The Lord is My Shepherd: A Horrifying Thought March 6, 2011

The Lord is My Shepherd: A Horrifying Thought

Thunderf00t gets us to think a bit more about Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd”) and follow it to its logical conclusion.

The background comes first; the good part begins around the 1:27 mark.




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  • cat

    Except sheep are not only kept for meat, they are kept for wool. Meat is often a side benefit, obtained when older animals die or when one has too many lambs to support.

    And, of course, the christians as sheep imagery abounds in traditional artwork. Anyone ever taken a look at medieval (and even earlier) christian artwork? They know that sheep equals unthinking follower, that is why they like it.

  • Meg

    “It’s a cookbook!!”

  • stephen

    Soylent green is food!

  • Anonymous

    This reminds me of an article I came across the other day, from a retired Reverend on the topic of apostasy.

    Belief is not something you can fake or should fake. While God may be sad to lose a believer to disbelief, surely God would prefer honest skepticism to bogus piety.

    And while both shepherd and sheep may lament the loss of one of their flock, it is that little lamb’s right, if they have changed their mind, to leave without being slaughtered.

    Awfully generous of him…

    Struggling with losing faith in faith
    http://www.lfpress.com/comment/columnists/bob_ripley/2011/03/04/17493536.html

  • Steve

    The whole shepard/flock/sheep imagery really tells you a lot about how these people see themselves and how little self-esteem they have. Sheeple that need to be led and herded

  • Jon Peterson

    @cat

    True. You know about tithings and that offering plate they pass around? That’s the wool.

  • Faith has never been a virtue. Just as having a shepherd has never been a comfort. Christians are some of the most unhappy people I know.

  • Jason

    I’ve been asking my Christan friends to really consider the meaning of the title “Pastor” for years- it’s Latin for shepherd. So what are pastors really up to when they claim to be caring for a “flock”? They raise a healthy flock and harvest from it however they see fit. And not just in the monetary form that Jon commented on. In the name of their gods, pastors of all religions, have taken money, land, and life for centuries.

  • maddogdelta

    Yea though I walk through the valley of death,
    I shall fear no evil.

    For I am the biggest, baddest, meanest, ugliest motherf***er in the valley.

  • Robert W.

    This truly is an idiotic view of Psalm 23. Giving the guy an English accent doesn’t make it any more insightful.

    Written by King David near the end of his life, he is expressing joy of the protection and provision given to him by God. For these people in this time, the analogy of a shepherd was perfect. Just as a shepherd does for his flock, God provides for us, protects us, guides us safely according to his will.

    Despite putting our trust in God and what His will is for us, we do not place our brains or reasoning at the door of the church. Far from it. And nowhere in this Psalm is that implied.

  • Bud

    The Happy Cabbie posted a good response to Thunderf00t’s video on his blog. It’s worth reading:

    What does a Shepherd mean to a Christian?

    I like Thunderf00t, but I think he dropped the ball on this one.

  • Robert W.

    Good point Bud, Thank you for the link.

  • starskeptic

    Soylent Green is people!

  • Mattir

    I’m not wild about religion, but I wish I could enjoy the poetry of Bronze Age shepherds without feeling like I should renounce my atheist cred, just like I might be able to enjoy the Iliad or Gilgamesh or the Kama Sutra.

    There are a lot of religiomooks who have no clue how a sheep behaves or how nomadic herding cultures might operate. They would all benefit from a good dose of caring for sheep, shearing wool, spinning and weaving said wool, and butchering, roasting, and eating the critters. It’d give them an appreciation for the beauty of the metaphor (which is really about mutual dependence) and probably help reduce the ridiculous overuse of Psalm 23.

    I’ve taken care of sheep, done a lot of spinning, starting with the smelly sweaty sheep fleece, and butchered and eaten sheep. Never done the shearing, since that requires more skill than I have, and the slowness with which I would shear would annoy the sheep considerably.

    As much as the “oh, but God is a Metaphor” silliness is overused, sometimes it might be useful to keep in mind that the Bronze Age guys who wrote this sort of poetry came from a very different world and perhaps more thought about the nature of that world would improve our understanding of their poetry and metaphors…

  • ScarletA

    Sorry, Robert W., but when you believe in any imaginary thing (gods/goddesses, fairies, trolls, _________(insert your favorite imaginary playmate/voice), you HAVE left logic, reason, and brain-power (if not the actual brain) outside by the door!

  • Bill

    Robert W.: “Written by King David near the end of his life, he is expressing joy of the protection and provision given to him by God. For these people in this time, the analogy of a shepherd was perfect. Just as a shepherd does for his flock, God provides for us, protects us, guides us safely according to his will.”

    Prove it.

  • Claudia

    I’m not wild about religion, but I wish I could enjoy the poetry of Bronze Age shepherds without feeling like I should renounce my atheist cred, just like I might be able to enjoy the Iliad or Gilgamesh or the Kama Sutra.

    You can, and anyone who would question your “cred” if you enjoyed the Bible as literature is being an idiot.

  • I always found the parable of the sheep and the goats to be a depressing reminder of this. Sheep are accepted by the god and goats are sent away.

    And yet, to paraphrase Pratchett, sheep are stupid and have to be driven. Goats are intelligent, and need a leader.

  • ACN

    As Bill mentioned, the author(s) of the psalms is/are unknown. The Jewish and Christian tradition attributes most of them to David, but there is only dubious historical evidence for a historical King David, and no historical evidence making him the author of the psalms.

    Most scholars think that they, like the rest of the OT, are the product of several authors or even groups of authors of unknown identity and agenda.

  • Robert W.

    Just as a shepherd does for his flock, God provides for us, protects us, guides us safely according to his will.

    Despite putting our trust in God and what His will is for us, we do not place our brains or reasoning at the door of the church.

    So sayeth the sheep.

    Let me ask you something. Would you rather live as a cosseted pet, fed tidbits from your master’s hand or would you prefer to live free, even though it is more difficult and less certain an existence?

  • starskeptic

    The Happy Cabbie posted a good response to Thunderf00t’s video on his blog. It’s worth reading:

    …I must be missing what’s good about this response.

  • Mattir

    On the sheep-metaphor – it’s actually sort of appropriate for the behavior of groups of people. Not for nothing do psychoanalytic theorists posit that groups function as non-conscious psychotic organisms.

    Not a particularly a ringing endorsement of the shepherd metaphor, but people definitely have a lot in common with sheep. If anything, the people=sheep metaphor has gotten WORSE, since today’s sheep have had another several thousand years of selective breeding to be compliantly stupid.

  • Anonymous

    The Ice Storm

    (at key party)

    Minister: Sometimes the shepherd needs the company of the sheep.

    Elena: I’m going to try hard not to understand the implications of that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJPHrd3mjeg

  • Edmond

    That’s why they call it “fleecing”.

  • AtomJack

    I know many an xtian who depends on what the pastor says for their opinions. Seeing a bunch of apologistic claptrap posted doesn’t sway me at all. Further, being a skeptic actually isn’t all fluffy clouds and comfort, by any means. The effort to sort through the chaff in every situation to ascertain the most likely truth requires a fair amount of effort. Letting a religious leader dictate policy (Roman Catholic, for example, I was one, once), say, in the use of condoms, is asinine…err ovine. The amount of suffering and death in this world just from prohibition of condoms is stupendous. Freakin’ sheeple.

  • Jachra

    Free thought, now with lightning.

    Damn it, now I crave mutton.

  • Benjamin

    This truly is an idiotic view of Psalm 23. Giving the guy an English accent doesn’t make it any more insightful.

    Australian, actually.

    Having read that far in your post, I knew that I had no need to go on, because a critical research failure that big suggests that you have nothing of weight to contribute to the conversation.

  • Nordog

    Bigotry is as bigotry does.

  • sven

    I thought it is the way they talk and all sound the same.. beeh beeeh beh beeh..

  • MM8

    Interesting point, but you have missed the essential piece. The Biblical idea of the shepherd is quite opposite of what you said here. Try again, and next time do your research.

    John 10:11-18 says,

    “11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

    14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

  • sven

    @MM8
    To bad that this shepherd thing does not work in real life, where people, and sheep alike, are hurt and killed randomly by diseases, hunger, disasters, accidents, other people, etc.

    Like other people have mentioned here before, we all have to take care of each other. No shepherd needed.

  • 1984

    “Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of ‘the flock.”
    – Christopher Hitchens (Hitch-22: A Memoir)

  • MM8

    @sven

    Unfortunately, nothing works perfectly in this world. My point is to challenge the author to at least know the issues and understand that if he is ignorant in his understanding of what he is trying to refute he will look stupid (which I don’t think he is. He is just misinformed). I would like to read well written and well informed arguments.

  • sven

    @MM8

    Unfortunately, nothing works perfectly in this world. My point is to challenge the author to at least know the issues and understand that if he is ignorant in his understanding of what he is trying to refute he will look stupid (which I don’t think he is. He is just misinformed). I would like to read well written and well informed arguments.

    And by doing that you show that the shepherd from your bible quote is very far from reality. This also shows that the people that chant psalm 23 are the ones that are misinformed.

  • MM8

    @sven

    I think it shows rather that we are very far from this shepherd, not the other way around. I don’t think it necessarily follows that the psalmist was misinformed. Psalms are not about information. It’s poetry. Any sort of understanding about who the shepherd is implied.

    But again, my purpose is only to make sure that we are not simply accepting anything based on shotty, close-mindedness. Let’s think! Isn’t this blog about being open-minded and well informed?

  • sven

    @MM8

    I think it shows rather that we are very far from this shepherd

    Ofcourse we are, and we are just as far from Zues and unicorns etc. And all for the same reason.

    But again, my purpose is only to make sure that we are not simply accepting anything based on shotty, close-mindedness. Let’s think! Isn’t this blog about being open-minded and well informed?

    Psalm 23 is a perfect example of what keeps people close-minded. So I think Thunderf00t did a great job by making people think about what it is they are chanting. For these people it is more than poetry, it is a substitute for reality.

  • MM8

    @Sven

    You are missing the whole point of what I am trying to say. You can believe whatever you want, I just hope that you are well informed of other people’s views before you attack them. The Psalm 23 verse is not sufficient to make the claims that are being made here. No Christian would have any trouble explaining what the shepherd metaphor means, and that it is simply a metaphor. No metaphor is completely airtight.

    But anyway, let’s criticize Christianity for its real problems. Not this. It’s just silly and close-minded to do so, and also not an essential argument. Let’s talk about real issues.

  • sven

    @MM8
    I understand your point. And living a life of metaphors is part of the problem of all religions.
    I think that comparing oneself to a sheep is a psycological trick to stay submissive. Christians can tell themselfs it is a metaphor, but deep down it will work in an NLP way.

  • Liam

    And this from the same team that brought us Isaiah 53:7:

    He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.