CommunityFDL Main Blog

A Political Parable On Serving Sheep and Goats in Restaurants

Once upon a time, there was a man of means, who wanted to celebrate a big accomplishment at work. He gathered a bunch of his friends and family, and took them all out to eat at a fancy local eatery. They had a wonderful time — so wonderful, that they were the last diners to leave. Once they were out the door, the restaurant staff broke out in cheers. The reason? On a bill of $1800, he left a tip of $1300. When asked about it by a local television station, the man was humble. According to the station, “he was uncomfortable with the attention he is getting because of the tip, and he just did it to help others like he has been helped.”

Later that week, in a much more humble restaurant in the same town, other diners went out to eat. The meal was good, the service was excellent, and when they left, they put this on the credit card slip:

Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Fags do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your fag choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May GOD have mercy on you.

When word of this got around town, more than a few people were outraged. Some went out of their way to make reservations at the restaurant, to offer their own tip and show support for the server. The restaurant chain issued their own statement of support, saying “We do not tolerate discrimination — from either our employees or our guests. We embrace diversity and believe in treating everyone with respect.”

Two guests, who could not be more different: One guest tipped generously to give thanks and offer help to others as he had been helped in the past.

Another guest refused to tip at all, despite the excellent service, because they disapproved of something personal they thought they perceived about the person serving them.

I know nothing about the politics of any of the folks in these two episodes, but I can’t help but see the attitudes of the Democratic and Republican parties illustrated most vividly in these two tippers. Broadly speaking, the Democrats believe in helping those who need help, and the Republicans believe in supporting only those who think like they do.

Kind of reminds me of another story told by an old storyteller, when he was confronted by the religious leaders of his day who were upset about the kind of people he hung out with . . .

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”

Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

For all the religiousity of certain parts of the Republican party, and all their waving around of scripture, they never seem to remember about the sheep and the goats. Maybe because that old storyteller told his story to folks much like them, to turn their holier-than-thou worldview upside down.

Sheep and goats, people. If you want to know about leading a life of love, if you want to know about how to deal with your neighbors, if you want to know about how to structure your society, remember the sheep and goats.

(And yes, I used to be a restaurant server, once upon a time, and served more than a few sheep and goats in my day. Why do you ask?)


h/t to Clevergrrl for the image of the sheep and goat, and used under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Attribution license

Previous post

The StopWatchingUs Rally: Live Streaming and Blog

Next post

Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South - Book Salon Preview, Knut Hosts



I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.