At our borders, toddlers are locked in cages.
In our courtrooms, children are left to defend themselves.
In Seattle, we are building a new jail to incarcerate youth.
In times like these, I turn to the prophets. But where are they?
First, let’s clarify a common misconception. Prophets are not fortune-tellers.
Prophets are truth-tellers.
The Hebrew prophets boldly confronted the ruling class with harsh truths, usually about social justice.
The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the orphan, and the widow’s cause does not come before them.”
This is one among thousands of scriptures in the Bible crying out against injustice. When prophets talk about the future, it is usually to show where we are headed if things don’t change. Prophets use predictions as rhetorical devices to drive home their point to the ruling class and to mobilize a passive public.
True prophets are subversive to the status quo, so it is miraculous that their writings have survived so well in the Bible. More than half the books of the Hebrew Bible are direct challenges to people in power! What a testament to the courage of the Jewish people that they were able to preserve these radical take-downs of the elites when there must have been so much pressure to destroy these dangerous texts. The rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, stands squarely in the lineage of the Hebrew prophets who came before him.
So, where are the prophets today?
On July 4, one of them sat at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. Therese Patricia Okoumou, born in the Republic of the Congo and now a citizen of the United States, climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty without ropes and refused to move. She shut down the monument for hours as police went after her. She said she would not come down until “all the children have been released.”
A reporter asked her, “How did you do it?” Okoumou replied, “I did a pull up.” She must have done quite a few pull-ups to get that high up, but her point hits home for me. To tell the truth and mobilize people to action, you do not need to be struck by lightning from heaven or be visited by angels.
If you can do a pull up, move your mouth or write a word, that is all you need. So let’s stop looking for prophets from afar and start looking to our left, right and in the mirror.
Rev. John Helmiere is the convener of Valley & Mountain.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full July 11 - July 17 issue. https://www.realchangenews.org/issue/july-11-2018
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