Monday, May 18, 2009

Will I See My Human in Heaven?

That's obviously a question that I can't answer. Only God knows if Dad and Mom merit heaven ( probably does, Dad's gonna have a problem).

But there's a great new book that could only be made better by having a Chihuahua on the cover: Will I See My Dog in Heaven? by Friar Jack Wintz (Paraclete Press).

Now hearing the title makes us think of fluffy clouds and dogs playing fetch with Jesus and Mary and such silly things. But the question is much larger. Are animals part of God's plan of salvation? Will animals be included in the divine vision when God makes all things new again (therein lies the answer--all things!).

This book is really about creation theology, something that lies at the heart of Franciscan theology. It's also a bit eschatological (look at me with the big words!) meaning it talks about the "last things" what comes at the end of time. If God created all the animals and they were as Genesis tells us very good--then why would they be absent from the divine plan later?

Friar Jack sprinkles solid theology, scripture references and good old fashioned story telling in this book to provide something that is so not saccharine. God has cared for creation--all creation--for eternity. We see that in all kinds of scripture stories, especially in the creation myths when everything was perfect--a foretaste of what we now hope to recapture: Paradise regained. And guess what? Animals were there.

So while Dad might be made in God's image. And while his soul (tarnished though it be!) is different from mine (if I even have one!?) that's irrelevant to whether I'll be in heaven or not. If God wills all of creation to join together in the afterlife than that is what will happen--and it will be harmonious. The Lion lies down with the lamb (heck, I'd pay good money to see that and I'm sure the Discovery Channel would get great ratings if they had that footage!) is part of that vision--hello! They are animals! Friar Jack uses this imagery to discuss the possibility of animals being present in God's plan for eternal salvation and it really makes you think about how we often don't value all of creation.

So I know in my heart as does Dad, my best friend, that we will always be together. Dad knows that I have a great spirit, one that licks his bald head and bounds happily whenever I hear the words "food" or "treat!" He senses my intelligence and knows what I fear. He sees that I am forgiving when he steps on my paw or when he ignores me when I want to play and he's grumpy. Most of all, he knows that I miss him terribly when he is away and even when he is at work for just a few hours a day. So there is more to me than just a ball of fur!

Friar Jack gets this idea. You'll read stories of special pets in his life and how they have revealed a bit of God to him and you'll find great traditional prayers that show God's creation in all of it's glory!

I give it two paws up!

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