Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Will I See My Dog in Heaven?

Will I See My Dog In Heaven
by Jack Wintz, OFM
Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2009

I think that everyone who has ever loved an animal has wondered whether we will see them again in heaven. The traditional Catholic answer has always been "No" because animals don't have free will like we do. Therefore, they can't choose to love God and have no part in the beatific vision that awaits us after death. While Franciscan Friar Jack Wintz acknowledges that no one knows for sure whether animals will share heaven with us, in "Will I See My Dog in Heaven?" he makes a strong case that they will indeed share in the glory to come.

Wintz relies on Scripture and the witness of the saints to support his position. As a Franciscan, he takes St. Francis' position that animals are our brothers and sisters seriously. Not only does Wintz focus on the question of whether our beloved pets will be in heaven, but also on the broader issue of "Does God intend the whole created world to share in God's saving plan?" Believing that God intends heaven to be a new Garden of Eden (and that scripture expresses this), Wintz' answer is an unequivocal "yes." After all, God cares for all of his creation, not just the humans. In the Biblical telling of "Noah and the Ark," God makes sure that all the animals are saved. The covenant symbolized by the rainbow is made not only with humans, but with all the other living creatures (Gen 9:8-10). In the tale of Jonah and the city of Ninevah, the animals fasted along with the people. All were required to turn from their evil ways. In Psalm 148, all of creation gives God praise. These are just some of the pieces of evidence Wintz offers. His arguement is well-thought out and compelling.

No one knows for certain what heaven will look like, but Wintz does make a strong case that we will see our faithful four-legged friends and all of the animals in the kingdom to come. I very much hope that he is right!

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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