Social Distancing and the False Narrative of John Allen Chau

While we’re in the middle of a plague scare, I want to take a moment to set straight something: John Allen Chau was not the first person to visit the North Sentinel islanders. He was more like the 500th person. People who had interacted with the natives included National Geographic, when they made an entire documentary of them in the 1970’s, or the anthropologists who were photographed exchanging food and gifts with them in the 1990’s, or the government contractor that lived on the island for 18 months and regularly interacted with the natives. Not a conspiracy, the government of India has openly admitted that they discouraged publication of images of peaceful interaction with the natives, over fears that criminals would flee there to avoid prosecution. Chau took extensive measures over the course of a year to vaccinate and self-quarantine — far more, it should be noted, than the government officials who had been visiting the island every year to check on the natives. The press disgraced him post-mortem with lies and exaggerations. Wherever you may stand on Christianity, the man came unarmed, preaching a peaceful message, practiced distancing, and avoided spreading disease. The only life he jeopardized was his own.

This information was gleaned from several sources, but the majority was derived from the Wikipedia entry for the Sentinelese.

Pet Grief, or The One Kind Person on Reddit

During this time of social distancing, there are still many people who need compassion. It’s never going to be as good as a heartfelt, face-to-face encounter, but there are plenty of people online seeking help.

Here was an online conversation I had with a now-deleted OP who was mourning the loss of a pet. I thought it was advice well-suited to anyone going through this situation as well:

OP:

”One of our family dogs suddenly passed away on Tuesday. I am in my final month of college in another state so I did not get to say goodbye. I know it may sound silly to some of you since he was not a person, and since many people say that only humans can go to Heaven. My father is also struggling with grief back at home, but I will not see him again until Thanksgiving. I have been trying to turn to spirituality to deal with the negative feelings but I am not so sure what to do other than read some Bible verses etc. I have always struggled to believe that God is somewhere out there so I feel like I am just running in circles.”

MY RESPONSE:

“Someone I knew once put it best: ‘Losing a dog is sometimes harder than losing a person. Because a human being, no matter how close they were to you, had some bad things about them, some time they upset you, that kind of thing. So when the person is buried, you may miss them terribly, but there is always at least SOMETHING unpleasant or unhappy that gets buried with the person. But when a dog dies, it is only a loss, a 100% loss.’
Never be embarrassed to grieve a dying pet. People who would mock you for that are either bad people or people who were taught bad coping mechanisms for grief. Everyone grieves the passing of a pet.
Forgot to address the Heaven part. Now, there are, sadly, many churches that preach that pets can’t go to Heaven. But there is literally no Bible verse that says that, so with all due respect to many religious authority figures, and theologians, this is a dumb thing to preach. And I know it’s a part of a lot of dogma, but that doesn’t make it correct. —— What we do know is that God is CRAZY about animals, even more so than we are. In the book of Jonah, part of his stated reason for saving the city was for the sake of BOTH the people and the animals that lived there. He literally curses some people in the Old Testament and says it is because they enjoyed abusing cows for entertainment. Cruelty to animals just doesn’t stand with Him. So He will ABSOLUTELY understand the feeling of grieving a pet. And having lived as a human being for 33 or so years, and not having started his travels until he was about 30, it is extremely likely that He has, on a human level, gone through the experience of caring for an animal and watching it age and die. So you’ve got someone who just doesn’t strike me as the kind that would keep animals out of Heaven. Maybe there’s something we don’t know like there’s another location for the pets to go that we visit or something, I don’t know. But calling his kids home but making them leave their pets behind like some kind of awful FEMA bus? Doesn’t sound like the same God. I don’t see why He’d love a person enough to die for them but then insist on depriving them of something as simple and wholesome as a dog. If you need to be able to see your furchild on the other side, you’ll see them. He found a way for sinful humans to come to him, how much easier must it be to find a way to get something as selfless as a dog in the presence of God. Plus, in the Book of Revelations, John talks about seeing animals in Heaven. Which may just be a metaphor or something, but definitely means no one out there should be trying to preach a doctrine that animals can’t be in Heaven, if it says he saw them there.”
Stay clean, and God bless!