It derived from the blown and cratered gristle of Sinai, oral lore codified by relentless centuries of infant skin scraps, torn hair, and bloody stones yet, now, once, we upon a time saw a singular sheep, fresh sheared, in-penned, dulled by childish pats, ever beshepherded. once seen, but not since. and, told we are sheep for shepherds, sinly conscience obstinate, abstinent, stolen from Eden, so its use must be wrong, right from preying judas goats. O my God, to be a farmer like Cain, the sacrifice accepted as rot rather than holocaust, a season, then renewal, time more your style. O my God, I know you through my salt crusted forehead and dirty fingers, I know you through scum and dung and desperation. O my God, I feel you in gripped fists and blazing eyes. A thousand years of humble homilies a desert kindred upthrust and by now — forgotten the forked tongue. why should we be sheep when you made us men? we used to speak with the jawbones of the wild ass, long-haired nomads, singing in roughspun wool.
I’m basically using my rusty anthropological education and sundry other learning to express exasperation regarding the Christian emphasis that we are sheep and God shepherds us. That’s an easy metaphor used by a nomadic tribe of herders to explain their theology in terms they could understand. Since sheep are considered remarkably dumb and meek, it’s also a useful way for, say, a priestly hierarchy to enforce control and adherence for a few thousand years.
We can be God’s and be men as well. He’s not the God of sheep.