Saturday, March 22, 2008

I always hoped there'd be dogs

As a change from the austere scientism hanging around this blog after Arthur C. Clarke's death, Michael O'Hare reminded me of another wonder of British postwar culture today.
Among the religious doctrines that run me axle-deep in the mud whenever I try to follow them is literal resurrection to eternal life. I'm astonished to learn via Rachel Zoll that expectation of a literal, personal, physical resurrection is coming back in serious theological circles.Physical? What can this really mean: my body has done OK for me over the years but some parts are getting worn out, and most people die old and pretty beat up; will almost everyone in heaven wear reading glasses, and be in walkers or puffing up stairs? Will paraplegics spend eternity in their wheelchairs, the blind tapping canes? Do they get to take their service dogs? Come to think of it, before I sign up for this, are there dogs generally - resurrected (this seems impious; I love my dogs but they aren't people) or some other sort?

I'm more than a little shocked that this mode of belief is on the rise; maybe I shouldn't be. But there's plenty of time for number crunchin', logic choppin', ScienceBlogs.com atheism; what strikes me about this is the dogs. Are there dogs generally? How could anyone possibly imagine a dogless heaven? It's as absurd as a universe that ends on the nine billionth name popping out of the computer. It's as absurd as not knowing whether that would happen when the if x is in NamesOfGod condition evaluates True when n=9,000,000,000,000, or whether it would have to output to the printer first.

In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's film A Matter of Life and Death, David Niven's character is washed up on the east coast of England after the shooting down of his aircraft, believing himself to be dead. Walking along the beach, disoriented, the first creature he meets is a dog; obviously, this convinces him that he has arrived in heaven. I always hoped there'd be dogs, he says, stroking its head.

2 comments:

dd said...

The Catholic Church is quite definite on this - no bloody dogs and stop your weeping Mrs McGurty. Animals don't have immortal souls (otherwise it would be problemtic eating them) and they don't go to heaven and they won't be resurrected. It is one of the easiest ways to troll a Christian website, not that I would ever stoop to doing such a thing.

ejh said...

Hoping to examine this thesis I entered Immortal Souls in Wikipedia and was surprised (though not very surprised) to read that Immortal Souls is a melodic death metal band from Kokkola Finland.

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