Illustration: The Songbird and the Crow

In the battle of good over evil in men’s hearts and minds, fundamentalists believe that evil will triumph every single time it is encountered for more than a fleeting instant. Consider this story…

A man had two bird cages. In the one lived a melodious songbird. In the other an ugly, squawking (and notably black) crow. Influenced by some abominable whim this man decided to set the cages close to one another in order that the crow might learn to sing like the songbird. But alas after many weeks the man discovered to his consternation, horror and dismay that in fact the songbird was now squawking like the crow.

The moral of the story is that if you’re around evildoers, whore-mongers, and bearded men with wire rimmed glasses on a chain that you will inevitably grow to be like them instead of the other way around. Holiness is such a weak and wretched thing that it’s only defense is to hide itself in a hole until the end of the world and never see the light of day. Amen.

31 thoughts on “Illustration: The Songbird and the Crow”

  1. Which is exactly why Jesus never hung out with evildoers, whore-mongers, and bearded men.

  2. It must be that they realized that the white dog/black dog illustration can be overused. So, they came up with another almost identical one to freshen things up. Though I must confess, I never heard the songbird and crow illustration during my time in fundie churches.

  3. A book that I would suggest that deals with this issue is George Marsden’s, “Fundamentalism and American Culture”. You’ll see the examination of the holiness and separation issue develop from a fundamentalist point of view. A lot of what passes for “holiness” today is just window dressing – it looks good on the outside but please don’t dare look at the inside. If Jesus and the disciples thought they would be corrupted by being with certain individuals (sinners), we would have never heard the Gospel.

  4. Greatly appreciate your calling a spade a spade. Racism has no place in church, and just cause you try to disguise it with birds & dogs, we all know when you are preaching being black is a sin in & of itself.

  5. This illustration is true because it happened to Jesus! He went with the wrong crowd, ate with them, empathized with their problems, and then was pulled into their system of subverting authority when he dared to question “God’s anointed,” If he really wanted God’s blessing for his life he would have lived by the Biblical principles that are so ably taught by Gothardees today. If he had simply followed “biblical” principles and put himself under the authority of God’s chain of command then he wouldn’t have had to die.

    (End of sarcasm)

  6. Could it be that there might be valid ways of being other than that which fundies espouse?

    Better not tell them that.

  7. :-O

    Did this one come before the white-dog-black-dog one? Because it’s got a 19th-century tone to it. The dog one is more early 20th-century.

    Interesting. . . .

  8. Yea, interesting.

    This one’s a little different from white dog/black dog, though. The dog illustration is flesh vs. spirit. This bird one is more… Christian vs. “the world.”

    But still the same flawed logic.

  9. Why yes, of course it was the influence of the world that has made me lose most of the faith I used to have.

    Oh wait, it wasn’t. It was actually the lies told by pastors that went unchallenged by parishioners that did that. It was also the way I’ve seen the church treat people, and the fact that many of the most die-hard Christians have lives that are more of a train wreck (due to their own poor decision making and emotional immaturity) than most of the non-Christians I know.

  10. I find it incredibly frustrating when Politicians play to these fundies/racists, and don’t even dres it up w/ black/white birds or dogs, or try to lament “prayer in school” when they are really lamenting civil rights. At least Newt’s being honest, when he says civil rights justice should be tempered or halted based on whether “society is ready for change”.

  11. How did we get off on to politics?
    Darrell is right on this, I have actually heard preachers and SS teachers get up and preach about how we have to watch who we associate with because we will become contaminated if we are around sinners. I wanted to say then “Why do we come to ‘church’?” The brick and mortar is full of sinners, and I’m one of them. It is such an elitist attitude. “We the followers of the King James Bible are the keepers of the Holy Grail and We, and We alone have the truth. Beware straying into the World for you will be come contaminated with ideas that are contrary to ours then you will fall from grace and become a sinner. Beware! Beware!”

  12. @Don: “How did we get off on to politics?” I was kinda wondering the same thing, but to quote ol’ Bill Shakespeare, “or my part, I care not; I say little, but when time shall serve there shall be smiles.”

  13. I always heard this as the “basket of apples” short illustration: “When you surround a rotten apple with a bunch of good apples, does the bad apple become good? No! All the other apples turn rotten!” So we see then that not only is holiness only able to stand in a vacuum, but also even a group of holiness will be undercut by one spot of evil. Or, you know, oxidization. Whichever happens first.

    Oxidization: the true scourge of holiness.

  14. A couple of churches I’ve attended in the past had what they called “bus church” specifically for the kids brought in on the many bus routes that went into neighboring counties and in one case a neighboring state. We supposedly cared enough to bring them to church but they might corrupt our children when worshipping with them. The attitude makes me sick but since my dad was heavily involved in bus ministry I always went to bus church in a “help” capacity.

    Now that my dad and I disagree on lots of Theology and I’ve switched denominations he may be regretting it. That is one really good thing I can say about my harsh legalistic upbringing. My dad was a bus kid when he was growing up and so he absolutely loved every single one of those kids and I saw it week after week and it taught me to love them too.

  15. I used to ride the bus with my Dad too. We didn’t have separate services or sunday schools, though. There are all kinds of stories about the bus fleet that still get told.

    One thing I don’t understand in this post: I noticed there is a mention of wire-rimmed glasses. I thought I remember hearing something about that growing up, and many evangelists that still had plastic frames for their glasses. What was so wrong in those days about wire rims? I never did understand what the problem was.

  16. Sorry about the political stuff, anti-civil rights stuff angers me in any forum, political or disguised as “prayer in school” laments.

  17. If I remember correctly, BJU had this illustration in one of their old “Green Readers”.

  18. I’m starting to think the whole fundamentalist culture is fueled by a sustained panic that God isn’t truly going to hold up his end of the deal… that maybe the Father doesn’t love us, Christ hasn’t justified us, and the Holy Spirit will not sanctify us after all.

    “Get to work, everyone! We’ve got to meet Him at least halfway!”

  19. Was Jesus a friend of sinners? Or did the Pharisees just say so?

    (Matt 11:19) The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

    He wasn’t gluttonous or a winebibber either.

    Remeber textual context my brehtren and sistern

    1. He was more a friend of sinners than of the “righteous” men of his day.

      “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

      Praise God that I am sick and a sinner, and the Lord made Himself my friend!

    2. He certainly welcomed the woman who washed His feet while the Pharisee said, “If he knew who was touching him, he wouldn’t let her.” He went to Zacchaeus’ house and ate with him. The Pharisees probably did intend calling Him a friend of sinners as an insult and as a reason to discredit Jesus’ teaching because He did not hold Himself aloof from sinners. Instead He spent time with sinners, talked with them, interacted with them, cared about them, and certainly told them about God and told them to go and sin no more. If by “friend” one means someone who tolerates everything you do and never criticizes you, of courses Jesus wasn’t that! But if by “friend” you mean someone who cared and loved and helped and took time to be with, Jesus did do that!

    3. Yes, Jesus was a friend of sinners. Not of sin, but of sinners. As is so often the case, most of the “holy” people of his day rejected him, and it was the hurting people who sought him out.

      1. Define what you mean by friend before we go any further. In your words what does it mean to be a friend?

  20. Since we’ve already covered the gaping logical and theological flaws in this little illustration, it might be fun to look at the science as well.

    Crows and ravens are actually excellent mimics, rivaling parrots and mockingbirds with their range and accuracy. Here is a crow mimicking a mourning dove (you’ll have to turn the volume up):

    And for all of you who might be Poe fans, first of all stop, you shouldn’t be reading about bizarre murders to begin with. Second, check out this clip:

    1. “And for all of you who might be Poe fans, first of all stop, you shouldn’t be reading about bizarre murders to begin with”
      Ooh, it’s hard to explain to more fundamentalist relations why I’m currently studying Criminology: ‘why would you want to learn about something like that?’

Comments are closed.