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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Sad, Sadder, Saddest

I cried when "Old Yeller" had to be put down in the Disney classic....there I said it. Other movies where animals have died accomplished the same thing in me (Bambi, Lion King, etc).

Growing up on a farm required that I set aside deep emotional attachments to animals knowing full well that each one would go the way of market, disease, or natural causes. Kitties would get hit by motorists or become stricken with disease, dogs would die of old age, farm animals would become food for our family and all held a place in my heart. My mind had to compartmentalize each scenario and realize the life of each animal was special and it existed for a time for some purpose. It was with some apprehension the other day when I heard of a 10 year old African lion, Razi, that died in the Pittsburgh zoo. That was a sad moment.

Here is the news release from KDKA:

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium says their 10-year-old African lion, Razi, has passed away.

The zoo says Razi suffered from a form of epilepsy, and had a grand mal seizure on Sunday. He fell in the exhibit and fractured his jaw.

According to the zoo, Razi’s caretakers determined it was not in his “best interest to attempt the difficult surgery needed” to repair his broken jaw, as well as the difficult post-surgery care it would take to get him back on his paws. They also said his seizure rate was increasing.

In a press release, Zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker said: “It is a sad day for all of us. Our animals are like members of our family and losing a family member is tough. Razi was a magnificent animal, and will also be missed by our visitors who developed a bond with him and his brother Ajani.” (Downloaded from

It is sad to hear of the lion passing or euthanized (they did not specify). Sadder still is the situation that found Razi in a zoo in Pittsburgh rather than a game reserve in Africa. Animals of this sort are best observed in their natural habitat and not in an "exhibit". Regardless, the big cat is gone and the Pittsburgh zoo and its employees grieve along with all who went to see Razi. Then again, every day around this huge globe are countless animals that die from predators, poaching, old age, disease and with little of no fanfare nor a tear shed for them (wild animals, domestic pets, and the like). The cycle of life in the animal world churns on. Whether the African lion in Pittsburgh or the tear jerking commercials on TV about animal abuse, there should be concern for God's creatures.

Animal or human life should always be treasured, protected, managed, and championed around the world. In Genesis 1 and 2, God placed humanity in charge of all living creatures and gave them / us the responsibility to maintain and care for each one and to use them accordingly as food (Humanity failed here with abuse, poaching, and killing for the sake of the photo op). God also gave us a responsibility toward humanity itself. Humanity didn't do so well there as you might recall the story of Cain and Abel. It is clearer to me everyday that humanity fails to grasp the creative beauty of life in all its forms.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am

fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden

from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the

earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before

one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV)

Whether we grieve an African lion dying in a zoo, someone murdered in the mean streets of the world, or the loss of an unborn child, something intrinsic to our being is or should be affected. We should feel a sense of remorse and yet, just the opposite is occurring in the human race. The pendulum has swung toward valuing animals over and above valuing human life to a place where animals are revered as almost god-like. It is not likely we would hear news reports that offer the sad news of another child aborted in the name of inconvenience or healthcare (Rape and incest do however hold sway for these instances).

As I consider my own life I am humbled to think that upwards of 45,000,000+ potential people (conservative estimate) who have been extinguished before they were born. Wonder if any of them would have been the one to discover the cure for cancer, ALS, or perhaps the first woman president....? As they were carefully knit together in their mother's womb, I can only imagine what God had in store for them. Now, we'll never know.

How did we get here? In my world, as strange as it might seem to those around me, I must go back to the Bible for answers to situations like these. The issue of 'sin' never goes away. It always looms and glares at us with an ambivalence toward the holiness of God. One who abuses an animal is dealing with a darkness within them that allows horrendous actions to occur. That is sad. When Cain's jealousy rose up within him, it was an easy step over the line of treasuring God and life itself in order to kill his brother. That is sadder. Choosing life over death is before us. I choose to be a good steward of creation's animals and environment and I choose human life as sacred now as it was in Eden.

"A Musing Pastor"

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