Apr 23, 2015

Good Shepherd Disasters

Good Shepherd Sunday. It comes around every year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. And it's full of sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. We hear the passage from John's gospel where Jesus proclaims, "I am the Good Shepherd." We read the familiar lines of the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd." We sing hymns with pastoral references like "Shepherd of Souls Refresh and Bless."

Preachers either love this day because of the powerful and comforting metaphors or, if they've been at  it for awhile, feel like they've already said everything they could ever possibly say about sheep. This year I stand somewhere in the middle -- thinking I really should have brought in a guest preacher from New Zealand.

Anyway, as I was thinking about the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd I remembered the tiny Good
Shepherd chapel at the Washington National Cathedral. I wanted to remind myself exactly what it looked like as I had a pretty powerful spiritual experience there the day before I was ordained a deacon.

What I learned was never, ever google images of the Good Shepherd. There are some horrendous examples of "art" out there which may well forever ruin this wonderful image for you. Think I'm joking? Fine. Take a look for yourself. Just remember, I warned you...

Thank you Franklin Mint. If your intention was to make Jesus look like
Mitchell from Modern Family but with long hair, you've succeeded. 
Jesus as Fabio. Next time add a breeze so he gets that sexy windblown look. 
You do know that this was just a metaphor, right? Jesus wasn't actually a shepherd.
He called disciples, not a flock.
Ah, the romance of holding a lamb by the light of the moon. Creepy. 
Jesus is about to wack you with a crowbar. Better wipe that goofy grin off your face, sheepy.
Hearts. Rainbows. It's like eating Lucky Charms!
Jesus as Chuck Norris? "Watch me use my flying roundhouse kick to turn this thing into a lamb chop."
"I use this crown of thorns as a scrunchie to keep the long flowing locks out of my face."
"You once were lost, but now you're found -- so hold still while I snap your neck."

Jesus as Faberge Egg meets Frankie Avalon as the teen angel 
singing "Beauty School Dropout" in Grease.

Disco Jesus busts a move. White man overbite optional.

"This sheep is like psychedelic, man."

Jesus channels his inner Angus Young from AC/DC. 
"Back in Black Sheep"





25 comments:

Nancy Williams said...

Did you notice the birdie cloud on the left side of the Fabio one? Wonder what that's about!

PreacherJean said...

I don't think it's a birdie. I think it's supposed to be a lion. Ooh, IMAGERY!

Ren Flagg said...

Looks like a chicken to me!

Anonymous said...

I see a Pommeranian with a lion cut.

Solange De Santis said...

My eyes hurt.

Rise said...

Silly. Holy Spirit birdie cloud.

John Deuel said...

My first reaction was "Aslan!"

Katrina said...

Excellent. You found some great images! Amazing how folks can take the wrong idea and run with it!

Sarah said...

The cloud was Mufasa. Honestly, does no-one remember "The Lion King"??

Jay Croft said...

In the seventh picture, why are the sheep vigorously farting on the GLBT symbol?

Jack H said...

Jesus kitsch

spiritualimplications said...

I never stop laughing at your commentary on weird Christian kitsch, Father Tim. Thank you for being willing to poke fun at the weird stuff even in the context of the search for the sacred.

(Also, the sheep in the scrunchie stained glass totally looks like he's judging you for not being as cool as he is to be carried by Jesus.)

Carye Williams said...

I'm the newsletter editor at Church of the Good Shepherd in Kansas City, MO. I've seen many an awful Good Shepherd picture while searching for graphics to fill an empty space, but these take the cake. Thanks for the laugh!

Mark D. said...

Best. Comment. Ever!

Mark D. said...

Best. Comment. Ever!

Anonymous said...

You are right, there are any number of good preachers ready to talk about sheep from New Zealand, but we nominate Fr Bosco Peters. Being from Canterbury, he will know alot about sheep and therefore shepherds. But heres the thing,none of our shepherds look like yours

Kristin Plausky said...

Doesn't the Fabio one look like Tom Brady?!

Anonymous said...

This ugly obnoxious stupid baloney. They are only human inadequate paintings,and efforts at expression. You would mock Christ!! You are truly evil! Look at some Pantocrator icons of Christ on website of st.Isaac of Syria siege, www.skete.com

Even most Islamic people do not mock Jesus!!!

Timothy Schenck said...

"Evil" or humorless -- it's a tossup.

Peoria Jean said...

If Anonymous thinks light-hearted criticism of religious art is the same as mocking Christ, Anonymous might wish to review the definition of idolatry.

Jim O said...

There were so many instances of seeing a violent Jesus where no such thing seemed evident that I wonder if the writer needs some form of counseling. Or maybe somebody just needs a hug!

;=)

.

Cynthia Hallas said...

Thanks, Tim. Came in handy this morning when the Adult Forum discussion of Psalm 23 started to go off track!

cafiend said...

Chuck Norris Shepherd could be saying "mess with this sheep and I'll rearrange your face."

Judy Avery said...

Oh Tim, I should know by now to do as you direct. You told me it was dangerous to google 'good shepherd', but I did it anyway. So many! I could spend the rest of the day....

Laura said...

Finally, someone who publicly shares my *facepalm* for ridiculous albeit well-intentioned religious art, with the Good Shepherd imagery as the epitome. I bet Jesus is saying to himself: "If I had only known the eyesores this metaphor would produce, I would have compared myself to a soccer team captain instead."