Animals among us

Although Sam already beat me to a post on animals in the gospel, I’m adding the one I prepared to the conversation surrounding his post . . .

Last month my dog, Blitzen, passed away. To lose a beloved pet – and to recognize in its absence how deeply its life was intertwined with one’s daily routine – is to realize that it is possible to have a more intimate relationship with an animal than I will ever have with the majority of people I meet.

Given the central position that animals occupy within our lives in an age when articles about pets routinely make it to the top of The New York Times most emailed articles (to be beaten out only by articles like “what a whale taught me about marriage” that combine animals and families into one article), I find myself wondering why the animal’s place remains so under-theorized within LDS theology. In an effort to begin to think about the animal’s place within the gospel, I want to look at what just a few of the fragments our scriptures say about the beasts. Although I will only look here at two moments in Genesis, I hope that other people might bring to light more passages that might help us understand the roles animals might play within our theology.

In the Middle Ages, animals had a far more central place in Christian theology than we currently recognize. Medieval bestiaries, books that compiled the histories of animals and fantastical beasts alike, allowing for a slippage between the real and the imaginary, flourished within monastic, civic, and religious life. These books often painted particular beasts with symbolic and instructional value. Dogs, for example, were often a symbol of Christian virtues, since they tended sheep, and their licks purportedly carried healing power. But by far the most central scene that these books depicted is the moment in Genesis where Adam names the animals.

“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would name them: whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (Genesis 2:19).

Medieval bestiaries always depicted this short passage, and scholars used this moment in part to generate a complex theological understanding about man’s relationship to God. Although certainly the passage positioned man as a steward over God’s creations, many interpreted the passage to mean that man approximated God in his capacity to reason, because he demonstrated an ability to properly use language that elevated him above other life forms.

However, it seems to me that we should not overlook the fact that in this passage Adam’s birth into language and reason also establishes a hierarchal world in which his ability to use language justifies his dominion over animal life. More troublingly, in the next passage Adam names Eve, thus establishing his power of her. I question the ability of the mentality authorized here – one that empowers the human over the animal, the man over the woman, and those who speak over those who listen – to promote humble stewardship over God’s creations. The prevalence of hunting stories within LDS lore makes it seem all too likely that we have often grafted the (sometimes necessary, but often not) slaughtering of animals unto our stories about maturation and independence.

But Genesis also drops some hints that paint the Garden of Eden as a space of far more harmonious relationships between man and beast than my previous comment might suggest. Not only does the above passage allow for the alternative interpretation that Adam’s ability to be like God is founded on his ability to recognize, connect with, and care for animals, but other passages seem to suggest that Eden had a taboo on eating meat. After the flood, God tells Noah, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3). If we overlook how distasteful it must have been for Noah to receive authority to eat the creatures he tended on his ark, does this passage that equates animals with herbs suggest a new dietary law for a more fallen age?

I’m not entirely sure what to make of these fragmentary and contradictory glimpses of animal life within the Bible. And, certainly, I haven’t begun to cover all of the passages. The violence that I see sometimes within them undoubtedly stems from the fact that I relate to animals as pets rather than as food for survival – a luxury that surely few people have. But, I do find that these passages raise some questions.

Why do we continue to privilege the ability to speak so much over other abilities, such as the ability to listen and to hear the word, which, after all, is the quality of humbleness that saints must cultivate? Why do we not take more seriously – as seriously as we take taboos on tobacco and alcohol – the injunction in the Word of Wisdom to eat meat sparingly and to eat locally? In a moment of environmental awareness in which we increasingly understand the importance of eating local products and are witnessing the most rapid depletion of the world’s animal species to date such neglect seems inexcusable. I find myself wishing that we as church members would begin to take far more seriously our duties to be stewards over the earth and its animals and to recognize the centrality of preserving this earth to our narratives of eternal progression.

Comments

  1. It seems stewardship over the environment has been less emphasized in the years since President Kimball (who wasn’t much a fan of hunting). I remember reading a talk from Kimball recently where he recites a song that has been removed from the Hymnal:

    Don’t kill the little birds,
    That sing on bush and tree,
    All thro’ the summer days,
    Their sweetest melody.
    Don’t shoot the little birds!
    The earth is God’s estate,
    And he provideth food
    For small as well as great.
    (Deseret Songs, 1909, no. 163.)

    As a sidenote, this made me think a little about Church doctrine on animals. One of my favorite stories is in Reflections of a Scientist, when asked by Albert Einstein whether dogs would go to heaven, Henry Eyring reassures him that God will take care of them too.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    There is some Mormon speculation on whether animals will be resurrected, with most taking the affirmative position, although this gets a little dicey inasmuch as it would seem to entail the resurrection of pests as well as beloved dogs. Imagine the sheer volume of just the mosquitoes that have ever lived on this earth!

    My daughte is a vegetarian. We were at the trout farm in Ogden and she was having trouble getting the fish off of the hook, and that was simply the last straw. From that day to this, more than a decade later, she hasn’t eaten meat. I’m very proud of her for her constancy, although I freely ackowledge it would be very difficult for me to follow in her footsteps.

  3. I read a story somewhere about Joseph Smith forbidding some men from killing a rattlesnake. I always found that an interesting story because it seems most supposedly sensible people would want to kill a venomous animal, even if it was just minding its own business and not about to strike. After all, as usual human pre-emptive logic would go, the animal represents a potential threat.

    So I think it’s a very instructive story that Joseph Smith would feel a need to protect an animal like that.

    Maybe I’ll have to google that story – see if I can find it anywhere.

  4. Perhaps mosquitoes will be sent to outer darkness then…

  5. There are other passages in the bible that could seem to indicate some sort of heavenly or celestial animal life, as in the “beasts” described in Ezekiel or Revelation.

    I’ve often wondered about the Genesis accounts of the spiritual creation of animals and plants. How does one create animals and plant’s spiritually, before they are formed physically in the Earth? Does this indicate that animals and plants have pre-existent spirits?

    Our relationship to animals as companions, co-workers, and a source of food is obviously complex. Stewardship implies many things. If we are good stewards over the earth, are we responsible for our actions in regard to the environment? The same question would apply to animals. It is interesting to note that ancient Jewish practice for butchers came with instructions as to how to kill an animal with little suffering and a respect for it’s life. Deuteronomy includes a requirement that domestic animals be fed before the family sits down to eat. In my childhood summers on my Grandfather’s farm, we fed and milked the cows before breakfast.

    Most of my family is allergic to dogs and cats so we don’t currently have any pets, but we spent thirteen years with Muffin, our poodle/miniature collie mix. It was a sad moment as she declined into a coma from kidney failure. We thought about putting her down, but couldn’t bring our selves to do that. After she lapsed into unconsciousness, we put her on a blanket at the foot of our bed on her last night. She awoke early in the morning, made some whimpering sounds, wagged her tail when my wife and I petted her one last time, and then died. Hard to not think that she was saying farewell.

    If I were to say that animals have spirits, I would think that Muffin had one.

  6. Danithew (#3), that was one of several animal-related adventures that occurred during Zion’s Camp.

  7. Okay, I’ve just demonstrated how rumors get started. I guess it wasn’t Joseph Smith. Here’s the story I was thinking of:

    One day a brother in the Camp, by the name of Solomon Humphrey, who was older than most of the brethren became very tired through traveling, and lay down on the prairie to rest. He soon fell asleep. At the time he dropped asleep he had his hat in his hand. When he awoke, he saw a rattlesnake coiled up between his hat and himself, and not more than a foot from his head. Just at this moment some of the brethren came up, and gathered around him saying “it is a rattlesnake, let us kill it”; but Brother Humphrey said, “no; I’ll protect him; you shan’t hurt him, for he and I have had a good nap together.”

    I found the quotation here.

  8. shakleford says:

    #7 – here’s the one you want:

    In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, “Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.” The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger. (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 71–72.)

  9. Shakelford, thanks. Maybe I’m not entirely remembering wrong after all. Is the writer of this Joseph Smith? It seems obvious that it is – only that his name isn’t specifically mentioned in the quote.

  10. My favorite rattlesnake story from Zion’s Camp is when Martin Harris shows off handling a snake with his bare feet and gets bitten. Then Joseph says to them, “never to trifle with the promises of God … when a man designedly provokes a serpent to bite him, the principle is the same as when a man drinks deadly poison knowing it to be such. In that case no man has any claim on the promises of God to be healed.”

  11. The idea of animal spirits and animal resurrection has a lot of weird ramifications. The snake episode is in Zion’s camp (D.H.C. 2:71).

    Folks like Lorenzo Snow took the “eat meat sparingly” portion of the word of wisdom quite seriously. This was before the current form of proscriptions was settled. I think that your point about stewardship and the decline of species is quite important, though. It would seem that the preexistent nature of animal spirits would lend to an extreme conservationism that is just as the Saturday’s Warrioresque notions about finding bodies for human spirits. (While I do think that these notions are overly literalistic, I maintain the righteousness of conservationism).

  12. I must say that my least favorite squirrel story from Zion’s Camp is when Joseph Smith “came up to the brethren who were watching a squirrel on a tree, and to prove them and to know if they would heed [his] counsel [i.e., “not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger”], [he] took one of their guns, shot the squirrel and passed on, leaving the squirrel on the ground. Brother Orson Hyde, who was just behind, picked up the squirrel, and said, ‘We will cook this, that nothing may be lost.’ I perceived that the brethren understood what I did it for, and in their practice gave more heed to my precept than to my example, which was right” (HC 2:72).

  13. Object Lesson Squirrel Surprise was a mainstay of pioneer cuisine along with hard-tack and corn dodger.

  14. J. Lester says:

    I don’t know if animals have eternal spirits, but I predict in 100 years the ethical treatment of animals will be a commonplace sentiment and we will look like Neanderthals for the way we treat them (actually, that’s not fair to Neanderthals).

  15. This tracks a blog post by Stapley on BCC last year which compiled several quotes from Joseph Smith and others that seem to suggest that animals do have spirits and will be resurrected.

  16. Here is another nice compilation of quotes on animal resurrection from McConkie, Smith and others.

  17. ed johnson says:

    How does the WOW say we should “eat locally?” (I’m not completely sure what that even means, or why it should be important to me.)

  18. Right now the animals among us at my house are found in the fridge.

    Natalie address section 59 vs 16-19 http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/59

    Even squirrels are addressed. After all they climbeth on trees

    “Why do we not take more seriously – as seriously as we take taboos on tobacco and alcohol – the injunction in the Word of Wisdom to eat meat sparingly and to eat locally?”

    Because its not taught as binding by modern day prophets.

    Pres Monson is a Pheasant hunter. Anybody want to address this?

  19. Depends on how you interpret your obligation to be a steward of the earth Ed. Among other things, one can argue that eating locally grown products reduces the amount of money, material, fuel, etc. spent on transporting food. Locally grown products are less likely to be industrially produced and probably stand a better chance of being organic and free of a lot of the pesticides, preservatives, and perhaps genetic modification, etc., of food produced and shipped great distances. As a result, it’s probably healthier for you, which, is the underlying purpose of the WOW, no?

  20. BBell – And President Kimball couldn’t stand hunting. What’s your point?

  21. Steve Evans says:

    bbell, I believe your comment 18 is incorrect. My understanding is that the entire Word of Wisdom is taught as a binding commandment over the Church.

  22. J. Lester says:

    Didn’t someone (I’m not making this up) write a history of Mormon animals? Where can that be found?

  23. Steve,

    Ever been asked in a TR rec interview about your meat habits? That is what I mean. Ever had to ask a investigator to cut down on porkchops prior to baptism? I am not incorrect in my statements.

    The battle over meat consumption was fought back at the turn of the century and was not included in the enforced WOW by Pres Grant.

    I just like to throw out that Pres Monson hunts as a counter weight in these types of discussions.

  24. WofW is like the speed limit: Binding is as enforced does.

  25. So if I understand you correctly, BBell, if it’s not explicitly included in the temple recommend interview, it’s not a commandment and not binding upon the Saints? Whatever happened to it not being “meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant.”

  26. Locally grown products are less likely to be industrially produced and probably stand a better chance of being organic and free of a lot of the pesticides, preservatives, and perhaps genetic modification.

    While I think that there may be some interesting arguments against things like pesticides, preservatives, genetic modification, and transportation distances, I don’t believe that they are self evident. What is there about preservation that yields less morally justified food?

  27. Steve Evans says:

    Bbell, have you ever been asked in a TR interview about your consumption of alcohol? The question that gets asked is whether you keep the Word of Wisdom, plain and simple, unless your Bishop and SP give non-approved temple recommend interviews.

    You refer to the “enforced WOW” as if it is some sort of separate document. There is no such thing. I’m aware of the historical transitions the Word of Wisdom has been through, but you are not correct to indicate that D&C 89 is only binding in piecemeal form.

  28. J. Lester says:

    “Eat locally”? Never heard that before. Sounds like an endorsement for avoiding chain restaurants.

  29. Actually Steve, I think you are mistaken. There are things that are explicitly proscribed by church policy (CHI).

  30. Stapley – I’m not sure I agree with what appears to be your underlying assertion that the entire WOW is necessarily about “morally justified” food or eating habits. Instructions like “All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground” seem more grounded in health than morality.

    I think an interesting argument could be made that there is a moral component to growing and eating your own food though. President Kimball asked all Saints to tend gardens, even if it was just a box in an apartment window, because there was something spiritual about the process of working the earth and growing food yourself.

  31. I predict in 100 years the ethical treatment of animals will be a commonplace sentiment and we will look like Neanderthals for the way we treat them (actually, that’s not fair to Neanderthals).

    Uh-huh (munch, munch) … pass the BBQ.

    Just a note on the subject of religion and eating meat – I and a bunch of students learned quite a bit at the BYU Jerusalem Center from a Rabbi Rosen. I believe he told us that he was a practicing vegetarian – but he also pointed out that the Jewish temple rites and sacrifices (when they are operating – obviously they currently are _not_ operating) require the people and priests to eat meat from the sacrifices.

  32. Marc, I agree that Kimball asserted a morality of food production and I don’t think that the WoW is about morality or health as much is it is about transcendence. But once we start talking about modern food production in terms of being better or worse than other methods, appeal to the WoW is anachronistic.

  33. Steve Evans says:

    J., I know what you mean, but just because the CHI specifically mentions tobacco, alcohol, etc. that does not mean that the rest of D&C 89 is somehow inapplicable or nonbinding. Now, if the CHI said something like, “the only part of D&C 89 that are enforceable are the parts about alcohol,” then I’d have to agree with you.

  34. Steve,

    I think Ray hit it best.

    I find myself confident that if I walked into a TR Rec interview and and told them I had shot and killed a deer last week and had fed myself nothing but summer sausage for breakfast, backstraps for lunch, and venison steak for dinner for a week that I would get a TR. (I do not like venison very much to gamey so yuck)

    If I occassionally drank coffee I would be disqualified

  35. Steve Evans says:

    Bbell, now you are essentially saying something different. Initially you said, “Because its not taught as binding by modern day prophets.” Now you are talking about how the Word of Wisdom is enforced. Those are two different things. I agree that you would probably walk out of there with a temple recommend (and a well-deserved angioplasty).

    As for Ray’s quote, it takes some gall to refer to breaking a revelation from God in the same way you’d refer to exceeding the speed limit. There are lots of divine laws that don’t get enforced by church administration. That does not lessen their binding nature nor the spiritual consequences of disobedience.

  36. J. Lester says:

    What I want to know is whether animals can commit sins. Do they all fulfill the measure of their creation?

  37. Stapley – True, I wouldn’t argue with you there. I wasn’t really pushing an interpretation of the WOW that speaks directly to modern food production, but was responding to Ed’s comment with possible interpretations of the “locally grown” comment in Natalie’s post. I think there is a stronger argument to be made that our obligation to be good stewards over the earth might compel different habits with regards to food production though.

  38. BBell – I’m with Steve. I’m not sure that analogy works. In recommend interviews, you are asked whether you keep the WOW. In some ways, that’s a subjective question as to whether you personally feel you are keeping the WOW. I know people who don’t drink caffeinated soda and who would feel unworthy to go in if they did. There are many ways we can break the spirit of the WOW without violating a specifically stipulated tenet like tobacco, alcohol or hot drinks.

  39. Steve,

    I think it takes more gall NOT to equate the the WofW with speeding – IF you take a literal reading of the D&C verses that equate obedience to God’s law and obedience to constitutional law. (That is totally tongue-in-cheek, but just for reference.)

    D&C 58: 21

    D&C 98: 4-6

    I agree completely that the concepts articulated within Chapter 89 ALL are words of wisdom, but I also see how the Church defined and proscribed those that also are words of warning – as defined in the first few verses focusing on the designs that do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men. I see a clear difference between those things that others will use to try to enslave us and those things that we will use to harm ourselves. Each is explained; some are prohibited.

    I see this in the same light as the angel’s admonition to Alma, Jr. “I’ll let you go ahead and harm yourself by not following my counsel, but I will command you (and others) not to participate in the destruction of others. Therefore, I prohibit these; be your own agent with the others.”

    BTW, I think the local growth aspect is a bit of a stretch for this thread, but I agree completely with the steward and protector of the earth concept. The use of the phrase “Lord over all the earth” denotes such responsibility, IMO, based on the use of that same name (Lord) elsewhere.

  40. BTW, I try to live the WofW in its entirety as best I know and can, specifically because I do accept it as inspired in its entirety. FWIW, I think meat consumption doesn’t enter a temple recommend interview simply because there is no quantifiable way to ascertain compliance to “sparingly”.

  41. Steve Evans says:

    Ray, you lost me in #39. From what source are you deriving this interpretation?

  42. Re #22:

    Are you referring to a history of, say, Joseph Smith’s horses, J. Golden Kimball’s pet mule, etc.?

  43. As to the question of whether animals have spirits, it seems self evident to me that they do. Quite apart from the scriptures that say that all things were created spiritually, my own experiences suggest that they do: I have had five dogs live with me in my life. All had different personalities. My current dog, Blaise, is the most good and loving being I have ever encountered. The idea that he might not have a spirit seems impossible to me.

    I believe animals always fulfill the measure of their creation because they have no accountability.

  44. Steve Evans says:

    Mrs. MCQ is about to put the hurt down on poor Blaise. Kick that meddling SOB in the face!

  45. Steve: Ha! She agrees with everything I said. If it came down to choosing between him and me she would undoubtedly choose him, and I wouldn’t blame her. If you have ever met a Bernese Mountain Dog, you know what I’m talking about.

  46. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, your relationship sounds vaguely illegal. But probably not against the Word of Wisdom (as enforced).

  47. What’s illegal is having a dog that resempbles a rat. Repent ye!

  48. Steve Evans says:

    In the end, my rat-dog’s perfected, resurrected rat-dog form will be a wonder to behold, and you will rue your words.

  49. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    Natalie and all others who have lost beloved pets:

    They do have spirits. I don’t know what that means in the long run, theologically speaking, but it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is this: I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will see my dog again. The night before my then-fiancee and I left Japan to marry and start our lives over again in North America, I spent a long time in prayer. I was nervous and I rambled about anything that came into my head until at last I had nothing left to say. I told God I guessed I was done and if there was anything He wanted to say, I was listening.

    I heard, in a voice vast as space that I seemed to hear with my head and heart at the same time, “Lili misses you.”

    Lili, my bright, funny, bratty little Bichon, had been dead for two years.

    So I know that when I die not only will I be greeting my friends and family who have gone before but I’ll also be bowled over by a beloved little fuzzball, just like she always used to do.

  50. I recall that former BCC blogger Ed Snow published an article entitled “Writing The History of Pets And Other Animals In Mormondom” in the May 2004 issue of Sunstone. It’s essential reading.

  51. #41 – Steve, from the twisted recessed of my tortured brain. That probably is a valid definition of hubris.

    Actually, it comes from my administrative duties to understand what is meant in the Temple Recommend interview question – and the fact that I could only probe the “forbidden” substances for actual worthiness consideration. Everything in the entire chapter MIGHT be binding in heaven, but not everything in it currently is binding on earth – so to speak. I honestly have no idea if the amount of meat I eat is indicative of my willing to obey the Lord. All I know is that the meat counsel is not enforced in any meaningful way currently in the church – so it is hard to see it as “binding” command in any way that has real impact on the overall membership.

  52. PDoE: Thank you for that. It perfectly confirms my experience and belief. My concept of heaven requires the presence of Lili and others like her. I have a good friend named Tag that I expect to see, first thing.

  53. Not that there’s any relevance, but I’d like to bear testimony of Steve’s rat-dog.

    And J.Lester (28), I can’t believe (said in a tortured way, not in a way accusing you of lying) that anybody hasn’t heard of eating locally. Avoiding chain restaurants is part of it, but so is avoiding some nice restaurants and plenty of stuff in grocery stores (including, sadly enough, Whole Foods). I’d never say it’s part of the WoW, but that doesn’t make it any worse of any idea—it would be anachronistic to the WoW, since, at the time, people probably didn’t eat a whole lot of food that had been grown across the country from them.

  54. Joshua A. says:

    I think that too many people project human feelings and emotions onto animals. Slate.com has a contributor named Jon Katz(a rancher, Ray) who has some interesting thoughts on this. Here’s a link to a list of his articles:

  55. Joshua A. says:

    The link doesn’t work. Go to Slate.com and do an author search for Jon Katz.

  56. Adam Greenwood says:

    If we overlook how distasteful it must have been for Noah to recieve authority to eat the creatures he tended on his ark

    ? I believe that there are some farmers who have some attachment to their animals but most don’t, even if the farmer tends the animals personally. I suspect that sentimentality towards animals was not a common feature of the ancient world, but I’m not really educated on the subject.

  57. Really Adam? I’m no expert on the subject either, but with the powerful Biblical analogy of Christ to shepherds and all the parallels that are pushed about shepherds and they lengths they would go to save just one lost sheep, I guess I might disagree with your gut instinct on the matter.

  58. Adam, the types of relationships as illustrated by MCQ’s canine love affair have plagued mankind since time immemorial.

  59. Just to make sure everyone realizes I actually agree with Steve more than occasionally (and perhaps clear up a mis-perception from the other animal-related thread), I have no pets (who needs them with six kids?) and no particular fondness for animals. I don’t project human feelings and emotions onto animals (although I do believe they have “feelings” and “emotions”), and, frankly, I couldn’t care less if animals are a part of the Celestial Kingdom. I separate what we can learn from our interaction with them here in mortality from whether or not we will continue to interact with them in immortality.

    OK, so it was a stretch to say I agree with Steve on this, since he didn’t address his feelings for his rat-dog, but I had to try.

  60. StillConfused says:

    When my father’s dog was missing, his wife added the dog’s name to the Temple prayer roll. The dog came home.

  61. The comments about D&C 89 and a TR interview are not very productive. The question is pretty much just “Do you live the WoW?” There is no elaboration – and the Brethren have consistently reiterated that there should be no elaboration. It is a simple “yes/no” answer. The whole interview is a guided self-declaration of worthiness. I’ve never personally kept a log of all the things one saint told me about another in order to check the reliability of TR interview answers. I suppose some bishops/SPs have time for that … but I can’t imagine why they would want to!

  62. Steve, are you saying that my feelings for my dog are a plague on mankind? Them’s fightin’ words! TH White said that mankind’s love for his pets was one of his only saving graces. Just because you have no feelings for the rat you keep in your man-purse, don’t assume the rest of us need to occupy your personal hell.

  63. MCQ, I think you have been snuggling too much with your mountain dog.

  64. Steve: there is no such thing as too much of that.

  65. #61 – Lorenzo, Neither have I. Where did you get the “log of all the things one saint told me about another” concept? That’s a leap that I just can’t fathom.

  66. OK, if Steve keeps his rat-dog in his man-purse, I have to retract my claim that I agree with him. I’ll take MCQ’s cohabitation with a mountain dog. Sorry, Steve.

  67. Although, come to think of it, Steve carrying his dog does fit the title of this post better than MCQ cuddling with his.

  68. #65 – MCQ
    Except for personal observation, a bishop/SP has no idea who might be lying in a TR interview unless he choses to keep a log (mental or physical) of all the tattling the saints do on one another – he may feel uneasy about something and choose to “chat” a little longer or even withhold a recommend if he can’t shake the feeling – but the main source of any PH Leader concerns is one saint confessing the sins of another. My comment was only a reference to that interesting cultural quirk.

  69. I am with Ray.

    I have to many kids to be worried about my relationship with animals. I am in the end partial to dogs. When the kids get older we will get a Lab. It seems in many areas of the country that pets are replacing children. One small sign of the times? There was even a brief article about in in a recent National Geographic issue.

    Also its much cooler to have a relationship with an exotic mountain dog then a rat-like canine.

  70. What might the tale of Balaam have to do with the idea of animals living up to the measure of their creation?

  71. Probably nothing.


  72. Are you sure the back door is locked?

  73. Stephanie says:

    I think when Natalie said that the WOW advises us to eat locally, she was referring to verse 11, where it talks about eating fruits and herbs in their season. I think this is very interesting when you consider that when these commandments were given, they probably had very little choice about eating fruits in their season, because they couldn’t just go to the supermarket and get whatever fruit or vegetable they wanted in the middle of winter…

    For the record, I love my rat dog. And he does replace children at this point in my life.

  74. Jim, I have to admit about 247 sarcastic thoughts went through my mind – but you aren’t Steve, so I decided to be civil.

    I don’t understand #72. In fact, I have absolutely no clue what you are trying to say. Will you please explain?

  75. Stephanie, Thanks. I feel stupid. I should have made that connection, since I’ve heard it before – albeit many years ago. I don’t see it that way, but it is a very logical and reasonable conclusion.

  76. Ray–

    I’m as confused as you are. I wrote post 70 (which was serious, by the way–I wasn’t trying to be flippant or sarcastic), but post 72 was apparently a “different” Jim.

  77. Yeah, that definitely changes things. :-)

  78. Steve, I have to (respectfully) agree with those on this thread that disagree with you on the TR issue.

    I believe we should be taught that the whole thing is binding (whatever that means), but I do not believe that is current practice in most cases. A good example is lesson #18 in the Aaronic Priesthood manual #1. It goes on at length about the Don’ts of the WOW, never once mentions the Do’s, and then pronounces that the blessings of the WOW promised in verses 18-21 are granted to those who have abstained from the Dont’s. There are several stories used that are all about abstaining from harmful substances, but not one story about how spiritual growth was enhanced by eating healthy foods, eating meat sparingly, etc.

    Is the entire WOW binding? Perhaps. But I don’t think that it is taught as such on a regular basis.

    Nevertheless, I will heed your counsel, and next time I am asked the WOW question in a TR interview I will answer “No, but I do abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol, and harmful drugs.”

  79. Steve Evans says:

    Talon – ha! Your last sentence gets it spot-on. Thanks. You are right, sadly, about the state of the manuals.

  80. Lorenzo says:

    #78 – Steve:
    So you’re the guy whose keeping the rest of waiting for hours in the foyer of the SPs office while you “confess” at length to each of the many nuances of the TR questions.

    You must not get enough attention at home!

  81. Steve Evans says:

    Lorenzo, boo.

    I answer the questions as they’re put to me. But if I were more principled — and perhaps if all of us were more principled, we’d do the same — I would answer a complete answer and get at the root of what each question is asking.

  82. Lorenzo, I’m sure your last comment was tongue-in-cheek, and everyone knows I like to take my shots at my little-bother-in-spirit Steve, but that last line . . . Wow.

  83. Lorenzo says:

    #81: Steve
    I noticed after posting that the grins I included in this message did not make it through to the post. Sorry … only intended to add a little sarcasm to a Friday! Did not mean any offense.

    But on a serious note, why not work our way through all of those questions prayerfully before we see our bishops/SPs so we can answer “yes/no” to “yes/no” questions … and not allow ever-changing PH leaders to inflict their own values on what clearly should be between you and the Lord?

  84. Steve Evans says:

    Lorenzo, the questions should not deviate from the CHI. There’s nothing in the CHI, however, that indicates our answers can’t be more fulsome. It’s an opportunity for discussion, sharing of testimonies, etc. that some people may welcome.

  85. Heaven won’t be heaven for me unless there are no dogs, no rat-dogs, no mountain dogs, none of them! How is this going to work? I hope the animals that you so need up there will be invisible to me.

  86. Lorenzo says:

    #81: Steve
    Agreed … should not!

    We overburden our bishops – wouldn’t he be better used in discussions at home, sharing of testimonies with his own children, etc.? We have the scriptures, prayer and mediation – oops, I mean pondering – to deal with these issues. Unless we have a real question we cannot find an answer to after exhaustive study and prayer, even fasting, why not stick to the yes/no and let him get home on time?

  87. Merkat: I don’t understand how you could honestly feel that way, but I know that there are people who do (possibly many of them) and I suspect that there will be a way to sort it all out. My own hope and belief is that you will someday be converted to the true gospel where your furry brothers and sisters are as welcome in your heaven as you are in theirs.

  88. Lorenzo says:

    #84 Ray:
    The tongue was firmly in my cheek for all of it … but my serious comment is in comment number 86 of this thread: we hold our bishops in their offices too long for things we ought to work through on our own.

  89. Lorenzo, to that I add my hearty, “Amen.” If our members (and especially our MP brethren and leadership) understood their duties better, our bishops would breathe a sigh of relief and give thanks daily in their prayers.

  90. Lorenzo says:

    #89 Ray –
    Thank you, well said! With or without sarcasm, tongue in or out of my cheek, I couldn’t have said it any better!

  91. PetPsychic says:

    At the risk of playing the whacky pet psychic…well, here goes.

    One of my spiritual gifts is communicating with animals. I finally broke down and began utilizing this gift to help others solve pet medical mysteries, find lost animals and assist in behavioral issues for pet owners. Through my work and what I’ve learned I know they are given to us for many purposes and that most animals are clear about their spiritual purposes while here.

    It’s an amazing gift to have and has really brought me closer to the Spirit as I’ve had the privilege to bless others lives through their pets. Plus, it take some courage in sharing it with others.

  92. Thanks, PetPsychic. (I couldn’t find an appropriate abbreviation, but my sense of humor dictates that I point out the possibilities. Sorry.)

    It did take courage, and it shows the myriad of the gifts available to those who are willing to acknowledge them.

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