happy birthday Spoggy!

Our unofficial mascot Spoggy the sparrow celebrated his 4th 'hatchday' a couple of days ago with his rescue 'mum' and 'dad,' Susan and David in Tasmania, Australia.  Happy birthday, Spoggy!  And thanks to Susan for this great video collage celebrating his last year.  I especially love the scenes where Spoggy defends his perch on top of the computer screen and peels off all of the keyboard stickers, and when he hides in the 'cave' made by David's head and pillow ...

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what a wonderful world

I've always loved Louis Armstrong's classic song "What a Wonderful World," which has a meaningful and hopeful enough message for us human beings.  I never imagined it being applied to the plant and animal world as well, which is exactly what the BBC and David Attenborough (host of The Life of Birds and other nature series) do in this beautiful and heartwarming clip:

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of mice and men (and mercy)

Following up on Robert Burns' empathetic poem addressed to a field mouse, Lauren Merritt of The Christian and Creation writes movingly of an opportunity she had to show compassion to a drowning barn mouse earlier this Fall ...

There were three of us, early that humid September morning, sharing in the spectacle of life and death, animal survival and human dominion.  A chestnut Thoroughbred mare, a tiny, drowning gray mouse, and me.

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to a mouse

With winter upon us, it seemed an appropriate season to share "To a Mouse," an affecting and empathetic poem from Scottish poet and farmer Robert Burns which he wrote in 1785 "on turning her up in her nest with the plough":

Wee, sleekit (sly or cunning), cow'rin, tim'rous (full of fear) beastie,
Oh!  what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa' sae hasty
          Wi' bick'ring brattle (pattering noise)!
I wad be laith (loath) to rin (run) an' chase thee,
          Wi' murd'ring pattle (plough staff).

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my faith, God's animals and diet

I prematurely concluded our recent series on Christian voices for animals before sharing this heartfelt personal reflection from Canadian friend and animal advocate Anne Sturgeon ...

Having been raised in a loving Christian home, it didn’t feel like a huge step to believe in a loving, merciful God who wants to have a personal relationship with me.  What I do find difficult is being the best person I believe God expects me to be.  I keep returning to him knowing He will be there, waiting for me, prepared to forgive and ready to guide me, once again, if I choose! 

Since a child, I have been hearing and feeling God's loving, gentle, caring, compassionate, and merciful voice telling me to take care of His creation.  God frequently teaches me through my day-to-day life, and I feel that His handiwork clearly points to Him and His awesome, magnificent power.  God's Universe is so amazing and reveals His miracles every day.

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more Christian voices for animals

Over the past month we've shared a variety of poignant reflections on animals and our calling to steward to them as followers of Christ, including posts on our relationship to wildlife ("The Interloper" by Ben Witherington and "Does Wildlife Need Our Management?" from Jenny Sue Hane), the diversity of God's creatures ("Embracing Diversity" by Chuck Summers) and our frequent failure to know and appreciate them ("Naming Again all the Animals" from Lowell Bliss), a historic evangelical voice against animal cruelty and a contemporary one for including animals in our understanding of rest ("Sabbath, Animals Included" by Nancy Janisch), even some thoughts on Thanksgiving and turkeys.

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new life for rescued lab beagles

A couple of friends just shared this very touching video from Beagle Freedom Project, which shows 9 rescued research lab beagles taking their very first, tentative steps outside.  It's such a simple thing, to see a dog walk on grass for the first time, but a profound reminder of God's most basic intentions for His creatures, regardless of how humanity might otherwise designate them for use (and often dubiously) ...

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does wildlife need our management? (part 2)

Continuing Jenny Sue Hane's thought-provoking and biblically grounded post "Does Wildlife Need Our Management?" ...

There are already signs that “management” by humans might not be all it’s cracked up to be.  Unlike natural predators, we are not limited in our choice of prey by our strength and speed.  So although hunters might describe their work as “culling,” in reality they often take the highest quality animals they can find.  Traits that once improved animals’ ability to survive are now working against them by making them desirable targets for hunters, so reproductive selection begins to reduce or eliminate those traits.  Elephants without tusks have increased, kangaroos are getting smaller, and bighorn sheep are developing less impressive headgear.  Our attempts to control nature may actually reduce the genetic strength and diversity of animal populations.  Is this a sign of responsible stewardship in action?  Is this what we wanted?  (See for instance Newsweek's "It's Survival of the Weak and Scrawny.")

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does wildlife need our management?

One of our community members Jenny Sue Hane has been following the recent wolf hunting developments closely, and even organized an exemplary rally in opposition to them.  This is the first part of a thoughtful post she wrote for us on taking a genuinely Christian approach to wildlife management ...

Here in the US, where I live, state game agencies are in the business of managing wildlife.  This includes issuing a number of permits to hunters every year, even for creatures that are not typically eaten and bear many similarities to domestic companion animals.  Some of the arguments for the hunting of non-food animals focus on their supposed conflicts with people and their livestock, which may be greatly overstated.  But once those are out of the way, there is another argument that the trophy hunters fall back on: the “animals need to be managed” argument. 

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embracing diversity

I'm grateful to introduce a new and multi-gifted voice to our blog in Chuck Summers, a pastor and nature photographer based in eastern Kentucky.  Following is "Embracing Diversity" from Seeing Creation, a compelling blog which he co-hosts with fellow photographer Rob Sheppard ...

“How many are your works, O Lord!” (Psalm 104:24)

We truly do live in a remarkable and diverse world.  I did a few Google searches and discovered that there are an estimated 1.5 million different plant and animal species in the world today.  There are over 10,000 different species of birds and an incredible 900,000 different species of insects.  The various species of flowering plants number around 400,000.  There are 25,000 different kinds of cherries and 264 different kinds of monkeys.  The estimated number of different trees is in the tens of thousands.

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