Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hi and Happy Easter! I wanted to post something really quick for my friends stuck in church today and sneaking off to look at blogs.

There’s a neat Italian saying: It’s better to live for one day as a lion than for a hundred years as a lamb.

Sheep on a Hill, Ireland. (Source: ccharmon, Flickr. CC license.)
Sheep on a Hill, Ireland. (Source: ccharmon, Flickr. CC license.)

I was thinking of that not long ago when I ran into yet another of those really tiresome Christian glurge sites chirping merrily about how wonderful it is to be a sheep, oh how happy he is to be a sheep, oh how wonderful it is to be a sheep. The cartoonist points out that in his religion, Christians are often referred to as sheep and their god as a shepherd:

The Bible doesn’t call us brave lions. . . The Bible calls us sheep. Sheep are not the smartest specimens in the animal kingdom. Sheep have been known to follow each other off cliffs by the hundreds, and chase each other around in circles until they keel over. They’re helpless. Defenseless. They have no survival skills. They’re completely dependent on their shepherd for everything from food to protection.

That’s not 100% true, but forget it, he’s rollin’. He goes on to say that yes, it’s quite true that he’d fit all of those descriptions if “left to himself,” but goes on to say that he’s got a shepherd who keeps him from all of those horrible fates. He ends by saying, “I happily acknowledge being totally dependent on the Good Shepherd.”

I’ve got to ask:

Has anybody actually ever told this guy why shepherds tend sheep?

Does he seriously think that shepherds keep sheep as pets or something?

Does he not understand what a sheep’s fate is? Or what its life is like, even if it’s got a shepherd?

Sheep are pushed around every day of their lives and bred to be docile and compliant by generations of selective breeding by shepherds whose main interest and focus is improving their flocks and making money off the sheep.

Lambs are either kept to grow up to eventually be bred to make more lambs, or they are slaughtered for lamb chops and roasts. Adult sheep exist to be fleeced for the benefit of their owners whether they’re kept for breeding or meat, and then slaughtered for mutton when their usefulness is over.

So this cartoonist is happily acknowledging being totally dependent on a master who is looking to fleece him and then kill him for food.

I have no words for how beyond-grisly that is to me, how grotesque. I never did like all that lamb and shepherd bullshit; even as a teenager when I saw all the glurge paintings of Jesus wandering around with a lamb across his shoulders, I wondered if people thought he was rescuing lambs just for the sake of doing it. It wasn’t just out of love, I’ll tell you that.

I just got finished reading a very good book about a shepherd–just in time for Easter!–and came away with a real respect for the work these folks do. The love this guy had for his flocks, and his diligent care in tending them even at risk to his own life at times, shone through in spades! But in the end, it was about fleece and meat and improving the flock. He wasn’t sentimental about it. One scene involved how shepherds re-home orphaned lambs to ewes that had lost their own lambs in birth: shepherds in his area skin the dead lamb, put the little jacket on the orphan, and then put the orphan with the ewe, who smells “her” lamb on the orphan and eventually accepts the little fella. That is absolutely shocking to me–the idea of skinning a newly-deceased baby lamb like that is bad enough, but then to dress another newborn lamb in its skin?!? I almost felt sick reading that. But that’s how they save the lives of orphaned lambs. That’s how they stop another death from occurring.

That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about shepherds. It’s not a glamorous life; it’s not sentimental or misty-eyed. And as time marches on, shepherds are having to get more and more creative about how they market themselves to the next generation and how they market their product. To consumers. Who will consume the sheep.

This cartoonist–and a great many other Christians besides–seriously doesn’t understand that if they view themselves as sheep, they are saying they are meat to be eaten, profit to be fleeced, and alive only to chew grass and grow fat and breed at their owner’s command. They live to benefit their master, and have no other purpose in life.

But in Christians’ opinion, I’m the one who, as a non-believer, has no appreciation of the value of life and no purpose in life, who drifts rudderless through my sad and dreary days, who eats and drinks and makes merry without consideration of the horrific torture awaiting me.

No no, Christians imply, it’s much much better to go through one’s days eating and shitting and sleeping like an animal whenever told, to go where one is told, to do what one is told, to be fleeced whenever one’s master desires profit, to be mated when and to whom the shepherd wants, and to eventually be slaughtered and eaten when one’s usefulness is done. And through it all, through all that control, through all that directed tedium, through all that forced mating, through all that day-in day-out boredom of eating and shitting and sleeping for no purpose whatsoever but to make meat and fleece and babies for the shepherd, Christians not only don’t object to it all but praise their master for making available this life for them.

The more we think about what it means to be a sheep under the care of a shepherd, the more it ought to repel and repulse us to even vaguely consider adopting that lifestyle.

No, thanks. Until someone comes up with a legitimate reason to take anything in this religion seriously, I’ll be my own person. I’ll decide where I go, what I eat, when I have sex and with whom, and what purpose my life will have. If someone wants to harm me or fleece me, they’ll have a fight on their hands. And I will not end my days, however many I have left, proud of having been a herd animal fattened for the slaughter for someone else’s benefit.

It’s better to live one day as a free and independent creature than a hundred years as Christians think best.

YouTube video

“I Just Wanna Be a Sheep.” (Youtube link). She sure doesn’t want to be a Canaanite! And one can imagine why, though it’s strange that the song doesn’t quite mention the full ramifications of that slaughter perpetrated by their god’s chosen people. Also: Are Christians actually teaching little kids about the slaughter of the Canaanites?

“He’s Not a Zombie. Or a Lich.” — A lot of atheist memes claim that the gospels’ account of Jesus makes him a zombie or a lich or something, but last Easter, after diligent study of relevant materials, I can conclusively tell you that he is actually neither of those.

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...