BOOKS: Wind-of-Fire

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2003:

The Story of an Untouchable
by Joan Beth Clair
Wind-of-Fire Press (P.O. Box 523, Berkeley, CA 94701), 1999.
150 pages, paperback. $10.95.

Portland (Oregon) Animal Affairs Ministry director Roger
Troen submitted to ANIMAL PEOPLE an effusive review of Wind-of-Fire:
The Story of an Untouchable, by Joan Beth Clair, which
unfortunately omitted any factual description of the content.
Raising hell on behalf of animals for more than 30 years,
sometimes taking hard lumps for it, Troen is an otherwise quiet
fellow who reads books. Suspecting that his critical judgement might
be better grounded than expressed, I read Wind-of-Fire myself.
Wind-of-Fire is a collection of vignettes centering on a dog
named Wind-of-Fire. Opening as a personal journal about the author’s
thoughts as she pursued a divinity degree in Berkeley, California,
during the early 1980s, Wind-of-Fire concludes as a tract arguing for
the incorporation of concepts about animal rights into Christianity.
“For those in the animal rights movement who have abandoned
their churches,” Troen wrote, “Wind-of-Fire may offer hope of
revival. Father Richard Mapplebeck-palmer, pastor of Grace
North Church in Berkeley, was inspired by Clair’s book to affirm the
religious worth of animals. He organized a discussion of the book
with members of his congregation.”

But the most important part of Wind-of-Fire occurs mostly
outside of churches, as Clair undertakes a quest with her
“untouchable” companion around a city that prides itself on
tolerance, where dogs are nonetheless often not welcome.
Recurring in mythology from around the world is the theme of
a god coming to earth to test human kindness by traveling disguised
as a pariah.
In Clair’s journey, “dog” might have been “god” spelled
backward. Often Clair and Wind-of-Fire found “no room at the
inn–but when Wind-of-Fire died, he was remembered by the Oakland
Tribune, Associated Press, and Stars-&-Stripes.
He and Clair had somehow touched a great many people.

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