Friday, November 30, 2012

God of All Creation: Life Lessons from Pets and Wildlife, by James Robison


Texas televangelist James Robison shares 28 lessons he's learned from animals and pets--most notably his miniature dachshund Princess. I had highish hopes for it, on account of the Beth Moore blurb on the back, but the end result is just ok.

Robison's lessons are pretty straightforward and simple--nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing here. The chapters are short (the whole thing is less than 200 pages), and would likely make a decent devotional, albeit a fairly fluffy one. The writing is nothing special and borders on sappy, which is to be expected in a book like this, I suppose. Robison's relationship with his dog has clearly taught him a lot about how to relate to God--recognizing His voice, enjoying His company, obeying His commands, trusting Him with our hurts, etc. And there are some cautionary tales as well.

Which leads me to my main issue with this book. There seem to be only two categories in Robison's book: good dogs and bad dogs. Good dogs are happy and have a good relationship with the master. Bad dogs ... die. I'm not kidding. The two most pronounced examples of bad behavior end with the death of the dog. One chased cars and eventually caught one, to her detriment, and another had a talent for escaping and getting into mischief and also meets his demise at the hands (wheels) of a car. I understand the cautionary nature of these tales (and certainly a dog has less capacity for long-term sanctification or improvement than a human), but the end result feels more law than gospel.

Looking at my own life, I am a bad dog much more often than I am a good dog. Reading this book, it felt like I was doomed to death for my bad behavior--bad dogs die. And that's certainly what I deserve. But the beauty of the gospel is that what I deserve was meted out to Christ, and what He deserves is now credited to me. And while Robison does mention the gospel, his stories do not illustrate it.

Which seems like a missed opportunity. In my interactions with my dog, I've learned a lot about the gospel. Like any dog, he screws up--he eats something he shouldn't, and makes himself sick, or hurts his teeth chewing on something he shouldn't. He does things he knows he shouldn't do, and in the process he ends up hurting himself and making a big mess. But I still love him. I clean up the mess I didn't make, and I care for the injuries he's inflicted on himself. And when I get frustrated at him, I am reminded that I do the exact same thing. I know what sin is, and I know it is damaging to my soul--and often to my very life. But I do it anyway, and then I look up at God from the midst of my despair and self-inflicted pain, and I ask him to help me. And He does. He doesn't like what I've done. He doesn't say it's ok that I did it. He hates it--even more than I hate doggie vomit or ... other things. But He washes me in the blood of the Lamb, and cleans me up so I can be in fellowship with Him. And even as I (sometimes) strive to be a good dog, I am sustained by the knowledge that, at the end of the day, I just have a good master. That's the source of my hope.

Maybe Robison's experience is different. Maybe Princess was only ever a good dog. But the overall tone is more legalistic than I think Robison intends it to be. I think he wants to encourage us to live well, and that's great--but it's not the whole story. I think it would have been a better picture of the gospel if he'd included some redeeming, hope-filled stories for bad dogs who want to be good (at least some of the time)--for bad dogs who've been adopted by good masters.

1 comment:

Diane Estrella said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for your thoughts and the review. Hope you'll stop over to my site. I have 4 giveaways going right now and love to meet new people too.

Have a great weekend!
Diane :O)