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Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of…

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to…

by Matthew Scully

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Showing 5 of 5
This book convinced me to never again buy meat from a supermarket. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
I wasn't aware that St. Basil, St. John Chrysosto, St Isaac the Syrian were all vegetarians.
  GEPPSTER53 | Jul 16, 2009 |
Scully, a vegetarian and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, presents a Christian view of animal welfare in this powerful work. The argument centers on the biblical idea of dominion, that in Genesis humans were bestowed with power over animals and the earth. Rather than giving us unlimited power to harm and exploit animals, Scully argues that the Christian tradition directs us to treat them with reverence and mercy. He does not argue that animals have rights, but rather that humans have duties and obligations towards them and that in the current state of things these duties are being egregiously ignored and rejected. In heartbreaking detail he describes many of the areas of human activity where animals are being cruelly tortured and killed, including trophy hunting, whale hunting, factory farming, and scientific research. Humans are distinguished from other animals in that we can make moral choices. Scully appeals for our compassion, hoping that once readers learn of the cruelty towards animals in these industries that we will choose the moral high ground of kindness over killing. His book is a plea for mercy that concludes with suggestions for legislative reforms that would improve the condition of animals, though not rescuing them from subjugation. Throughout he discusses philosophical perspectives in the debate on animal rights, including a critique of the utilitarian philosophy of Peter Singer, and an endorsement of natural law as a basis for our moral standards. According to this understanding of natural law, human lives have a purpose based in reason and morality. It is clear that Matthew Scully has found his purpose, in urging us towards compassion in our treatment of our fellow animals. ( )
2 vote lesliejeanie | Jun 6, 2007 |
I am in awe of this book. It is, without a doubt, the most powerful book I have ever read. I defy anyone to read it and not be changed by it. Amazing. Hard-hitting. Sensible. Rational. Painful. Hopeful. Infuriating. Spell-binding.

Bascially, it's a book about the plight of animals under the domination of humans. The book begins with the verse from Genesis where God commands Adam to have 'dominion' over the creatures of the earth. Scully explains, throughout the book, just how appallingly we have abused that supposed command, often in the name of it being our God-given right to do so. That said, this is not a religious book, nor does the religious aspect of the title dominate the book's theme. I would wholly disagree that this book is aimed primarily at Christians. It's aimed at everyone.

The book is so well put together, each chapter laid out in great detail and dealing with one issue separately from the rest. Scully's viewpoints and counter-arguments to the vile people who take delight in the abuse of our power over animals, or those who deny that animals, in fact, have any feeling (whether physical or emotional) whatsoever, are completely sensible, utterly rational, and far more realistic than that of those who oppose his views. He does not use sentimental language or radical terms. He is just absolutely genuine and makes perfect sense. I was repeatedly blown away, both by the awfulness of some of the things he describes and by the awesomeness of his ability to explain just why such things were awful in the first place.

The world is a better place for this book. Matthew Scully deserves all the praise he can get for Dominion. Everybody should read this book. Go forth and find it. It will change your view of the world. ( )
2 vote Skywolf | Jan 4, 2007 |
Starts with a Bang, Ends with a Whimper

As "Dominion" is the first animal welfare/animal rights book written by a Republican, I was driven to read it out of curiosity. In it, Scully lays out a compelling argument against animal exploitation; yet, he seems to backtrack in his final chapters, diluting his thesis and offering excuses for those who would rather make superficial changes.

Rather than just hurling statistics at the reader (as some animal rights books seem to do), Scully attempts to illustrate several instances of animal exploitation with personal narratives. In order to explain the absurdity of hunting - particularly big game hunting - Scully attends the 1999 convention of the Safari Club International; he details the folly of the world's wildlife management philosophy from his seat at the 2000 meeting of the International Whaling Commission; and he offers a firsthand look at the horrors of modern factory farms, along with the callousness and disregard of those who are responsible. While Scully does manage to interweave his accounts with facts, figures, and philosophy, the book is far from dry. Instead, "Dominion" reads more like a novel, and a terrifying one at that: much of what Scully asserts will sicken you.

Throughout the first 350 pages of "Dominion", Scully lays out a cogent argument for animal rights, without ever using the term "animal rights". Thus, the reader is left wondering whether Scully is an animal rights advocate or an animal welfarist (and yes, there's a world of difference between the two!). In this manner, he never fully articulates his beliefs. He also dismisses philosophical arguments for animal rights/welfare in favor of religion - at best, a silly idea. While I understand that the book is aimed largely at Christians, it's still pure folly to cast off all semblance of logic in the name of religion. The animal rights movement is incredibly diverse, and the different types arguments reflect this. Appealing to one's sense of mercy (hence the book's subtitle, "The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy") may convince certain segments of society to repent their animal-exploiting ways, but other people may require different routes of persuasion, logic included. Not to mention, the animal rights (and even welfare, to a lesser extent) movement is commonly accused of being devoid of logic and riddled with sentimentality - Scully's advice certainly wouldn't help correct this stereotype.

Despite these flaws, I was still impressed with "Dominion" - until I got to the final chapter. Though Scully seems unequivocal in his condemnation of meat-eating (as it's cruel, unnecessary, and harmful to the environment), in the end he merely calls for more humane standards. I'm sorry, but killing is in and of itself inhumane - when it comes to killing for food or fun, there's no such thing as a humane death. For humans, meat's pure lack of necessity negates humaneness. Though I am myself a vegan, I'm not even quibbling over the merits of vegetarianism vs. veganism here - Scully makes a great case for going veg, and then offers a "get out of jail free" card for those who would rather keep on eating meat - never mind the dairy. There's no such thing as "human decency" when needlessly killing (not to mention torturing) billions of animals a year because of preferences, convenience or tradition.

Some reviewers have expressed their satisfaction that "Dominion" isn't just another radical, zealous, foaming-at-the-mouth animal rights book. Well, it isn't - but that's because it isn't an animal rights book at all. For whatever reason, Scully chose the easy way out after setting forth an impassioned argument in favor of animal rights. He set the stage for a call to end all forms of animal exploitation - but in the end, he merely called for greater regulation. It was quite disappointing, since I was at first under the impression that we finally had an ally on the right.

Despite Scully's moral schizophrenia, I still enjoyed the bulk of the book, which is why I gave it more than the 1 star I would have otherwise. Nonetheless, "Dominion" started with an impressive bang, and ended with a self-serving, compliant little whimper.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2008/05/05/book-review-dominion-by-matthew-scully-2003... ( )
1 vote smiteme | Dec 4, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312319738, Paperback)

"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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In Dominion, we witness the annual convention of Safari Club International, an organization whose wealthier members will pay up to twenty thousand dollars apiece to hunt an elephant, a lion, or another animal. We attend the annual International Whaling Commission conference, where the focus is on developing more lethal, but not more merciful, methods of harvesting "living marine resources." And we visit a hellish "factory farm," where animals are treated as mere products and raised in conditions of mass confinement: bred for passivity and bulk, inseminated and fed by 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 of those who insist that the Bible's message sanctions mankind to use animals as it pleases; hunters who claim that their sport helps control animal populations; and defenders of popular and "scientifically proven" notions that animals cannot feel pain, do not experience emotions, and are not conscious of their own lives."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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