Another Word is in the wind
A psalm of complaint and avowal
By Ken Sehested
Have mercy upon us, O Lord.
Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
— Psalm 123:3–4
In the end, if we are left to our own devices — to our
own amalgam of brains and brawn, of ingenuity and
charisma, sleight of hand and strength of arm, in
mobilizing sufficient force to bend the will of others
to our own, in accordance to self-ordained vision
masquerading as fate’s foreordained history — then
nothing is forbidden. All authority is subsumed in
the will to power.
The arrogant boast,
“My power and the might
of my own hand have
gotten me this wealth.”
— Deuteronomy 8:17
If nothing is forbidden, brutality is relativized,
justice is stripped of meaning outside the bounds
of convenience and current arrangements. Them
with the gold make the rules. Covetousness
Day by day the proud intone,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the
stars of God. . . . I will ascend
to the tops of the clouds, I will
make myself like the Most High.”
— Isaiah 14:13–14
When covenant life is eclipsed and no scale of
justice endures save that which we enforce,
might makes right and every moral compass,
is reduced to the self’s enthroned appetite. The
commonweal is commandeered by shrewd
maneuvering, willful disinformation,
calculating propaganda, legislative malfeasance,
judicial folly, and political intrigue.
What eventually will kill Abel
is Cain. Cain in Hebrew means
“to acquire, to possess, to own.”
Cain represents power as ownership.
The Hebrew word Baal, the name
of the chief Canaanite god,
has the same range of meanings.
— Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Desire’s ends are reduced to domination’s means:
You can have it if you can take it. You earn what you
deserve. You are what you consume. The just is the
expedient. By definition, there can be no
commonwealth, only private gain secured by duplicity
or threat. No friends endure, only interests, for bartered
safety along cutthroat roads.
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon
sprawling in the midst of its channels, says
“My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.”
— Ezekiel 29:3
The remaining options are reduced to two: the choice
between demanding and deferring, overpowering
and submitting, usurping or capitulating. Only the
pitiless survive. Peonage is the sole option for those
without patrons. Creditors rule.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! . . . As
she glorified herself and lived luxuriously,
saying in her heart, ‘I rule as a queen;
I am no widow, and I will never see grief.’”
— Revelation 18:2, 7
Morally leveraged claims from transcending sources are
relegated to the domain of fairytales told by witless
vagabonds and nannies. Everything is possible because
nothing is consequential. Meaning is proportionate to
mastery. Markets determine value. Mischief-makers
merchandise truth. Nothing matters that cannot be
measured, manipulated and monetized. To the
predator goes the prey.
I believe that I shall see the goodness
of the Lord in the land of the living.
— Psalm 27:13
Tyranny, having once lost its claim to divine right,
now regains its stature under the guise of “freedom,”
admitting no scrutiny, suffering no dissent, brooking
no competitors, honoring no claim, and bowing to
no sovereign short of brute force and capital’s claim,
and Leviathan is its older name.
. . . all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
— Luke 3:6
It is, we are told, The-Nature-of-Reality
and The-Way-Things-Are. Wolves will forever devour
lambs — it’s only business — and a nation’s interests
always calibrate its gunsights, followed by its
investment bankers’ poaching (and their clerical
consorts). The empire’s envoys seize what they can;
the meek endure what they must.
The kingdom of the world has
become the kingdom of our Lord,
and he will reign forever and ever.
— Revelation 11:15
The issue at stake in the sovereignty of God is not a
debate over whose divine Daddy can whip whose.
The issue is whether any human may claim divine
sanction for sovereignty over any other, or over
the creation itself. God’s jealousy is aligned against
human piracy legitimized by every tribal idol.
The meek shall inherit the earth.
— Matthew 5:5
Yet, Another Word is in the wind, a subversive,
incendiary word. And the meek are getting ready.
Ken Sehested is editor/author of the online journal “prayer&politiks.”
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.