I have a friend who is going through something of a spiritual crisis. All her adult life she believed in Pre-Tribulation, the belief that all good Christians are raptured to heaven before God turns the earth into a living hell for seven years prior to the coming of Jesus. Believing herself to be a good Christian and certain to be raptured, she thought she would escape the horrors of God’s wrath.
But now she is studying with a new pastor and he has just about convinced her that Post-Trib theory is correct and Pre-Trib is heresy. Post-Tribulation theory says that the rapture will come only after all humanity—Christians and nonChristians alike—suffer the wrath of God—and it’s coming soon.
I feel for her; this is scary stuff. She never asks me which I believe knowing that Judaism is a Trib-free faith. So the last time she mentioned her crisis I asked a different kind of question: what about our dogs?
I prefer to dogs to people. I can see why God would hate people enough to torture them. I have those feelings myself. But I can’t see how God could hate dogs, or why God would torture them. Dogs should be raptured before the Tribulation, or at least they should if God loves dogs.
“Do you think God loves dogs?” I asked. My friend didn’t know. The Bible doesn’t say. Which led me to an interesting observation: you never hear of Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Confucius, Mahavira, Martin Luther, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Madame Blavatsky, L. Ron Hubbard, or any other founder of a faith having a dog. Presidents often have dogs, but Popes never do. Why is that?
I can think of two reasons why religious founders don’t have dogs. Either they don’t like dogs, or dogs don’t like them. Or maybe they don’t like dogs because dogs don’t them, or dogs don’t like them because they don’t like dogs. Personally I wouldn’t want to follow any sage that didn’t love dogs and wasn’t loved by them. Of course if I’m going to use the dog standard I have to deal with the fact that Hitler had a dog who seemed to love him. Do dogs love unconditionally, or was this an evil dog? I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say.
Anyway, even if it’s not foolproof, I think the dog standard is a good one. I know Zen Buddhists for whom the question “Does a dog have Buddha nature” is crucial, but I think they’ve got it backwards. For me the crucial question is, “Is it the Buddha’s nature to have a dog?”
I think I’m going to join only those religions where the founders had and loved dogs. Let me know if you know of any.