Are You An Orthodox Squirrel?


MY attention was arrested the other day by what I saw in the window of a little shop. Cages hung from wires and hooks, while their occupants seemed intent upon making the most of their limited space, by leaping from side to side, and from top to bottom. Attracted by an idle curiosity, I entered, and accosted the proprietor.

"Well, my friend, you have quite a show of animals. This is a small menagerie in its way, is it not?”

"Rather, sir; I call it my theological shop,” said he. "Possibly you may not think it, sir, but these birds and squirrels have a deal of human nature in 'em. Here, now, is a cage with only one squirrel in it. He represents a large and respectable class of religionists. See how sleek and quiet he is. He can't bite anything. He's what I call a thoroughly orthodox squirrel.”

How, then, does he get his living? How does he crack those nuts in his cage?”

"He doesn't crack anything," replied the man."He fumbles over the nuts, and waits until I get time to crack them for him. I’ll tell you how this came about. He has long been the pet of a party who took especial pleasure in preparing his food for him. In order to save the little fellow time and trouble, his master cracked all his nuts, and now the poor squirrel's teeth have grown out of shape, and can't possibly gnaw anything that is hard.”

"Well, what has this to do with theology?”

"Oh, a great deal, as I shall now show you. He is just like a great many good people that belong to the church. They depend upon somebody’s feeding them with carefully prepared food. They live spiritually on the Bible and the terms of their creed, but these things have to be cooked before they are eaten. The clergymen and the commentators crack all hard questions, and make them so palatable the believers have only to believe; they never think of thinking for themselves on any doubtful or knotty point. After a while they lose the power of doing otherwise, and so live on what others are pleased to feed them with.”

—T. P. Wilson, M. D.