Earlier this month, my wife and I spent a week in Virginia. We stayed with friends Kirk and Becky Linford. It almost destroyed my faith.
The secular part of the visit was good. We toured the Shenandoah Valley (breathtaking), Colonial Williamsburg (interesting), Old Alexandria (delicious) and Virginia Beach (eh).
Note: Because my wife was present, I was not permitted to wander obscure Civil War battlefields until half-dead from exposure.
But something even worse happened. On the way home from Leesburg, Kirk made a short detour to show us something of "religious significance."
Outside a small Catholic church was a sign inviting parishioners to bring in their pets on Sunday to be blessed. We're talking an actual church ordinance quite possibly involving ferrets.
Kirk, who owns two of the dumbest golden retrievers in the universe, thought the idea of blessing animals was nice. My wife, who still misses our chocolate Lab Zoe, thought it was cute.
I was horrified.
For the record, I've heard of this whole "pet blessing" thing before. Although tied to St. Francis of Assisi, blessing animals is not just a Catholic thing. Other Christian churches have been known to do it as well.
Mormons are no strangers to critter blessings. A faith-promoting story which doesn't get as much play as it once did involves Hyrum Smith's widow using her dead husband's priesthood to bless the family oxen after they collapsed during the flight from Nauvoo.
I'm not saying God shouldn't be petitioned to intercede on behalf of animals, especially the really idiot ones. I did it when I was a kid.
"And please bless that Morris won't get hit by another car, or caught by the dogcatcher again, and he will stop eating rubber bands. …"
Praying over a pet is one thing, but I draw the line at animal ordinances.
I know how people are with their pets. Based on cat-food commercials alone, it seems a lot of people see their pets as family members, if not actual royalty.
Almost nothing makes people crazier than religion and pets. It's the combination of the two that could cause animal ordinances to get out of hand.
See, after a while it won't be good enough to have your pet blessed. You'll want it baptized as well.
Hmm, I'd actually make it to church on time to watch somebody try to dunk a cat or a horse. But I digress. Animal ordinances are a bad idea, in general, especially for Mormons. If we started baptizing our pets, eventually we would want them sealed to us for eternity.
I've owned pets that I like better than family members, but forever is a long time to put up with shedding and bad smells. And ask yourself if you really want to spend two nights a week at the LDS Family History Library looking for your dog's dead ancestors. Is being spayed and neutered important enough to have it done by proxy?
Let's not even get into how animal ordinances would affect interdenominational politics. We have enough to bicker about now without getting into it over what kind of Chihuahua is a real Chihuahua.