The Good Shepherd

100 word stories. Post all you like, maybe we'll dip in and use yours?
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eric_marsh
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The Good Shepherd

Post by eric_marsh » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:31 pm

----------- Version 1:

Their pleading are constant. Grant me this, protect me from that, bless my crops, vanquish my enemy. It's almost as if they're the masters and I'm the servant.

Because it is my nature to be kind, I listen and sometimes I answer. They seem to think that I'm omnipotent. They are so very wrong on that account.

Ultimately their desires are of no consequence. I created them to meet my need for sustenance. I feel no malice. I do not wish them to suffer before meeting their inevitable fate.

It is my nature to be kind and so I listen.

----------- Version 2:

Their pleading are constant. Grant me this, protect me from that, bless my crops, vanquish my enemy. It's almost as if they're the masters and I'm the servant.

Because it is my nature to be kind, I listen and sometimes I answer. They seem to think that I'm omnipotent. They're so very wrong on that account.

Ultimately their desires are of no consequence. I created them to meet my need for sustenance. As flesh eats flesh, so spirit must consume spirits.

It is best that they never learn the horror of their inevitable fate. That knowledge always spoils the flavor.

----------- Version 3:

Their pleading are constant. Grant me this, protect me from that, bless my crops, vanquish my enemy. It's almost as if they're the masters and I'm the servant.

Because it is my nature to be kind, I listen and sometimes I answer. They seem to think that I'm omnipotent. They are so very wrong on that account.

Ultimately their desires are of no consequence. I created them to meet my need for sustenance. As flesh eats flesh, so spirit must consume spirits. I feel no malice towards them. I do not wish them to suffer before meeting their inevitable fate.
Life is a tragedy for those who feel, but a comedy to those who think. - Horace Walpole
Eric's Drabbles: http://eric-marsh.blogspot.com/"

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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by eric_marsh » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:13 pm

This story came to me when I walked outside to my shop. One of the ewes came out from the barn, making a terrible fuss. I don't know if she wanted me to make the rain stop or was unhappy because her pregnancy is coming to term. But of course my thought was, "I hear you and I feel for you but I'm afraid there's nothing that I can do." I think that was part of it, the other part was a line from the Temple Grandin HBO movie where she says that we raise cattle because we eat them but the least we can do is treat them with respect.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by Phenopath » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:42 pm

Baa, baaaa baa
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by Scattercat » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:03 pm

Ha! Nice. Man, what is it with this website and reminding me of "The Sultan of Meat" repeatedly?

I'd have liked a specific incident there at the end, though... I feel like the thesis was restated just one time too many.

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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by eric_marsh » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:05 pm

Yea, you might be right about the ending. I'll have to let it simmer for a while and see what bubbles up.

-----

While in the meat department at HEB groceries I got the idea for version two. It also looks like this tale took a bit of a Lovecraftian turn on me.

As an aside I just noticed that this is post #500 for me. I think the number of drabbles I've written and posted here is somewhere in the low seventies now. They are also on my drabbles blog.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:19 am

Phillip K. Dick was here.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by eric_marsh » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:23 am

I've not read that much of his stuff. Sounds like I need to.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:57 am

Whenever God shows up in Dick stories, it's usually like this, as an essentially selfish figure who exploits humans in some way (generally as a food source). Dick, it seems, could not wrap his mind around the idea of a simply loving God: That's illogical; God must be getting something out of the deal.

I especially remember one story where benevolent aliens find the frozen body of an astronaut and attempt to resurrect her. In order to provide her with a comforting environment, the aliens scan her mind and extract her ideas about the afterlife, then use them to make a heaven for her. But the aliens are confused by the Jesus thing: They find it ridiculous that God offers His flesh for His followers to eat. How illogical! The stronger always eat the weaker: That's only natural. They attribute this strange aspect of Jesus to neurological damage caused by the astronaut's freezing and so they "correct" the "error" and create a Jesus who eats people in a reverse Eucharist.

(Yes, Dick was addicted to several drugs.)
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by ROU Killing Time » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:34 am

That's true of the appearances of God in his earlier writings, Tweedy. In his later works, following the well documented "pink-light experience" God became a transcendentally rational and loving figure, striving to free mankind from what he called the "Black Iron Prison" illusionary world that had been foisted on us by the deceiver.

PKD, like the rest of us, underwent a journey of understanding. Sadly, his ended in 1982, far to early by my estimation.

I won't quibble about addiction versus habitual abuse. He certainly took many psychotropic drugs, by his own admission. I agree with his own assessment that "A Scanner Darkly" was his masterpiece, a novel that really does tell it like it is, and in no way glorifies the experiences of the drug culture of the 60's and 70's.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by eric_marsh » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:43 am

I'll think about trying to do a nice god story, but it will probably be a little more challenging to make edgy. :)
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by dreamrock » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:02 am

Agreed with ROU on PKD's progression.

PKD eventually ended up assuming an essentially gnostic view of cosmogony. A vast oversimplification of what I'm talking about would that the god portrayed by the OT (hereafter JHVH for my convenience, but not much in the way of accuracy) created what we perceive as the universe, but he was a flawed demiurge and that the true god decided to rescue JHVH's creation in some way that usually involves Jesus and Sophia (the personification of wisdom, often seen as the holy spirit, which in gnosticism is generally considered a feminine aspect of god) saving humanity by imparting knowledge of the kingdom of god rather than substitutionary sacrifice.*

PKD's view was ultimately a hopeful one and the book that he portrays this in most clearly (from my perspective anyway) is The Divine Invasion. It's one of my favorite PKD books.


*Gnosticism is way too frakking complex for me to explain it in a reasonable time frame, and gnostics have such widely varying beliefs that it probably wouldn't improve the accuracy of my above statements much if I were to try.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:10 am

I'm not a huge Dick fan *snort*, but it sounds to me like he essentially made up his own god, as opposed to changing his view of the being the monotheistic religions regard. D.Rock's statement above seems to confirm this: He didn't decide Jesus was just alright with him; he made up a new version of Jesus, one that suited his ideas. A pedantic distinction, perhaps.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by dreamrock » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:21 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:I'm not a huge Dick fan *snort*, but it sounds to me like he essentially made up his own god, as opposed to changing his view of the being the monotheistic religions regard. D.Rock's statement above seems to confirm this: He didn't decide Jesus was just alright with him; he made up a new version of Jesus, one that suited his ideas. A pedantic distinction, perhaps.
:lol: Well, he didn't quite invent it himself. He definitely had his own twist on it, but gnosticism is a lot older than PKD's pink light incident.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:33 am

Gnosticism isn't really so much a religion as a type of religion. "Gnosis" is simply Greek for "knowledge," and gnosticism, in principle, simply means that the religion in question purports to contain secret knowledge or knowledge that is generally unknown or unavailable. Unlike a religion like (for instance) Christianity, gnostics don't claim to simply believe something, they claim to know something. Hence gnostic. In the West, the term has generally referred to people who say they know who Jesus really is, as opposed to people who accept the conventional teachings of the mainstream church.

That's a broad umbrella and lots of diverse beliefs fall under it. I know Dick didn't invent gnosticism, but he did, I think, invent the particular flavor of it found in his later writing.

And, yeah, I'm kind of stepping out of my depth here, since I haven't really read up on gnosticism and I've only read a fraction of Dick's writing, so feel free to lay some smack down.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by dreamrock » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:06 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:Gnosticism isn't really so much a religion as a type of religion. "Gnosis" is simply Greek for "knowledge," and gnosticism, in principle, simply means that the religion in question purports to contain secret knowledge or knowledge that is generally unknown or unavailable. Unlike a religion like (for instance) Christianity, gnostics don't claim to simply believe something, they claim to know something. Hence gnostic. In the West, the term has generally referred to people who say they know who Jesus really is, as opposed to people who accept the conventional teachings of the mainstream church.

That's a broad umbrella and lots of diverse beliefs fall under it. I know Dick didn't invent gnosticism, but he did, I think, invent the particular flavor of it found in his later writing.

And, yeah, I'm kind of stepping out of my depth here, since I haven't really read up on gnosticism and I've only read a fraction of Dick's writing, so feel free to lay some smack down.
In that you could apply the central ideas of Gnosticism to any theistic faith, I'd agree that it's a type of religion. However, it's usually applied to people whose framework falls within a much altered framework resembling Christianity. In a sense, Gnostic Christianity could be considered the oldest sect of Christianity. Not the oldest contiguously extant sect, however, which I think is a title safe to give the Copts.

In fact, some of the epistles in the more standard canons (2 John, among others) were written to defeat one or more of the older forms of Gnosticism. One claiming that the physical world didn't matter so 'bodily' sin was irrelevant, and another claiming that the entire physical world was corrupt so we should deny ourselves all pleasures.

The 'knowledge' referred to in Gnosticism's name isn't information, but rather mystical revelation. In a sense, it's the difference between meeting Jesus while being aware that he's god (normal English knowledge), and having a Saul-On-The-Road-To-Damascus experience (gnosis). Except that for Gnostics, the Saul-On-The-Road experience is something I've never really been clear on the details for.

I've read what probably amounts to about a third of PKD's novels, including most of his more mystical ones. And, for a not-Gnostic, I'm fairly well read on Gnosticism. I don't think PKD changes a lot of many important details on gnosticism.

As an aside, I've always been something between amused and annoyed at all the pastors I've encountered who rail against it from the pulpit, since actual Gnostics are rather rare. Seems like a freebie or a cheap shot. Like preaching against people who paste duck feathers to their big toes while singing the national anthem in reverse. :lol:
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by strawman » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:22 am

If the distinguishing feature is secret knowledge from private revelation, do you distinguish between gnostics and Mormons or JW's?
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by dreamrock » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:39 am

strawman wrote:If the distinguishing feature is secret knowledge from private revelation, do you distinguish between gnostics and Mormons or JW's?
I personally do, but I'm not remotely an expert on Mormonism or JWs.

From my very limited knowledge of Mormonism, the important revelation in Mormonism is the one that Mr. Smith got and aside from being a somewhat annoying revelation, it's fairly conventional in its consequences. For JWs, I've got no idea. My only exposure to JWs was a very brief eschatological argument with one on IRC.

As a general note, while I'm a severe religion geek, a lot of my information is outdated and/or poorly remembered (including on Gnosticism) so if you're interested, definitely check out better sources for more accurate info. Even if you have a very well-defined set of beliefs, I'd start any research on Wikipedia (making sure that the page you're looking at hasn't been vandalized lately). While the Catholics, for instance, have an incredibly complete set of resources online describing various heresies, etc. it's hard to get a "from one particular religious perspective" paradigm to be objective.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by ROU Killing Time » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:11 am

What did I say about Mr.Marsh being expert at writing drabbles that generate long and thought-provoking threads?

ROUstradamas strikes again.

And yes, dreamrock. You are a religion geek. :)

Strawman, was Thomas a gnostic?
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by strawman » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:06 pm

I doubt it.
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Re: The Good Shepherd

Post by eric_marsh » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:32 pm

Having read the discussions here I think I'll toss out the idea that while we take it on faith that we are not god snackies we really don't know, anymore than the animals on my ranch know their fate. Our culure takes an optimistic attitude about such things yet we may just be whistling in the dark. Other cultures have taken much darker views.

This is not to say that one idea is right and another is wrong. They are just ideas. Of course religion is a touchy subject and so I don't like to tread too heavily but on the other hand I don't have many sacred cows.

As for my drabbles creating long drawn out discussions, some do, some don't. My "Norm Sherman" drabble only elicited two responses. Looking at the list of drabbles in this forum I'm thinking that overall the responses to mine are probably somewhere around the average. But on the other hand, to me a lot of the fun of writing these things is a creative thing of trying to come up with new, or at least new to me, ideas and stories which should stimulate conversation. Sometimes I succeed. In one case I was almost accused of plagiarism.

So do you guys like version 1 or version 2 better, or should I twist it in an entirely different direction?
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