In The Wee Free Men, the village has a tradition of burying a shepherd with a piece of wool on his shroud, so that the recording angel will excuse him all those times during lambing when he failed to attend church — because a good shepherd should know that the sheep come first. I didn’t make that up. They used to do that in a village two miles from where I live. What I particularly liked about it was the implicit loyalist arrangement with God. Americans, I think, sometimes get puzzled by people in Ireland who call themselves loyalists yet would apparently up arms against the forces of the crown. But a loyalist arrangement is a dynamic accord. It doesn’t mean we will be blindly loyal to you. It means we will be loyal to you if you are loyal to us. If you act the way we think a king should act, you can be our king. And it seemed to me that these humble people of the village, putting their little piece of wool on the shroud, were saying, “If you are the God we think you are, you will understand. And if you are not the God we think you are, to Hell with you.” So much of Discworld has come from odd serendipitous discoveries like that.
Terry Pratchett, “Straight from the Heart, via the Groin” (collected in A Slip of the Keyboard)
Japanese Christian woodblock artist Sadao Watanabe made several prints of the Good Shepherd. This one is beautifully simple and typical of his hand-made cards.
Notice how Watanabe’s Shepherd resembles traditional iconographic images, where the focus is more on the Shepherd’s action, and less on his personality. Along with the blank intensity of the eyes, the most strongly communicative aspect of the Jesus figure is his hands, and not his facial expression. Watanabe focuses on what the Good Shepherd does; and what the Good Shepherd does is devote himself to the sheep.
[After watching the Good Shepherd. I had this crazy idea that Harren and Janeway would form an understanding and sleep together occasionally but never tell a soul. As two lonely souls (she because of her rank and he out of choice), they would understand the need to be physically close to someone occasionally, in this case with no strings attached. I almost wrote a fic about it. I never did.]