We’ll Miss You, Gary Dahl

On March 23, we lost a legend. You may not know the name Gary Dahl, but I bet you know his work. Dahl was the genius who invented the Pet Rock. Here’s how it happened. One day, 40 years ago, Mr. Dahl was sitting in a bar in Los Angeles listening to his buddies complain about their pets. They were too loud, too expensive, and too big a hassle. Gary came up with a brilliant idea. He would create the perfect pet. He mass produced the Pet Rock.

He sold these rocks as pets, with instructions. This 1975 fad lasted just a few months, but it made Dahl a millionaire. This was the brilliance of the Pet Rock. It would never need to be fed, walked, bathed, or groomed. It would never be disobedient, get sick, or die. It could easily be taught to stay, roll over, or play dead. The Pet Rock was a gray stone, sold in a box with holes punched in the top to give the pet some air. Dahl wrote a 32-page manual on how to care for the rocks: The Care and Training of Your Pet Rock. The manual explained everything the new owner needed to know about his pet. After an impressive six month run, the Pet Rock disappeared from our consciousness.

But a new generation of Rock lovers has come to embrace the perfect pet nearly 40 years later. On September 3, 2012, the Pet Rock was re-introduced to the public by Rosebud Entertainment. So, at age 40, the Pet Rock lives on, with an anticipated life span beyond measure. What created a market of the Pet Rock? In a word, loneliness. The Rock is the perfect companion. You can walk it, play with it, and even sleep with it. The only thing the Pet Rock won’t do is love you back.

God created a whole bunch of rocks. And he said, “It is good.” He said the same thing about the rest of his creation: the birds and bees, sun and stars. But then he made something that could respond to him on a personal level. He made man and woman. And then he said, “It is very good.” God has given us free wills. We can choose for or against him. That is a risk for God, because many of us choose against him. But God did not want a bunch of mind-numbed robots. He wanted us to follow him because we want to. It would have been easier for him to create Pet Rocks instead of men with rocks in their heads. But for God, it is all about relationship. Now, there is a major stream of theology running around today that says God has pre-determined who would be saved and who wouldn’t. It is the product of the Reformed Movement. Some call it Calvinism. The Hebrew word is bologna. Yes, God is sovereign. But in his sovereignty, he made us with free wills, able to choose him or not choose him. God will spend eternity with those who chose the one who died for their sins. If God wanted to create us with our eternal destiny pre-determined, he would have just made Pet Rocks. So when you put your Pet Rock to bed tonight, remember the name Gary Dahl. And when you put yourself to bed after that, remember the name Jesus Christ. You don’t love him because you have to; you do it because you want to. That is the lesson of the Pet Rock.

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