Monday, March 31, 2014

Ridgeback Questions

"Should I be dropping bread crumbs?  Does she know how to get us back home?"

Ridgback vs. Corgi

We went to Will Rogers State Historical Park.

People about Stormy:  "What a cute dog!"

Na'ilah must be invisible.

Reaction to horses: both dogs indifferent or politely interested.

After the hike: Stormy rolls in the grass, Na'ilah surveys the scene.

On the ride home, Stormy sleeps.  Na'ilah looks out the window, alert: "I can smell that we're almost there!"

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Do Dogs Have Souls?

Na'ilah seems to be with me as I listen to Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., speak at Loyola Marymount University.
Did somebody say dogs don't have souls?

She's not really curled up at my feet, but it feels like it.  I think of her again and again as I listen to Johnson's talk, "Creation: Is God's Charity Broad Enough for Bears?"

"In addition to their origin in God's gracious act, plants and animals continue to be held in life and empowered to act in every moment by the Giver of life," Johnson asserted.  "Without this sustaining presence, they would sink back into nothingness."

"...[E]verything has being through the love of God," she said, quoting Julian of Norwich.

She then quotes the British philosopher Herbert McCabe describing God:
"the Creator makes all things and keeps them in existence from moment to moment--not like a sculptor, who makes a statue and leaves it alone, but like a singer who keeps her song in existence at all times."

Next she's quoting Thomas Aquinas when he asks "whether God is in all things" and he answers:
"God is in all things; not, indeed, as part of their essence, nor as an accident, but as an agent is present to that upon which it works...Therefore as long as a thing has being, God must be present to it, according to its mode of being."

God is present to Na'ilah, I'm thinking.  I am moved to tears as she continues:

"Thus God's real, ontological, creative presence is in each of God's creatures.  Instead of being distant from what is holy, the evolving world bears the mark of the sacred.  All creatures are embraced, yes, embraced by the Spirit of God."

Na'ilah alone out there in the desert was embraced by the Spirit of God.  No wonder I sensed that she needed to be cared for and given a home.

St. Augustine is the next voice she quotes: "...everywhere the created world will cry out to you: "God made me." ...the very forms of created things are as it were the voices with which they praise their Creator."

Yes, Na'ilah's large and noble form outlined against the sky as she stood on a large block of red sandstone cried out "God made me" and "Don't let me die."

This section of Johnson's speech concludes:

"All of this held true before humans appeared on earth and continues to be true even now, apart from human mediation.  Plants and animals are profoundly related to God in their own right.... the natural world is the dwelling place of God's Spirit, able to speak in its own voice about the glory of its Maker" (p. 22 of the booklet of the speech).

Yes, indeed, animals have souls and voices too.

Next Johnson introduces us to the pelican chick: one of every two chicks dies, but pelicans keep having two in order to sustain the survival of the species.  She describes "the ostracized chick's pinched face, small cries, desperate attempts to regain the nest."

But instead of hating a god who could allow this suffering, she affirms "the presence of God in the midst of the shocking enormity of pain and death."

"God, who is love, is there in compassionate solidarity with the creatures shot through with pain and finished by death."

A loving Creator was with Na'ilah when she was abandoned in the desert. That same compassionate presence is with other animals in deserts and cities the world over today who are abandoned or harmed.

Yes, dogs have souls.  

The question is: do we?


The lecture is now available on YouTube:

After the lecture, all guests were presented with a small book containing the text of the speech.  Creation: Is God's Charity Broad Enough for Bears? is available from Marymount Institute Press, Loyola Marymount University, One LMU Drive, Suite 3012, Los Angeles CA 90045.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Daisy, another roadside rescue

Here's a dog who was in worse shape than Na'ilah when found by the roadside.

Daisy was a young puppy with a broken back, unable to walk, when she was picked up.

After surgeries, paid for with help from a Facebook page, she is now racing in circles and doing fine.

Let's hear it for roadside rescues!

And applause for online dog stories complete with stirring soundtracks.

Thank you to my sister-in-law, Cindy Sue, for this link to Daisy's YouTube story.