I had a conversation with someone who had looked at an early draft of my manuscript. She complained that she didn’t like to think of humanity as “just pets”. I should’ve pointed out that being a pet in heaven would surely be better than being enslaved throughout eternity by a servant of The Other Side. But instead I told her that the sheep metaphor used in the Bible or my reference in the manuscript to the creation of breeds of cattle, or dogs, or cats shouldn’t upset her.
I pointed out that in addition to sheep imagery, which is used many times, God and Christ are often portrayed as relating to the People of Israel in terms of growing wheat, grapes, and olives. In the manuscript I discuss the genetic manipulation of the human gene-pool as compared to animal breeding because those analogies work better. And, these same genetic breeding principles are used when creating a new crop strain. But after all, I am talking about the genetics of a mammalian species – humans. So, Bible imagery regarding sheep breeding is easier to wrap our heads around as I present the genetic concepts.
But she has a point. However, her point springs from her lapsed Catholic crypto-agnostic “very modern American” perspective. One reason she doesn’t want to think of herself as a beloved animal precious to God, as “just a pet” in her words, is that the very idea that we would be completely subordinate and subservient to God is anathema to her all-American sense of self. I pointed this out to her in terms of our need to all have our “fifteen minutes of fame”. That is one of the major problems in American society. We all want to be famous; we all want everyone to know who we are; we all want everyone to worship us. So, what we truly want in our fame-obsessed culture is … we all want to “be gods”. But I could tell from her facial expression that she was still troubled by the concept of being “just a pet.”
Then, I pointed out that in Matthew (Chapter 13:24-30 and 13:37-43) we are portrayed by Christ as wheat that will grow, bring forth fruit and that the fruit, the new seed, will sprout in the kingdom of heaven and “shine forth like the sun”. So, I suggested, let’s look more closely at the imagery of our spirits as being similar to this wheat seed, this wheat germ. Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, points out that a wheat kernel does not know what it will become; it cannot in any way imagine what kind of tall and beautiful plant will spring forth from it. In the same way, our resurrected heavenly bodies will be as different and unimaginable to us as the mature wheat plant is to the wheat seed … the unsprouted wheat germ (I Cor. 15:35-51). She smiled and admitted that she liked this idea much better. Then I told her that one purpose of my book is that lapsed Catholic crypto-agnostics like her should reconsider Christianity, and …. “return to the fold”. She smiled again and laughed at my return to a tired old “sheep metaphor.”