Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dead Finches, Eternally Angry Chickens, and the Problems with Faulty Theology

Today we started our day with a bit of sadness in the house. Salt, our beloved all white zebra finch, went home to the great aviary in the sky. Apparently the house got just a bit too cold for him, and, well, he sang his last song. Actually, he never sang, he just chirped, but that's beside the point.

As we laid him to rest ( I held him over the garbage can, while my husband said, "Ashes to ashes and all that other stuff"), our children stayed in the house and cried over this great loss. When I walked back in, I was immediately confronted.

"Where's Salt?"

"We buried him..." It was true, he was under a bunch of leaves and garbage... in the can.

"Without us?"

We used to hold a memorial service for every pet, and the woods behind our home is like a miniature version of a pet cemetery: 3 hamsters, 4 frogs, 3 hermit crabs, 1 finch and several fish. But, I couldn't live through the great emotions involved in another burial service today (or, if truth be told I just couldn't imagine traipsing all the way back to the woods with 5 kids, 2 of who can't walk, and eulogizing a bird that was smaller than a hissing cockroach (another pet that one of my kids want).

This wasn't the first time the death of a pet has got me in trouble. My children love animals, they love nature and they get very attached to both. So, when their first pet (a hermit crab) died, they were devastated by the loss. More importantly, though, they realized that if a hermit crab could die, then a dog could die... and dogs don't live as long as people. Now there was an unthinkable idea, but that idea birthed the obvious question.

"Mom, do pets go to heaven?"

For years before that question I had planned to be completely honest and sound with my answer "No, pets don't go to heaven. They don't have a soul."

However, when three sets of sad eyes looked at me that day, I said the only thing that came to mind.

"Of course... I mean they don't go to heaven like we do... they just get to be there because God created them and somehow he will redeem his creation.... and they're important to you so they're important to God."

Well, that seemed to solve the problem. Somehow that answer extended to all of creation, and my children had the peace of mind to know that every frog (including the one they told to wait for them outside while they came in for lunch), crab, bird, dog, cricket, and fish would be waiting for them on the great reunion day. It helped us get through many more deaths, and I was pretty pleased with myself.

Until it all came back to haunt me.

Last year, we allowed one of our sons to raise Pekin ducks for a 4-H projects. Pekin ducks are also known as meat ducks. Up to the point where the ducks arrived, it was all about raising meat. However, on the day they marched their little webbed feet into my home they became "cute little duckies". I knew there would be trouble (they were headed, in 3 months, to the meat auction), but I just didn't know what it would be.

It reared its ugly head several days after the auction. We were discussing the fate of sunshine, lightning, lighter and light (yes, I let him name them), when my son said, "Well, we'll see them again in heaven!"

"No we won't," I responded, a bit too quickly, "they're meat."

His eyes widened. "Yes, but God will redeem them!"

Uh oh. I fumbled for words. I believe my husband just laughed.

"Mom, you told us that God will redeem all of his creation that dies. That includes meat. That means will be meeting up with all the chickens we've eaten when we get to heaven."

Okay, not only was I up a creek, but the thought of having to face all those chickens made heaven seem a bit unappealing. Were they waiting for me at the gates, an angry mob, wanting some answers to some serious questions?

At some point, I know that I am going to have to straighten all this out. Even I'm confused by it all.

But until then, I have another problem. I have a little boy who has eaten a lot of meat over the years.... presuming that the chickens were going to heaven.

No matter what you do, your kids are just going to end up in therapy.


gingerswindow said...

Maybe the pets need to go to therapy too.

Deb said...

No, the pets don't need therapy, they need better health care. I guess they should organize a union....

kerie said...

ahem, we have a pet cemetary. We also have a problem with our dog digging up the dead pets and bringing them back in the house. We dont face seeing them again in heaven, we face seeing them again in our house. eeewwww!

Deb said...

I like the idea of facing them in heaven better ... having them back in the house sounds more like night of the living dead.

Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks said...

This is hilarious! (Uhhh, except the dead pet part.) Unfortunately, I can relate all too well.

I came here from your comment on organizing toys at MommyLife. I loved your no-nonsense answer and had been thinking along those same lines lately. In fact, I had just accomplished a Massive Toy Reduction at our house when I read your comment.

Now, we are never going to speak of where our toys ended up, but let's just say I'll be taking the trash to the dumpster myself for the next few days.

MarlaQuack said...

I like my friends idea. Her cows are named steak, Sirloin, Chuck...