Animal Soup: More on Dragons but Also on Monkeys, Dogs and Hens.
January 30, 2015
By Jane Tawel
Okay, I am going to tell you something that may make you feel a bit insecure, but my husband has an animal with your face on it. My husband, Raoul, has this funny idea that every one looks like some kind of animal or other.
Now don’t tell him I said this but, I personally think this is because he himself for some years has looked like the most adorable fluffy -eye-browed koala bear. (See below) Isn’t he the cutest? And aren’t you just dying to feed him eucalyptus leaves? (He is also mostly nocturnal, come to think of it.)
I on the other hand, as you can see in this picture, look like a sad-eyed, pop-eyed, long-eared basset hound who is constantly eating or looking for food.
My husband will look at someone and say: “Doesn’t that person look like a pigeon?” Doesn’t that person look like a rat? And he has always had a thing for women who look (to him) like cats. (Remember, his wife looks like a basset hound.)
Speaking of my husband, unlike he, I find the theory of evolution pretty downright silly, if you want to know the truth. I do happen to believe in Devolution. While I do not believe it is possible for a monkey to become a man, I absolutely know of people the world over who once were humans and now seem more like monkeys. And I don’t mean how they look.
A society becoming smarter technologically is not necessarily becoming wiser humanly. If there were ever a time of world history that is as “eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you die” as this current era of our First World Countries, then we would probably have to go back to the Greco-Roman Epicureans, Solomon’s Kingdom of Israel, or the Qing Dynasty of China. In fact, Ecclesiastes, a book of Solomon, contains the first record of this philosophy.
The book of Ecclesiastes is an essay on excess by a King of Excess who wrote it probably towards the end of his life when he wondered “what’s it all about” and “what was the purpose of it all?” Ironically, Solomon’s other writings reflect his youthful prayer to God when he first became King and asked not for wealth, health or long life, or even for a perfect life-mate (he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines) but he asked for wisdom. (So frankly, side note – I have always felt that men having multiple wives / concubines was not an indication of wisdom or even street smarts for that matter. Women historically having only one spouse is proof of women’s superior wisdom – I mean, come on girlfriends, would any of you actually WANT to take care of more than one man at a time? I would be happy to share the workload, frankly.)
First World Country people think they are living like gods, but if you look at the animal profile, we are living more like packrats.
You know, when we feed our dogs, Daisy and Jolie,they do whatever is necessary to distract the humans and the other canine so they can steal the food of the other. They are not starving; they just want more. They are not really being mean. It is just their nature. They are animals. If we give them more food, they will keep eating more food until they cannot hold any more food in their stomachs and they will then vomit the whole kit and caboodle out. Then they want more food. They are not evil, they are just animals.
But when humans eat too much food, that they then have to vomit out in order to eat more food, then we are not humans, we are animals. And when we devolve to animals, it is not our nature. It is our choosing evil over good.
If you want to read good stuff on humans and animals read either C.S. Lewis or Jesus. Or both.
C.S. Lewis is famous for not only his theology concerning animals but also his vivid animal characters. There are many famous Lewis animals to choose from but some of my favorites include: Reepicheep, the heroic and noble mouse in The Chronicles of Narnia, who is more nobly human than many of that name. There is of course Aslan, the Christ figure (“He’s wild you know. Not like a tame lion.”)
And there is Eustace Clarence Scrubb (“There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it”.) Eustace is the boy who turns into the dragon (“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”) –and back into a boy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace only becomes human again when he allows Aslan to painfully rip off his dragon scales. (“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that ‘from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.’ To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”)
Lewis understands that when we act like certain animals, we are sick, ill, insane and we need to be cured, reprogramed, healed. Lewis knows that it isn’t looking like an animal we need to worry about but acting like an animal.
Animals have no desire to be humans, did you ever notice that? I’m sorry but rather than teaching Koko sign language, we should be teaching people the language of love. Pets actually go a long way towards teaching us their love language if we let them. As A.A. Milne said in Winnie the Pooh, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” Koko must have had a good laugh thinking we thought he wanted to be like us. He humored us.
Humans were created to instinctively know God’s language of love, but every time we listen to The Serpent and choose greed and selfishness over trust and love, we become like the animals in all the wrong ways. We can’t love our brothers as ourselves if we believe it is a “dog eat dog” world. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, like Raoul also compared people to animals: “People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” Why do we choose death as a worldview and like true epicureans, eat our ways towards it when we could choose life and eat The Bread of Life and drink Living Water? If we can’t trust God’s love and care for us, and choose to live as fully and gloriously Human as we were created to be, with His Image in us – well, then I guess that ever since the Fall that has been a sort of Devolution if you will.
Jesus was pretty forthright in how he saw people and he saw many of them as the snakes that they were. He called the powerful religious and political leaders “vipers” and warned his disciples that when dealing with the vipers of this world, it is best to be as wily as one yourself.
Jesus loved comparing his followers to birds. While his disciples are encouraged to be a snake with snakes, they are also exhorted to remain as innocent as a dove. This is double entendre because not only are doves considered pacifists even in our time, but doves were the sacrifice of choice of the poor since they were plentiful and cheap or easy to catch. Jesus also assures us that as much as God loves a little helpless dodo of a birdbrain, he loves we silly, sometimes mindless creatures even more. God promises to care for us, just like we care for animals who can not protect or feed or care for themselves.
You may be thinking: Animal Soup, what is that? A Marx Brother’s film? Mexican Menudo? Chinese Shark Fin? (You do NOT want to know what kinds of animal soups there are – well, okay, google it but sit down first.)
The best known reference I know of to this idea of animal soup comes from the poem “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg laments “ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time (line 72). This is an analogy to the “primordial soup” used to describe the origins of life on earth. I like to think Ginsberg was critically thinking along my lines of thought in terms of the devolution of human beings.
“Howl” came out of Ginsberg’s life among the rejects and outcasts of the 20th Century, much as Jesus lived among the pariahs and lepers of the 1st Century. It includes Ginsberg’s poetic assessment of a friendship between two men who have gone mad because they have lost their connection to normal time and hence, normal humanity. They are in the “animal soup”.
Ginsberg also talks about animals when he calls part of “Howl”, “a lament for the Lamb in America with instances of remarkable lamb-like youths”. This is not a poem for the weak of heart or the sensitive to obscenity, but there is much to recommend you to this poem, which explores many biblical themes such as sacrifice, guilt, the downtrodden of society, holiness, and redemption.
Now here’s a fun game. What animal do you see Jesus as? C.S. Lewis saw The Christ as the Lion of Judah. Jesus is of course the “Lamb of God”. He was born in an animal stable. He compared himself to foxes who had holes while he did not even have an animal burrow to sleep in.
But do you know what other animal Jesus compared himself to? A chicken.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37
Perhaps you have seen the film “Fly Away Home”. It is a film about a young pre-teen whose mother dies and who has to go live with a father she has never known in a country she has never been. The girl finds some wild geese eggs with no mother. So she decides to become the mother of the geese. The baby goslings accept the girl as their mother and the girl eventually learns “to fly” to save the lives of the geese.
All babies must do what is known as “imprint” on a mother figure. We are fascinated by stories of different animals who imprint on animals very different from themselves. It is a marvelous fact of how animals were created. Humans too. If you were adopted or have adopted children you know first hand that imprinting is real and if you were not loved as a child by your mother, then you know the lack of imprinting will effect your ability to be a whole, unbroken human for the rest of your life. There may always be a lost, abused animal living in your soul if you did not have a loving parent to model.
Jesus wants to be our mother hen. He wants us to accept Him, God on Earth, as our mother, our model for how to live. He learned to live like we do, so that we could learn to live as we were created to live. First Jesus imprinted with us. Jesus was born like us, learned to walk like us, and to talk like us with a hick accent and all. He studied like us and laughed like us. He was careful so he didn’t scare us away but he was firm when we were in danger. Jesus cried like us, was a friend like us and he suffered like us. And then Jesus died like us, with our sins imprinted in His hands.
Then Jesus said: “Now I’m asking you to let me imprint on you. Now would you like to learn to live forever like me? Would you like me to teach you how to fly?”
If Jesus is the image of the invisible God and He is also the image of humanity at it’s finest, then He is a mother hen I wouldn’t mind looking like. My prayer is “Jesus, help me let you imprint on me today.”