Posts Tagged ‘Ezekiel’


The Gifted is a Fox show tied into their X-Men universe movies (ala before Disney just bought them out). It opens up in the mess the Mutant Registration Act (MRA) is wreaking on America. For the uninitiated a mutant is a person born with the x-gene, at puberty, powers and sometimes physical changes take hold (I mean imagine the ride of puberty hormones and then bam you can fly or bam you’re a telepath). The MRA is stating it is illegal to be a mutant, and they must be registered, using your powers is an illegal act, in this reality the X-Men have vanished, and their is a refugee underground to move mutants out of America in a safe third country like arrangement to Canada.

The show raises great issues, and before folks at me, comics have always been political so new age wanna be fans check your faux privilege. Any-who. The story follows a family on the escape. The Dad is a former federal prosecutor who served the law of the land, never questioning the moral of the law until his kids were outed as mutants. It raises questions around segregation, internment, experimentation on those that society has deemed as others, human rights or sentient being rights as just some of the more now issues. With a prophetic lens, it shines on society going yeah you keep saying never again with your lips, but the actions of governments and people prove never again is a catch phrase for just look at the rhythm of the 20th to 21st century in regards to equality of races, genders, disabilities, sexual orientations, refugees, migrants and immigrants. Each group having to fight the same battles over and over again. These are the questions being put forward. As with every rights movement as well, those left to fill the void with the m.i.a X-Men, and their villainous counterparts, Brotherhood also M.I.A., you have the Hellfire Club and Underground needing to find their path of resistance. Is it non-violent? Is it like the IRA and overtly terrorist? Is it all out war? Or just violence in self-defense? What do the choices mean for the person making them? And how can the be justified? For no matter which side of the MRA a group is on, there is a cause and effect trajectory that one can follow based on their action choice.

Shows and story lines like this open up the discussion of prophetic voice. For many religious, the term prophetic speaks to future seers and end times. This can be what one takes from the prophetic and apocalyptic literature found within the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament, yet with that lens you are missing as a reader the breadth and depth of the stories.  For in the religious stories from wisdom, to mythology, to history to prophetic to gospel to epistle there is a strong undercurrent on what it means to journey with the Holy. In this journey in the ups and downs the responses of the children of the Holy in living out the greatest commandments of love.

Yet, we still miss the mark, and hold to this end times scenario of fire and brimstone, destruction and rebirth. Currently the religious right has clung to their self-identifiers of anti-abortion, anti-inclusions (yes it can mean LGBTTQ2+, but also seeing the disabled as a full imageo dei as well), and for some reason vehemently anti-public services ala welfare and health care. Yet is this showing love? Love as I have love you is what Jesus commanded us. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 unpacks love more.

Most point back to their stances to the Hebrew Bible texts. Especially the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Stipulating that it shows the wrongness of same-sex love. Well, let’s look at the thread on this destruction:

Genesis 18:16-33 (New International Version)

1When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[d] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

First, it shows the Holy had heard the cries of something evil a brewing, that is anti-love, within these cities and was out to discover what was happening. Yet, much like many parents/caregivers/social service workers/”tough on crime” politicians had set out that the punishment for even a few would be the nuclear option. Abraham actually enters into a dialogue pointing out the fact that it does not need to be punitive. He opened up the dialogue, but could have done many things differently. I would say that Abraham set up the confirmation bias for the Holy on destruction. Abraham could have challenged the punishment, that is only those that transgressed be punished. As well he could have pushed the salvation line of questioning more by saying, you say I am righteous and loved, lets problem solve and save the city, do not destroy them based on who I am and who you are and how you want to be known by the people.

Abraham, did not fully use his prophetic voice. He chose the easy path. But part of the prophetic voice to, is knowing cause and effect so perhaps did Abraham not know how bad it was? Most certainly for his nephew Lot, and his family lived in the midst.

Genesis 19: 1-29 (New Living Translation):

19 That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again.”

“Oh no,” they replied. “We’ll just spend the night out here in the city square.”

But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate. But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.”

“Stand back!” they shouted. “This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you far worse than those other men!” And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door.

10 But the two angels[a] reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. 11 Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside.

12 Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. “Do you have any other relatives here in the city?” they asked. “Get them out of this place—your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. 13 For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot rushed out to tell his daughters’ fiancés, “Quick, get out of the city! The Lord is about to destroy it.” But the young men thought he was only joking.

15 At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!”

16 When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. 17 When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”

18 “Oh no, my lord!” Lot begged. 19 “You have been so gracious to me and saved my life, and you have shown such great kindness. But I cannot go to the mountains. Disaster would catch up to me there, and I would soon die. 20 See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved.”

21 “All right,” the angel said, “I will grant your request. I will not destroy the little village. 22 But hurry! Escape to it, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.” (This explains why that village was known as Zoar, which means “little place.”)

23 Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. 24 Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.

27 Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in the Lord’s presence. 28 He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace.

29 But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.

The Angels came…and well…they were not very welcomed. In fact it ripped the veil completely off what was happening. But was it same-sex love between consenting adults that brought this city low? NO! Just read the story— gang rape, power, control, in-hospitality, Lot’s response to offer up his daughters, when mercy shown the fiancees laughing at Lot in their arrogance, and then his wife turning to a pillar of salt yearning for the past no matter how bad it was because “well it is better the devil you know than the unknown road.”

Prophetic voice, pointing out that what is happening through parable, song, vision, oracle, psalm, or proverb that it will lead to this negative consequence. In the Hebrew Prophetic tradition it was showing the exiles to come, and the silence in exile. In Genesis it was showing the destruction to come. Or as the prophet Ezekiel would use as his own example in the space and time he existed in to communicate a point to Israel:

49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

-Ezekiel 16:49-50 (New International Version)

The story of Sodom, used to show that the never again righteous thoughts and prayers, actions wise had returned and as such the same consequence was coming. Just like the stories in the Gifted television show. For Albertans it is not wanting to cope with the shift of industry away from oil and gas, so the willingness to wreak havoc and destruction upon the most vulnerable, the families…for the true first time in history create a situation where the next generation is made worse off, because of the fear of the older generation, and them like Lot’s wife wanting to look backwards.

What prophetic voice is there in this situation? Simple, under Premier Ralph Klein there was no plan, debt load was shifted from government to citizens creating a debt anxiety cycle at the household level, infrastructure and up keep was ignored which created a deficit issue that is still not fully addressed (what is it like a billion in differed maintenance the largest school board in our province carries?). Public Health care infrastructure and services still trying to rebound from the asinine third way tinkerings; no long term care or seniors housing, affordable housing behind the already abysmal percentage level in Canada; every year a crisis in homelessness that put life and limb at risk; and the privatization and deregulation of utilities that hit families hard. All this precipitated on false information shared as truth, and fear mongering about deficits that if the people’s resource had been managed as former Premiers’ Manning and Lougheed had laid out would never have been an issue. Literally prophetic political voice Mel Hurtig wrote his seminal work pay the rent or feed the kids during this time. For more on the Klein era I refer you to Kevin Taft’s Shredding the Public Interest (1997); Clear Answers (2000) and Democracy Derailed (2007).

Regardless of political affiliation, premiers since Klein have been working to repair the havoc wreaked to ensure that all Albertans prospered, and the huge poverty deficit created was corrected. Unfortunately as 2013-2015 the desire for our natural resource faded on the world stage Albertans began to feel a bit of a sting, in 2015-2019 a government that managed the down turn without creating a recession, and ensured citizens were cared for, looking at optimization of tax dollars, not perfect, and as Kevin Taft would point out in his Oil’s Deep State (2017) that it appeared as the NDP government had rapidly sold out to oil interests. Yet it was a balance they moved forward on to get a pipeline in the ground (yes the ground breaking, and work now is due to the NDP provincial government, and Federal Liberal government). Unfortunately, the invoking of the “saint” Klein, and the rallying cry to tap into the denial and anger in a grief cycle of Alberta by the United Conservative Party played well. It was aided by the NDP campaign focused on Kenney’s character, not their record of stable leadership and countering what was planned if Kenney was to be Klein 2.0 and what that would actually mean economically. That is translating socialism into capitalism language and showing how it actually prospers the citizen, consumers and corporations. Instead, in April 2019 a regressive regime (like Lot’s wife) eternally looking backwards to an authoritarian time when questioning of government could result in a negative impact, they had stepped up the bar to it being a black mark, even created a privately government funded corporation to look for enemies. They have so far gone after our children through public school funding (under-funding the typically coded students by at least 1,000 dollars a student, and not providing funds for student growth numbers, handing out a budget mid-year which has hit families with higher transportation fees of upwards for $400 a student, end of public transit subsidies so monthly passes go from $20 to $70) and the response when trustees speak out is to audit and threaten dissolution. Now I am no fan of school boards, but let’s keep it real. You cannot under-fund an endeavour then rally about their incompetence. If the end game is to eliminate school boards, state it, and fund my damn kids. They de-indexed AISH for inflation, so there will be no extra monies however little in our minds for disabled Albertans, they are looking at PUF funding (early intervention for children with disablities); they have removed from seniors pharmacy plans the ability of dependents to be listed (a wife a year or two younger, children in their care); they have messed with funding for Kinship care for our Child & Family Services; they have lowered ages for support for those in care from 24 to 22 years old; they have removed the cap from auto insurance premiums. Their statement on that was the bill was to expire anyways this year, yes, yet a government in Constitutional good standing understands peace, order and good governance would have looked at renewing, so now we have some people’s insurance rates going through the roof (one family in Wainwright stating in their local paper they have seen a 26% increase). Looking at safe consumption sites that are abating our opioid crisis and blatantly politicizing them as NDP Drug Use sites, and threatening to close them, rolling back protections for our LGBTTQ2+ children; removing the cap on utilities adding more costs to family’s bottom line. In the midst of a time when Albertans are already carrying the highest personal debt load, higher mental health and substance use, and sadly, a growing rate of domestic violence. Our premier has even stated it is hard for Oil & Gas companies to pay their property taxes and we just need to understand, he then back tracked a little saying rural municipalities could seek recourse through the courts. Speaking of rural? They are going to see an increase in RCMP, but the Provincial government will not provide funding so rural folks are going to have to pay for it themselves and see a growth in their property taxes upwards to 10%. Oh, and speaking of taxes, they have de-indexed exemption amounts on income tax so we all will be paying for tax as well. When they consult with the public reading and responding to the surveys that are specifically designed to report what they want to hear. Oh and if you are a post-secondary student, you have lost the tuition cap and your tuition is going up at least 7%. There is no questions around how to grow revenue, only what should be cut to reduce spending. A blue ribbon panel was assembled to explore spending, but at no point did it look at revenues which is not a full system examination. Oh and our “hatred” for the Carbon Tax, due to the ineptitude of the new government, we have two carbon taxes as of January 1, 2020.

Talk about cutting off our noses to spite our face.

Was the prophetic work their to show what was planned?

Campaign financing questions, kamikaze campaigns, arrests and charges out of leadership races, Elections Alberta fines nearing or exceeding (so hard to keep up) the $200K mark; the RCMP stating the investigation into the UCP leadership race identity theft has progressed to identity fraud. For the legacy party leadership of the PC’s, one leadership candidate leaving the race and joining the then governing NDP citing harassment and bullying by other campaigns.

Quite a bit of anger, yelling, threats. Hiring media trolls for social media, not to share and explain government policy, but literally to troll citizens.

Very authoritarian regime. When questioned responses are deflect, blame the NDP, or stating “we have a majority, Albertans voted for this.” A narrative driven out of fear, driven by deflections and seeking out an other to blame for our woes, instead of looking in the mirror and saying how are we going to come together and do this. How are we going to travel through transformation, and bring everyone along, and ensure we are all better off on the other side. I have not seen such venom directed at one another as I have since the inception of our governing party, openly hearing grandparents saying “well we don’t need public schools funded for that because of unions…gsa’s….get back to math…” and going, did your parents so hate you that they set your kids up for failure?

Sadly, Albertans did not look at the writing on the wall, or at the actions or invocations behind the party. Like the religious right saying this story of Sodom is about homosexuality, and then leveraging it to propagate hate, and harm to citizens draped in the cross. When in fact the story of Sodom was about arrogance, unwillingness to change, unwillingness to love…to be lost in anger, lust and pursuit of authoritarian power and control.

As we move more into 2020, examine your heart, your core values, your core faith. Are you living it? Are you using it to hold those that govern to account?

Are we using our prophetic voice like Ezekiel and the writers of Gifted?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

onal Version):

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[d] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.