November 10th, 2008

Generic Meditaton Issues: my God and my Dog

There is a story about a parishioner who asks his pastor how he knows there is a heaven.  Just then there is a clawing at the door and the pastor says: "that must be my dog."   "How come he wants to come in here", asked the parishioner, "its never been here before." "No, said the pastor, but she senses that I'm here, and that's all she needs to know to know she wants to get in,"  Its a silly story, and I don't know why it sticks in my mind.  Maybe its because my "pagan" son (the leader of a pack of German Shepherd mixes) used to remind me that "God is dog spelled backwards."

But, as they say, "the Lord is my shepherd." we compare our relationship to God to our animal companions' relationship to us.  The big caution here is that we and our dogs are all creatures.  "God" "created" us; we did not create our dogs.  (Of course, we modified them through selective breeding, but that is a far different matter.)  Vico reminded us that we can only truly understand what we have created. {He thought we could understand our society but could never understand ourselves--hence his "New science of society", i.e. sociology.}

We treat our yellow Lab, Nikki, as a member of our family; she treats us as her pack.  Packs and families are both relationships among relatives, but they are not identical.  Also, she is not quite a member of the family; in an emergency I will tend to my wife's needs before hers; I never expect her to become independent and move out on her own, like one of the kids.  She is very smart, but I'm sure she misses many of the human nuances of human life  A lot of my interaction with her is no doubt based on inappropriate anthropomorphism.  I am sure that some of her interaction with me is based on "caninism" (or would it be caninomorphism).  She knows I am not a dog, but how limited is her understanding of what a human being is?

The cute little story about the pastor and his dog fails because there is "nothing like God" and there is "nothing" like an individual human being's relationship to God.  I must never have the arrogance (even when backed by scripture) to tell another person how she or he should approach God.  Sometimes Nikki sits and watches me with what appears to be "adoration," but there I go, anthropomorphizing again.