by John Francis Pearring Jr.
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
This book is somewhat different from other books you’ve read. “A Catholic writer imagines the answer to one of the most compelling questions people face in this world, and the next, Do animals get rewarded with eternal life?” The life and death story of a mountain lion leaving his mother and brother to encounter predators and his next meal parallels the challenges of nearby humans attempting to steward both forest and wildlife. Where do their struggles lead them? When lives are lost, do animals join humans in heaven? Seen through the eyes of creatures great and small, Snarl takes the reader on an unforgettable journey where they have their eyes opened to startling new possibilities. Since the book frames our heaven shared with every willingly redeemed animal, not just those we know and love, the author is compelled to substantiate his premise with evidence from Scripture and a mix of classic theologians. Follow this story for the possibility of our shared redemption.
The author has a rich background in Catholicism: Catholic newspaper editor, teacher, licensed commercial contractor, trained journalist, documentation writer, and apologist for the Catholic Church. Snarl is his first published novel. He has a wife and 6 children and welcomed eleven grandchildren. He hosts homelesscatholic.com with five other bloggers out of his office in Colorado. In the preface he states: Hope for eternal life, I believe, is losing popularity. More and more doubt the truth of such a thing. Meanwhile, animals don’t seem to know anything about eternity. Their hopes live entirely in the moment though building nests, migrating thousands of miles and birthing families looks a lot like hope. Rather than go with gracious compliance, we humans are likely only grateful for an end to suffering, worry, and violence. So too, the animals expect that the minimum of gratitude is lost under interminable circumstances, the exercise for mercy allowing us a better life, seems necessary. The other half for a holy exit that is our willing submission to death’s last gasp only takes place if the options for the next life are clear and there’s time to ponder it. Maybe not clear but hoped for. How many of us have that hope? I suppose hope is present more than certainty. What calculator can we use to figure out the proper time to die willingly Again, mercy must be God’s primary tool for redemption. There might be truly evil humans whom God can never reach. People who have attached themselves to evil without remorse. Maybe it’s also true for animals. Maybe there aren’t any people or animals like that. God could possibly be so good at love that he eventually gets his strings into all of us. Does everyone eventually repent? Snarl doesn’t answer that question. The book presupposes that God takes care of the extent and reach of mercy. For literary purposes, and because I have almost convinced myself of the preposterous notion that animals will see redemption, Snarl presumes what we get is what animals also get. Snarl imagines what we can see for ourselves, what true and wonderful things might happen for us. We get either a wholesome eternity for animals and us, or some other thing that falls short of my understanding about God.