Wednesday, December 17, 2014

If the Church Ran Your World...

If the Post-Vatican II Church ran your world...

You would live in an unadorned barn, the largely empty space echoing with amateur recordings of showtunes.

Your kitchen table would be... just the same as it is now. At every meal all the neighbors would be invited in to help serve.

Conjugal relations would subsist in the broader society of marriage, and members outside of yours would nonetheless enjoy certain privileges flowing therefrom. (Your guess is as good as the Bear's, but it sounds weird.)

Policemen would come and make a bonfire of all your books and belongings from before 1965. You would go to work in a tie-dyed suit.

English would be banned. You would be required to speak Esperanto. Actually, anything but English.

The previous president would be confusingly called Mr. President, and he would continue living in the White House.

The Supreme Court would issue a new opinion every week. In anagrams. No one would figure out what they meant before the next one came out, but there would be lots of heated discussion.

Half your kids would disappear overnight. You might see some of them Christmas and Easter.

Just when you think you had things figured out, Germans would change everything somehow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Good Piece at Father Z's

Here's a good piece at Fr. Z's by Anthony Esolen about the libido delendi -- the lust for destruction of the Church. It's one of those essays the Bear wishes he had written.

Fr. Z's solution is to work until your parish is traditional, or at least offers a traditional Mass for those  will attend.

The Bear thinks that's excellent advice for Catholics living in a Metropolitan Statistical Area who can bring together the critical mass to overturn fifty years of bad architecture and worse liturgy.

For the rest of us, we may have to make do with nailing our foot in front of our favorite pew in our ghastly novus ordo church. Our victories will be of the nickle and dime sort, and we'll have to be content.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Poll: Do Pets Go to Heaven?

Buster and Dahlia.
The new puppies.
I've always thought the picture of Buster and Dahlia should be in an advertising campaign."She'd be the last to complain, but..." The product would be dog shampoo, or breath-freshening treats, or something.

One thing to consider is that we enjoy many pets in our lifetimes, if we are the pet sort. We're sorry when they pass away, but time heals all wounds, and we scarcely think of them in later years. But there are a few special animals that become part of us, such that we feel a pang no matter how much time has passed. Those are the ones we want to see again.

Under Islam, dogs are reviled and casually abused (which was hard to take for my son in Afghanistan). In the Christian West, dogs are generally appreciated, and often bring joy to their owners.

The truth is that of all religions, the Christian religion is the most silent concerning the afterlife. (The absence of fanciful promises or fleshly delights speaks to its truth, the Bear believes.) There are two mistakes we can make, it seems to the Bear.

One is to speak of Heaven as if we float in eternal, timeless bliss, absorbed into the godhead, the resurrection an irrelevancy.

The other is to imagine a materialistic Heaven where we're busy doing all the things we liked to do before, watched over by a benign, but remote deity.

The Church does not require of us belief that animals are not to be found in Heaven. Nor does it require us to believe they are. The Church's silence probably indicates it is not something we should worry too much about. Perhaps the best answer is: "But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthian 2:9)

The only thing we know for sure is that it will be perfect.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why Dogs Go to Heaven

St. Christopher Depicted With a Dog's Head

The buzz seems to be swinging away from Pope Francis having said dogs go to heaven. The fire brigade is out, citing theological consensus that animals lack an immortal soul. And Pope Francis would never depart from that, would he? The story says more about how we view Pope Francis than the eternal fate of pets. We'll believe any alleged quote by now.

Please forgive the Bear if he seems to engage in special pleading, being, after all, an animal himself. The Bear concedes better minds than his have concluded the sign over Heaven's gate reads "No Dogs Allowed." Nonetheless, the Bear will argue to the contrary, it not being, after all, de fido, er, fide.

We don't know very much about what it will be like to be in Heaven, except that we will enjoy the Beatific Vision. Coupled with another fact of our heavenly existence -- our resurrected bodies -- the Beatific Vision sounds unfortunately static and visual. We stand, we look at God, and enjoy bliss. The Church doesn't precisely teach this, at least the Bear doesn't think so, but let's say the theological terminology is more precise than evocative.

But our resurrected bodies are what the Bear can't stop thinking about. He suspects there will be a lot going on with those bodies. Why else would we have them? That implies a setting, and yes, there will be a new Earth. This will be another Paradise, and there were certainly animals there.

But will any of these animals be our pets? Each beloved animal companion of course remains complete in God's consciousness. It is perhaps not too much of a stretch to imagine that we "find" them in our contemplation of God. And why should they not be present bodily for our delight? If we are to have bodies, why, if not to rejoice in the Good God's gifts? And one of the greatest, innocent, everyday pleasures is petting and playing with a beloved pet.

Buster Wants to Play

We draw dogs, especially, into our human lives. Anyone who has loved a dog knows that it has its own personality. A dog feels, and thinks. The Bear rejects any argument that rests on the supposed lack of consciousness of dogs. Dogs are the symbol of loyalty. He anticipate his master's moves, mirrors his moods, remembers, solves problems and initiates interaction. Stories of dogs mourning their dead masters are too numerous to catalog. The Bear could fill a book with examples of his Yorkie's consciousness, and so could any dog owner.

Of course dogs do not have a human consciousness, and the Bear is not arguing that they have the same soul as a human. To speak in such terms is to get off track. The Christian Heaven is not Nirvana, where we are dissolved into the One. It is a bodily Paradise where every moment is suffused with the glory of God. The Bear is confident that God will not neglect to once again fill it with animals, and some of those will be our beloved pets.


No one is certain why St. Christopher is sometimes depicted with a dog's head in Orthodox iconography. The Bear notes that Roman light infantry of certain periods wore wolf heads with wolf skin capes, perhaps as an aid to recognizing individual soldiers. Others theorize it was a symbol of barbarism, although they do not explain why that should apply to a Roman soldier.

Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. Here's an amazing experiment involving a problem-solving crow.