The Chimpanzee and the Zoo by Bruce Welch

The Chimpanzee and the Zoo by Bruce Welch September 25, 2018

The Chimpanzee and the Zoo – A Parable by Bruce Welch


My name is Jimmy and I’m a chimpanzee.  I was raised in a zoo and my parents were raised in the zoo.  Life in the zoo is all I knew.

Our life in the zoo was safe, the zookeeper gave us the food we needed and would take care of us when we were sick.  Everyday was pretty much the same as every other day; we would wake up in the morning, the zookeeper would let my family and me out of our sleeping quarters and we would go to the play area and watch the people coming by to see us.  About the time the zoo closed, we would go back into the sleeping room until the same routine was repeated the next day, and then the next, and the next.

Eating times were the highlight of the day.  The zookeeper would stand on a platform above our play area and drop food down to us.  We would gobble it up to the delight of the zoo patrons.  We had many different zookeepers over the years.  Sometimes they would mysteriously leave and be replaced by a new one and sometimes we would be transferred to a different zoo with a new zookeeper.  We would have to readjust to each new zookeeper, how he fed us, when he fed us, what he fed us, and how he interacted with us.

Most of the zookeepers were nice to us, always providing for us and taking care of us.  Some of the zookeepers would come down from the platform after feeding us and play with us in the play area.  We had an affection for these zookeepers that came down off of their platform.  Sometimes though, the zookeepers seemed angry when they fed us, almost throwing the food at us.  Some never came down from their platform to play, they fed us, and we were glad, but they never spent time with us.  Over the years we had only a couple of bad ones that would yell at us, one assistant zookeeper actually beat me, but they were the exception and mostly we felt loved by them.

One day I was in the play yard and I saw another chimp, Giles, who used to be in the zoo.  He was outside the bars of zoo in the neighboring woods.  We started talking and he told me about life outside of the zoo.  I never knew that there was life outside of the zoo and the stories of his life in another world captivated me, made me yearn for more than the everyday mundaneness of the zoo.  I asked him many questions; “How could you live without a zookeeper to feed you, to take care of you when you are sick, to protect you from the dangers in the woods?  He told me that he never worried about those things, that he was happier than he had ever been and told me about a secret passage out of the zoo into the woods.

That night just before going to sleep I told my wife, Belle, about my conversation with Giles.  She loved hearing the stories but when I asked her if she wanted to escape she told me “no, I like my safe life here, you can go try it if you want, but I’m not leaving.”

The next day, I found the secret passage and left the zoo.  I found Giles and he began showing me around.  The first thing I noticed was the grass, it was green and soft and I rolled around in it for hours.  Our play area in the zoo had a small amount of grass but it was mostly dirt with one tree and a watering hole the zookeeper made for us.  In the woods, there was grass as far as I could see.  Giles took me to a river, I had never seen a river before.  The water rushed over the rocks, splashing as it went, I stepped in the river, rejuvenated by the brisk water and drank and drank the cool water until I thought I would burst.  We played in the trees, swinging from branch to branch endlessly.  Giles introduced me to his friend Kenny who took me to another wood and saw so many more new things that I didn’t know existed; stars at night, mountains, birds, trails, and food, food was everywhere we just had to pick the leaves or bananas off the trees.  Kenny introduced me to his friends and his friends to their friends, there were so many chimpanzees living this life that I had not heard of until I met Giles.

I went back to the zoo to tell my wife but she still did not want to leave the comforts of her confines.  So, once a week I would venture back out into the woods and come back and tell her about the life that the chimpanzees outside of the zoo were living.  Eventually Belle was convinced and decided to leave with me into the woods.  We told our friends our plans and they worried about us.  “Without a zookeeper, you will die!  You won’t be fed, who will take care of you when you are sick?”.

We left the zoo and our children came with us.  We found everything Giles and Kenny told us about.  We realized that we didn’t need a zookeeper like everyone else had because were provided for by the Senior Zookeeper.  We never saw the Senior Zookeeper, as a matter of fact no one has ever seen the Senior Zookeeper, but we felt his presence constantly, providing food for us, our family and our friends.  We found food everywhere, tasted foods we had never tasted before, and shared the food with our family and new-found friends.  Always knowing that it was the Senior Zookeeper that was our provider and protector. Eventually we realized that the Senior Zookeeper was using our friends and family members to do what the zookeeper at the zoo did; feed us, care for us, protect us, play with us, all the while providing for and watching over us.

Occasionally we go to the zoo to see our friends and loved ones.  We hug and kiss them through the bars.  Some are angry and won’t talk to us or say we have monkey brains, but most who know us still love us.  Sometimes we run into an old zookeeper, and we run and hug them like you may have seen videos of, we are still very fond of them.  Some don’t even remember our names.

Our friends in the zoo often ask if we want to come back and on occasion will go back in for a short time, but we have tasted what is on the outside and we can’t imagine going back to the confines of the zoo. We soon find ourselves running back to the green meadows, rushing streams, our family and friends, and the life the Senior Zookeeper has given us.



 Keith Giles is a former pastor who left the pulpit 11 years ago to start a church that gives away 100% of the offering to the poor in their community. 

His new book Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

BONUS: Want to unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more? Visit my Patreon page.




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  • Herm

    ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), church, a calling out

    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

    Hebrews 4:14-16

    Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

    Matthew 16:17-20

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    John 14:15-21

    “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    John 17:20-23

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Matthew 28:18-20

    βαπτίζω (baptizō) baptize, to make whelmed, fully filled

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31

    And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

    John 1:33

    Come on out, the water’s fine and all living resources plentiful provided by the “Senior Zookeeper”, wholly separate from the teachers of the law, Pharisees, Sadducee, theologians, pulpits, alters, crosses (other than those which we each carry because our Father so loves the world), pews, church plants, creeds, rituals, and sacraments of mankind’s carnal worship.

    “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    John 4:21-24

  • Widuran

    Jesus Christ who is our God.

  • Widuran

    What is so bad about american Christianity? That a tad racist?

  • Herm

    Thistle, what is, exactly, “american Christianity”, as versus Christianity throughout the world? God so loved the Americas, that he gave his one and only Son?

  • Herm

    Was God dead for three days?

  • Widuran

    Jesus was dead for three days

  • Herm

    So, was your God dead for three days?

  • Widuran

    Jesus was dead as a man for three days

  • Herm

    Where was God?

  • Widuran

    God was always there he is three in one but I know you are like a Jehovah’s Witness and deny the trinity which is proven in the scriptures

  • Herm

    NO, you do not know what I am like. I am a child of God born by the Spirit of truth living with and in me forever. This you do not know or you would have already seen to accept him for understanding. Jesus is a living child of God born by the Holy Spirit, the one and same Spirit of truth, inseminating his mother of flesh Mary. There are more living children of God answering to the will of their Father than you know to recognize. Jesus, the prophesied Christ, is the only child of God given all active authority in heaven and on earth for all of God. God is spirit. You are carnal living flesh.

    It is you who recognizes, only by way of the chronicled testimony in your carnal Bible and your evolving carnal church theology, “Jesus Christ who is our God“, not I, nor any children of God. Jesus is my one Instructor by way of my one Teacher, the Advocate, graciously sent by our Father at the request of Jesus. I worship God only in the Spirit and in truth. Jesus is my sibling of the same heavenly Father, now in me and I in him, for my entire inherited eternal life, as it is written.

  • Widuran

    Your essays deceive no one who has engaged you.

  • Herm

    These are inspired epistles shared with you from a disciple of the Messiah. For your sake I give you opportunity to counter using your Bible, which you do not. Instead, you revert to casting aspersions. You do not read, nor listen, to comprehend the truth available to you directly from the Spirit of truth or his students.

  • Widuran

    I listen to God not Satan the author of lies speaking through you

  • Herm

    According to your Bible, you cannot be listening to God without the Spirit of truth speaking to your heart and mind of spirit, the image graced each of Man by God. You are listening to a study of God (theology) as taught by your carnal church. The church of Jesus, the only begotten son of God, is not based on a study but purely on the will of our heavenly Father, the rock. The church administered by the Messiah, with all authority in heaven and on earth, is purely spirit. … as it is written

  • Widuran

    As I said I have not written a Bible. I listen to God which is why I know you talk complete and utter anti Christ rubbish

  • Herm

    According to the Bible you read to study of God, you cannot be listening to God without the Spirit of truth speaking to your heart and mind of spirit, the image graced each of Man by God. You are listening to a study of God (theology) as taught by your carnal church. The church of Jesus, the only begotten son of God, is not based on a study but purely on the will of our heavenly Father, the rock. The church administered by the Messiah, with all authority in heaven and on earth, is purely spirit. … as it is written

  • Widuran

    I have the Holy Spirit guiding me not Satan which is why I know I am correct here

  • Herm

    Let’s hope that’s true. Tell me, how would you know that it’s the Holy Spirit guiding you and not Satan?

  • Widuran

    It is in line with the scriptures. How do you know Satan is not guiding you?

  • Herm

    That’s easy, though it hadn’t dawned on me until after 33 years of very serious, in depth, and highly certified training with applied experience in scriptural interpretation failed me. I had lost everything that I was sure I had earned through sincere and devoted effort; family, job and church. I had done everything that mankind had led me to believe was honorable and would be rewarding only to have lost it all.

    It doesn’t have to be this dramatic, but I had hit bottom and was at my outer limit of physically, emotionally and spiritually over wrought. I gave up. I laid all alone, face down, and prostrate on my bedroom floor, beseeching God in heaven (Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit), if you are truly real, to take me as whatever was their will. I no longer wanted to live if they were not real. I gave them full responsibility to protect me from evil as I knew I, nor any of Man, could not. I chose to accept whatever they chose to provide for me, to teach me and to lead me into. I emptied myself of all that I thought I knew to receive only what they chose to teach. I literally was an empty shell with nothing left to live for having lost all trust in all the relationships, institutions and traditions of Man.

    My empty shell was actually, not metaphorically, fully filled by the Holy Spirit. The very same Holy Spirit whom I recognized when I had called on him throughout the previous 33 years to counsel and lead. The difference was that now he is truly living with and in me continually. My prayers between Jesus, my Father and I now are continual and reciprocal. Now the one Teacher noted in your Bible, the Spirit of truth, is continually leading me into all truth just as I can bear. I am growing in recognition of my heavenly family as I write this to you.

    The Holy Spirit shows me how to interpret all things of flesh and of spirit in reality, not theoretically, including the scriptures you seem to believe you are “in line with“.

    By your fruit, obvious to me from my 33 years of sincerely seeking God outside of the Advocate and inside institutionalized religion, it is clear that you are following church doctrine, not Jesus’ direct instructions continually in each moment. The fruits I am speaking to are recognizable through your efforts and attacks of intimidation, manipulation, coercion, subjugation, evasion and lack of love for your merciful neighbor as yourself, who might be LGBT or even Muslim, all in the name of God. In no way did Christ, as is written in your Bible, ever, or has he since, attack LGBT or Samaritan/Muslim people. In your Bible Jesus did attack, in a spirit of love and divine diplomacy, the spirit of the church leadership and scriptural references that did attack LGBT and/or Samaritan like people.

    The Good News (the Gospel) is that, should you choose to die to your previous seeking of God through scriptural interpretation, led by the institutionalized religions of Man, to empty your heart and mind (that is in the image of God) of all teachings and traditions of Man, the Spirit of truth is immediately available to fill (baptize) you to be reborn in spirit as a newborn child of God, right this moment.

    Then you will know that the spirit of Satan is not guiding you, as I am absolutely certain that the spirit of Satan is not guiding me. As a little child I am not certain of most that I have yet to encounter throughout eternity, but I am certain of my Father’s love and and the truth I am growing in as i can bear led by my Teacher and my Instructor, the Messiah my brother.

  • Widuran

    Satan is not guiding me which is why I believe in Jesus and his teachings through the and by the church fathers

  • Widuran

    Actually Christ himself told me audiably LGBT was not of God

  • Herm

    No, he did not!

  • Herm

    And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.
    Matthew 23:9 (NIV2011)

  • Widuran

    There is only one God our Father God in three persons as proven by the scriptures. You sound like a Muslim trying to argue against the Trinity which is not of Christ

  • Widuran

    Yes he did and this is why I know Satan is speaking through you. You have been seduced by Satan

  • Herm

    You are no different than any Muslim who reads physical scripture (Koran or New Testament) as though theirs was written by the hand of Allah/God. Neither of you have more than a religious membership supporting you in your quest for God for both of you never get to a relationship directly with and in God, who is spirit.

    No where in the Bible can you find where Jesus, the Christ, claims God is only three persons. If I am a disciple (student), a brother of Jesus, filled with the Spirit of truth living with and in me forever, then according to “the scriptures” I, too, though just a little child, speaking as a child, am of God as is my brother, the Son of Man/Son of God.

    This is what scripture actually says regarding who is with and in God and who is not:

    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Matthew 23:8-12 (NIV2011)

    He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

    Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV2011)

    He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

    John 1:11-13 (NIV2011)

    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    John 3:5-8 (NIV2011)

    I testify that I have been born of the Spirit and am completely subject to the authority administered by Jesus, the Son of God, my brother.

  • Widuran

    John 1 New International Version (NIV)
    The Word Became Flesh
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

    14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Johns Gospel which you quote contradicts your own claims. Jesus Christ is God. You are using Muslim logic to try and make out Jesus is not God which fails.

  • Widuran

    Yet there is only one God

    Deuteronomy 6:4-6 New International Version (NIV)
    4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

  • Herm

    Tell me, please, where is the contradiction?

  • Herm

    I am living today with and in all of God (much more of a large family than three), as my Father’s little adorable child, bound as one in all love. Where do you find the “Trinity” in Deuteronomy 6:4-6?

  • Widuran

    Johns Gospel like the whole Bible says there is one God and Jesus Christ is God. I am correct

  • Widuran

    God is one. But he is in three persons. There are no three Gods. Only one. Like the three point o water test. They are three n one but one. Simples!

  • Herm

    The whole Bible says that, through the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, all of mankind, of all nations, graced the image of God, have the right to become children of God, the one God by any name. I see no contradiction in John 1.

    Jesus claimed all his disciples to be his siblings in God, the one God. Why is this so hard to understand unless you are blinded by the speculation derived from your present day Pharisees’ study of God. It was the fundamentalist conservative authorities who crucified the Son of God in the name of God based on their interpretation of scripture. It was they who had, like you have, an insufficient relationship with God, beyond their scripture, to recognize the Spirit of God in their midst.

  • Herm

    God is one bound in all love and is much, much more than in only three persons.

  • Widuran

    Oh dear you have been destroyed in this debate and now resort to the typical limp wristed liberal attack of personal attacks and calling me a pharisee. Poor show old man. Poor show

  • Herm

    You exalt yourself. I certainly never called you a Pharisee. Maybe, more like one insignificant voice in the crowd shouting, “Crucify him!”

  • Widuran

    Oh dear you are now lying

  • Widuran

    Oh dear me