Oh how we need prophets these days
There’s a lot of chatter out there. If you aren’t careful, you can easily get caught up in who said what to who and when.
Here’s the secret, in about a week, it won’t matter because the chattering class will be chattering about something new that someone said.
We have a short attention span. The question is which came first — our attention spans or the focus on reporting something that is supposedly news, even though it isn’t?
I do a good deal of reading. Some out of necessity — I’m a seminary student. But I read other stuff for pleasure. I usually don’t read much about current events and I don’t like to read fiction. There’s too much good non-fiction out there to get through, in my opinion. I prefer to read about ideas and historical events and figures — you know theology, philosophy, and political philosophy. I love to think and write and talk about ideas. There’s nothing wrong with other subjects, they just don’t interest me as much. It’s good that other people like them.
I’m finding myself reading less and less political commentary lately. I find most of the political pundits who write are nothing more than opportunists who change their beliefs as needed to meet the candidate they support. There are few that I can rely on for good commentary — people like David Brooks, Reed Galen, Rich Galen, etc. They are appear to me to be a bit more objective. I also realize everyone has a bias, so maybe I match their biases. Regardless, they are able to do something that is rare in these days — they criticize their own political party in thought provoking ways — not just lobbing rhetorical bombs. In a way, I see them as political prophets.
Let me explain the word prophet though. I’m not using the word in the way it is misused today — predicting the future. No, rather, an older definition. A prophet is someone who takes notice of what is going on. They see what is going on, name it, and tell everyone else where they are headed if they continue on the journey — the logical conclusion. A prophet isn’t someone who makes wild predictions about death and destruction or the end of the world. They talk about what’s going on right now and tell everyone — “If you keep this up, this is where it ends up. This is where the road ends. And it isn’t a good thing.”
Most prophets I know of aren’t happy about being prophets. They would rather be wrong in their assessments. They pray to God they would be wrong. Yet, they can’t help but tell the truth. They can’t help but offer a warning — something that might open the eyes of the blinded masses, something that might open the ears of the deafened mob. Or at the very least might cause a few willing individuals to take notice and make appropriate changes in preparation for the coming chaos. Prophets aren’t happy about being prophets.
And the mob, the mass crowds don’t like the prophets. So often in the bible, prophets were killed for what they said. We kill our prophets in other ways — usually rhetorical ways. The crowd doesn’t want to hear the truth. They don’t want to be woken up or have their eyes open. They are too busy in their moment. For now the universe swirls around them. A crowd doesn’t allow for individual thought and analysis — it only acts as a herd.
Being a prophet can be awfully lonely. It can be costly too. But I pray to God that God would continue to send prophets to us for various parts of life and society. They are so needed. I also pray that people would listen to these prophets. Open our ears and eyes. Open my ears and eyes to hear and to see.
Originally published at laceduplutheran.com on August 26, 2016.