Sunday, June 3, 2012

Modern Dog

Carmela, Maya & Cinnamon.  Cute, but not cool.

My dogs are not modern.  I didn't know this until a routine trip to the library turned out to be a journey of enlightenment.  Inside my local library is a tiny room full of used books and magazines for sale.  The selection usually includes psychology textbooks from the 1970's and steamy romance novels with scantily clad hunks and damsels.  Every once in awhile though, a real classic will show up.  Last month, I found Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Llyich.  Score!  There was something else in the store that caught my eye.  A magazine called MODERN DOG.  For a quarter, I picked it up.  On the front cover, was a big, happy faced mutt with an even happier faced owner.  I glanced through it, ooohing over the pictures of all the adorable, well groomed poochies, giggling at the doggy couture ads full of sparkling collars and pastel bandanas, and skimming a wide range of articles about how I was traumatizing my dog with my body language, or not feeding her the right amount of protein to grow her brain.  It didn't take me long to figure out...
My dogs are not modern.
I mean, they are here now, living today -- in fact, their four paws are pattering around my kitchen floor as I type, but in the sense that this magazine meant "modern", as in "cool" "hip" or "up to date"...well,
My dogs are...
Old School.
They drool, scratch, lick themselves in public, eat loudly and in the great tradition of all dogs gone before them - sniff your crotch with a cold, wet nose in front of mixed company.  They like long walks, stuffed toys, meaty treats of all kinds and chasing birds, rabbits and other dogs.  And I have definitely traumatized them with my body language.  (Yes, I am standing over you in an angry posture.  Get off the couch you furball!) They are pound puppies.  Not one of my three are AKC pedigrees unless you consider "TerrierX" a breed.  In other words, they are typical mutts. 

I laughed as I finished MODERN DOG magazine and passed it along to my neighbor who has a yellow labrador as old as the hills.  MODERN DOG?  Really?  Do our DOGS have to be cool and hip?  Then I thought, well, maybe the magazine doesn't really mean "modern" in the "cool, contemporary" sense.  But if they just mean "modern" as in "living right now" is that really necessary to include in the title?  Do they need to clarify it from other magazines within the publishing house, such as:
Yesterday's Dog (A Magazine about dogs that have just died, Alternate name:  RIP ROVER)
Dogs of Long Ago (Famous dogs who have passed away like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie)
Ancient Dog (A magazine about Egyptian and Aztec dogs)
You get my point.
They mean "modern" as in COOL.
And seriously, that is how obsessed with are with being cool.  In 2012, even our canines must be cool.  My hound must be hip!  People will judge me based on my dogs, so I must choose, groom, dress, feed, and train them carefully!  In fact, there was a survey in the Modern Dog magazine about this very thing. It asked a group of people if they judged others on what kind of dog they had. Over half of people said that "Yes, someone's dog says a lot about who they are."
Oh oh. 
I'm in trouble.
My dogs are lazy, selfish, grumpy when sleepy or hungry, willful and well, hate baths.  With the exception of the last one you'll be releaved to know, I can relate.  Maybe this article was right!  My dogs are a reflection of me.  Not cool.
My pups do have some good attributes.  They can be affectionate, funny, enthusiastic and loyal. Somedays, I could even mistake their "You're home!!!" jumping frenzy and high-flyin' face licks for an expression of love (but I think they just want a treat.)
So if my dogs were modern, or cool (well bred, well fed, well led) than I would be cool.  I thought it was just my car that was supposed to say a lot about me?  Now I gotta worry about whether or not my dogs are cool enough?  I have mixed breeds!  They have terrier, chihuahua, dachsund, and probably even a little ground squirrel in them for goodness sake! They get baths in the sink and eat food from Walmart!  Their water bowl is metal and has "floaties" in it! My dogs are not MODERN!  They are NOT COOL!  That means...I AM NOT COOL!  (Insert gasp here.)
Wait a minute.  Why is it so important to be cool?  What is cool?

Does cool mean I have all the right stuff, wear all the right stuff, and know all the right people?  Does it mean I follow cool people on Twitter?  Does it mean I read bestsellers, download the latest MP3s and always keep up with the latest Apple gadget?  Or wait.  Does it mean people follow me on Twitter?  I'll know I'm cool when people follow me because they want to know what I think, what I wear, where I am at all times.  They will want to keep up with this "modern woman."  I might be at the mall. I might be eating at Spago's.  I might be at the mall, eating at Spago's with Justin Bieber. (OK, that is pushing it.)  But you get my point.
I am not cool.
My dogs are not cool.
And I am more like my dogs than I want to admit.
But is cool really all it is cracked up to be?  Is it fun to be cool?  Maybe, but "Coolness" is fleeting.  One minute you have 23.4k followers on Twitter, the next day you're just a twit.  One minute you're selling out a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the next minute you're playing at the Idaho Country Fair behind Juice Newton.  One minute you're on top of the world, the next you're face down in 12 inches of bathtub water with enough cocaine in your blood for 3 people.
So can I be a MODERN CHRISTIAN? Do I want to be a COOL CHRISTIAN?  I'm not sure.  Depends on how that is defined.  Does it mean I attend a popular Mega-Church with a famous pastor (who's cool of course), carry a Rand McNally sized leather bound study Bible, know all the worship songs by heart, attend every Third Day concert from here to Albuquerque and tithe every month with my American Express?  Or does it mean that I am modern in the sense that I can relate to modern people? (I Corinthians 9:20-22) Do I need to be cool so that people will think Christianity is cool, too? 
I don't think so.
I think I just need to be what God has made me to be.  That might mean that in some ways I am cool.  I can play the guitar.  That's cool.  I can sing.  That's cool.  I can be funny.  That's cool. 
In other ways, I am definitely "old school" ("Old school" is the cool way of saying "not so cool.")  I don't wear the latest designer clothes. I don't get my nails done at a fancy salon. I don't follow Lady Gaga on Twitter.  I like to read.  A lot.  (Does anybody read anymore?  I mean other than MODERN DOG magazine?!)
God has given me some cool talents and abilities that fit in quite well in this modern world, but he has not called me to "fit in."  He has set me apart. He has called me to be like his Son, Jesus.  Jesus said a few things about being cool. He told me to be "in this world, but not OF this world."  He said I shouldn't store up my treasures here on earth, but instead store up treasures in heaven.  Jesus even said that people may hate me because I don't go along with the crowd.  I might be uncool for following Jesus.
If kindness is uncool, Lord, make me a total geek.  If putting others first is old fashioned, God, make me a total fuddy-duddy.  As the cool 80's band Huey Lewis & the News sang "It's hip to be square" if "square" means I am kind when others are rude, unselfish when others are grabbing all they can for themselves, and loving toward those who are not loving toward me.  In other words, I am Christ-like.  Unfortunately, I am not able to be "square" in this spiritual sense as consistently as I'd like to be, but God is working on me.  Like my dogs, I am a mutt - a mixture of my own desires, instincts and impulses.  Instead of seeking out the praise of my heavenly Father, I often seek out the "head pats" of those who are "cool."  Yet God hasn't turned me into the pound just yet.  He is grooming me into the likeness of Jesus everyday.  That's cool. 

-Hope A. Horner
On Twitter at HopeNote

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