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Fatal Attractions

By Carl S ~

Nature programs on TV involving animals frequently have narrators describing them as personalities, with concerns, thoughts, empathy, much like ourselves. Whereas scientists avoid anthropomorphism, these shows embrace it. Yet, the more like us an animal seems, the more interested we are. Animal Planet has taken this further with "Fatal Attractions", with personal testimonies from individuals who are living with dangerous, feral animals. In their testimonies, they tell you of their histories with these animals since adopting (being adopted by?) them. There are wolves, bears, chimpanzees, lions and tigers, snakes, etc. It is when they explain their relationships with these animals that things start to get really interesting.

14/52 - The Lion Sleeps TonightImage by ξωαŋ ThΦt via Flickr
Is there a kind of psychological relationship between these “animal believers” and God believers? It would seem so. The animal lovers are intensely involved, tumbling around with, embracing and being embraced by their animals, describing the love they receive in much the same terms as ordinary people talk about their cats and dogs. Mutual affection. And some of them have left civilization to live with these animals in their natural habitats.

Consider the similarities to God believers. Every one of these people will tell you that YOU don't know the minds of the animals (God), the key to having a successful relationship; that their animals (God) understand their feelings, intentions, love, and reciprocate these feelings. (Since their backgrounds are not mentioned, you might wonder if handling serpents without harm, and lions lying down with lambs peacefully is part of their beliefs.). The feral animal lovers wish to share their relationships wholeheartedly, even encouraging others to do so. Awesome. And because they sincerely, intensely believe, you might be tempted to believe that what they say is TRUE. But, is this so, and is it sustainable, lasting?

It occurs to you that if these people were the only source of information you had about human-animal relationships, you would consider this the NORM, and not question them. You're intrigued, so you look to see what happens eventually, and too often, by word and fact, we find out what can happen to those who "know" the minds, souls, and feelings of the animals (God); the sudden unprovoked attack, the mauling, rending of flesh, a loss of limb, eye... or death.

The survivors speak of misunderstandings, or of the animal’s reaction to a perceived threat, an impulsive defense. I have yet to hear a survivor admit he or she was wrong about knowing the mind or intent of the animal (God). We have the examples of those killed in the wilderness by their beloved grizzles, their companions; a farmer gored by his companion bull; the father struggling with rifle in hand, as he watched his daughter being mauled, deciding which to save (he killed his pet, later speaking in anguish at the loss of the animal). Of those who perished one might ask, if they lived, would they also have BLAMED THEMSELVES for the animal's (God's) behavior?

These special relationships are beyond reasonableness and caution. The "morning after" with another human may be disappointing, even emotionally crushing, leading to an eventual realization that it wasn't what the trusting believer thought it was after all. But this is different. The Fatal Attractions people seem to think that humans may betray you, but their animal (God) never would. No, the animal (God) reacts and punishes only when he is hurt, even if unintentionally. The believer will never let go of the special relationship, no matter how badly it turns out. The testifier makes excuses, rationalizations, for their animal (God), while insisting on his or her own culpability.

What is going on in the minds of those who “know” the wild animal (God) mind? What is the reaction of the faithful to the story of the Great Flood, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc., or even personally, the believer's belief that the gates of Hell will open to engulf them when they are caught lapsed, unprepared, and die? It is always their fault, never God’s. It appears that trusting in God is no better than trusting in wild animal natures, and the error is in the fact that when we look at either, we're looking in the mirror.

Maybe it seems far-fetched to speak of the God of three major religions as a wild and unpredictable animal true to its nature, but check the texts. And check the minds of the believers while you're at it. Fatal Attractions? Many claim "consolations" in their faiths/belief systems. Still, I wonder if there is something in that dark unlit corner of their minds telling them not to be too trusting.