Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

10 The Necessity of Dogs

with 2 comments

This is the 10th in a series. If you want to read the whole series, scroll down to number 1.

Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post.

And part of that has been because I’ve been enormously tired.

But part of it has been that I haven’t known what to say.

I don’t want this blog to be about politics, or Issues, or any of that kind of thing. I get enough of that in my day to day life.

Lately, though, there doesn’t  seem to be anything else. And, in a way, I get it worse than some of you, because my obsessive checking of the news isn’t restricted to American, or even Western, sources.

So I am sitting here, reading my way through a Peter Kreeft commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Summa, and it feels to me as if the whole world is going to Hell.


St. Thomas would have understood my use of the word “Hell” in that last sentence absolutely.

Americans are odd about all this, because we seem to have no sense of proportion. Raped women in Pakistan are first jailed for having sex outside marriage and then forced to give birth if they’re pregnant. A dozen countries, all Muslim theocratic states, impose the death penalty for homosexuality. Slavery—actual slavery, complete with slave markets and auction blocks–has returned in Africa.

And half the world is on the move. We obsess about what’s happening on our Southern border, but it’s a drop in the bucket next to what’s coming out of subSaharan Africa and some parts of the Middle East.

In the meantime, we behave as if we were the only people on the planet, and we add to that an unstated but adamant conviction that reality is optional.

What’s more, I’m fairly sure all these things are connected. After all, if we live in a “rape culture,” what right do we have to criticize what’s going on in Pakistan?

We indulge our orgiastic bouts of self flagellation at the expense of other people’s hides.

The rule of law, the equality of the sexes, individual rights to freedom of speech and press and conscience, the obligation to treat every human being as an end in herself and not the means to the ends of somebody else—none of these things are “white.” They’re the basis of any decent society.

They’re also hard. None of these things are, or can be, realized perfectly.

In a way, they’re all against nature. If we want the entire world to get with the program—to stop arresting rape victims for “having sex,” to stop executing gay people—we have to be willing to admit that this way is better than that, and that this society comes closer to realizing these conditions than a lot of others.

But I’m not going to hold my breath.

Instead, I’m going to think about Pope Francis, who has said there will be dogs in heaven, something St. Thomas wouldn’t have agreed with, and Peter Kreeft doesn’t either.

I think I’ll go with Francis, and imagine that Heaven is a place filled with sane people and Samoyeds.

If Terry Pratchett is right and we each get the afterlife we believe in, I may hit the jackpot.


Written by janeh

July 8th, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to '10 The Necessity of Dogs'

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  1. I don’t generally follow or discuss politics any more. Somehow, I seem to be unable to remain completely uninformed – possibly because I do skim the headlines on a couple news sites and, even if, in pursuit of my decision to avoid getting obsessed and upset about things I can do nothing about, I don’t click on many links that obviously lead to such topics, I click on others. If all the news sites follow the BBC’s lead and switch most of their top posts to video only, I may yet manage to avoid all news. One of the things I find most annoying is the complete lack of perspective and historic knowledge in many of the stories. It’s as though righteous indignation has taken the place of rational thought or analysis. I suppose it was ever so (I know I indulged in lots of righteous indignation years ago), so maybe my tolerance has declined. Maybe I’ll take up a book on ancient church history, or, for that matter, any history, although the course I applied for so as to keep myself mentally occupied was on wisdom literature. When I’m in the right mood, reading about long-past and long-resolved (well, more or less resolved) crises soothe me. I can’t say I’ve tried reading the Summa or even a commentary on it, though. I do have a new book on St. Paul I haven’t started, and Colin Watson’s mysteries, which I have.

    I can’t say I worry much about the content of next life, although as a Christian, I think there is one. Some people seem to think I should obsess over the afterlife, and preach passionately about my conclusions, just like some people do about … well, let’s not get into politics. Sane people…well, there are lots of people who God will probably let into heaven whom I would probably prefer not to spend eternity with. I don’t have any particular objection to dogs, although I’m not sure about Samoyeds only. One of my sisters has a dog that’s probably a poodle/Portuguese water dog cross (her, the dog’s, early history is a little uncertain) who is a lovely dog, and if any dog deserves a good afterlife, she’s it. OK, she does steal food when possible, chew up things other than her favourite canvas ducks, and viciously threatens squirrels, although she never catches one. Surely those are venial dog-sins. She is also the only dog I’ve heard of (admittedly I don’t know many dogs) who is afraid of swimming, so I guess biology isn’t always destiny, if she is really of 100% water dog ancestry. And you have to include cats. I’ve lived with and known lots of great cats. I’ve even been accused of acting as though every single cat I meet is a beautiful and charming animal.


    9 Jul 18 at 5:28 am

  2. I always distrust specifics of Heaven. If God is beyond our imagining, then so too will be the afterlife. Sometimes I re-read the passage in The Master and Margarita, which is close to the limits of what I can imagine, and I remind myself that the Master “has earned peace. He has not earned the Light.”

    But “we” or “Americans” don’t indulge in those delusional rantings about the evil which is the United States. The United States is not an extended family like France, Germany England or Russia, but an agreement on political principles–natural rights and limited and divided government. Those whackos have rejected that agreement and so have necessarily rejected the United States. Hence their insistence that the Earthly Paradise is elsewhere–France if not Canada.

    And I call to mind Benjamin Franklin’s definition of a Tory–“a man whose body is in America while his head is in England and whose neck ought to be stretched.”


    11 Jul 18 at 7:02 am

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