On How Your Dog is Morally Superior To You

by St. Basil the Great

from the  blog, Lord I Have Cried Unto Thee. Another patristic witness of the sentiment and wisdom behind the words of Abba Xanthios.

“A Dog is better than I because he loves and does not judge.”

So I just recently referred a friend to St. Basil the Great’s Hexaemeron – his fourth-century commentary on the six-day creation of the world found in the book of Genesis – and I started re-reading and came across the passage that will follow shortly. I posted this for two reasons: One, because of the fact that it’s amazing how St. Basil can use the example of an animal to draw us closer to God. Two, because it stands in such sharp contrast to what is found in this Guardian article about morality police in Iran.
St. Basil writes:

The dog is not gifted with a share of reason; but with him instinct has the power of reason.  The dog has learnt by nature the secret of elaborate inferences, which sages of the world, after long years of study, have hardly been able to disentangle.  When the dog is on the track of game, if he sees it divide in different directions, he examines these different paths, and speech alone fails him to announce his reasoning.  The creature, he says, is gone here or there or in another direction.  It is neither here nor there; it is therefore in the third direction.  And thus, neglecting the false tracks, he discovers the true one.  What more is done by those who, gravely occupied in demonstrating theories, trace lines upon the dust and reject two propositions to show that the third is the true one? But the dog is said to smell the first, the second, and the third.  If he started off on the third without smelling, he would reason.  As it is, there is no “syllogism.”

Eis Polla Eit Dogspota!

Does not the gratitude of the dog shame all who are ungrateful to their benefactors?  Many are said to have fallen dead by their murdered masters in lonely places.  Others, when a crime has just been committed, have led those who were searching for the murderers, and have caused the criminals to be brought to justice.  What will those say who, not content with not loving the Master who has created them and nourished them, have for their friends men whose mouth attacks the Lord, sitting at the same table with them, and, whilst partaking of their food, blaspheme Him who has given it to them?

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About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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