Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Good Shepherd

Abel, brother of Cain, is the first reference to a shepherd in the Bible. He is an innocent who is slain by his brother who was motivated by envy. He is one of the first precursor of Christ*.

A ram is substituted by Abram at the last moment (as directed by God's angel) and sacrificed in Isaac's place (Genesis Chapter 22)

David was a shepherd out with the flock when Samuel came to anoint the future king of Israel. At that time, lions, leopards, wolves, bears and human thieves roamed the Holy Lands and considered unattended sheep to be fine table-fare. David had a sling, a few rocks and a six-foot long stick with a sharpened bit of iron or bronze on the end of it to defend the flock. Contrary to Hallmark Card images, shepherds were certifiable bad-azzes you did NOT want to mess with. (1 Samuel Chapter 16)

David wrote the 23 Psalm, one of the most iconic bits of prose in the Bible. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..."

Jesus in John, Chapter 10 says "I am the good shepherd..." and he uses the image of the shepherd laying down his life to protect His sheep while the hired man (who only cares about his daily wage) runs away. His immediate audience were all devout Jews who would instantly thread-all-the-beads listed above.


I think Marx had it exactly backwards.

Ownership of property is fundamental to morality as we know it in the modern world.

The Japanese are horrified by "waste". It is inculcated within them from a very young age. Their culture evolved on a rock with very, very little arable land and few mineral resources. Within that hot-house environment, there was a very short line of evidence connecting waste or misuse of a resource and a family member's baby starving or freezing to death.

A hired man breaks a tool-handle because he sees that he will get to sit down for thirty minute. A small-holder gently uses the tool because he sees that he will lose a half-day of productivity as his efforts are diverted into fixing the tool. He will lose a half-day during prime planting season or a half-day during harvest.

Some crops are exquisitely sensitive to harvest timing. Soft fruits like ripe grapes split and rot if not harvested at their prime or if the picker does not beat a rain storm. Small grains like barley, wheat and rye are very sensitive to wind-gusts and hail.

Other crops are sensitive to planting time. The ground must be warm and dry so it can be worked and walked upon, but it must still be moist enough that seed that is scattered will germinate and grow quickly enough such that the birds don't eat it all.

In both cases, the farmer is in a fast-tempo dance (tango?) with the weather.

Wanton waste and destruction entertains the evil men because they feel joy in the misfortunes of those who have more than they do.

And these are the same evil men and women who tell us that we will have nothing and we will like it. Misery takes comfort in having company, I guess.

But mark these words: Destruction of ownership removes a foundation to moral behaviors and loss of infrastructure (both cultural and material) will have long-lasting and devastating consequences.

*Jesus has been called "the new Adam" by some theologians. Adam lost it. Jesus yanked off the grating and jumped down into the storm sewer to get it back. But that has nothing to do with the "shepherd" metaphor.


  1. You are a very thoughtful man . The time spent considering your writing is certainly not wasted . Thanks , and please keep at it .

  2. They do not understand that property ownership, family are what keep people from the "pitch fork and torches" world tour.

  3. Not to pile on but I agree with Senor Grandpa.

  4. Joe, I ran across your blog a few years back. At that time, I wasn’t totally enamored by your style (although I earmarked an article called “What’s a Christian” in 2017 that I have referred to numerous times). I don’t know if I’m getting smarter or your writing is getting better, but for about the past year, yours is a site I look forward to reading every day. Love Cove.
    Idaho Bob

    1. As improbable as it seems. I might be gaining a little bit of maturity. Finally!

      About once a week I write a post and it just isn't quite right. It is strident or not harmonious. Earlier, I would have published it anyway. Now I sit on it. Maybe rewrite it. Often I delete it.

      I know a celebrity named "Bob" who lives in Idaho. He has a fabulous collection of super-hardy and high quality apricots, plums, pears and other fruit varieties that can be grown in Minnesota, Anchorage...even Fairbanks.

      Is that you?

    2. Nope, far from a celebrity. Just an old Oregon farm boy who spent 23 years in the Air Force and now retired in rural Idaho growing a little garden and mowing a couple acres of lawn. Wish the original owner had planted some high quality fruit trees instead of ornamentals.
      Idaho Bob

    3. Give Bob a call: https://purvisnurseryandorchard.weebly.com/contact.html

    4. Right down the road, will do. Thanks

  5. I see it here on our farm. If one doesn't have to pay the bills the bills don't matter. The youth are absolutely disconnected from working 'by the sweat of their brow' and the concept of delayed gratification.

  6. 3 seconds look at "free" section 8 housing is a burning example of what happens when you don't have to work for your existence.

  7. There is also a lot to learn about the ancient mindset about the blood of a sacrificial lamb to be found in Homer. For instance, page through lesson 3 of this site: https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/lessons/lesson3.asp

  8. "it must still be moist enough that seed that is scattered will germinate and grow quickly enough..."
    Awkward phrasing - solution is to move the adjective in front of the noun and dump will: it must still be moist enough that scattered seed germinates and grows quickly enough...
    Yes, I teach writing. Love your fiction ERJ.


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