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Thursday, February 23, 2006


Dog's Death

I was talking about this John Updike poem with a friend of mine from Dallas.

I always felt like a voyeuristic sicko for liking the poem so much. I don't normally go for catharsis. But this poem has come back to me time and time again. It's just devestating.

For the longest time I couldn't quite explain its power. Oh sure, the dog dies. But you know that in the title. And really a dog's death, while moving, shouldn't be so tremendously powerful.

Thinking about it this morning, I realized that the poem contains a metaphor for God's response to our sin. Like the dog, we are "too young to know much" but Christians are beginning to learn and to win. So many Christians fall into hypocrisy--because we have learned enough to hide our shame. People are quick to judge us for this. We want to sweep everything under the rug, we want sin to go away, not just to avoid the consequences, but to avoid the shame.

Here's the thing about Updike's poem. The man is touched by his dog's effort to hide its sin. And God is touched by ours. It is a beautiful beautiful poem.

And I understand Paul better in Romans 7 and 8. Read this Message translation from Biblegateway:
I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

HillCountryWriter Category: Poetry
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