GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

And the bleat goes on

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Sheeple, Churchianity, herd mentality — churchgoing Christians often get accused of being meek, bland and mindless. But instead of rebuking or repeating the snark, Sheep Comics turns it into satire.

The strip starts with Lionel, a youngish sheep who feels disaffected when his church doesn’t match what he reads in the Bible. When the pastor rebukes Lionel for questioning him — and even threatens to excommunicate him — Lionel concludes the church is designed to control access to the Great Shepherd.

Sheep Comics has gone on for 87 episodes like that, ever since it premiered in 1999. Various episodes skewer tithing, guilt, coercion, prayer meetings, denominational rivalries, theological quarrels, trite praise and worship music, “responsive bleatings,” even Thomas Kinkade’s “inspirational” paintings.

It’s a clever, subversive idea to take a common criticism of Christians and make it the theme of a comic strip. But the site’s unnamed Web Shepherd often blunts the effect with long “editorials” after the cartoons — 4,788 words in the very first installment. How ironic that some of his strips rant against boring sermons.

Still, so little cartoon satire is even attempted in religious circles, it’s worth your time to look through Sheep Comics. After all, to err is human; to forgive is ovine. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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Written by Jim Davis

March 6, 2009 at 3:44 am

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