In a book published some years ago, Gordon Lathrop (liturgical theologian, and all-round good guy) introduced his article by mentioning an indigenous people in northern Canada, commonly called the Yellowknife, who call themselves the Tetsot’ine, ‘Those who know something a little’. He reflects: ‘Their name reflects the respectful and careful common life of people surrounded by a vast and mysterious land marked by powerful natural forces: no one knows everything about such a land…Of course, their name is a gentle rebuke to the usual attitude of dominant cultures’.
I remembered this while thinking about an article in The Sunday Mail last weekend: Finding the divine in the love of a canine, by Lou Robson. Ms Robson recalls a lady who came to her primary school to teach religious instruction. It seems that this teacher was not ‘someone who knew something a little’. She was absolutely sure that unbaptised children (as Ms Robson was) are going to hell, and that dogs do not go to heaven. Ms Robson’s conclusion? ‘What a ridiculous religion. What could be more Christian than a canine’s unconditional love?’ What indeed.
You don’t have to agree with Ms Robson to wish that her teacher could have known something a little. Because that is all we Christians know. We know God’s love in Jesus Christ. We know that all people are made in God’s image, and that we should treat them accordingly. We have a foretaste of life in the Spirit.
And what about dogs? Will they be in heaven? I think so (but they won’t slobber). But what do I know? I only know something a little.