Sunday, April 25, 2010
Of Sheep and Men
My thoughts are still stuck trying to decide whether being a sheep is a good thing or not. For one thing, with all the variety of the animal kingdom to draw from, why Jesus chose something as mundane as a sheep to compare us to: Why not a jaguar, or a manatee, or a platypus? I'm really not sure I'm all that crazy about being compared to a smelly, stupid, defenseless herd animal whose claim to fame is being fleeced. As I have wrestled around with this, images of a Law and Order SVU episode featuring Robin Williams have sprung to mind. Robin Williams plays a man grieving the loss of his wife during a medical procedure which as it turns out was totally unnecessary. He compares his actions to that of a sheep, mindlessly following along with the doctors advice instead of trusting his gut; and he goes on an "anti-sheep" crusade, featuring staged events, flashmobs, buttons with the universal red circle with a slash through it superimposed over a picture of a sheep, and of course kidnapping, and murder. Not only that but I couldn't seem to get the sound of the Rush tune, "Subdivisions," (http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rush/subdivisions_20119867.html) with its all too telling lyrics about suburban (and yes, rural, too) conformity and how it suppresses one's individuality and creativity and still manages to lure us. Baa. Baa. Baa.
And yet, it is because they are so mindless and so defenseless that sheep make such a good analogy for our relationship with God. Without God, we are utterly defenseless against the forces of sin and death which weigh so heavily upon us. Still that doesn't mean that we have to follow blindly (see an earlier post for some thoughts along these lines concerning the often misunderstood disciple Thomas), but our dependence is complete, total, and without reserve.
And so dear readers, I got caught in a liminal moment (should I stay, or should I go now; if I stay there will be trouble; if I go there will be double...sorry about that, I'm back now). And instead of sharing my stuckness and inviting the congregation into it, I wussed out: I played it safe. Ah, well, you know what they about the best laid plans of sheep and men...
Incidentally, I do know that the title of this post is blatantly sexist. I thought about changing it to, "Of Sheep and Mortals", but then the literary allusion is lost. So out of respect for Mr. Steinbeck and Mr. Burns I chose to leave it as is. I am sorry if this choice has offended anyone, just know that I made it specifically with you in mind ;-) and as they say in the 12 step world, "keep comin' back.
I am the Unlikely Pastor. Welcome to my world.