WILL MOSQUITOES GO TO HELL?
If you're a regular reader of the Faith section of The Kansas City Star, you probably saw this piece last week by my colleague Helen Gray, exploring the question of whether there's an afterlife for pets.
Over the weekend and through this week I found that the subject generated a fair bit of conversation among people I know. I guess people have a soft spot in their heart for their pets and like the notion that they may spend eternity with them.
I grew up with dogs, cats, goldfish and canaries, to say nothing of the chickens I raised as a 4-H project. Those birds all ended up on our dinner table, so I'm not sure how to think about an afterlife for them. But, mostly because of allergies, I have no pets now, save for a ceramic dog that I've named for what he does best. His name is "Stay."
However, I will tell you that I never have given a bit of thought to whether I'll see my old Siberian husky Sitka or my old collie Tammy in heaven. And if there's an afterlife for pets, I'd guess that our late beagle, Doc, who did evil things like eat my books (including the first copy of my own book I got from my publisher), might be headed somewhere other than through the Pearly Gates
What the subject of pets in heaven raises for me is whether there's an afterlife for all -- ALL -- of life, from the bugs to the bears, the spiders to the squids, the house flies to the horses. How, after all, can we define "pet" in a way that would exclude some animals? (Is that a stupid-pet-trick quesion?)
Here's my answer: I don't know. And I don't know how to find out. More than that, it seems to me that spending a lot of time thinking about this is sort of a waste of the precious time that I consider to be a divine gift. There are, after all, human beings who need my attention, and while I have deep respect for the food chain, it's human beings who are at the top of my list of beings to whom I should relate and respond.
Oh, I've loved some dogs and cats over the years, and my whole family cried when some of them died. But my eyes are on humanity. I'll let God's eye be on the sparrows.
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GOOD THING NO. 1,296,913 (OR SO) ABOUT RELIGION
Is religion at least partly responsible for slowing the spread of disease? This report is about a new study that makes such a claim. I'm going to have to think about this one a long time before I buy into it. But isn't it intriguing what questions engage researchers?
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.