01 October 2007

The Dark Side of Obedience

I made a note during some meeting a while back about an analogy someone drew regarding obedience. They used a story of a free-spirited dog who disregarded its master's counsel as it ran out into the street to chase what it wanted and was struck by a car and killed. This was supposed to serve as a none-too-subtle lesson on the hazards of living life my own way and not responding unquestioningly to the commands of the Lord...or rather, the commands given by those who are supposed to be his messengers (including, or especially in this case, local church leaders). As I understood it, being plastered by a car was meant to signify spiritual destruction.

Immediately, another canine analogy came to my mind from an artist whose music I thoroughly enjoy: Beady Belle. This analogy had not sat well with me when I first heard it in her song, "Drawback". I thought it sounded a bit too subversive and dangerously unyielding in attitude, as I had just returned from my mission, where I was notorious for being a 100% obedience missionary. The lyrics are as follows:

When somebody tied my poor dog up
I found that I was totally stuck

I trained him not to let out a yelp
That's why he didn't get any help

Nobody came to help in October
Nobody came to help in November
My dog was praiseworthy, quiet and sober
So nobody came to help in December

So he laid down now on the doorstep and died
And I'm still sitting here all tied up inside

That's the dark side of obedience
That's the dark side of obedience

Now I believe the truth is found somewhere between these two analogies. Not just regarding religious principles or the "mormon experience", but for life in general. I'm not sure I favor one over the other. They're both true, yet they're both incomplete, and my mind jumped into gear with thoughts and questions sparked when the two were suddenly juxtaposed.

Isn't it interesting how we oversimplify life to draw analogies that fit our own perspective? In many cases, I think life is, indeed, simpler than we care to make it out to be. In other cases, I think we oversimplify to defend our own narrow perspectives, especially when trying to force everyone into the same tunnel vision.

Don't get me wrong, simple analogies can have their place, but there's most often simply more to it.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

I agree with what you've said here. I don't know whether or not you've seen this, but -L- wrote another dog analogy that I love. I've even used it in my seminary class (edited for language, of course). You can find it here: http://ardentmormon.blogspot.com/2006/07/off-leash.html