Joshua and the Shepherd Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1717 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

¶ … released under the title "Joshua and the Shepherd." The report will contain a summary of the main points, and how the novel relates to traditional Catholic beliefs. "The Shepherd" is a beautifully simple and yet complex look at the ins and outs of the Catholic religion, and one man's fictional efforts to modernize and reform the Church. A dedicated Catholic, David Campbell comes to rethink his role and his Church's role in the lives of its followers, and dedicates his life to an even higher calling, that of the prophet to reorganize and reform an institution that has existed for thousands of years.

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Girzone's book "The Shepherd," which was re-released in paperback in 1996 under the title "Joshua and the Shepherd" is one of several in a series of "Joshua" books Girzone has created. This book tells the story of a newly consecrated Catholic bishop, David Campbell, and his meeting with an unnamed stranger who the reader realizes is Joshua the prophet and leader. From the opening pages of the book, the author's message is quite clear. The welling of support from the community at Campbell's consecration as bishop shows he is a respected and well-loved member of the community who overlooks cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to embrace everyone as members of his community and his congregation. In addition, with the regal and highly structuralized ritual of the consecration itself, Girzone immediately illustrates the strict rites of the Catholic Church, and their rigid reliance on rules, structure, and pomp throughout their religious ceremonies. The Church is all about rules and strict guidelines, and that is clear in the ritualized language and ceremony that takes place at Campbell's formal procedure. Girzone writes, "The rich traditions of the Church, the unbroken line of priestly power and authority that Jesus had given to His apostles and which He had intended should be passed on forever, were reflected in every facet of the beautiful and timeless rite" (Girzone 6). The rite was meaningful, but it also emphasizes a Church bound in tradition, rather than change and growth. Thus, only a few pages into the book, it is clear Campbell will rebel at the many rigid rules of the Church, and this book will form an opinion of the Church that seeks change and modernization.

Term Paper on Joshua and the Shepherd Assignment

Many people love David, but many others do not like the way he is so rigid about the rules and canons of the Church. The author notes he alienates many Catholics, even as he embraces many other people. On the night of his consecration, David has a vision of a man - a nameless stranger who he was sure he saw in a pew during his consecration. The vision changes the way he looks at himself and his rigid upholding of Catholic doctrine at the expense of people's needs and wants, and even changes how he views the Church. From that night on, the stranger will be a part of his life, and he will dedicate his life to reforming and modernizing the Church.

As can be expected, from the first, David's new ideas are met with shock and disbelief. While some of his staff supports him, many do not, and one, Chancellor Charles Mayberry, immediately reports David's ideas to the Archbishop, expressing his disbelief and immediately undermining David's authority and ideas. Ultimately, David sees himself as a shepherd of the Lord's word and work rather than an administrator, and he tries to fulfill this goal in everything he does. Of course there is opposition, and that is the obstacle David must overcome in the book for his ideas to work and his ideals to take hold.

David has a lot of radical ideas, and often they are in direct opposition to the Catholic's Church's rules and ideology. For example, he wants to take responsibility of many of the diocese's responsibilities, such as schools and medical centers, away from centralized Church rule and allow the people to run their own schools, health centers, and other organizations. In addition, David wants to change rules regarding marriage and annulment, and even utilize Catholic priests who have left the Church to marry in some capacity, especially in rural areas where there is little chance for the people to become involved in the everyday life of the Church and to worship together. He also wants to allow the clergy to marry, and to bring more women into significant roles throughout the Church. He succeeds in working with the community to bring different religious sects and businesspeople together for the good of everyone, and he succeeds so well, it leads to his eventual failure.

Throughout the book, David meets, and then develops a friendship with the stranger called Joshua, who is the same man David saw in his vision the night of his consecration. When times get tough, Joshua is always there to support David and to help him stand up for his convictions and ideas. Joshua also tells him he is on his side. He states, "The Church must change if it is to be responsive to the needs of a rapidly changing world. Truths don't changes, but there are different truths that have different meanings at different times in people's lives" (Girzone 60). It is quite interesting that Joshua usually appears when David is working in his garden - close to the Earth and his own thoughts and ideals. Joshua is the support David needs to carry his ideas through, the prophet who supports and nurtures David when he needs it most, and is a rendition of God on Earth, and what it seems he would be like.

At first, David is successful, but when he rustles too many feathers, his superiors send him away to a remote parish in a way to "punish" him for all his hard work and ideals. However, he never loses his faith or his conviction, although he does become discouraged sometimes, and knows that he is fighting an uphill battle. At one point he confides in Joshua, "But at times I feel the loneliness of being a pariah. It is not easy, and I wonder if I could be wrong" (Girzone 174). However, he does persevere, especially with Joshua's continual support and understanding. Even when he is banished to the rural parish, David finds joy and hope in what he ministers to the few people in his area. When his friend, the old Pope dies, David is voted the new Pope to lead the Catholic Church into a new century of understanding and modernization.

Clearly, this book is a hard and compelling look inside the doctrine of the modern Catholic Church. It opens up ideas for change, and continually notes that the Catholic doctrine is mired in tradition, and is no longer viable to many members of the Church. The author clearly feels the Church needs to change with the times to truly represent its congregation, and that many of the rules of the Church, such as celibacy for the priesthood, are outmoded and no longer viable. However, this book is not a rant against the Catholic Church in general and its doctrine, only its outmoded laws and beliefs that no longer apply to a modern and changing world. The author clearly loves the Church, and so he wants it to change and grow with the times, rather than alienate modern worshippers who may think they have little in common with the modern Church dogma. Most of all, the author employs hope for the future. His book ends on a hopeful and joyful occasion when David is voted to be the new Pope. This signifies the author's hope for the future reform of the Catholic Church, and his hope that it will happen soon. With the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, who seems to be a conservative Pope following in the footsteps of John Paul II, it seems that Girzone's wishes and hopes may not come true any time soon, but it also seems that if the Catholic Church is going to survive, eventually it must take a look at its age-old traditions, and perhaps modernize at least some of them.

Personally, this book was far more enjoyable than I first thought it would be. The author's style is descriptive and engaging, and the characters are people the reader can identify with and sympathize with. I also enjoyed how the author made his case for modernizing the Church. The author uses eloquent language and logical thinking to get his points across, such as early in the book when David is first discussing his ideas for change. He states, "We are shepherd and gentle guides, not moral policemen" (Girzone 19). Girzone has the ability to discuss doctrine and canon and break it down into everyday language that just about anyone can understand, and so, the book is more interesting and more helpful because of it. This book is extremely religious, and yet somehow it manages not to come off a too preachy.

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How to Cite "Joshua and the Shepherd" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Joshua and the Shepherd.  (2005, April 27).  Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Joshua and the Shepherd."  27 April 2005.  Web.  28 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Joshua and the Shepherd."  April 27, 2005.  Accessed September 28, 2020.