Thursday, November 22, 2012

Your Opinion: Heaven for Animals?

I came across this beautiful poem this morning while reading The Groaning of Creation (2008) by Christopher Southgate. I will have more to say about this book later. Its central premise, however, is that evolution presents a difficulty to Christian theology, in that the suffering of individual animals is not a product of sin, but is integral to the creative process. The only way out is to posit some sort of redemption for the created world. This leads to James Dickey's vision of what a redeemed world might look like, for predator and prey.

The Heaven of Animals, by James Dickey
Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever

Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those who are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.

Your thoughts?

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