Daily Riches: Pimping Religion, Confronting Empire – Part I (Dan Clendenin)

Richer By Far

“Amos wrote 2,800 years ago, but his prophecy reads like today’s newspaper. He lived under king Jeroboam [whose] kingdom was characterized by territorial expansion, aggressive militarism, and unprecedented economic prosperity. Times were good. Or so people thought. The people of the day interpreted their good fortune as God’s favor. Amos says that the people were intensely and sincerely religious. But theirs was a privatized religion of personal benefit. They ignored the poor, the widow, the alien, and the orphan. …Making things worse, Israel’s religious leaders sanctioned the political and economic status quo. They pimped their religion for Jeroboam’s empire. Enter Amos. Amos preached from the pessimistic and unpatriotic fringe. He was blue collar … neither a prophet nor even the son of a prophet in the professional sense of the term. Amos was a shepherd, a farmer, and a tender of fig trees. He was a small town boy who…

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Listening to the Stones from the Wall Street Wall

Last evening we published Susan Lince’s wonderful poem “Every Stone Shall Cry” and her accompanying art work. Thanks to Susan for permission to publish them.

Not everyone is familiar with this line about the stones. The poetry of the stones crying out has its roots in Hebrew Scripture in a poem from the Book of Habakkuk, later echoed by Luke as Jesus’ response to those who want to silence his disciples and protesters to Roman occupation – “I tell you,” says Jesus riding on an ass into the city occupied by the Romans, “if these [people] were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40).

The original Ode of Woe against the Chaldeans’ foreign interventions and military-economic occupation becomes, on Jesus’ lips, the ode against the Roman system of occupation and internal collaboration by indigenous leaders, and, on Susan’s lips, it echoes from the walls of intractable powers that nature itself will not long abide in silence. Nature will not be silent! Think of the stones in the wall of Wall Street. Even the stones cry out against the abuse. Here’s the text from the Book of Habakkuk where the reference to the crying stones first appears:

Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—
for how long? —
and loads himself with pledges!”
Will not your debtors suddenly arise,
and those awake who will make you tremble?
Then you will be spoil for them.
Because you have plundered many nations,
all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who dwell in them.
Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house [society/empire],
to set his nest on high,
to be safe from the reach of harm!
You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
For the stone will cry out from the wall,and the beam from the woodwork respond.
Woe to him who builds a town with blood…

– Habakkuk 2: 6b-12a

The ode against the Chaldean Empire ends with a lovely line looking for the day when the most intimate knowledge of the Breath of Life will cover the earth “as the waters cover the sea” and the stones will no long cry.

Susan is a writer, painter, poet, composer, environmental and social justice activist. She and her spouse, John Lince-Hopkins, developed the movement Requiem2020. They will lead the First Tuesday Dialogues event on Climate Departure at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, MN Tuesday evening, March 4, at 7:00 P.M.

The Way to Love Jesus

A sermon three years after Deep Water Horizon on love, freedom, and caring for each other, the oysters and the crabs in the Gulf of Mexico.