Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hounds in Heaven

My name is Hobbes. I’m a 15-year-old female retriever mix. I’ve watched my human do this over 200 times, so I’ve decided to mark this post myself. It’s taken me a few weeks because I type slower than he does. Be grateful that I have substituted this for the post he wrote, which was just not right for New Year’s Eve: all about the gloom and doom of this past year—y’know, disease, torture, rendition, racism,* guns, rape, climate change, war, you name it.

The occasion? Pope Francis’s statement while comforting a child in the death of his dog: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”** He said this several weeks ago, but as I said, I type slowly and I like to chew on things for a while, the canine form of contemplation.

Paradise would not be paradise for my humans if I wasn’t there. As it is, I bring them a little heaven on earth, if I may say so. Remember, if Eve hadn’t come along, animals were made to be Adam’s companions, and we would never have let them be fooled by that snake. Eden was idyllic for us, too, as Adam and Eve were both vegans before The Fall. We too yearn to return to that Paradise in which all animals, including humans, will get along.

Of course Mr. Pope stirred up controversy, because what he said suggests that animals have souls. How can humans not see my soulful expression in the photo that accompanies this post? And what makes humans think they have a soul and we do not? Isn’t that presumptuous?

My late brother Calvin wrote about his philosophy in a book, Unleashed: The Wit and Wisdom of Calvin the Dog. In his chapter “On Evolution,” he questioned that dogs descended from wolves, but never doubted humans descended from apes. He asserted: 
Rather, I believe that I and other dogs were created by God and made in God’s image. We are God’s mirror reflection. That’s why God backwards spells dog. Isn’t that one of the first things you English-speaking humans notice, the spelling thing? And who else but God loves as unconditionally as a dog? We don’t care who you humans are or what you humans do, as long as you take some time to be with us, praise us, worship us, and do our bidding occasionally. Isn’t that godlike? Even when you treat us badly or forget we’re around, the minute you turn about and give us the attention we deserve, we lick your faces and give you comfort. Isn’t that divine? 
Beware, all those who mistreat or abuse animals in this life or allow us to be treated badly by others, because heaven will seem like hell to you, not because we are vengeful (that’s a human thing) but because you will feel so ashamed!

Instead, consider my brother’s hope for the world this New Year: 
Avoid that misnamed “dog-eat-dog” world (after all, we’re not cannibals) and drool over a dog-sniff-dog world in which we smell one another’s delicious scents, see the wonder of all creation, dig out a safe lair for all (especially puppies), perk up our ears at worthy lead dogs, take opportunities to rest and play and nest, and sense the presence of our Mother Dog watching over all of us.
Then together, as one pack, we can sniff out life’s buried treats.

*I have a bone to pick with humans. Why breed so much diversity among us dogs, but resist diversity among yourselves?
** This is Chris adding this editorial note. I didn’t have the heart to tell Hobbes that the quote was subsequently attributed to Paul VI! She loves Pope Francis’s choice of name so very much! -CG

P.S. Since Hobbes posted this, Pope Francis, in his June 18, 2015 encyclical on climate change, wrote, “Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.” He ends the encyclical with prayers, including, “Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey toward your infinite light.” Thanks to Nicholas Kristof for his column, “A Pope for All Species.”

See Hobbes referenced in The New York Times by clicking here!

Posts that have gone to the dogs:

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Progressive Christian Reflections is entirely supported by readers’ donations. It is an authorized Emerging Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches, a pet-friendly denomination welcoming seekers as well as believers.

Copyright © 2014 by Hobbes and Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of authors and blogsite. Other rights reserved. 

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