Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

October 7th, 2008:

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Sam Paris sent me an image that's been bouncing around the Net for some time now, and I roared. It's funny on the face of it, whether you know anything about religion or not—but if you've struggled like I have with the difficulties of understanding the several competing concepts of God, salvation, and the life to come, it was, well, ineffably hilarious.

I understand that it's not real, and in fact was created with Church Sign Generator. I don't know where it came from so I can't credit it, but read it all the way down. Yee-hah!

Where the topic comes up for discussion, I've heard many people say that the descriptions fed to us in childhood of Hell were vivid and very detailed—but Heaven was always vague, colorless, and ultimately boring. I keep flashing on the classic Gahan Wilson cartoon of some guy with wings and a halo sitting alone on a cloud, thinking to himself: “I sure wish I'd brought a magazine.”

Although the Catholic Powers go out of their way to deny it, buried deep in Catholic culture and tradition is a very radical kind of universalism. God did not create the physical universe as a temporary nuisance to be endured and then left with no regrets. The physical universe is in fact a crude, low-res reflection of higher realities that we simply cannot apprehend in this life. One metaphor might be Olaf Stapledon's cosmology from Star Maker, in which the Star Maker crafts a steady succession of increasingly mature creations, each creation “better” in a metaphysical sense than the one before. Another metaphor might be one I heard in college 35 years ago: That our physical creation is a faint echo of a higher world, which in turn is a slightly clearer and louder echo of an even higher world, and so on far beyond our ability to grasp. At each level there will be challenges, struggle, and probably suffering appropriate to our levels of spiritual development. Creation was in fact a far, far bigger Bang than we think.

So do dogs go to heaven? Hardly. They are already there. And when we leave this world and continue our long walk back toward the Creator, they will be right beside us.