Friday, September 25, 2009

Evangelical Retrievers

Evangelicals are the Golden Retrievers of Christendom. That’s making it a bit too easy-going, so I have tried on German Shepherds, Boxers, and a dozen other breeds to represent us, but I keep coming back to the retrievers. The analogy of a mixed breed with a lot of retriever in it might work, because we evangelicals often do bring in elements from all around the rest of the Christian world – and perhaps if you want to capture that dark side you could imagine that the mix-in breeds are from the more difficult lines.

Goldens aren’t stupid dogs but sometimes they look it. They are friendly – usually too friendly and trying to engage with you when you’d rather be doing something else. Fundamentalists are more like those little yippy dogs that are irritable. One doesn’t think of them first when one thinks of dangerous dogs, but when you encounter one that is angry, you suddenly remember they have sharp teeth and are not easily calmed. Plus, if you live with small dogs you are reminded that they bark a lot over very little.

Retrievers think of themselves as entirely innocent, not having any of the problems of other dogs at all. C’mon, don’t you want to play? Don’t you want to pet me? Don’t you want to throw me a stick? Let’s do things my way, you’ll love it. Why are you so mad at me? And they never quit. Okay, I admit it. I did chase squirrels. And a cat. I had forgotten that. Yes, it was me who took food off the table when you weren’t looking. And chewed the chair leg. Are you done yelling at me now? Why do you keep saying I’m a bad dog? I’m not a bad dog, I’m a wonderful dog.

When you grasp this, you will grasp why Evangelicals are puzzled by everyone’s reaction to them. We don’t chase squirrels. Well, okay, we do, but not so many. And we don’t bark except to protect the house. And to say hi. Was I barking just now? No, I wasn’t really. I’m just happy you’re here. Evangelicals think the world would be better if everyone was like them.

9 comments:

lelia said...

And the world would be a better place.

Retriever said...

Well, you know I love retrievers AND evangelicals already, AVI! I think you left out the part about the unconditional love of the undeserving and the deserving alike! The cheerful comfort in dreadful times, the happy welcome of someone who has been gone WAY too long.

I used to bring my golden into my Sunday School and tell them that he was a pretty good clue as to how God can work in our lives: loves everybody, may upset some things, faithful, will never leave us, etc. But doesn't steal food....

mr tall said...

Splendid analogy, and I agree entirely.

I'm Reformed, and I think we resemble German Shepherds: more serious, occasionally a bit aloof, fiercely committed to our own, perhaps more concerned with the rules and the 'being smart about it' side of fetching those theological sticks.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, and Shepherds can be trained to be dangerous and even mean, but it's because of their intelligence. They can be the best of family dogs, even though that is not their reputation.

lelia said...

I think I should have explained my first response better. I wrote it knowing: 1. Will never happen. Ever. and 2. The world would still be filled with people.
People are stupid. Stupid people do stupid things.

But I have seen nations where pretty much everybody was the same, and of course mixed societies. And generally nations with homogeneous people have less friction of the violent sort.

Wyman said...

So what's the ideal Christian dog, then?

Or rather, what would kind of dog would you aspire to be as a Christian?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, dachshunds are right out.

Retriever said...

NOT Jack Russells (bark and nip too much, tho I admire their feistiness). Possibly standard poodles as, tho intelligent, they are loving and also goofy looking, so they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. Retrievers are still my fave, because we make big commitments for love first and they are all about love. A mutt? because Xians belong to everyone and noone?

terri said...

"Or rather, what would kind of dog would you aspire to be as a Christian?"

Well...obviously an adorable mixed-breed mutt rescued from certain death at the animal shelter.