I wanted to raise a Jewish (and perhaps Christian) perspective on hunting. In the Hebrew Bible, the story of Jacob and Esau is a very prominent admonition against the lifestyle of hunting and in favor of studying and farming, instead. The lesson may have helped guide our cultures towardsurbanization, away from respect for original peoples, and towards undue deference to intellectual and technological expressions of our creativity.
In a way, the story of Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau, setting the stage for the persona of Jesus (and St. Francis) and the elevation of the meek may well be sources for what has developed as a profound human separation from nature that we experience in our bible-influenced cultures. There may be parallels in western and in Asian cultures (monks and Bodhisattvas), but each has its unique approaches. For us in the U.S., the split with nature may have been codified in the rejection of Esau’s connection to the land and his own animality—and his disconnection from intellectual pursuits and religious study.
Is hunting a way for us to remedy that cultural bias against maintaining our animal connection with nature? I do not favor the idea that we are forced to choose between religion and nature, nor between religion and science. Yet, understanding the sources of our disconnection from nature may well empower us to transform our thinking in ways that encourage us to be both better stewards of creation and more capable of flourishing in sustainable ways.