Take a wild guess which book I read last. If the title was not enough to give you a clue, my last sentence hopefully made it clear. Yes, I recently read Jack London’s The Call of the Wild for the first time. Aside from the setting, I did not know anything about the book as I began to read (always the best way to start a book) and I enjoyed this short little novel. I really liked the unique perspective of the story being told through a dog’s eyes. Stating it briefly like that kind of makes it sound like a Disney movie, but it was not tacky or unbelievable and every emotion Buck portrayed and everything he observed and understood was perfectly in keeping with what you can observe in a real dog’s behavior. For example, you can observe that dogs feel loyalty and affection to certain people and other animals. The general plot of the book is a pet reverting back to the wild, becoming stronger and fiercer until he forsakes human company and joins the wolf pack.
It is very evident that London was heavily influenced by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Buck is described as going through a process that stripped the tame generations from him. It is also observed that Buck learns that nothing matters except survival and only the toughest survive in the wild. The Call of the Wild is a great piece of literature, but I admit that I do not agree with the bleakness of the evolutionary outlook. In this case, I am not even so concerned with where this theory says the earth came from, but where it implies it is going. I recalled Romans 8:19-22 which describes creation being subjected to futility because of the sin of man and that it longs to see the full redemption of man because it too will be redeemed at that time and set free. In the meantime, it groans, as if in the pain of childbirth, waiting for the coming hope. I want to read a story that keeps the concept of using a creature’s perspective that reflects this worldview. I want to read a story that subtly shows a dog (or other animal) longing for peace and for the redemption of man. One day, according to Isaiah 11:6-9, the wolf (even as cruel and selfish in its desire for survival as described by London) will live with the lamb, the leopard with the goat, the calf with the lion. These animals are described as grazing and eating straw, no longer requiring death to satisfy their hunger. And sweetest of all, a little child will lead them. Creatures small and large will listen for the call of a child and follow his leading peacefully. Verse 9 specifically says “They will not hurt or destroy”. Why this change from their “natural” behavior? Because “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord”. Knowledge of the Lord is not limited to humans! Amazing! Just as the curse on the caretakers ruined the creatures and gave them selfish, destructive natures, the healing of the caretakers will also bring peace to those under their authority.
As a clarification, I do not believe that animals have souls or that they can share in God’s Spirit. And I do not thing Scripture is clear enough to say that animals’ spirits are eternal. However, I do think that God does love animals because they are also a part of his creation. And I think that those who believe in a God who created all things for his glory will treat animals and the earth with respect and seek to hasten the day when the WHOLE earth will be made new.