin. The appointment to this very high post may have been for dynastic reasons, and because both shared conservative, russophile political views. Sergei and Alexander's father, the relatively liberal czar Alexander II, who liberated the serfs and was working on parliamentary reforms, had been assassinated in March 1881 by a bomb that left his body terribly disfigured. Seeing the gruesome remains of their beloved father left the two sons with an intense hatred of the liberal revolutionaries they thought this act of terrorism represented. They associated--or identified-- these enemies with intellectuals, students, and Russia's many ethnic minorities, above all Jews. Quickly reversing his father's enlightened policies, Alexander III and his administration turned highly repressive, including exiling Jews to the "Pale," an area in southwest Russia. Sergei was supposed to enforce the policy in Moscow, which was outside the Pale, but the role was one for which czar's younger brother was very unsuited. Like not a few other shy, introverted persons placed in positions of power unnatural to them, he overreacted and gave rein to a brutal, even sadistic side to his character. The first and worst of his actions was the expulsion of 20,000 Jews from Moscow upon his arrival; although the atrocity originated in the Ministry of the Interior, Sergei carried it out assiduously, causing much suffering. Elisabeth, appalled, declared that "God will punish us severely." The intimate though childless marriage deteriorated from then on, Sergei treating his consort in a more and more overbearing manner, rarely even wanting to be alone with her. Bound to a seemingly different husband from the man she loved, and separated from the good friends of St. Petersburg, instead compelled by tedious official and social obligations, Elizabeth's life felt lonely and empty. To deal with this loss she began to seek outlets in works of compassion and philanthropy. She sponsored events to raise money for charity, and in the context of putting it to use, she became aware of the misery, crime, and disease of the city's slums. She met the inevitable cripples and beggars on the streets, and confronted the appalling conditions of hospitals and prisons. Becoming increasingly religious amid this work, she said she wished to bring God "my feeble gratitude by serving Him and His suffering children." (Mager 140) Her prediction of divine judgment was apparently fulfilled when thirteen years later, on February 18, 1905, Sergei was assassinated by a revolutionary, Ivan Kalyayev. To the astonishment of the public, Elizabeth went to the prison the very next day to meet her husband's killer personally. She asked him why he did it, and calling upon her Christian faith, offered him her forgiveness, saying that if he repented she would work for commutation of his undoubted sentence of death. But Kalyayev refused her entreaties, saying he had killed Sergei because the Governor-General was an instrument of tyranny, and that the killer's death on the gallows would do more good for the revolutionary cause than repentance. She wanted this visit kept secret, but the word got out, in various versions, some very distorted. Elisabeth probably felt there was truth in Kalyayev’s accusation: the man she loved had become cold, a stranger. She spent many days after Sergei's death and funeral in prayer without ceasing. She gained a conviction of what she was called to do: her charitable work would now become, not merely part of her life, but its whole. She became a vegetarian, sold her valuable collection of jewelry and other tokens of aristocratic privilege, lived simply, and in 1909 opened a convent (pictured above) named for Saints Martha and Mary (representing service and contemplation) of the Sisters of Mercy in Moscow, becoming its abbess. (Of the vegetarianism, her biographer Hugo Mager says "She could never again eat meat, for it brought the memory of the bloody fragments of Sergei’s corpse." (214) But it was also part of a pattern of serious asceticism in her life from this time onward. Fasting, including periodic vegetarianism and veganism, are important parts of the devoted practice of Orthodoxy.) During her later captivity, she and her companions were fed horsemeat stew, and she tried fruitlessly to explain to her captors that eating flesh was anathema to her. Unlike most Eastern Orthodox monasteries and convents, which were dedicated to prayer and contemplation, the convent of Saints Martha and Mary practiced a life of active Christian service among the poor and sick of Russia's-then-second-largest city; Elisabeth and her nuns visited its worst slums to alleviate what suffering they could. Her niece, Grand Duchess Marie, author of a remarkable memoir of her (Marie’s) life entitled Education of a Princess in those tumultuous years in Russia, writes that Elisabeth "came now into contact with a greater number and variety of people. This had broadened her outlook, made her softer, more human. Not only did she come face to face with phases of life of which previously she had known nothing, but she had now to take into account opinions and viewpoints entirely at variance with her own." (p. 197) Needless to say, the establishment of a convent differing so much from the Orthodox tradition as this one, devoted to service as well as contemplation, caused controversy in the ecclesiastical world. But to his credit Czar Nicholas II resolved it in favor of the Grand Duchess by issuing her new convent a charter. Marie has a similar experience of seeing the real world outside the palaces during the First World War, when leaving behind life at court, she worked tirelessly as a nurse in a military hospital. Both aunt and niece learned that an intense life given to the struggles and joys of service meant far more than one of empty comfort. (Marie in fact stated that if the Revolution had not intervened she might have ended up as abbess of the Martha and Mary convent after her aunt.) They also heard a lot about the unpopularity of the staretz (spiritual counselor) Grigori Rasputin and his influence on the Empress Alexandra thanks to his ability to alleviate her son's painful hemophiliac attacks. Elisabeth reportedly had a long conversation with her sister in late 1916 about the problem and the threat it posed to the dynasty. But Alexandra, who had an authoritarian cast of mind and lacked Elisabeth's breadth of mind and innate wisdom and compassion--and -- --was deeply worried about her only son--refused to respond until the staretz was murdered on December -- --30 of that year. The following year, 1917, brought revolution and the czar's abdication, a short-lived democratic regime under Alexander Kerensky, and the fateful Bolshevik October Revolution. Determined to get rid of the Romanovs, Vladimir Lenin ordered the arrest of Elisabeth along with many other Romanovs, including the imperial family, in 1918. When Elisabeth was seized from her convent, her nuns were traumatized, and two of them insisted on going with her. Several months and hundreds of miles later, the captives were clubbed and thrown into a sixty-six foot deep mine pit, followed by hand grenades and fire, on July 17 or 18, 1918. It may have been on the same day as the murders of the czar, czarina, their four daughters and son, several servants, and even their dog, not far away. But it is said that Elisabeth and most of the others did not die immediately, but were heard singing Orthodox hymns in the pit afterwards, until injuries and starvation did their deadly job. Her remains were recovered later by White (anti-communist) troops; her body was said to be incorrupt. It was moved to a Russian Orthodox chapel in Beijing, China, and finally to a chapel in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, in accordance with a wish of Elisabeth’s expressed much earlier. In 1992 she was canonized as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. She is known as St. Elisabeth the New Martyr. Her order of nuns, which had been disbanded in the 1920s, was reinstated in the 1990s and continues today. A statue of her in her nun’s habit appears among the ten twentieth-century martyrs represented above the west entrance to Westminster Abbey in London. (Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero are two others.) Lenin welcomed Elisabeth's death, reportedly saying, "Virtue with the crown on it is a greater enemy to the world revolution than a hundred tyrant Czars"--that is, an aristocratic saint is a greater -- --threat to revolution than any number of -- --oppressors. What Lenin had in mind was -- --that the compassionate aristocrat gives the -- --lie to the myth upon which violent -- --revolution and war depend, that the enemies -- --are all evil, barely human, and so can -- --legitimately be destroyed. Remarkably, it apparently didn’t occur to him that the story would probably get out, and that murdering a virtuous aristocrat would do far more harm to the revolutionary cause than sparing her to continue her good work could possibly have done. It is clear that Lenin was seriously lacking in ethical imagination, and apparently didn’t read Shakespeare to help him develop it: “ . . . . [her] virtues Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against The deep damnation of [her] taking-off; And Pity, like a naked new-born babe Striding the blast, and heaven’s cherubim horsed Upon the [unseen] couriers of the air Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye That tears shall drown the wind.” Far different--and more difficult--is the non-violent revolution, the Lamb's War, like that of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez, which instead seeks to speak truth, love, and transformation to the other side. To this approach Elisabeth would certainly have responded. --Robert Ellwood with Gracia Fay Ellwood Sources: Hugo Mager, Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia: A Biography. New York, 1998. Marie, Grand Duchess of Russia, Education of a Princess: A Memoir. New York, 1931. Macbeth, Act I, Scene 7 NewsNotes Vietnamese Movement to Close Bile Bear Farms The Vietnamese government is supporting the movement, by Animals Asia and other groups, to close all its cruel bear bile farms. The five hundred bears will be sent to sanctuary. More details later .--Contributed by Nancy Campeau What if Our Meat Was Human? A major newspaper, none other than the New York Times, has reviewed a novel that depicts cannibalism in order to awaken readers to the horror of factory farming. It is Tender is the Flesh, by Argentinian writer Agustina Bazterrica (pictured), translated by Sarah Moses from the Spanish Cadaver Exquiśito. See Unpalatable Message Victory! Anti-Horse Nomination Withdrawn The present administration’s nomination of William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management, a man whose history shows him to be an enemy of wild horses and burros, has been withdrawn thanks to pressure from members of In Defense of Animals and others. See My Home This Is Unset Gems “The present chaos is not the end of the world, but the labor pains of a new earth and a new humanity coming into form.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, 1881 - 1955 cited in Homo Ahimsa “God’s original plan was to hang out in a garden with a couple of naked vegans.” (Does anyone know the wag who wrote this?--Do share.) Book Review: Homo Ahimsa: Who we really are an how we’re going to save the world Judy McCoy Carman, Homo Ahimsa: Who We Really Are and How We're Going to Save the World. Foreword by Will Tuttle. Lawrence, KS: Circle of Compassion Publishing, 2020. Pp. xxviii + 122. $14.95 softcover. What would your ideal world, your personal utopia, be like? For most readers of The Peaceable Table, a major factor in it would undoubtedly be animals and humans living together in harmony. Loving looks between one and the other, not violence, would define the partnership. We would be humans whose courage lies in harmlessness rather than deeds of killing; they would be brothers and sisters who look at us with gratitude that we, like their elder brothers, have finally become what they have waited for in us for so long. Here, in Homo Ahimsa, we have Judy Carman's vision and impassioned rationale for that utopia. The title, combining Latin and Sanskrit terms, means something like "Harmless Humanity," the stage toward which all of us who share her vision are striving, or should be. Carman, a tireless activist for animal, peace, and environmental concerns, has certainly earned the right to present her vision and for it to be seen and heard. This is the book's essential message. We are in a period of crises: of extinctions, pandemics, corruption, and violence. And these crises were caused by none other than ourselves, homo sapiens. We therefore must solve them and, Carman assures us, "yes, there is still time. Governments and corporations won't stop the madness. But we can." To do so, we must change ourselves into Homo Ahimsa. "While the world's life support systems are in free-fall, we are ascending in consciousness." The crises themselves, putting everything seemingly in change and chaos, provides "our window of opportunity to create the peaceful, liberated world of peace and partnership with all life." (Back cover) Homo Ahimsa describes the present world of violence and destruction against animals, nature, indigenous peoples, and anyone or anything less powerful than those in power, in uncompromising terms. We must not underestimate what we are up against. But the wonderful thing about Judy Carman's writing is that it is also hopeful, and brilliantly, warmly so. She does not doubt that we can reverse the destructiveness we have unleashed, and that we can do it now. Why? Because we already have all the tools we need here at hand, for they are within us. We are not only homo sapiens, we also, each of us, have hidden deep within us Homo Ahimsa, waiting to be called out now and given our planet to be made into his/her likeness. This change will also involve "the divine mother in us all ris[ing] from the ashes" to defeat "misogyny and mass shootings," and these two inwardnesses, Homo Ahimsa and the Divine Mother, support one another as they emerge, for "killing animals kills our own sacred feminine." Moreover, Judy Carman believes there are signs now of a spiritual awakening in these directions, even if they are not usually apparent in the daily headlines. I agree; one can see the quiet first gestures of the new world in sites from supermarket shelves to our children or grandchildren on the playground. I myself, as a historian of religion, have a sense that we are on the brink of a new Axial Age, comparable to that immense spiritual-historical change some twenty-five hundred years ago which opened up the age of the great religious founders, from the Buddha to the Christ to the Prophet Muhammad. These mighty figures originated the faiths followed, at least nominally, by most of the world's peoples today. But some new change in our world so different from theirs seems now to be just over the horizon, and I don't doubt a major part of it will be the emergence, from Main Street to Wall Street, of Carman's Homo Ahimsa. The new world will not necessarily abolish the traditional faiths of today, but it will take the best elements of them as it transcends and transforms them, and gives us a path for the new cosmos of the space age, and the new world of Homo Ahimsa. If you want to know how we get there, read this short but packed volume. Homo Ahimsa can hardly be recommended too highly. It is a book for everyone, for every reader and every library. Give it a try, and see if you don't share in Judy Carman's concerns, and also in her tremendous vision of the new Ahimsa world emerging like a gorgeous butterfly from its long- dormant chrysalis. The butterfly is there, ready to be seen by those whose eyes are opening. --Robert Ellwood Further Reflections Sparked by Homo Ahimsa Some religiously-inspired activists, greatly distressed by realizing the extent of violence against our animal cousins in the Western tradition in which they grew up, and finding sympathy toward them in another religion, go into reaction and no longer seem to see any lifegiving promise for the animals in their own tradition. Though Carman finds inspiration in Jainism and Buddhism, she does not make this mistake: in Chapter Seven she refers to the crucially important Biblical theme of Paradise, both the myth of the original garden, and Paradise as a dream, a longing, in most people’s hearts. Carman also cites Christian thinkers such as the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, and nineteenth-century English priest John Henry Newman, who spoke up for animals as bearers of God, and Christlike in their innocent suffering. A Biblical theme she does not deal with much that has great (though largely undeveloped) promise and power for the future of animals is that of Exodus, as carried further in the work of the writing prophets. This is arguably the founding theme of Judaism and the other Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Islam, because the core of its message is that God is compassionate, hears the cries of the oppressed and enslaved, and calls human beings to act to liberate them. Speaking out of the burning bush, God says to Moses, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh [and you shall say] ’Let my people go. . . ‘” (Ex. 3:10, 5:1) One of the great themes of Exodus is that God seeks, not only the transformation of individuals, but of societies at the same time, and calls us to work for both. The original story is no help to animals; the Israelites’ lambs are killed and their blood spread on the doorposts of their houses, so that the death angel who comes to kill the firstborn of every Egyptian family will pass over that household. Furthermore, the horses of the Egyptians are drowned in the Red Sea with their riders. But the core conception of Exodus--God’s championing of -- --the cause of the oppressed of -- --society against the powerful--is later carried forward by the prophets, beginning with Amos. The prophets not only thunder a coming judgment against the neighboring countries who have done violence to Israel, but against the powerful of Israel itself, who have been corrupted into becoming a new Pharaoh, exploiting and oppressing the poor and defenseless of their own country. This conception of a deity whose love for justice and compassion is so strong that he (admittedly, mostly he) passes judgment on the rulers of his own people is one of the greatest gifts of Judaism to the world. (In contrast, in the ancient world, and in many countries today, established religion is in the service of those in power.) According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus saw his own ministry as part of the prophetic tradition, and employed language from the Exodus theme. Quoting Isaiah 61, he says “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, To proclaim release to the captives . . . To set at liberty those who are oppressed. . .” (Luke 4:18) This theme is not applied to animals in the Gospels; for them it had to wait until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There are examples of other late-ripening fruit from this seed, instances that can strengthen our faith and hope on the animals’ behalf. The original Exodus story, and even the prophets, have nothing to say about the liberation of women--in fact, some of the -- --prophets make matters worse for -- --women th their repeated use of the -- --image of an adulterous woman for -- --errant Israel. But, as with the -- --animals, Exodus has a seed of good -- --news for women too. Feminist -- --theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether -- --calls it the Exodus Principle. -- --Though it has been theologically -- --underdeveloped for centuries among -- --Christians, while violence against -- --oppressed groups, animal and human, -- --has been rampant in Christian -- --countries, it has nonetheless -- --influenced the history of organized -- --liberation movements, most of which -- --began, significantly, in the West: -- --the Underground Railroad (remember -- --songs like“Let my people go” and -- --Harriet Tubman’s code name Moses?); -- --the movement in England, led by -- --devout Evangelical William -- --Wilberforce (pictured), to abolish -- --the human-slave trade; the 1848 -- --Seneca Falls Convention on women’s -- --rights, and the many decades of -- --activism for women that followed; -- --the (Royal) Society for the -- --Prevention of Cruelty to Animals -- --(whose 1824 founders included three -- --Christian clergymen, Wilberforce, -- --and vegan Jew Lewis Gompertz; the -- --Society for the the Prevention of -- --Cruelty to Children, the Civil -- --Rights Movement, and the Liberation -- --Theology movement in Latin America, -- --to name a few prominent ones. -- --Mohandas Gandhi’s time spent in -- --England, in which he was much -- --influenced by the Sermon on the -- --Mount, resulted in a wonderful -- --cross-fertilization of Hinduism and -- --Christianity that resulted in the -- --first mass political application of -- --the Exodus principle since the -- --original biblical event (assuming it -- --has a historical core). The culmination of Exodus is entrance into the Promised Land of the Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9) in which the wolf lies down with the lamb, a little child leads, and no one hurts or destroys any longer. It is the renewal of Paradise for which, deep down, nearly every heart is longing, as Judy Carman assures us. Considering the fruits that the Exodus principle is bearing for other oppressed groups in the last two hundred-plus years, it is encouraging to contemplate its potential for our animal cousins. We hope to see future editions of Homo Ahimsa, in which the author will perhaps dwell on the promise for animals of this powerful principle. --Gracia Fay Ellwood Recipe: Red & Black Bean and Corn Salad 1 ½ cups kidney beans, cooked 1 ½ cups black beans, cooked 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen yellow corn kernels, at room temperature ½ red bell pepper, diced 2 T. extra virgin olive oil 1 T. seasoned rice vine sea salt, to taste freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well 2 ½ cups water ½ tsp. sea salt In a medium -to-large serving bowl combine beans, corn and red bell pepper. Toss with olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper. Set aside to allow flavors to meld In the meantime, bring 2 ½ cups water to a boil; add ½ teas. salt and quinoa. Cook on medium – low heat until water has absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Pour into a serving dish, and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve bean, corn and red pepper mixture over beds of quinoa. Drizzle with additional olive oil and rice vinegar as desired. This is a delicious way to enjoy the whole grain quinoa. To save time canned beans may be used. The salad is colorful and delightful. Serves 4. --- Angela Suarez Poetry: Kabir, Fifteenth Century (exact dates uncertain) Untitled Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale. From what land do you come, O Swan? To what shore will you fly? Where would you take your rest, O Swan, and wt do you seek? Even this morning, O Swan, awake, arise, follow me! There is a land where no doubt nor sorrow have rule: Where the terror of Death is no more. There the woods of spring are a-bloom, And the ‘He is I” is borne on the wind: There the bee of the heart is immersed, And desires no other joy. --Tr. By Rabindranath Tagore