March 14, 2008

A couple years ago I was visiting a church and I suddenly had a realization, or maybe more of an observation.  I remember the service was over and we all just sat there…waiting for someone to tell us to leave.  Unfortunately the job of ending the service was poorly delegated and I remember sitting there for a pretty long time.  And I looked around myself and suddenly had this revelation, “we are sheep”.  Somehow when big groups of people get together they loose all decision making capabilities,  they become less like themselves and more like the “group” (whatever that may be).  They don’t think as much, and they kind of just…obey.  This is just as true in churches as it is at activist rallies I bet.

            Now I don’t want to be completely negative and judgmental, but something doesn’t sit right when I watch my friends and fellow church members do whatever is asked of them by someone with a microphone.  I watched this past Sunday as entire services stood and shouted “as one” while firmly pounding their fists in their palms.  I’m not saying this was wrong or anything, but it all felt a bit…mindless.  I personally wasn’t sold on what the speaker was saying, I didn’t understand what the gladiator scene had to do with anything, and I didn’t stand.  Now, maybe everyone in the audience completely resonated with what the speaker was saying and were happy to stand and follow his lead.  But I can’t help but think that most people were standing and shouting because they were told to.

            In the 1960’s a psychologist named Stanley Milgram tested our compulsion to obey.  He found that 65% of subjects would administer a fatal shock to another human being if asked to do so by a man in a lab coat.

            Here is all I’m saying: We need to test all things.  I’m skeptical to a fault, and I’m not saying people need to be more like me.  But if we are not willing to disobey how are we any different than those Nazi soldiers of the holocaust?  What separates us from Manson Family?  I know it’s extreme, but I don’t think it’s absurd.

            These are just some thoughts I’ve been rolling around.  Feel free to disagree with me.


8 Responses to “Sheep”

  1. Mike L. Says:

    I agree. Here is a video from a study proves your point….

  2. gbeddingfield Says:

    Baaa… Baaaaaaaa…. 🙂

    I used to be like that… but I decided to lighten up. (…not that there’s anything wrong with that.) So, I stood up (thinking, “this is silly”). And I did it. And after we did it, I thought, “wow, that sounded way cooler than I expected.” A few years ago I decided that some things are more enjoyable if you engage them (or “play along”) rather than stoically abstaining. Besides, it’s a far stretch between saying “as one” together and killing millions of Jews.

    But I totally get where you’re coming from. 🙂 I feel the same way whenever we greet each other on cue, or the preacher says, “Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘God loves you.'”

    As for the gladiator tie-in, yeah I don’t think I was quite clear on what he was saying, either.

    Thanks for the post, dude! I loved it!

  3. Melissa Says:

    This is Missy…why didn’t you tell me you have a blog? I love it!

  4. sph Says:

    all of a sudden I feel guilty for participating in the “wave” the last time I went to a ball game. 🙂

  5. janessica Says:


  6. gbeddingfield Says:

    While I still believe in lightening up, I’m starting to think that your instincts were right, Mike. That speaker is a strong agent in something called Dominion Theology. I’ve been grappling with it for a few days, and have started a discussion of it on my ‘bible’ blog.

  7. joelmw Says:

    One of my favorite scenes from a movie. “The Life of Brian” (script, courtesy IMDB):
    Brian: Please, please, please listen! I’ve got one or two things to say.
    The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!
    Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t NEED to follow ME, You don’t NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re ALL individuals!
    The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!
    Brian: You’re all different!
    The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
    Man in crowd: I’m not…

  8. Josh Says:

    “I know it’s extreme, but I don’t think it’s absurd..”

    loved that line..

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