Saturday, 7 April 2007

Blessing animals

If you scan the web, you will find that many churches now are holding blessing services for pets. The usual date for this is the Sunday nearest the fourth of October, which is St. Francis of Assisi’s day. Some sites on the web give a complete liturgy and order of service for the blessing. One site describes the progress to the altar, of horses and dogs, parrots, pigs, and well why not, monkeys. This is of course controversial. Are we just blessing as we would bless the corn, or the harvest? Or are we going much further than that and saying that we recognize that animals have an immortal soul and that one day we will be together again in another place? I have read the work of some very learned theologians that define what is meant by a soul. They argue that the bible makes it clear that God created man in his own image and therefore he has an immortal soul. I am of course making the point very briefly. They argue from this that animals cannot have a soul because they were not created in the likeness of God. I consider this to be a very spacious argument. Well of course a couple of points arise. One is that I don’t find anywhere in the scriptures where it tells us that you must be created in the likeness of God to have a soul. The argument becomes even more tenuous when you realize that we, the human race are descended from Monkeys. Now there is no doubt about that one. If we have an immortal soul we inherited from our beloved friend the Ape. I say go with confidence to a service of blessing for our pets, monkeys in particular, in the sure knowledge that we will meet again in the kingdom of the hereafter.
I love the reasoning in the Fitzgerald translation of the Omar Khayyam Paragraphs 61 and 62. Where it says and I quote:

There said another, surely not in vain
My substance from the common earth was ta’en
That he who subtly wrought me into shape
Should stamp me back to common earth again.

Another said, why ne’er a peevish boy
Would break the bowl from which he’d drank in joy
Shall he that made the vessel in pure love
And fansy, in an after rage destroy?

Wonderful and profound those lines. Try downloading the whole poem.