Friday, February 27, 2004

The shepherd is a warrior

"But David said to Saul, 'Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear.'" I Sam 17:34-35
When did our models for the ordained shepherd become so far removed from David's example? When did shepherding become so romanticized and defanged? My required pastoral ministry coursework in div school, though good on many levels, restricted our pastoral vision to ideals of self-fulfillment, self-realization, self-actualization, self-empowerment, self-esteem, self-expression, self-recovery--get the pattern? A masturbatorial spirituality does not make warriors of Christ's love willing to lay down their own lives for the flock. Maybe the hyper-militarism infecting conservative Christians in this country is an overreaction to the vacuum created when we abandon all pugilisitic virtues in our spiritual culture, when the study and practice of Christian virtue gets relegated to history courses cordoned off from ministry. St. Ignatius of Loyola (and Pamplona!), pray for us.