Having discussed ' Porcupines' and 'Puffer Fish,' the past couple of weeks, we now arrive at personality type #3: 'The Puppy Dog.'
Most people love puppy dogs. That's because people (at least those who have a heart :-) love their dog! After all, puppy dogs are undyingly loyal. I am told that even Adolph Hitler loved his dog....and animals for that matter. No doubt, his dog loved him, greeting even a genocidal sociopath master with enthusiasm at the end of any given day.
That, of course, is the exactly the problem. Puppy dogs will tolerate and take almost anything . Kick 'em on Monday and they'll likely meet you at the door on Tuesday. Beat em on Wednesday and they will sit by your side of Thursday. They are loyal to a fault, subjecting themselves to serial indignities in order to keep the peace or worse, keep a naive longing for love alive.
Porcupines love puppy dogs, because puppy dogs will let porcupines remain porcupines without any consequences. Every abuser loves an enabler, every porcupine loves a puppy dog.
If or when a puppy dog finally concludes that porcupines are either incapable of the love they long for, or unwilling to bother, the puppy dog will typically be greeted with abuse of another sort. Having awakened to reality and mustered enough self respect to abandon their puppy dog ways, they are met with disdain by porcupines for their alleged 'abandonment,' and often excommunicated by other puppy dogs for whom subjecting oneself to abuse is construed, for one reason or another, as a virtue rather than a pathology.
The bible is full of puppy dogs, though you wouldn’t necessarily identify them at first glance. They're often quite powerful. The problem is this: In order to retain power, they have to prostitute (puppy dog) themselves. Consider Herod, the politician. Knowing that it was unjust, unwarranted and downright evil, Herod agreed to have John the Baptist beheaded. Why? In order to placate his rather Porcupine-esque wife, Herodias and their guests. To do otherwise, would be to risk the wrath of Herodias and public damnation.
When all is said and done, Puppy dogs suffer from idolatry. Frankly, we all do. An idol being that without which we cannot imagine being significant, valuable or retaining any sort of dignity.
When I g o puppy dog, my idol is 'the other' for whom I will morph into whatever they desire, or subject myself to whatever abuse they dish out, in order to obtain, or retain, their approval or acceptance.
The reason why the bible condemns idolatry is not because God is insecure. It's because idols always, in the end, take, rather than give, people life. Idols always damn, rather than save, people. In short, God's against whatever is against people's flourishing.
Many years ago, when I went from knowing a little about Christ to knowing Christ personally (however clumsily), the verse that captivated me following the betrayal of my latest idol (and the corresponding disillusionment that went with it) was this: 'I came that you may have life, and have it to the fullest.' (-Jesus, in St John 10:10)
It was my 'moment of clarity.' Upon reading those words, I pondered for some time their staggering significance. I had learned, first hand, that idols, regardless of appearances, always take life from, rather than give life to, their worshippers.
And then it dawned on me: Jesus was precisely the opposite and that, I think, is what drew me to him. Unlike all other idols or deities, he gave his life for me, in order to give life to me.
Idolatry, in reverse. Death, inverted.