Call no-one pastor?


The last few weeks I was working on an assay about whether or not the metaphor of shepherd is helpful in pastoral care. (I wrote some more about this here.) I was really interested in some stuff I read from Alistair Campbell in his book Rediscovering Pastoral Care. Campbell says he agrees with other critics of shepherd symbolism, saying that it comes across as paternalistic. He still thinks that the shepherd metaphor describes the pastor
as a leader, but he doesn’t think should be understood as an authoritarian leader. He thinks it is more appropriate to associate the shepherd with
courage. In ancient Palestine shepherds needed to move flocks over
large arid areas in order to find good pasture. Safe places to rest
had to be found on the way. In
valleys there might be lions or thieves lying in wait. This
is how we should understand the context of Psalm 23, where
YHWH is described as a shepherd leading a flock of sheep to safe
places of nourishment. 

aspects of shepherding presented by Campbell lead me to wonder. We
aren’t actually sheep. I think that often we are used to treating
parables like the shepherding parables as tight allegories where
every detail corresponds to a detail in real life. We
aren’t actually sheep, we’re people. If the shepherd symbolism is
saying that a person can can help others to navigate the landscape,
avoiding and protecting from dangerous situations and directing
towards places of safety and nourishment, why can’t another person
also learn to do that? My hunch is that we can all behave like
shepherds in the sense that we can all help each other out by sharing
this kind of knowledge with each other.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s