I read something on my flist today about getting accosted in the street by someone who wanted to talk about the good news. I think most of us know that means it'll be someone proselytising for some religion - in this country it'd most likely be a Christian*. We have one guy who stands on Lambton Quay and hands out tracts. He's a nice enough guy (although sometimes he rants, I'm told) - mostly he just holds them out and you can take one if you want, or not.
I hold no truck with organised religion. I'm an atheist in that (as described in Magic and Drugs Part 1) I don't buy the concept of an intelligent, self-aware deity that gives a crap about what I'm doing. I think it's impossible for the universe to be created the way it is - logic tells me that the only way this could have happened is by chance, good old trial and error. That doesn't just count for the Christian God, it counts for all gods. I think we made them up. That doesn't mean they are not real for the people who believe in them - I think we've established that the mind is a pretty bloody powerful thing, right, so there's no reason why if magic exists because I believe it so, then a god can't either. But your god doesn't exist for me.
However, in the interest of religous tolerance and because I'm always curious about what people believe and why, I tend to hear people out when they talk about their sprituality, and on this particular day, I was feeling curious so I took one of this guy's tracts. Turns out it was the one about the good shepherd. You know the one, where the guy loses a sheep and Jesus is all "Go find that one lost sheep because that's what a good shepherd does" while blatantly bludgeoning you with the analogy that Jesus is a good shepherd because he cares enough about you personally that he'll go looking for you in the wilderness if you wander away from the flock. In fact, Jesus reckons that good shepherding involves taking special care of the extra-needy sheep - the lost, the sick, the wanting.
This is an awesome philosophy for a caring paradigm, and to make Jesus look like a decent sort. It's nice to think that if you're in need of extra care and attention, this bloke will give it, right? But what it isn't, is good shepherding.
I've been a shepherd. Caring for a flock of sheep is about keeping the flock healthy and safe. This means ministering to the sick ones - and then culling them so they don't pass their weak genes on to their offspring. It means looking after the ones that you know will give the best return and cutting out the ones that require extra work and expense to maintain. And if one wanders off into the wilderness, sure, you go look for it - but not before you've made sure the bulk of the flock is safe in the barn. Otherwise, you might come back with your Lil Lost Lamb and find that your healthy flock that you've been nurturing for years has been eaten by wolves - or they've all wandered off and now you have to hire a bunch of drunk musterers to help you find them all**.
As you can imagine, letting the sick/lost/difficult sheep die is probably not a good analogy for the sort of caring that Jesus would have advocated. I actually agree with him - when it comes to people, those in need of extra care should get it, and when someone's lost (either physically or mentally) we should put extra effort into finding them. But people are not sheep, and this behaviour is about as far from good shepherding as you can get.
I read this thing and by the end of it I was all "What a load of horseshit." Because seriously, to anyone who knows anything about sheep, this parable just tells you that Jesus was a terrible shepherd and should have stuck to carpentry, and that if he really thought of people as his flock then the way he treats the ones that don't stray is pretty bloody cavalier. I'm sure the devout would say that he's just testing your faith by ignoring you because you're faithful in favour of those that aren't. That's all well and good, but it's not good bloody shepherding. K? You don't test your flock's health by putting them freshly shorn in a southerly-exposed paddock on a snow day in September to lamb, while you keep the sick one by the fire in a beer crate. Just no.
So, um, yeah. Jesus needs a better analogy. Sadly, this shepherd thing has permeated throughout the religion and it makes me distrustful of the whole shebang to be honest. The people who wrote the bible must have known something about keeping sheep, coming from an agrarian culture and all, yet they persisted with it. Maybe they treated their sheep differently in those days, but to be honest if they treated their sheep the way they claim Jesus said they should, they'd be all dead. Just saying.
* Nobody else really proselytises here. The hare krishnas dance around with tambourines going "Hey we're having an awesome time want some free vegie food?" and the Falun Gong meditate in Cuba Mall with signs showing what the Chinese Government has done to them, but that's about it.
** Bo Peep moved to Australia when the ECA came in.
Anyway, do you reckon I should make a dragon? I've been doing a bit of paper mache stuff lately and enjoying it, and I like dragons. A paper mache one wouldn't poo either, so there's that. However, before you go "WTF Tats of course you should make a dragon!" Remember I have to put it somewhere. Think about how much you'd like a dragon in your apartment (even a little one) and how it'd need dusting and how it would take up random space that could be actual space and whether it'd be worth the sacrifices to have a dragon. This is the thing - I don't know if I want to have a dragon - I just want to make one.
Oh yeah, while I remember, t_c_da asked me to boost the signal on this. Girl acts in movie believing she's making a fantasy movie, turns out when it's released it's been overdubbed and turned into a hate movie about Muslims. Nasty.