Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Seeing Eye Dog Controversy, Continued

The newsgroups were not the only forum to have a go at the Seeing Eye Dog. The notorious "Indiana List", a famously contentious listserv discussing Eastern Orthodoxy, had its chance to try the issue out. Again, there was much the same pattern.

In Eastern Orthodox forums, the issue almost immediately divides the participants into two groups: those who focus on the charity of allowing the person the use of their dog, and those who focus on the supposed rule. Elsewhere in Christianity, it isn't even an issue: Protestants and Roman Catholics can scarcely understand why the question would even be raised.

To me, the most striking part is how the supposed rule gets rationalized by those who insist on it. Now, the canon itself doesn't address dogs, but rather refers to cattle. Nonetheless, one of the arguments that always arose was that there was something intrinsically polluting about dogs per se, though the canon doesn't address that point. Then there's the starry-eyed theory about how much more loving it is to substitute congregants for the dog. Now, I know a blind man who uses a dog, and another woman who is confined to a motorized wheelchair and who has a dog for picking up dropped items and the like. I also know a blind boy who prefers to use a cane. They use these contrivances precisely because (a) relying on the inconstant grace of strangers is both degrading and unreliable, and (b) because those that do want to help often don't know how to.

The most disturbing argument I encountered was one that said that the dog "represented the lie that the blind person could see." I could go on at length about how wrong-headed this is, but I'll limit myself to the observation that this is a rationalization that is pretty far afield of the "no dogs" issue, and one which attacks the notion of guide dogs in general. In essence, to defend a specific taboo, the arguer creates a totally wrongheaded moral obligation forbidding the use of guide dogs.

More to come.....

9 comments:

尼古拉 said...

It refers to beasts as seen below. Last I checked Dogs were still beasts and not humans, which the Liturgy is for. (Of course I am speaking of Orthodox and not the Episcopalian Protestant church of America where there are Pet liturgies)

C. Wingate said...

Well, when it comes to that, Nik, the dog is not there for its own benefit, but for its master. So whether you disdain the Western practice of blessing animals or not, it really isn't germane.

Examine yourself for a minute. I'm guessing that you already "knew" that the canons forbade dogs before you even saw this canon. It would thus appear that you have put yourself in the position of explaining how this canon states what you already believed. And, of course, so am I. But I think my explanation holds water, and yours doesn't.

C. Wingate said...

The text of the canon, even in the excursis given in the Pedalion, doesn't explain why "beasts" aren't permitted. And no real explanation should be needed; using a church as a stable is obviously damaging to the church, and of course the church requires respect as a consecrated space.

I don't know why your copy and my (apparently related) version disagree on the one word. However, the scripture referenced doesn't refer to desparate survival conditions, but to Jesus and the disciples merely being hungry of a Saturday. And at any rate, someone who brings their guide dog to a church intends respect to the church, so I do not see how any discussion of cattle caught in a storm applies. When it comes down to it, you prefer the letter of the canon to charity, even though the whole excursis in the Pedalion concerns charity to the cattle.

I do not disrespect the canon here; I merely extend its principles into a situation which it doesn't directly address.

尼古拉 said...

No beasts unless it is the only thing that saves lives. We have another thing called tradition. A dog is an unclean animal. If it comes it the temple must be reblessed even.

C. Wingate said...

"Rise, Peter, kill and eat." We gentiles don't have unclean animals.

And the obvious point of tradition here is that it is this nice blob from which you can draw laws without ever having to worry about whether they contradict Jesus or not. As long as you think a rule is in there, that's good enough. In this case the only substance on your side that I see is your interpretation of an interpretation of a canon which is already interpreting scripture. It's going to keep coming back to this point, Nick: you have no more authority to interpret, within your system, than I do. And my interpretation is consistent with what Jesus teaches, and with the vision in the Acts, in a way that yours is not.

尼古拉 said...

Unclean to eat, pork no longer is. Unclean animals, there still is.

In Orthodoxy, no animal is ever supposed to go into the temple. We have the canons and tradition that have told us since the canons were written what they mean, you separated from the Church only have your scholasticism to go on. If you were even to go by what your church teaches today you would read the canons and think they support gay marriages and lesbian bishops. One church is true, one is a lie. Hint: the one that keeps changing is the lie.

You interpret and reinterpret as you have for many years, yet you still remain a Protestant and refuse to enter the Church and remain in a protestantized version of the Church of Henry the 8th.

C. Wingate said...

Nick, you're going to make me waste all my good stuff on you too quickly. Don't rush me.

On to my next point.

尼古拉 said...

The quicker you get all your good stuff disproved, the quicker I can leave. ;-P

C. Wingate said...

Well, I don't think so. I suspect that you'll hang around looking for anything I say that relates to your present denomination.