Wednesday, November 7, 2007

to prophet or not to prophet

so ... what makes a prophet a prophet?
for me, a huge part of it depends on whether what she or he is saying resonates with me. seems like the right thing, the truth being called into a moment in time or culture. that the the message isn't easy to hear and act on, but it's right.
and the prophetic is, for me, not just about something that is true, but about something that must be seen, and dealt with, and (hopefully) changed. how's this: gandhi was prophetic. his words and actions were a message to his culture (and then everybody's); they were intended to change things for the better. that's the purpose of the prophetic: change.
for me, too, part of what makes a prophet, as opposed to a false prophet, is what happens, how culture changes, because of her/his influence. i believe the prophetic is from god if a prophet's message causes people to be more loving, more courageous for good, more humble, more healthy - individually and especially systemically, culturally, economically, politically, relationally, whatever. the prophetic creates equality.
if a prophetic message causes all those things to be less loving, less courageous and more fearful, more arrogant, sicker - it's not, for me, from god.
and something that just helps out - mobile loaves and fishes, for instance, which is an austin outreach to the homeless and hungry - isn't necessarily prophetic, AND YET - just by being in the world, mobile loaves and fishes points out need and inequity and that something is wrong ... and in showing up, it points out what might need to change.
oh - and - the most important message of the prophetic is that the true change doesn't happen outside, or in someone else, or by kicking out the bad guys. true change happens within.
  • harsh tv and talk radio voices from the far right and the far left who just point fingers at each other? not prophetic, even though they pretend to be; jimmy carter and gandhi? supremely prophetic - their messages are connected not to how evil the enemy is, but to the ultimate reality which is, there is no enemy.
  • the cynic who goes around showing everyone how much smarter she is than everyone else by pointing out what's wrong with everything? not prophetic; the kid who innocently and sincerely says "the emperor has no clothes"? prophetic.
  • anyone who defends the system because the system is by nature right? not prophetic. reports from habitat for humanity, or relief workers in war-ravaged countries, or those working to care for the sick and oppressed? prophetic.
  • sunday schools and churches that keep everything in place? not prophetic; people who follow jesus and screw things up? change the way they look at the world? change the way the world works? make trouble in the best sense? prophetic.
  • jerry seinfeld? funny, but not prophetic; andrea gibson the slam poet? prophetic.
meanwhile, part of what makes a message prophetic, i believe, is that at first, it doesn't sound so great. it sounds impossible, or way too hard, or crazy because it's so not right. it would mean we'd have to change.
what, black people are equal to white people? women and men are equally important? homosexuals are people too? india doesn't belong to the british? empires taking over other countries is wrong? controlling human beings with violence and torture and rape and murder is wrong?
political cartoonists often feel prophetic to me. satirists too. (prophets can be funny - look at some of the stuff the jewish prophets - and john the baptist, and jesus - pulled.)
and - too - even though the prophet will often have friends and helpers and followers, the prophet is always an outsider. how else can s/he see where the message goes?

and don't blame god for what happens after the message is delivered. god can't control what happens with the message once it's delivered. and so ... god keeps sending messages.


who or what is prophetic for you? let's chew on it and see what happens.

6 comments:

nonprofitprophet said...

I knew you would write this! Is that prophecy??? lol.
Yes - there ya go. True change. God sending the message. Awareness. The Emperor has No Clothes - Obviousness. Of course, most of the prophets were killed, so ...

journeyingrick said...

YEAH, NO SHIT!
but hey, what're they gonna do, crucify us? it ain't so bad, once you look back at it.

of COURSE you knew i would write it ... YOU'RE THE NONPROFIT PROPHET!!!

Anonymous said...

I think God uses
Angels because they are too scary to attack.
Next in line are children and comics, because we are less likely to kill them (nervous laughter rather than a cross).
Next in line are the misfits and nobody's 'cause they've got nothing to lose.
Next in line are the Jonah's who are too goofy to kill.
Next in line is the face in the mirror because suicide is too hard.
And maybe last are the big guns who get recognized posthumously.

Prophecy is like yelling "fire" in the theater when you see smoke -- needed information in bad circumstances...

journeyingrick said...

yeah - great list.
and, to yell fire in the theater when you see smoke - and not be absolutely sure that it IS fire, but feel a deep conviction that it is, and hope it is, and also hope it's not, and then stand there and wait for people to come out and either be happy or pissed off. or both. or something else.
and there'll be a group of people who say, Wow, i'm so glad THAT happened! teach us how to see smoke!

Alan Graham said...

Thank you brother for pointing out Mobile Loaves & Fishes. We believe in what ST. Francis is attributed to saying and that is "Preach the Gospel often and when necessary use words". Although I have searched to ascertain if St. Francis really said that and have not found confirmation it is something he would have said and the way I feel.

journeyingrick said...

MLF is absolutely prophetic. so, thank you for that, alan.
and yes, even if st francis isn't recorded as having said that, i know the brother LIVED IT!!!! like MLF does. and i pray that journey ifc does. and that every follower of jesus will someday do, when we shut up and love the world.