I read a Facebook post the other day where a friend remarked how apt the “sheep/shepherd, parishioner/religion” metaphor was. This was not a compliment. Several people commented that they agreed, etc. It made me start thinking and here we are.
Part of the reason this vaguely bothers me is that I just love sheep. I don’t really know why. But I do. I just love them. I want to have some — being in an apartment in the city, that will be tough, but someday, maybe. I know the reason the analogy is made is that sheep are often dumb. They need someone to physically herd and guide them to help them stay safe. They follow each other around and don’t have a lot of independent thought — all pretty negative things for a regular, independent, freedom-loving, ego-centric American.
As to “sheeple” who follow religion blindly, it definitely is not a flattering way to look at one’s relationship to God or the Church. Now, I can’t really speak to a relationship with the church — I was raised Lutheran and went to Sunday School from K-12 grade, so I know the Bible and tenets of Christianity and the general drill — but, I don’t feel compelled to be in or around a church right now. If I did, it most likely would be Unity or Universal Unitarians, but even those are definitely Christian based. Not a bad thing, really; I dig Jesus and the messages conveyed through his “words” in the New Testament. There’s just a lot of other “big picture” issues that I have that don’t make sense with everything most people tend to believe.
But to the original jumping off point: I have found through the church of coffee club that I DO need something or someone to guide me through life. I don’t always make the best decisions on my own, and it’s good to have something as a touchstone to help me navigate life. I do need something to keep me safe from myself sometimes. I’m not stupid, but I’m glad to have a presence that I can count on to get me through rough times.
I don’t think that it’s always a bad thing to be led. I think, for me, it’s about being led toward things that contribute to my purpose here. It’s about being led toward love and compassion and away from selfishness and self-centeredness, which will kill me. It’s about being led to service and away from judgment. I need help with all of that, and for some reason, the idea of a kindly shepherd nudging me toward those things doesn’t ring out as a terrible thing.
I get why it does for a lot of people. But I think there’s a difference between being led and blindly following. I don’t know. In reality, I just love sheep. Nothing more, nothing less, I suppose. Baaa.