James, Politics, Prophets, Psalms

Show By Your Good Life

Jimmycarter460 (Thinking about Proper 20B again.)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. (James 3:13)

He's a former President, a Sunday School teacher and a builder of houses for people in need.

He's an old school liberal. 

He failed to win re-election, in large measure because he could not get the hostages out of Iran.

He told us, wisely, to turn down our thermostats and put on a sweater.

(My daughter believes this was brilliant and cannot understand why people derided him.)

He's a prophet. And you know how much people like prophets.

It was the LORD who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds.But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!" (Jeremiah 11:18-19)

This morning I turned on that show again, and in the two minutes I watched, I heard President Carter described as "malevolent" and "ignorant" by a person who also accused him of "poisoning the health care debate."

Seriously, Pat Buchanan? After a summer of rowdy demonstrations and guns being carried to public events and posters of the President depicted as a witch doctor, this gentle old man is responsible for "poisoning" the debate?

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. (from Psalm 1)

We often hear that history will have the last word on Presidents. I'm fairly sure this President's leaves will not wither.

Poetry, Prophets

“I am no prophet”

(Pondering in advance of the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost)

Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' (Amos 7:14-15, NRSV)

Once, she added, she found herself in the woods with no pen and so later went around and hid pencils in some of the trees. (Mary Duenwald, writing about the poet, Mary Oliver, in yesterday's New York Times)

Does anyone really want to be a prophet?

Confronted by God, engaged to bring those words people may not want to hear–those words people do not want to hear, the poet–

Ah, but what am I saying? I began to write about prophets, but twice I have typed poet instead and this time I will not correct it.

Poet, it slips in, that word.

Prophet, it sticks out, suggests danger to yourself and others, the danger of truth, the sharp edge of what God wants us to know.

"God told me to tell you…"

I hope not to be so direct, because do I know, really, who God hopes will hear my words?

I do not.

Does anyone really want to be a poet?

This time I type it purposefully; I ask myself the question.

Some moments, places, sounds defy prose, just as the prophet's encounter with God defies ordinary understanding. We know about the plumb line, the thing-a-ma-bob used to keep things correctly upright, in a straight line, vertical and connected to the God out there and above us, He Who Orders Sycamore Dressert to Prophesy.

But what about the God we reach by the spiral journey, inward? We travel on the seemingly unceasing round,see the same landscape passing by, each time deeper and closer to Her.

Perhaps She is the poet's God.