Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Animals On Earth, As It Is In Heaven (for Duncan, Heloise, and Keeya)

Perhaps, if you're the sort who only finds a theological idea palatable to your mind if it is based solely on syllogisms and the declarative sentences of accepted authorities, the following will not appeal to you. Not because it is illogical, or because it doesn't take into account authorities on the matter, or because it is anti-intellectual, but because it is also based on lived experience, on the tangible and yet also the mystical and poetic, and on the sneaking suspicion that things aren't only as they appear in an outlined argument on crisp white paper.

But what I must say is this: this impoverished notion--that all creation begins and ends only on this side of earth except for human life--that has invaded the theology of many friends of mine who claim devotion to Christian religion, frustrates me to no end.

The best I can surmise, the argument comes from the idea that human beings were created in the image of God, and that must mean nothing else merits eternal life, that nothing else has a soul.  Tell me, of all the things in holy writ to take to be exclusionary, why did we decide that because humans were made in God's image, that other creatures, with unique visages and personality, weren't going to live eternally, that they don't have their own animal souls, their animus, that will carry them through this life to the next?

And of all the things in holy writ that many insist on interpreting literally, why couldn't it be literally true that all creation praises God? Why can't the trees truly exult, why can't the puppies offer their praise?

You might answer,"Because they have no soul." I retort, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio."

If creation groans with us for redemption why can't it also be the recipient of it's benefits? Why can't the individual sunset maple of my childhood backyard and the cat I cradled in the light of the sunset while she looked out the window, frail and dancing on that border between life and death, benefit from the healing that will take place?

Perhaps, you might insist, the only reason I believe this is because my day to day work with animals makes me sentimental. But tell me dear one, if my Creator isn't sentimental, what is the point in creating at all?

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