Archives For Cartoons with a Message

Pets in Heaven?

February 6, 2012 — 16 Comments

One of my favorite features in the Wittenburg Door of the 1980s was a running account of “Dogs Who Know the Lord.” Having witnessed more Christlike traits in some pets than I’ve seen in many human lives, I considered the tongue in cheek title a definite possibility.

This week we bid farewell to a gentle and loving border collie who had been part of our family for more than a decade. She lived a long and full life, and like her our previous border collie, she enjoyed her family and the outdoors (both gifts of God) right up until the end. (Both had been “rescued” by us.) Then, when Tanner and Lady were each over 15 years old, simply remained on their blankets when the day arrived that they knew they had not the strength to rise.

There are two kinds of people. Pet lovers, and those whose hearts are desensitized to their affections. The latter group has already stopped reading this post. But pet lovers, yes you, can empathize with my family’s current grief. You understand our loss because you’ve suffered the same pain. And, some of you may even pause to say a short prayer for us.

As a pastor, I’ve had numerous conversations with people about the question of whether or not we’ll see our pets in heaven. It’s a provocative subject, and the fact that such questions persist is a tribute to the significance of these animals in our lives.

Contrary to what some would allege, posing questions about this matter does not trivialize faith; it reveals how our restored relationship with our Creator affects every dimension of our existence.

We cannot know, of course, the answer to the question. That’s something that those who respond with a snide “of course not!” should take care to realize.

Over the years my own views on this have broadened, and far from seeing the deliverance (i.e. not “salvation”) of animals as something unlikely . . . I now consider it likely that we will be greeted by our beloved pets in the new creation. Here are some reasons I consider this a definite possibility:

  1. First, it is true that Jesus died to redeem (save) human beings (not animals).
  2. Animals are “innocent” sufferers of humanity’s disobedience and fall.
  3. Some animals are uniquely precious and beloved by God’s children.
  4. Their presence in heaven would enhance our joy.
  5. The same God who created them would have no difficulty re-creating or restoring them.
  6. If the lion and the lamb will lie together in harmony, why should there not be room for our much-loved pets to frolic alongside them?

And, lest you consider the words above merely the sentimental ramblings of a grieving man, I take comfort in the fact that C.S. Lewis too regarded this as a possibility. In a 1962 letter, he wrote:

. . . in The Problem of Pain I ventured the supposal—it could be nothing more—that as we are raised in Christ, so at least some animals are raised in us. Who knows, indeed, but that a great deal even of the inanimate creation is raised in the redeemed souls who have, during this life, taken its beauty into themselves? That may be the way in which the “new heaven and the new earth” are formed. Of course we can only guess and wonder. But these particular guesses arise in me, I trust, from taking seriously the resurrection of the body.

Replacing Exonyms

January 24, 2012 — 1 Comment

Scott Stantis has illustrated once again how educational some current comic strips can be. His current story arc takes place in Guam. (Guam’s a lovely United States Territory where my family and I lived for two wonderful years in the nineties.)

The story line involves a presidential candidate who has taken refuge there and was asked his opinion about formally changing the island’s name. (There is a movement seeking to replace “Guam” with “Guahon,” the island’s name in the Chamorro language.) You can follow the entire series at Prickly City.

As the panel shows, the (rabbit) senator is unaware that “Guam” is actually an exonym. As such, there is a valid reason to consider its replacement.

Kids today are growing up knowing prominent international cities by names that still seem “foreign” to many of us adults. Beijing has been around just long enough to sound right. But it will always be remembered as Peking to some. Mumbai, as a more recent adjustment, rings alien in the ears of those who still think of the most populous city in India as Bombay.

Still, it makes sense to attempt to refer to cities and nations as the residents of those locales do. For one thing, it is a sign of respect.

And this kind of transition is not an example of thoughtless or random “verbicide” which C.S. Lewis described in “Studies in Words.” There he wrote:

Verbicide, the murder of a word, happens in many ways. Inflation is one of the commonest; those who taught us to say awfully for “very,” tremendous for “great,” sadism for “cruelty,” and unthinkable for “undesirable,” were verbicides.

Replacing exonyms is meaningful to those it directly affects. And it is little more than an inconvenience to the rest of us. So, I’m in favor of it.

Just as I’m always in favor of comic strips that educate as well as entertain!

Military Helmets

January 16, 2012 — 3 Comments

War is deadly business. And, if a kingdom or nation hopes to emerge victorious, they are wise to equip their soldiers properly. That’s why this fact, included in today’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not comic, is so shocking.

It’s inconceivable that as the world marched to war in 1914, not a single one of the world powers equipped their troops with steel helmets. Elegant helms that looked superb on the parade ground . . . yes. Elaborate crests that exaggerated height to intimidate the foe . . . of course. Comfortable fabrics that kept the scorching sun off of the scalp . . . certainly.

But steel helmets that might actually spare men from bullet and shrapnel wounds . . . not those.

It’s not like the danger of ballistic wounds caught the Europeans off guard. Muskets had given way to deadly rifles long before. Artillery had advanced to the point where the Germans actually built not one, but two unique weapons: (1) Big Bertha, a huge howitzer that lobbed an eighteen hundred pound shell nearly eight miles, and (2) the Paris Gun, a siege cannon able to fire its shell eighty miles!

As soldiers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien rallied to the flag and fought the Huns, they would eventually be issued more protective equipment. But it didn’t exist at the war’s outset. And even with it, Lewis was severely wounded in combat. in 1939 he wrote, “My memories of the last war haunted my dreams for years.”

The irony about metal helmets is that even ancient peoples recognized the importance of protecting the skulls of their warriors with the strongest materials available. In my office I have a replica Roman legionary helmet. Trust me, it was capable of saving lives.

Today’s combat helmets are highly advanced, and great effort is made to protect military members from head trauma. Sending them into battle with anything less than the best equipment available should be a crime.

Uninhibited Fonts

December 19, 2011 — 2 Comments

Tonight as we prepared to begin our monthly Christian Writers meeting, our leader mentioned one of his favorite subjects for scribbling. As an unreformed doodler myself, the conversation immediately seized my wandering attention.

He said something to the effect that he “likes to see how complex or ornate he can draw letters while still maintaining their legibility.” It reminded me of some of the flowery medieval versions of fonts where it is determining precisely what a given letter is, becomes a mystery. (I made the challenge simple above, by bracketing the “I” and “J” with adjacent letters . . . but without the “H” and “K” their identities may have been quite difficult to ascertain.)

The image to the left comes from a witty strip called “Incidental Comics.” It is penned by Grant Snider, whose cartoons are quite often as entertaining as they are absurd. In this small element from his broader treatment entitled “Design Like Nobody’s Watching,” he expands on the two styles traditionally identified for letter forms.

I’ve written earlier about font lovers, who will especially enjoy the humor here. But all word lovers can appreciate the importance of the letter styles which clothe the words we read and write.

It’s good to be reminded. The fonts we use truly do make a difference.

The Bane of Blogging

November 22, 2011 — Leave a comment

In today’s “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip, Rat says, “Hey, Goat. In an effort to improve the readership of your blog, I’ve been studying the google analytics for it.”

“What are those?” asks Goat, who is seated at his computer, presumably typing his latest post.

“A comprehensive series of stats about page views, unique visitors and how viewers find your blog. Anyways, from all that, I think I’ve ascertained the problem.”

“You’re boring.”

The final panel reveals Goat’s reaction to that painful assertion.

Truth be told, many individual blog posts are boring. And, not a few blogs in toto are tedious as well.

Boredom, though, lies in the perception of the reader. What weighs down the eyelids of one drowsy reader may be precisely the message that invigorates another. So, I don’t worry too much about the natural ebb and flow of responses to various things I write.

Many years of preaching has doubtless influenced me. The sermon one person regards as “okay,” may be used by God to create a genuine epiphany in the life of another.

Of course, the overall flavor or voice of an author is something a reader recognizes only after sampling a fair amount of their work. Taking just a bite here or a nibble there doesn’t allow a reader to adequately assess whether someone’s work is truly nourishing.

Sadly, our busy age doesn’t allow for terribly thorough examinations . . . and with millions of blogs to be sampled, we’re lucky to have a reader stumble upon even one of our posts. Then, in the briefest of moments, an assessment is made and a judgment passed.

Is this column boring . . . or is it informative and perhaps even entertaining? It’s not enough to hint at the promise of gratification. Bloggers must deliver. And they must deliver every time they post. Of course, that’s not humanly possible. Striving for an unattainable goal can be quite disheartening. And we all have “rats” out there ever ready to discourage us.

If you write, I encourage you to take genuine comfort in the fact that some readers will be pleased by what you write. Some will even be blessed. Not all of them. But remember that even the prophets and poets of the Scriptures did not delight all of the members of their audiences.

Do your best to write something worthy of being read. And rest in the knowledge that some of those who see your words will be refreshed and encouraged by them.