Dog Diaries is a spin-off from the Middle School book series told from the perspective of Rafe Khatchadorian’s dog, Junior. Written by James Patterson and Steven Butler. Illustrations by Richard Watson.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): When rule-breaking Rafe has to train his new dog in obedience school, you know things are about to get really ruff!
Review: I read this book with my first grader. I am not entirely sure what age group this book targets. The title states it is a Middle School story, but the storyline is definitely for a younger elementary grade. Some jokes were above my first grader’s head, but the storyline and reading level was right. Reading from the dog’s perspective was fun, and the illustrations were spot on.
Parental Discussion: I didn’t enjoy the ending. The plot is about a dog who is so misbehaved the owner is forced to enroll the dog in obedience school or risk losing the dog. The dog eventually is entered into a dog competition where we learn that all dogs despise following rules. Soon, no dog is being obedient, chaos ensues, and the main dog wins the award for being the worst dog. The final message is that rules are not meant for everyone; they are stifling, controlling, and inhibits the freedom to be oneself.
The reason this irks me so much is religion is viewed in this manner many times by society. I have been told many times that religion was created as a means to control the masses. Religion is considered solely as a set of rules to follow. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Religion is about a relationship with the living God.
It is challenging to have a relationship with someone without guidelines of behavior. For example, in this book, the owner had a tough time maintaining a relationship with the dog. The dog saw everything from his own passions and desires and cared solely about them. I realize that this book is from a dog’s perspective, but many times humans act the same way. It is hard to have a great relationship with someone who only cares about their own passions and desires.
Whenever I discuss God with a nonbeliever, I never start with how one should live their lives. That would be short-lived and not very meaningful. For example, image a stranger walking up to you and demanding certain things:
- You will live with me.
- You will consult me before spending a large sum of money.
- You will spend the holidays with me, and we will split the time between both our families.
- You will consider my opinion about your career goals.
- We will compromise our life goals and ambitions.
No one would do any of those things for a complete stranger. However, we may meet someone and start to spend time with them. During this time together, we begin to know and care about them. This eventually develops into powerful feelings, and we enter into a bond with them. We start doing all of those things WILLINGLY! It may not always be easy, yet we follow all those ‘rules’ for the other person because of our relationship with them.
First and foremost, we focus on having a relationship with God. Once we establish a relationship with God, we change our behavior to reflect this relationship.
Christianity is a way of life through love. Love consists of actions, it is not a feeling. We become one with Christ, living His life, imitating His works, and following the directions of His law. This is done by knowing and responding to Him. It is not always easy, but something you will strive to accomplish once you have a relationship with Him.
The Ten Commandments are ways to know and love God. They are not rules to earn God’s love or to be controlled by God. They are ways to express our love to God. Following the commandments is a RESPONSE of love. It comes second. Not first.
We love God through our actions towards others as we are all members of the Mystical Body.
Matt 25:40, Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Love ultimately is to will the good of another and to think of ourselves last. Good is not subjective. Good comes from God. Since we are imperfect and broken beings, we need to look to God for what is good. Some places to start:
Studying and understanding the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapters 5-7.
The entire gospel of John is a great place to study the life of Jesus.
Studying and understanding the Ten Commandments in light of the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:35–40, Mark 12:28–34, and Luke 10:27).
Reading the sections about Moral Law and Ten Commandments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I’m practical and need clear actions to take. Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy gives us concrete ways to express love.
John 13:34, I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love ane another.
Rom 13:8-10: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in one saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.