Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."--Genesis 1:24-26
In this crucial passage from the Old Testament, God grants mankind power over animals. But with this privilege comes the grave responsibility to respect life, to treat animals with simple dignity and compassion.
Somewhere along the way, something has gone wrong.
In Dominion, we witness the annual convention of Safari Club International, an organization whose wealthier members will pay up to $20,000 to hunt an elephant, a lion or another animal, either abroad or in American "safari ranches," where the animals are fenced in pens. We attend the annual International Whaling Commission conference, where the skewed politics of the whaling industry come to light, and the focus is on developing more lethal, but not more merciful, methods of harvesting "living marine resources." And we visit a gargantuan American "factory farm," where animals are treated as mere product and raised in conditions of mass confinement, bred for passivity and bulk, inseminated and fed with machines, kept in tightly confined stalls for the entirety of their lives, and slaughtered in a way that maximizes profits and minimizes decency.
Throughout Dominion, Scully counters the hypocritical arguments that attempt to excuse animal abuse: from those who argue that the Bible's message permits mankind to use animals as it pleases, to the hunter's argument that through hunting animal populations are controlled, to the popular and "scientifically proven" notions that animals cannot feel pain, experience no emotions, and are not conscious of their own lives.
The result is eye opening, painful and infuriating, insightful and rewarding. Dominion is a plea for human benevolence and mercy, a scathing attack on those who would dismiss animal activists as mere sentimentalists, and a demand for reform from the government down to the individual. Matthew Scully has created a groundbreaking work, a book of lasting power and importance for all of us.
alleged affects of intensive farming on public health. Does he worry about this? A grave look comes over Sonny. “Oh yeah, we worry a lot about that.” Fears over the public health hazards have already brought a moratorium from the North Carolina General Assembly on the construction of new mass-confinement facilities. Iowa, Oklahoma, and a few other states have since taken up similar measures. Smithfield fears more laws to come, leading perhaps to a phasing out of mass-confinement operations
see if it’s poisonous; and gasoline, to make sure we shouldn’t drink it; and propane and butane, to have a look just once more at what happens when they’re inhaled in large quantities. Worse, the European Commission has meanwhile mandated its own new tests for many of the very same chemicals. Worse still, all of this was the doing of environmentalists, demanding these new tests as a means of setting back the chemical companies. And so, in labs that neither they nor we will ever see, more
offers this hopeful formulation of the doctrine: “Adam drew down into his ruin the old creation, of which he was lord and head. Christ will bring into moral unity with God, and into eternal life, all of the new creation of which He is Lord and head (Eph. 1:22-23). Even the animal and material creation, cursed for man’s sake (Gen. 3:17), will be delivered by Christ (w. 19-22; cp. Isa. 11:6-9).” New Scofield Reference Bible (Oxford University Press, 1967). 35. Swan, In Defense of Hunting, p. 15.
which meta-physicians have sometimes sought. Most wicked deeds are done because the doer proposes some good to himself… [but] the killer for sport has no such comprehensible motive. He prefers death to life, darkness to light. He gets nothing except the satisfaction of saying, “Something that wanted to live is dead. There is that much less vitality, consciousness, and, perhaps, joy in the universe. I am the Spirit that Denies.”36 THE CURATORS It has been a good convention for jewelers,
environmental damage anywhere, and inhabits an enclosed ranch unable even to escape? Why? Here are three guys sitting next to a grizzly that has been propped up in seated position. They’re all laughing and pointing at him, as if at a drunken bar mate who has passed out. The mighty “Stalker of the North” deserves this? Here is Brother Wolf, as Saint Francis called him—five of his kind hanging from a rope like so much laundry. Were these marauders harassing ranchers, killing livestock,