Ruff! Ruff-ruff!

I had a lot of blog post ideas over the weekend, but didn’t make time to solidify any one of them into a standalone post. There were a couple of impossible-to-miss news items that each in its own way left me feeling clueless. Dr. Stephen Hawking, et al, has a new book in which the idea of multiple universes reduces the “large anthropic” problem to another case of the “small anthropic” problem. Don’t get me wrong; I respect Hawking and at the consumer level I get the large/small idea and the Mtheory idea and so forth. But the whole part about spontaneous creation of something from nothing I don’t get, and I seriously doubt I will ever be able to comprehend the idea of nothingness; let alone the idea of nothingness spontaneously giving way to something-ness. It is at this point that I start thinking about the grand narrative of Science and the grand narrative of Religion and figure a person could flip a coin, but for me the latter narrative works better.

At least to a point…

Also in the news is the Dove World Outreach in Gainesville that wants to burn a stack of Qurans. I tend to think that this news “event” is a comparative slide from the sublime to the ridiculous, but at any rate, I am left clueless. How anyone could decide that burning a stack of Qurans (or Bibles, etc.) has a point—let alone a positive one—is beyond me. The thing is, after I read an article about something like that, I end up feeling a little queasy and ashamed and… soiled. Both Science and Religion can and do manifest themselves in shameful ways. Whenever there is fundamentalism of any form, it is willing to destroy much in its name. While I certainly believe that a person should be willing to die for his or her faith (be it in religion or science or some combination of the two), I also believe there is a deep flaw in any faith that concludes those who don’t agree with it are by definition expendable.

Such a view seems to miss the most important thing of all…

I love the moments in my life when I am in the presence of my daughters and for perhaps five or ten seconds I am completely overcome, as if by a gentle wave of the sea, with their perfection and their beauty and their grace. In such moments I consider life perfect and complete and I know there is nothing else I need. I am grateful for the simplest and most priceless of things—their health, my health, the smiles on their faces, and for the miracle that they and I exist, here, in this place, together, for a moment. I am overcome with the ontological perfection of humanity, and spontaneously I grin and thank God that I am, and that they are. The perfection of living and loving is such that it can be felt and known deeply and profoundly in a single moment in time, and this to me is a glorious mystery. It is poetic, but it is true, that love’s glory cannot be broken into or measured by time. Five seconds of perfected love is just as perfect as ten years of it. Love, like gold, is elemental.

Other things are less unadulterated…

I am a religious and spiritual mongrel, I suppose. While it is true that I call myself Christian because—as Marcus Borg would say—I view Jesus as the decisive revelation of God, the influences upon my own faith have been and continue to be numerous. I am not a complete stranger to Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism or Islam. I am not completely uninfluenced by non-religious yet gifted insights into the nature of man and the world. I’ve read enough philosophy to last me for a while. And certainly within the Christian realm I am informed by the variety of views espoused and argued over the past two millennia. I spend a lot of time pondering the idea of God and Man and the great Questions unanswerable; of faith and grace, of truth and falsehood, of probabilities and odds, of what is best and worst in Man and me, and of luck and providence. Most of my moments are spent consciously aware of all of these things; of the paradox of their gravity vis-à-vis their ultimate message that the burden is supposed to be light. Most of all, I believe in the Kingdom of Heaven; an ontological state wherein God’s rule and reign is shared by all—a metaphorical “place” that, in truth, is all around us in this very moment. And the struggle is no more and no less than this: part of me longs to enter the Kingdom gates more than I want to be alive, more than I want to breathe. I’ve seen inside the city: It is glorious beyond all articulation. And yet the rest of me is too base and selfish and petty to let the other part of me go. We battle all the time, the many of us inside this shell that others see; wrestling at the city gate.

Such is the nature of being human, and that’s the way it is…

But I know a dog named Daisy. I really, really like Daisy. And whenever we go to the house where Daisy lives, she waddles her tired old body over to me with her tail wagging, wanting some loving from me. “Daisy loves daddy” my wife always says to my kids. And she does; in the devoted, humble, soul-ish way that some dogs are capable of loving, Daisy loves me. And so I will sit on the floor, and Daisy will come and sit by me. I’ll pet her head, and slowly rub her face and her ears, and after a minute she will stare at me with a request deep in her dark round eyes, and slowly lay down, rolling to her back and curling her front paws just so, and I will slowly rub her belly. After a while her eyes will half-close as she luxuriates in the touch of my hand. And in those long minutes that the two of us are partaking in this loving give and take of dog-kind and human-kind together, I think of relationships small and large, and I hope that Daisy is to me, as I am to God. For me this is a deeper consideration than one might at first believe—the ideas of what a creature gives to and what a creature takes from its god, what its motivations are, what makes it a “good” creature, what of its personality and its nature and its genes and its environment, of what its particular being demands of it; is it culpable for anything at all, and if so, what? Then reverse all this and try to figure out why I value in this creature the things I do; what to me defines a “good” dog, and what is it in my personality and nature and genes and environment that leads me to establish this particular set of criteria? Ultimately, the questions lead a person to ask him or herself about the criteria for being human and for being God, who and what is good, and who is created in whose image after all? Place these latter questions, perhaps, on the list of Questions unanswerable. But dogs do not ask such questions. They know nothing of Mtheory, or of religion and holy books. Neither are they plagued by the austere clouds of existential wandering; they do not try to understand themselves or the mind of a god they cannot begin to fathom. For them there is only a never ending moment, best spent beside their god to feel the warm and gentle presence of its hand. For dogs like Daisy, being is basking in this love as if there is nothing else. Perhaps it takes a mongrel to know this, and if so, then as my Questions fall still and silent, I smile and say softly to myself: Ruff! ruff-ruff!

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5 Responses

  1. firewings says:

    Basking in the love; I like that. How much does that relate to mindfulness do you think?

  2. A.Lee says:

    Nice point. As far as the Buddhist views, you mean? I think it has a lot to do with it; that whole idea of right mindedness being centered in the moment, for example. The freedom of attachment to outcome, the total focus shared with another creature, etc. <br /><br />I think that I need to think about dogs as Buddhists. Maybe that&#39;s why I like them so much : )

  3. A.Lee says:

    what say you, btw?

  4. firewings says:

    I try for mindfulness in the same space that I try to discover evidence of divinity in actions and people and situations. Does that make sense?

  5. A.Lee says:

    yep. it does. thanks.

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