Letter from Bro Dyfrig BFdeB to Bro Duncan PBGV
Howton Grove Priory
24 September 2016
Dear Cousin Dunc,
I hope this finds you well and cheery and enjoying Beyond as much as ever. BigSis misses you lots, but LttleSis and I have become inseparable so I’m hoping I’ll get through my first perseverance without too much difficulty. Mustn’t be presumptuous, though; I’m trying to be good, which, as you will understand, isn’t always easy.
I would like to ask you about something that has been bothering me: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good dogs and Human Beans? I’ve been thinking about all those little Human Beans in Syria and Yemen and the fact that the big Human Beans don’t seem to care how much they suffer, they just want to go on playing war games with one another. Surely God is involved, but how?
Then, I’ve had two scary experiences of my own recently and I’m not sure where God was. One was when we all set off for Oxford where BigSis was to have a PET scan. That word ‘PET’ confused me and I was a bit shaky but They kept saying I wasn’t involved, so I just had to trust Them. What a mistake! Something happened and BigSis had to stay in hospital, leaving LittleSis and me marooned until that nice Bro Eric came and drove us all the way home. I was allowed to sit with LittleSis, which was nice, but I was a bit car-sick, which was horrid. Fortunately, Bro Eric was very understanding and kind so I didn’t feel too badly about it; but it is very puzzling for a small dog like me.
Then, just the other day, I was taken to a place called a Vettery and a Human Bean put a needle into me and I kept getting sleepier and sleepier and when I woke up I was missing two little teeth and I could hear all sorts of sounds I couldn’t hear before because he had done something to my ears. But now They say I am eating like a horse and am full of energy, so perhaps losing your teeth is a good thing after all?
I am very confused about all this. Can you help?
Love and licks,
Letter from Bro Duncan PBGV to Bro Dyfrig BFdeB
The Heavenly Houndland
25 September 2016
My dear Bro Dyfrig,
It is good to hear from you, young sprog. BigSis tells me you are doing very well and acquiring some very monastic characteristics, but I can understand why you are confused and questioning.
Let’s start with the most important question. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good dogs and Human Beans? It is a question everyone asks in one way or another. Sometimes the answers we get are a bit of a cop-out. You probably haven’t met the kind of Human Bean who goes all twinkly and says, ‘Ah, a great mystery! We just have to bear our Cross, don’t we?’ That’s true in a way, although I don’t think you’ll ever hear Them say it, but it’s positively shocking when you think of all those little Human Beans in Syria and Yemen. They are suffering, plain and simple; and their suffering cries to heaven for vengeance.
Why does God allow it? Does he hope to draw some greater good from it? I doubt it. Does he just say, ‘Human Beans are so perverse, let them get on with it!’? I doubt it. It is a mystery, in the sense that it goes beyond our understanding, but the God I know and love is far from indifferent to the suffering of those little Human Beans. He respects our freedom to choose right or wrong, to play war games or jaw games, but that doesn’t mean he endorses or accepts as right the choices we make. There’s a big difference between the two but Human Beans tend to think God thinks as they think, which is the biggest mistake ever. Today’s gospel is about Dives and Lazarus and you can see that Human Beans can’t evade responsibility for the evil that they do themselves or silently countenance because they can’t be bothered to notice the plight of others any more than we dogs can escape the consequences of eating too much or rolling in fox poo.
As to your other scary experiences, I think you are on to something when you talk about trust. You see, just as we have to trust God when we don’t understand, we have to trust Human Beans, too. It is difficult because every nerve and sinew says, ‘This is wrong. I’m not in control. I don’t know how this will turn out.’ Happily for us, unlike Human Beans, we have no illusions about being in control all the time. We live in the moment, grateful for the good things that come our way, uncomplaining about the bad things. I’m not sure that losing your teeth is a good thing in itself, but I’ve been told that your appetite is much better and you are becoming very good at vacuuming up whatever has fallen on the floor. The monastic term for that is ‘crumb-popping’. Did you know? Sometimes it is better to concentrate on what we can do rather than what we can’t. Be encouraged. I’m sure They will let you persevere.
With love from
Bro Duncan PBGV