Happy livings and Happy Endings

The sound and the word logos is thought to echo everything that exists in the West just like the word Om is thought to do in India. Logos and Om also echo our death. Maybe we have to begin from death to let things be. Let things exist as they are without anthropocentric significance to humans. Maybe if we begin from death, we can make sense of post-human earth. This beginning with death can free us from anthropocentrism. It will derail our belief that thinks that man is the measure of everything. Death can be a good demarcation line. It is with death that one can let things be such as they are, in one’s absence, in a way, and one’s presence is there only to reveal what the thing would be in one’s absence.

Human’s have this revelatory function. We have the challenge to reveal the world as it is. Maybe the best way to reveal it is to imagine how it will be with our death. We cannot imagine this world without us. Even in death, our anthropocentrism refuses to die. It does influence our eschatological thinking. Everything will cease to be but humans will continue to be in a new immortal state. Animals will die. Our common home earth will be destroyed; time will cease—but we, the humans (at least the “good” ones) are transformed into immortals who leave our “animal nature” behind, escaping death and destruction altogether.

Does that mean our eschaton is our final escape from our ‘animal nature’? Is the messianic end of history completion of the divine oikonomia of salvation only for humanity? Do humanity and its animal other have a common destiny? Does this mean that the alienation of the human and its animal other that began with the snake ruining human chances of immortality (Gen 3) does not have to bridge the wounds between man and animal? We can also find a ruined quest for immortality in the epic of Gilgamesh of old. We have the quest for immortality through the stirring of the sea where the dream of the Asuras/ Ahuras remains unfulfilled while that of the Devas is fulfilled. We, therefore, have to face the reality of death to squeeze out the traces of anthropocentrism tainting our exclusively human and excluding our non-human animal other in our eschatologies.

The snake snatches immortality away from Adam and Eve and Gilgamesh. In these myths of alienation from the animal, we are forced to face our own mortality, indeed our own animality—we are pushed out of and into the animal at the same moment. Therefore, redemption from our Christian point of view is becoming a new creation inaugurating New Heaven and a New Earth. Even in the Asura’s and Deva’s battle for immortality, we have traces of the past rivalry between the Ahura ( followers of Ahura Mazda and Devas). All this suggests that all human quests for happy eschatological endings are marked by human interest. Maybe it is very difficult to divest our eschatologies of being exclusively happy endings for humanity. But the paradox is that we cannot really have happy endings without our non-human others.

The alienation of non-human others in our very beginnings as taught in the book of Genesis chapter 3, is groaning for fuller integration ( Rom. 8: 20) leading to the new creation in Jesus Christ ( 2 Cor. 5: 17). Hence, to free our understanding of our destinies from the taint of anthropocentrism, we have to do an inclusive reading of the paschal mystery. We have to fully “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev. 14:4). This means we have the challenge to think together about the destinies of Humans, our common home earth and non-human others. It is in such inclusion that our destinies can have common happy endings.

Our myths indicate that Humans and non-human others did not have the luxury of happy beginnings. Hence we have the challenge bring about a healing of our original alienation so that humanity and its non-human others can move towards happy endings. Fact that we have failed to heal our original alienation, we have destroyed our common home and will continue to do so by doing away with our common habitat with non-human others. This is why we are threatened by climate change and the threat of extinction of all life on planet earth. Hence, the hierarchical relations between humans and its non-human others have to be deconstructed. This means our destiny is not without our non-human other. It being our salvation, it has to bring to closure our original alienation as well as continuous exploitation and killing of the animal, plants etc. This means all these sacrifices have to come to an end. They all are subsumed in the sacrifice of the lamb.

We have an animal Christology in the sacrifice of the lamb. Christ is not just imaging humans in all our fullness. The animal Christology is manifesting that Christ is assuming the tender innocence of a lamb. The lamb is a divine animal. There can be no other sacrifice other than the sacrifice of the lamb. The Gospel of John also has a vegetable Christology. Jesus says he is wine and we are the branches (Jn15:5). We can only follow the lamb to come to happy endings. But we also have to pay heed to the vegetable Christology. We can unite and flourish with the plants, trees and animal world of the earth. There are several other Christologies. We even find cosmic Christology when Jesus reflect profoundly on the reality he refers to when he says that he is the light of the earth. This is why the happy endings of humanity are linked with the happy living with our non-human others. We have to, therefore, shed away our anthropocentrism, give up animacy ( hierarchy) and become fully human fully attuned to life. We have to indeed be fully human and full of life and bring life to all our non-human others.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao