Ecclesiastical Pica

I always thought “pica” was the name for a particular size of typeface and, in fact, it is that. But it is also the name for a pathological craving to eat nonfoods.

Learned this today because I googled the words “dog eats grass.” Why would I do that? Well … because my dog eats grass!

We adopted Rascal (a buff-colored cocker spaniel) three years ago and discovered that he was allergic to beef-based dog foods. As it turned out, he is allergic to nearly all animal-product based dog foods. We tried the most incredible array of dog food mixtures: lamb-, chicken-, venison-, even kangaroo-based. Then we discovered a product called “Nature’s Recipe” which was 100% vegetarian.

He ate that vegetable-based food for a couple of years without a problem, but then started having some gastro-intestinal issues, so we went on a search for another staple food. We found a Purina blend based on salmon and sweet potatos, and he seems to tolerate that and do well, so we have switched.

But now, whenever he can get a mouthful of grass, he snatches it up! He must miss his vegetables…. (And since our lawn mower is equipped with a mulching blade which leaves behind plenty of clumps of cut grass, he can gobble plenty of mouthfuls of the stuff! It drives my spouse crazy.)

So that’s why I went looking for “dog eats grass” with the search engine and that’s when I found this entry:

Pica, is a craving for unnatural, non-food items. Dogs do enjoy their grass and grass-eating is not always viewed as pica. However, if your dog eats grass excessively and as more than a passing snack the habit may escalate into a pica. No one really knows why dogs eat grass – it is one of the mysteries of the dog world!

That being said, it is unlikely that only one reason exists. Some dogs likely eat grass because they simply like the taste, others may do it to provide further bulk to their diet should they perceive this to be lacking, and still others likely eat grass to try and settle or clear an upset stomach.

If your pet is on a good quality diet, has regular stools, and isn’t showing other health concerns, grass-eating is unlikely to be a problem. You may want to try and curtail the behaviour to avoid it from becoming a problem by keeping your lawn cut short and free of grass clippings and leaves and providing your dog with an outdoor toy that it can occupy its mouth with.

If you are at all in doubt, take your dog to your veterinarian for a thorough physical examination and a review of its current diet and dietary needs. Hopefully this way you can convert the bovine back to a canine! (Thanks to the folks at www.pets.ca for this info.)

I keep thinking that there’s some sort of parallel here with the on-going crises in the Anglican world, or at least a lesson to be learned. But so far it has escaped me.

Unless, of course, it is the craving for unnatural, or at least un-ecclesial [I know that’ s not a word] power that seems to be infecting some American bishops and clergy and a few “Global South” primates. I simply can’t get passed the feeling that all the talk about “Anglican orthodoxy” and “Biblical authority” is just a smoke screen for good ol’, plain-and-simple human political power. And every time there is a new press report about a foreign primate exercising authority over an American congregation, or about the consecration of a new “bishop” for some new grouping of “conservative” Anglicans in America, or about a “college” of conservative American jurisdictions …. every time …. the rhetoric smacks more of power than of gospel, and the feeling won’t go away.

Maybe that’s it …. maybe there’s an “episcopal pica,” an unnatural craving for power within the church. Is there an ecclesiastical veterinarian to whom we can take those who are suffering from it?

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