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Do animals go to heaven? Do they have souls? I’ve been asked to weigh in, in my capacity as an animal chaplain and author of “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss” as, together, we ponder these and other spiritual questions on “The Honoring Hour.”

Please join me and host Lynn Allen for “The Honoring Hour” Blog Talk Radio show tomorrow (Wed., April 6) at 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern. Click on the link for the show now to get a reminder sent to your email or call in at 347-838-8944.

Here’s a description of this show from its website:

The Honoring Hour is a radio show on blogtalkradio.com respecting the collective One of all beings.  The show is here to foster personal transformation by offering a variety of different teachings, techniques, perspectives and tools that help create change supporting peace on Earth. We recognize the innate perfection of every individual as the embodiment of Love, Peace, Joy and Prosperity.

The Honoring Hour will include interviews and discussions that support Divine Light and Love.  Through offerings of service and wisdom, we seek to assist our listeners on their journey of  contributing to the global awakening of consciousness and the manifestation of Heaven here on Earth.  We honor all paths to God and look for the Truth that we all have in common rather than that which would keep us feeling separate.

We are dedicated to helping people experience and celebrate the power of Universal wisdom actively working in their daily lives. This show was created with the desire to support people in finding and pursuing their passion and life purpose.

Our Mission:

To awaken our Consciousness to Love’s Presence in each moment, person and encounter
To encourage each other in recognizing that true power lies in taking responsibility for the creation and actions of our own lives
To provide a variety of information to support the empowerment of each individual in taking the steps to create the life of their dreams, knowing that this is truly supporting everyone and everything
To live in Faith in all we do and support others to do the same
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Fun-loving Spirit Guides Put Their Seal of Approval on the B-Movie Project

As the latest, greatest Christopher R. Mihm movie production gets underway, for “Attack of the Moon Zombies,” there are already signs that this film has received a heavenly thumbs-up!

Last night, Sept. 7, 2010, my husband Anthony and I went to the director’s house to do a fitting for our costumes. Anthony has to wear a lab coat in one scene, and Chris was digging through a ginormous box of donated coats to find one that fit Anthony. He pulled out one that was buried in the middle of the pile and had Anthony try it on. It was a perfect fit.

I took one look at it, got goosebumps and literally screamed.

Embroidered above one breast pocket was the name “Jenny Pavlovic.

Ms. Pavlovic is the award-winning author of “8 State Hurricane Kate” and “Not Without My Dog Resource and Record Book,” and she and I are both going to be guests on Nadia Giordana’s Blog Talk Radio show on the 14th and sharing a booth at the Goldzilla fund-raiser for RAGOM (Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota) rescue organization on the 18th in Shoreview, Minn.! We met shortly after my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” came out last fall at a fund-raiser for the Minnesota Pet Project and have been friends, allies, and colleagues ever since!

I knew she had a scientific/technical background by profession, but to see that her retired lab coat had found its way into that director’s basement and onto my hubby was too uncanny to pass off as mere coincidence. (We have a couple photos of the lab coat in question, but Chris has forbidden us to post them yet.)

But that wasn’t all that happened that night to give us signs that this movie is going to be phenomenal. Anthony and I had to hurry to the Rosedale JCPenney’s 15 minutes before it closed to buy some classic-looking men’s pajamas for Anthony’s second scene. When we were checking out, I burbled to the teen-aged cashier that these PJs would be in a 1950s-drive-in-style B-movie, and she wanted information about it.

She said she was genuinely interested because her grandfather had written a horror movie script in the late ’50s—a little thing called “Carnival of Souls“!!!!! A CLASSIC among B-movies!!! It’s one of the first ones I’d watched on my DVD collection of classic horror films and have read glowing things about it in film magazines and books!

I raced home and called Chris immediately. I knew he’d be familiar with the movie, and when I told him about it, he appropriately gasped and said, “Oh my God!”

I said, “I KNOW, right?”

He said, “Did you get her contact information?”

I said, “No, but I gave her yours. … Can you even stand how cool this is?!!!! First the lab coat with Jenny Pavlovic’s name on it and now ‘Carnival of Souls’!!”

I also reminded him: “It’s like that time (last June) I woke up in the morning and simply knew I had to go to Ricky’s Embers restaurant in Fridley (which is about 15 miles from my house; not exactly convenient) and when I sat down next to a pile of previously read newspapers to wait for my to-go order, I looked down and found your (Chris’s) face staring up at me!”

I had been trying to get a hold of the issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that had featured him and the Heights Theatre premiere of his movie “Destination: Outer Space,” but because it was specific to the northern suburbs and I live in South Minneapolis, I didn’t think I’d find it. I pitched such a spazzy fit over the sheer grooviness of this supernormal occurrence, I got permission from the waiter to steal this copy if I’d just take my food and leave!

I said, “You hire me for a project and it’s going to have a bunch of Spirit Guides supporting it.”

He said, “That’s certainly true!” or something affirmative to that effect. I am paraphrasing a teensy bit. Give me a break. I was and am über excited!

Now, if all this evidence of the magical, mystical sanctioning of this movie doesn’t convince you to become an associate producer and get screen credit for super cheap, I don’t know what will!

Among other great screening events, Saturday, Oct. 30, there will be a five-Mihm-movie marathon at the Grand Little Theater in Eau Claire, Wis. and he will be showing the first-ever sneak peek at a scene from “Attack of the Moon Zombies.” Come in costume and make a day trip of it if you can. Half of the proceeds will go directly to fund the production of the movie.

I came across this fascinating, in-depth look at many religious faiths’ stance on whether Pets Go To Heaven (similar to my book’s chapter on the topic) by Helen T. Gray – Jul. 31, 2008 02:26 PM McClatchy Newspapers (MCT) KANSAS CITY, Mo. Food for thought… —Sid

Carolyn Sharp’s beloved greyhound Starr was 4 years old when she was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer. Sharp decided the two of them would stay together as long as Starr was not suffering too much. The greyhound received radiation treatments and pain patches for several months until the veterinarian told Sharp it was time to end it.

“When we went in for the last time, I held her in my arms for the comfort of both of us until she had left,” said Sharp, who lives in Overland Park, Kan. “I have still not really made peace with losing her so young.” Eight years later she still doesn’t understand the “why.” But she is certain she’ll hold Starr again – in an afterlife. “I believe I’ll have three cats and a whole bunch of dogs waiting for me,” Sharp said. Is there an afterlife for animals? Or as a popular question puts it, “Do all dogs go to heaven?”

Jack Vinyardi of Kansas City, Mo., an ordained interfaith chaplain of pets, said he is asked that question all the time as he comforts people about to lose or who have lost a pet. He tells them there is no faith that claims to know unquestionably what happens to animals when they die.

“It is my job to comfort,” he said. “I believe we each can find answers to divine questions if we look deeply in our own hearts and ask for guidance there. Although our answers may differ from the answers others have found, they are our own, and they will comfort us. “And there is only one religious truth I can confidently assert, that our relationships with our companion animals are both emotional and spiritual, so they never really end, wherever our bodies and souls go after death.”

One writer, mourning the loss of his dog, said recently that there are no souls or a heaven and that the departed, including his dog, exist only in people’s memories of them.

Sharp did not agree.

“If God knows the fate of a sparrow, what makes you think he wouldn’t be concerned about our pets?” asked Patricia Cox of Prairie Village, Kan. “To some people they are our children. Who are you to say they do not have souls or a heaven to go to?” We asked people of various religions how their faith answers the question of whether there is an afterlife for animals:

PROTESTANT Thor Madsen, academic dean at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, acknowledged the desire of Christians to see their pets again. But, he concluded, “We really have no biblical grounds for an assurance that our pets will be resurrected along with us.” Some Christians think heaven would be lacking something essential to their happiness if their pets are not there with them, Madsen said. “But the Scriptures imply that heaven’s overwhelming treasure for us is the fellowship that we, the followers of Christ, will have with our Creator and Savior,” he said. “… Nothing will seem to be absent at that point.”

CATHOLIC Children, and even some adults, have asked the Rev. John Schmeidler of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Lawrence, Kan., whether their pet had gone to heaven. God’s plans for animals regarding an afterlife are not fully known, he said. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about animals having a soul, but it wasn’t similar to that of humans, and St. Francis of Assisi saw animals as God’s creatures to be honored and respected, said Schmeidler, a Capuchin Franciscan. The Catholic Church traditionally teaches that animals do not go to heaven, he said. “But a lot of people have a hard time with that, and I do, too, when I see a grieving pet owner. I know God wants us to be totally happy in heaven, and if our dog will help make us fully happy, and if God can resurrect us, I’m sure he could resurrect a dog, too.”

MUSLIM The Qur’an contains no direct references to an afterlife for animals, said Muslim scholar Abdalla Idris Ali of Kansas City. But there are indirect references. One says that in paradise people will be given everything they have asked for, he said, “so indirectly, if they want their pets, they can have them with them.” Islam also teaches that God will be judge of people and animals, Ali said. “For example, he will charge an animal that has horns who took advantage of one that didn’t have horns, and that horned animal will be turned to dust after taking him to account for what the horned animal did,” he said.

JEWISH Rabbi Scott White of Congregation Ohev Sholom in Prairie Village once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Lord, please help me to become as great a person as my dog thinks I am.” “Judaism teaches that God reserves a blessed existence in the world to come for the truly virtuous,” White said. “It’s only fitting that such an existence includes the pet that inspired the greatness. “For myself, paradise with my own mutt (Rescue the Wonder Dog) is a perfect inducement to pursue virtue.”

AMERICAN INDIAN American Indians believe all creatures are interconnected, said Gary Langston of Kansas City, a Northern Cherokee. “All living things are children of the Earth,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we have feet or wings or roots. “So, yes, there is an afterlife for animals. We all are going home, back to the Creator. And, yes, people will see their pets again. The dog I had as a kid, his spirit never left me; he just moved into a different dimension.” Langston said he believes that when he dies he will move into the dimension where his dog is, and they will be in the spirit form together. The companionship, friendship and love that humans and their pets share in this life will continue to be shared in the afterlife, he said.

HINDU/VEDANTA There is a story in the Hindu epic “Mahabharata” about Yudhisthira, the eldest and noblest of five Pandava brothers. When he made his final journey to heaven, his faithful dog Dhruba followed him there, said Anand Bhattacharyya, a member of the Kansas City area Hindu community. “Yudhisthira was allowed to go to heaven, but not his dog,” he said. “But he didn’t want to enter heaven without his dog. On Yudhisthira’s insistence both were allowed to enter heaven in eternal peace.”

Still the general Hindu belief is that animals have souls but no access to eternal life, Bhattacharyya said. “Because of the soul’s inherent urge to be united with its source (God), souls in animals will ultimately evolve to the human plane. Once the soul is in a human body, it is capable of union with God in eternal bliss. But it may take many more reincarnations in human form to liberate the soul from the death-rebirth cycle.”

A similar view comes from Linda Prugh of the Vedanta Society, an organization based on a Hindu philosophy. She said animals have souls, but unlike humans they do not have the ability to reason and discriminate between right and wrong. Animals go from birth to death to birth again and slowly evolve into higher forms, eventually reaching the human plane, she said. The goal of life is to realize one’s true divine nature, which is one with Brahman (all-pervading Godhead), and to see that divinity in every being and every thing, Prugh said. “So our pets, whom we love and take care of, should be treated as manifestations of the divine,” she said.

BUDDHIST From the Buddhist perspective, “I don’t know” about an afterlife for humans or animals, said Marnie Hammer of Mid America Dharma. “The Buddha talked about being present now rather than spending a lot of time worrying about what’s out there,” she said. Buddhism teaches that the animal realm is a lower realm of existence, Hammer said. “I’ve had three cats that I’ve shared my life with and have made my life richer, but I don’t know if I’ll see them again,” she said. “That’s not the question.” The question, she said, is whether one is making life “more peaceful and generous for everyone.”

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/pets/articles/2008/07

From a forwarded email message about how meaningful a random act of kindness can be—this one from some kind soul at the dead letter office.

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Meredith and her dog Abbey

Our 14-year-old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey.. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.
I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven.. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had..

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies..’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey &Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.
Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by..
Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I’m easy to find, I am wherever there is love.

Love,
God

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