12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there and prophesy there;”
Global Uranium Extraction
I was once at a Presbytery meeting in Northeast Saskatchewan and, as is the wont of United Church folk, we were discussing Justice stuff. We like to talk about Justice in UCC circles – in fact it is often one of the glues that bind us. And in that time – I think we were revisiting discussions around uranium and our involvement in the global trade of nuclear technology and its impact on lives and the environment, when someone piped up and said, “Why are prophets so grumpy?” There was a pause and then laughter …
The quote from Scripture is one of our collective memories in our faith journey of just one Prophet. Amaziah, the Chief Priest, is frankly likely quite upset with this guy (Prophet) named Amos. He keeps telling the Royal House that as long as people are suffering, as long as there are hungry children and suffering mothers, and the world’s ways (human solutions) are used in international affairs a whole bunch of woe is coming. And, of course, no one wants to hear this. Amaziah has the unenviable task of telling Amos to zip it and hit the road – that’s basically what’s happening in this excerpt.
Now there are a few things that we forget about the role of the Prophet … well perhaps more succinctly we need to appreciate more fully. The Prophet, in this context, was not only a ‘voice in the wilderness,’ s/he was also an accepted part of the culture. You might not like them, they might be loud, obnoxious and, well, rude, but they had an accepted role and that role was to pronounce clearly the ramifications of our human choices and what God had to say about the trajectory upon which we had set ourselves. My spouse, Shelly, had a Theology Professor who once said, “A prophet is someone who knows what to be angry about and how to be angry.”
Now – and here’s the tension – we often know that what a Prophet is saying is right (perhaps we might have to dig a bit). But … there’s always a but … we also don’t live in that binary world that is so clear for a Prophet when she speaks God’s truth: Do this and this will happen … keep doing this and it’s going to get a lot worse (for instance, consider smoking and we now generally appreciate the outcome of this one addiction on our lives). For a Prophet, God’s word is clear and the insights are crystallised with nothing to obscure her sight. The rest of us, however, have a lot of distractions in the way. It’s the nature of our collective experience – we aspire and long for wholeness, healing and balance, but that often takes letting go and making new choices … and that’s never easy.
As I was writing this Blog, Shelly asked me, so where’s the Good News? Good News is very important within our Christian experience. It’s not about find some way to jolly ourselves up and introduce some saccharine sense to an otherwise serious reality – rather Good News should, at the very least, offer reflection that leads to inspiration and action … So, we have Prophets, who are comfortable naming where we are collectively and where we will end up if we keep doing what we are doing. I think of the recent discussions in Copenhagen and the general resistance to the science that speaks to Global Warming. What we – especially in the West – will have to give up in order to lessen what’s coming is going to be a lot and that’s not something we are embracing …
And, yet, there is Good News, there is hope in that there are collective choices that are occurring all of the time. Whether that be as individuals, who are greening their homes or lives, congregations that are wrestling with their carbon footprint and how best to address the need for balance in God’s Creation; there are innumerable choices being made that we just do not hear about. And you, the Reader, know whether you are making choices that are different that speak to the Prophetic voice of Climate Change. Is there more to do? Of course there is … there always will be. This is not an invitation to say, “I’ve done my bit.” It is, however, an acknowledgement that you can only do what you can do and only you know whether you can do more and that’s the irony/challenge of the Prophet. If you are listening to her voice crying in the wilderness pronouncing truth, you know in your heart whether there is more you can do and that is the Good News – you have a choice. So, what will you choose?