Animal Saints  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Here are some excerpts from a great post published today by Christopher on his site at The title is "Creation laughs back: animals, theology and animal saints".

I now know what others must feel, after having been laughed at for mentioning animal theology in a conversation. I have long heard others talk about derisive and dismissive encounters with "serious" theologians and scholars when the topic of animal theology is mentioned.

Considering animals in relationship to God is not something extra or foreign to Christianity. In my opinion, a serious doctrine of Creation cannot ignore the rest of the living world and the Creation as a whole and finally be Christian. Even rocks glorify God. And frankly, neither can a complete doctrine of Redemption or Sanctification. Indeed, to set up one's "serious" theology in such a way that one can ignore, dismiss, or deride creatures great and small, organic and inorganic, is a sign of the Fall and the effects of sin, alienation, and division. The rest of Creation pays dearly and regularly for our lack of relational recognition and failures in thankfulness...

When I'm driving and I notice a dead deer, raccoon, seagull, squirrel, or the like, I offer a prayer of thanks to God for the life of this creature and that God will greet him or her in His Kingdom...

I am part of a strand of tradition, the Benedictine, that honors this connection to the rest of Creation and is not threatened by the suggestion that God cares for each creature. A raven, after all, is God's messenger to Abba Benedict in his early monastic life and is often shown in iconography as friend and companion. We may not know the name of that raven, but given the desert penchant to understand that Christian life was to be lived in return to the Garden, I can imagine that Abba Benedict gave the raven a name. And as the icon shows, I'm certainly within tradition to imagine that not only Abba Benedict, but also the raven is raised up, is a saint.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at Wednesday, November 21, 2007 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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