In the Meantime, VI: God Hates Loneliness
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”
So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
The man gave names to all cattle and to the birds of the air and to every animal of the field, but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
A SERVICE FOR BLESSING THE ANIMALS IN HONOR OF ST. FRANCIS
Do you all know who Carl Linnaeus is? Carl was born in Sweden in 1707, and as a young man he loved to make lists.
He would observe how various types of plants and animals resembled each other or differed from each other, and he started placing them into groups that we would come to know as phyla, genera, and species.
For instance, Doogie is from:
The Animal Kingdom
The Chordate Phylum
The Mammal Class
The Carnivore Order
The Canidae Family
The Canis Genus
The Canis Familiaris Species
The Sporting Group
And the Golden Retriever Breed
Carl Linnaeus started all of that in the 18th century. He is called the Father of Taxonomy. He wrote a huge portfolio book called Systema Naturae, or The System of Nature.
The book had all these columns and rows. Someone said that Dr. Linnaeus’ book was the prototype of the Excel Spreadsheet.
Do you know where Dr. Linnaeus got this idea? Well from the first man in the Bible of course. According to the Bible the human being’s first job was to name the animals.
Genesis says, “God brought all the animals to the man and paraded them past him to see what he would name them. And whatever the man called the living creature, lo and behold, that was its name! Eureka! The Bible is right about that isn’t it? We give the animals their names.
According to the Bible, the oldest human profession is taxonomist.
My Speech Professor at Princeton Seminary says, “Think of God’s joy in handing the new creature over to the human and saying, “What will you name it?” And the human says, “Hedgehog!” Wolverine! Horned Frog! Bulldog!
And I love this story from Genesis 2 because it is so tender and so moving and so loving. God creates the whole animal kingdom because the first man was lonely, and God says to Godself, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God hates loneliness, so God gives us the animals. Including our pets. We give them names.
That Princeton Professor of Speech says, “Naming reflects values and character. Naming reflects hope for who we want this child or animal to be. Naming is often a way of honoring another.
Anyone who has named an animal knows there is a process of value and love that goes with it.”
All my dogs’ names start with “Duh!” It just seemed to be so appropriate for the Evertsberg family. “Duh!” There’s been Duffy, Duncan, Dudley, and Douglass. Duh! They’ve lived up to their names.
God gave us the animals, including our pets, because God loves us, and doesn’t want us to be lonely, because it is not good for us to be alone.
In a moment, you’ll bring your animals up to Squire and me and you’ll name them for us, even if we should know the name, say it anyway, because the name you gave your animal exemplifies your unique love for them and knowledge of them.
And it all happens because God hates loneliness.
Nancy Lammers Gross, “The Vocation of Voice,” an opening convocation address at Princeton Theological Seminary, September 8, 2019.
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