‘Dogs have compassed me’.
Two years of being harassed and herded like sheep or cattle, it is hard to take. We have all been told when we can go or stay, where, for what reasons and how. It is a difficult pill to swallow for the independent thinker.
We live in fear of whether our behaviour and mannerisms will be acceptable to even the closest amongst us. Am I too close? Can I touch? What will onlookers think? I have never seen so much avoided eye contact in public in all my life. If your own kin are a danger what can be said for the stranger?
The majority have succumbed to their intimidation and humiliation. Our past freedoms snuffed out; we are bound in a cult. Our lives now consist of little rituals in the hopes of expiation. Will the priest class approve of our obedience and offering? Will we cross the river to the other side?
We have become accustomed to practising our little sins in secret, the result of all overbearing and burdensome religion. There are those we hug and dance and drink with and then those in whose presence we social distance and sanitize for. Our public and private personas have split. The results of our novel cult.The culmination of being surrounded by dogs. (Psalm 22:16)
I watched a good movie over the Christmas holidays called The Power of The Dog. To capture the brilliant subtleties within the film one must pay attention to the theme of Psalm 22:20: ‘Deliver my soul from the sword; My darling from the power of the dog.’
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Phil, a wealthy cattle rancher along with his brother George. Phil is the absorbing and charismatic lead in the family and the film. He exudes power and authority. His brother and parents are intimidated by him, his workers aspire to be like him, strangers are fascinated by him, and the weak fear him. He is the undisputed and unelected King and priest of the ranch. All must wait upon him, yet he waits for no man.
When brother George meets and subsequently marries young widow and innkeeper Rose after a cattle drive, he then brings her and her effeminate son Peter to come live on the ranch. Phil does all he can to eliminate what he perceives as a new weakness in the security of his house.
Rose is too fragile to deal with Phil and spirals into alcoholism and despair, almost killing herself under the intimidation and harassment she endures. Her effeminate son, though by all appearances is weak, turns out to be the strongest of all, the one who overcomes the power of the dog.
There is a small, seemingly insignificant scene in the film where while being mocked and laughed at by the cattle hands, Peter pets and plays with the ranch’s cattle dog. The dog liked the new kid on the block. When Phil sees that the dog is giving too much attention to someone other than himself for a moment, he whistles the dog away.
Like all high priests, Phil is obsessed with ritual and cleanliness. He never touches a dead animal so as not to spread anthrax to his stock. Like many high priests, Phil also has his own dirty little secret. It proves to be his undoing. He too, haunted by the power of the Dog.
His own personality and the cult he built on the ranch, is founded on the godlike cult-status of his deceased best friend Bronco Henry.
The veil of Phil’s shrine is eventually torn by him deemed the weakest amongst men and the dog is finally tamed. The finality of death brings sweet relief to the family.
Cult of power
With the pandemic we are experiencing, the world’s leaders are clinging desperately to their cult of power. They have secrets, no doubt. We are compassed about by dogs. Suicide and depression have skyrocketed. The weak are a fearful quivering mess afraid to get out of bed. The wicked have enclosed us. Our hands and feet are pierced.
Think about how your life has been affected by the power of the Dog. Sometimes it can be our own family or friend, it may have been a pastor of a church or a cult we are born into. It may be a secret sin. The Dog is that voice inside our head that affects everything we do or say. It brings us shame, fear and condemnation. It breaks the wild horses and herds the sheep and cattle.
I know what it is like to be filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to do the Father’s will, only to be surrounded and have your hands and feet nailed by the local church. If the undisputed leader doesn’t give permission then who are you to think or do, even if it is a good thing.
The good news is that the weak are strong and the strong are weak. Every dog has its day. Those who pierce us do not know the grave cannot contain us. The Son will rise with healing in his wings.
‘Deliver my Soul from the sword; my Darling from the power of the dog.’
It is time.
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing. He has also written a book, now available for purchase on Amazon called: “Your Father sees: Living the sermon on the mount”.Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html