The flock

(It has been calculated that each copy of the Gutenberg Bible required the skins of 300 sheep).

I can see them,
squeezed into the holding pen
behind the stone building,
where the printing press is housed.
All of them squirming around to find a little room,
looking so much alike,
it would be nearly impossible to count them,
and there is no telling which one will carry the news
that the lord is a shepherd,
one of the few things they already know.

–Billy Collins, from The Trouble with Poetry (Random House, 2005; my transcription, with line breaks mostly guessed, from an interview on NPR)


To refer to peregrinating Celtic monks and fundamentalist lobbyists, Origen and Oral Roberts, the Desert Fathers and Tim La Haye, Jerry Falwell and Dante, St. Francis and the TV “prosperity gospel” hucksters, Lady Julian of Norwich and Tammy Faye Baker, or John of the Cross and George W. Bush all as Christian stretches the word so thin its meaning vanishes. The term “carbon-based life-form” is as informative.
–David James Duncan, “What Fundamentalists Need,” Orion Magazine, July/August 2005.