Squawk Flap Thud

I finished ‘Untamed‘ this morning, a fantastic book on missional discipleship by Alan & Deb Hirsch. Having been around these guys for so long and knowing them well, many of the stories and ideas were familiar, but I still found the book itself is an inspiring and challenging read. When do we ever stop needing to be challenged in our discipleship?!

Particularly potent was the final ‘afterword’ where the Hirsch’s cite Kierkegaarde’s ‘Geese Parable’, a version of which I have found online here

Sorenn Kierkegaard, the famous Danish Christian philosopher, grew up in the countryside surrounded by farms that reared geese (among other animals). Each spring he would watch as a new gaggle of goslings was hatched and began to be fattened for the table. Over the course of their short lives these geese would gorge themselves at constantly refilled troughs of grain until they were so fat they could hardly walk. He imagined that they believed their lives to be perfect, as every need they had was catered in abundance.

When autumn came, the truth became apparent. The wild geese that had spent the warm summer months in Denmark would gather in preparation for their southerly migration. As they assembled to fly south they would circle in the skies above the farms, calling out to any stragglers to join in their flight. At this point the farmed geese would lift their heads from the feeding troughs and look into the skies, heeding the call of their wild cousins. For the first time in their lives they would become animated, running as best they could around their enclosures and attempting to fly. Of course, their gluttonous diet and life of luxury meant that they were far too fat to get airborne – but still they would try. And then, as quickly as the commotion had started, the wild geese would fly off and the fattened farm geese would watch them briefly before returning to their grain to continue eating their way to their deaths.

The Hirsch’s add that the parable goes on to tell of a wild goose who looked with dismay at his domesticated cousins and decided to go and spend time with them in order to help them awaken to their true calling as geese and join the others in wild flight. Sadly he lived there till he was tamed also. Every year he would see his old friends fly overhead, strengthen his resolve to fly again, but then lapse back into the comfort of the feeding trough. Kierkegaarde’s point is that when a wild goose is tamed, seldom does it become wild again.

In light of what I shared in the previous post, this parable is a warning that when we lose our passion for the life of authentic discipleship, chances are we will be so conformed to comforts of our new context that we might never ‘fly again’

Untamed is a very easy read, yet its got some real horsepower in its concepts and stories, so if you would like to be inspired afresh to a life of ‘wild geese’ discipleship then I’d recommend it.

6 thoughts on “Squawk Flap Thud

  1. Interesting analogy but as always with analogies I fear the flaws. Does Kierkegaarde mention the fact that in the wild life is often nasty, brutish and short with your goslings eaten by cats and foxes and your mate shot by hunters?

    Not saying that the domesicated geese have it great either – but the grass isn’t always that green on the wild side.

  2. Hamo, I have so missed these thought provoking posts. Due to a number of factors, I haven’t been able to read your blogs for a while. Now, after 8 months w/o a job, I’m working as an office manager at a church. After 18 years of youth ministry, endeavoring to reach out to at-risk, broken and hurting teens (and choosing to leave my last church, in part, because they weren’t as keen on that idea as I think they should have been), now I’m an office manager… and I’m really thinking about the same types of things you’ve mentioned in the last two posts. I’m seeking God, and saying, “I don’t want to become comfortable in my little. I want to not only passionately love God, but also continue to pursue relationship with hurting, broken people.” This is especially true as I’ve run into former students who continue to be broken and hurting, but now they’re struggling as adults. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction and encouraging me to head that way.

  3. “Does Kierkegaarde mention the fact that in the wild life is often nasty, brutish and short with your goslings eaten by cats and foxes and your mate shot by hunters?”

    My flesh wants to avoid these things (in their analogous ways), yet, in my heart, I’d rather pursue a “wild goose” life, with all it’s risks to life and limb and family… and I’d rather teach my boys the same, even as I also want to keep them safe. It’s a battle, no doubt – comfort vs. risk – but I truly want to pursue the “wild goose” life, even when I have to fight myself and my culture to figure out what that looks like at 40, and then do it. Grendel, you always make me think, too. Thanks.

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