looking at the theology of God got a dog by Cynthia Rylant and Marla Frazee

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As soon as this book of simple blank verse poems about God showed up in the children’s section of my local library, I knew I had to grab it and check it out. What theology would peek through the cute word images? What does it say?God got a Dog

In a style that reminds me of “One of us” by Eric Bazilian (sung also by Joan Osborn) or “Has heaven run out of miracles” the poems suggest God taking roles of normal people. However whereas in “One of Us” the emphasis is on how would the individual react if God was one of us, the poems are more focused on how certain of our behaviors are similar to who God is. The poems take an anthropomoriphized God to an extreme and then humanize him even more. God not as a judgemental father, but a child on a boat, a beautician doing nails, a woman self-conscious about her own body and a nice guy:

He’d gotten such a bad rap

all these years

for being pissed off

all the time.

And he really wasn’t.

Maybe a little CRANKY.

But here He was,

HAPPY.

In several of the poems God sounds lonely. She eats alone. She likes having a dog as a footwarmer. She’s self conscious about what she looks like. He wishes someone would care for him while he’s sick. He wants to send fan mail to a singer he likes.

But at the poems embrace some of the traditional notions about God. They suggest God is concerned about people not believing in him, and that he gets angry (in a biker-dude kind of way) about people taking Jesus’ name in vain. He makes everything and, because he lives so long, has to watch as things fall die and are replaced. God is very emotional in the poems, and rather self-centred.

As I write these descriptions out I note the pronouns. I’m using the pronouns from the specific poems, and it seems to me in many ways the book reinforces typical gender stereotypes.

I like the poem about God going to beauty school, partly because its one of the poems that show a masculine God doing something oftne associated with femininty (and the illustration shows a rather overweight guy with tattoos), and because the poem talks about God loving detail, the beauty of fingernails. I like the idea of seeing beauty in little things and really being willing to put time and energy into little things.

I found the book in the children’s section of the library, and my children really enjoyed it.

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