A Dog, A Christmas Tree, and the Mystery of God

02 Dec

Yesterday we loaded the kids and dogs into the trusty minivan and headed to the Christmas tree farm.  It’s a family tradition, of course, and a good time was had by all. Especially the dogs.  They enjoyed running through the trees, meeting new people and sniffing other dog’s butts.  It’s what they do.

As we brought the tree into the house, I began to wonder if our dogs wondered.  Did they, I mean, find anything unusual in the whole state of affairs?  After all, think about it from their perspective:

Dog diary, 11/30/13.  Today my owners put us in the big white thing that they get into in the mornings. It’s like a small house in there.  After a while they opened the doors, and the whole world was changed.  Our house and yard were gone.  A field of trees had replaced them somehow.  And a lot of other people and dogs appeared.  The owner and the family looked and pointed at a bunch of the trees.  I think they were deciding which one would taste best.  Then the owner cut down the tree and threw it on top of the big white thing.  Then we all had to get back inside the big white thing again.  When we got out, the people and trees were gone.  I’ll never get used to that magic, by the way.  Our house and yard appeared again.  Then the owner took the tree inside the house.  That’s right: inside the house.  They put it in some kind of bowl with water in it.  Usually when they put something into a bowl of water they make the water hot somehow and then eat what was in the bowl.  So I guess that is what is going on here.  I still can’t figure out why they put a bunch of shiny things on it, though. I guess it makes it taste better.

Update: they still haven’t eaten the tree.  I’m so confused.

Our actions must seem confusing indeed to the dogs, at least if they ever stopped to think about such things.  Even if they could speak our language, how could we ever communicate ideas of beauty, religion, and tradition to them?  They simply have no categories to even think about such things.  Our ways and thoughts and actions are simply on a different plane than theirs

Why, then, do we think it so odd that we do not understand God’s ways?  Why do those of us who believe in God find it so maddening that He does not do things the way we would expect, or the way we would like?  Surely the gap between an infinite, eternal Creator and finite, time-bound creatures dwarfs any gap between any two creatures.  We stand with the animals on one side of the “infinite qualitative distinction”.  God alone stand upon the other.  This thought should give us great pause before we charge God with being unnecessarily hidden and mysterious in His ways.

This thought should also give pause to non-believers, at least to those too quick to argue that if there is a God He must make sense to us and our rationality.  In fact, if there is a God there is very good reason to expect that much about Him will be beyond our rationality.  That is not to say belief in Him is not rational; rather it is to recognize that human rationality is not coterminous with rationality itself.

I wish sometimes I could explain myself to the dogs.  I wonder if God feels the same way.



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  1. Flagrant Regard

    12/13/2013 at 1:50 am

    Hey there. Enjoy your posts! Well thought out and inspiring. Keep ‘er up.

    Was actually thinking along a very similar line just last week while returning from feeding the creatures in the back yard. Still ‘mid-write’ on that one. Hope you’ll check it out when it’s a wrap.

    Feel free to submit to our blog-feed. I forgot to do that with your blog last time we checked in, but will do that that today (if I can figure that process out).

    Is the shot of the dogs your own? Like it.

    Christmas blessings to you ‘n yours.

    • Daniel

      12/13/2013 at 11:42 am

      Hi FR. Thanks for the kind words. I will definitely check out your post.

      Alas, those are not my dogs. My dogs are just as cute and stupid as those, though, so perhaps I should throw a few picks of them on here.

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