Thursday, September 24, 2015

Do Dogs Go To Heaven?

Now, about Rover, the dog—though for roving, I hardly remember him away from my side! ...I almost believe that at one period, had I been set to say who I was, I should have included Rover as an essential part of myself. His tail was my tail; his legs were my legs; his tongue was my tongue!—so much more did I, as we gamboled together, seem conscious of his joy than of my own! Surely, among other and greater mercies, I shall find him again! —George MacDonald, The Flight of the Shadow

We had to put our Westie to sleep last week. Partially blind, deaf, mentally confused and in pain, it was the kindest thing—but I do miss her.

In her last months she seemed bewildered, dogging our steps, never allowing us out of her sight. If I left the room she followed me and found a place on the floor near my feet. She was “an essential part of myself.”

I mentioned several months ago that while recovering from back surgery I exercised by walking up and down the hall. Dolly, though arthritic and in pain, trudged after me dutifully as though we are on our usual outdoor walk. Her loyalty and unconditional love tugged at my heart.

I wonder, will there be dogs in heaven? The simplest answer is: Why not? One day there will be a new heaven (sky) and a new earth  (Revelation 21:1). If a new earth, why a dead earth, like the moon, rather than an earth filled with trees, mountains, rivers, and flowers like our present world? Why would God allow plants and flowers and other aspects of this world, but not animals into heaven? Would He take from us there what He gives us here for our joy? I think not. C.S. Lewis’ speculated that in heaven we will be "between the angels who are our elder brothers and the beasts who are our jesters, servants, and playfellows” (That Hideous Strength).
More to the point, will my dog be in heaven? C.S. Lewis thought so. He believed that our animals are saved because of their association with us. They achieve heaven because they are caught up in our lives, an essential part of ourselves (The Problem of Pain). In another of his works, The Great Divorce, Lewis describes a woman in heaven surrounded by a gaggle of young children, angels, birds and beasts.
“What are all these animals? A cat—two cats—dozens of cats. And all those dogs... Why, I can’t count them. And the birds. And the horses.”
“They are her beasts.”
“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”
“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
Would God, who created animals, who preserved them through the Flood, who promised to redeem them, who made us with the capacity to love them and grieve them when they’re gone—would he revoke his decision to put animals once again under our care? I think not. Perhaps then, among other and greater mercies, I shall find Dolly again!

David Roper
Sept 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Silenus and His Kin.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young. See that they look up to you because you are an example to believers in your speech and behavior, in your love and faith and sincerity (1 Timothy 4:12 J.B. Phillips).
In Plato's dialogue Symposium one of the participants, Alcibiades, compares Socrates to a statue of Silenus.

Silenus was a minor Greek deity, an unprepossessing, squat, middle-aged, companion of Dionysus the god of wine. Little statues of Silenus were sold as knicknacks and good-luck charms. The statues had doors in their pot bellies that opened up to reveal tiny, golden images inside.

Alcibiades comments: ''I once caught him (Socrates) when he was open like Silenus' statues, and I had a glimpse of the figures he keeps hidden within. And they were so bright and beautiful, so utterly amazing that I felt I must do whatever he told me'' (216E-217A).

Socrates was famously ugly, but Alcibiades saw beyond the philosopher's appearance to the beauty of his character and deferred to him.

Charm, charisma, chutzpah (or lack thereof) count for little in the long run. What matters is the person you are becoming. “In a word, be a saint” (Balthasar).

Spurgeon said, “It is a common matter of observation that, so far as we can judge here below; the better is the life of the pastor, the greater fruit he bears, however small his rhetoric and however ordinary his instruction. For it is the warmth that comes from the living spirit that clings; whereas the other kind of pastor will produce very little profit, however sublime be his style and his instruction.”

David Roper
Sept 22, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Twin Forks

 "I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight (upright) paths (Proverbs 4:11).

One day Saint Francis and his sidekick Brother Masseo were itinerating through the Italian countryside looking for a place to preach. They came to a fork in the road, one path leading to Florence, one to Siena. "Which way shall we go?" Masseo asked. "The one that God wills," answered St Francis.

"And how are we to know the will of God?" Masseo replied, whereupon, Francis had Masseo spin around until he got dizzy and fell down. When he got up he was facing Siena. "That's the way," Francis said.

When they got to Siena they had no opportunity to preach, but did succeed in reconciling two warring clans and bringing peace to the region. Having finished their work they traveled on.

What's my point? Well, most of our choices throughout the day are willy–nilly. Will we wear this or that? Do we turn left or right? Yet Wisdom is always directing our steps. Certainly we should ask for God's counsel through the day, but, I must say for myself, I forget.

So then, it's up to God to get us to the right place at the right time-to do whatever it is he wants us to do.

Anyway... Who am I to think I can discern the right way? No, my business is to walk with God throughout the day and enjoy his love. He'll take it from there.

Carolyn says God's will is not so much the right way as the upright way. I think she's got something there.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

On suffering for the sake of the gospel...

It was on a winter's morning 
In the days of old, 
In his cell sat Father Henry,
Sorrowful and cold.

"O my Lord, I am aweary," 
In his heart he spake, 
"For my brethren scorn and hate me 
For Thy blessed sake."

"If I had but one to love me 
That were joyful cheer—
One small word to make me sunshine 
Through the darksome year!"

"But they mock me and despise me 
Till my heart is stung—
Then my words are wild and bitter, 
Tameless is my tongue." 

Then the Lord said, "I am with thee; 
Trust thyself to Me; 
Open thou thy little casement (window)
Mark what thou shalt see." 

Then a piteous look and wistful 
Father Henry cast 
Out into the dim old cloister 
And the wintry blast.

Was it that a friend was coming 
By some Angel led? 
No! a great hound wild and savage 
Round the cloister sped.

Some old mat that lay forgotten 
Seized he on his way—
Tore it, tossed it, dragged it wildly 
Round the cloister gray.

"Lo, the hound is like thy brethren," 
Spake the Voice he knew; 
"If thou are the mat, beloved, 
What hast thou to do?"

Meekly then went Father Henry, 
And the mat he bare 
To his little cell to store it
As a jewel rare.

Many a winter and a summer
Through those cloisters dim, 
Did he thenceforth walk rejoicing, 
And the Lord with him.

And when bitter words would sting him, 
Turned he to his cell, 
Took his mat, and looked upon it, 
Saying, "All is well."

"He who is the least and lowest
Needs but low to lie; 
Lord, I thank Thee and I praise Thee 
That the mat am I."

On the cold and footworn pavement 
Lies it still and flat,
Raves not if men trample on it, 
For it is a mat."

Then he wept, for in the stillness 
His Beloved spake,
"Thus was I the least and lowest, 
Gladly, for thy sake."

"Lo, My face to shame and spitting 
Did I turn for thee; 
If thou art the least and lowest, 
Then remember Me." 

Heinrich Suso  (14th century Dominican)

Ferns Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the sh...