Thursday, January 13, 2011

Prophets

Thursday, January 13, 2011 -- Week of 1 Epiphany, Year One
Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, 367
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgyandmusic.wordpress.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 942)
Psalms 18:1-20 (morning)       18:21-50 (evening)
Isaiah 41:17-29
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 2:1-12

Second Isaiah likes to boast a bit.  "I told you so.  I was right.  So listen to me now." 

It is pretty clear that the prophet announced that God would deliver the people from exile and bondage and that God would punish their captors.  Then, when Cyrus began to strain the Babylonian empire, and eventually to defeat it, 2 Isaiah claimed the prophesy in the name of God:  "I stirred up one from the north, and he has come, from the rising of the sun he was summoned by name.  He shall trample on rulers as on mortar, as the potter treads clay." 

Second Isaiah went on to compare the living God and the dead idols, the word of the true prophet and the chatter of the followers of idols.  "Who declared it from the beginning, so that we might know, and beforehand, so that we might say, 'He is right'?  There is no one who declared it, none who proclaimed, none who heard your words.  I have first declared it to Zion, and I give to Jerusalem a herald of good tidings."

Who is a prophet for our time?  I know one that has caught my attention.  Back when our economy was sizzling, Paul Krugman was one of only a few economists who saw the bust coming.  (He's the only one that I noticed back then.  I understand there were others.  Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2008.)  The editorial board of our state newspaper enjoyed making fun of Krugman during those booming times, chiding him as the gloomy sad sack clown who was raining on a wonderful parade.  But Krugman is one of those guys who really knows the numbers and seems to understand economic forces. 

He was right when most were wrong.  So I listen to him.  I pay attention to what he says, to what he suggests, and to what he predicts.  So far, he's been accurate about the recovery, or lack of it.  He says our failure to invest quickly and more significantly in stimulus programs to repair our infrastructure and to put people back to work will leave us with a tepid recovery -- improved conditions for some but long-term levels of crippling unemployment.  Many of the newly elected legislators in Washington and in Arkansas ran on platforms that promote the opposite of what Krugman urges.  If they have their way, says Krugman, it will make matters worse rather than better.  Why don't we listen to the ones who have a track record of getting their predictions right?

I'll claim a bit of the prophet's mantle too.  Back when the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld administration was stoking the passions for war with Iraq, I said it didn't meet the smell taste.  All of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudis.  Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were enemies, competitors, and Hussein had kept Al Qaeda out of Iraq.  U.N. inspectors and the Clinton officials who had been on the ground in Iraq had seen no evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Iraq was completely contained and deterred by the American and coalition forces still there following Desert Storm.  War on Iraq?  Wrong reaction; wrong target, I said.  Besides, there are much worse demons out there than Hussein.  He sometimes cooperated with U.S. interests.  Iran looked spookier to me.  If we are going to use military force, why not intervene in Sudan and Darfur where genocide was actually happening?

In fact, I said "war" was completely the wrong metaphor, the wrong reaction.  Al Qaeda was not an army and bin Laden was no warrior -- don't dignify them with such terms.  They were a gang of organized criminals, like the Mafia, or the KKK.  This was a criminal matter, to be dealt with like we know how to deal with organized crime -- infiltrate, get good intelligence, shut off their money, use police techniques, not armies. 

For the most part the police style strategy has been working.  Every few weeks lately we hear of a terrorist plan that has been busted before it could be carried out. 

For the most part, the war thing has not been working.  Longest war in American history now.  The first war that congress has failed to pass a revenue bill to raise funds to pay for it.  It's the great credit card war.  Put it all on the deficit.  (It makes me mad when the same people who were so fired up about going to a war I opposed are screaming about the deficit they created and still unwilling to tax themselves to pay for it.)

The only big winner in the war strategy has been Iran.  Their main enemy and competitor in the Middle East was Iraq under the Sunni leadership of the Ba'ath Party.  Now the majority Shi'ites are gaining political strength in Iraq and looking toward their Shia neighbors in Iran for support and guidance.  We invaded Iraq and it is becoming an ally of Iran.  This was predicted and predictable.

Why do we listen to these people?  "There was no one who declared it, none who proclaimed, none who heard your words."  I want them to listen to Paul Krugman -- he got it right.  I want them to listen to me.  I sure got it right more than the Bush administration.  Like Second Isaiah, I say, "I told you so.  I was right.  So listen to me now."  But we've just seen an election where the folks who have been the most wrong for the longest time gained big victories.  It does not bode well for wisdom.  "But when I look there is no one; among these there is no counselor who, when I ask, gives an answer.  No, they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their images are empty wind."  We may be facing a time of delusion and empty wind.

Lowell

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"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

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The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
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    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


10 Comments:

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Jan Hearn Davenport said...

Thank you for expressing my thoughts and feelings so eloquently.
In His Love,
Jan Davenport

 
At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lowell. And to add insult to injury, the many thousands of activists throughout the country and millions throughout the world who stood against invading Iraq have never been acknowledged by "the media." I've heard so many times, by reporters and analysts that, "Yes, we were misled, but everyone believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction." No, only those who were willing to accept any excuse to go to war - again..Caroline

 
At 7:13 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

I was disappointed that the media did such a poor job of investigative reporting and of giving some voice to those who offered compelling questions and arguments about the WMD claims. They seemed too willing to let the White House direct the agenda. The rise of partisan news (Fox, etc.) didn't help.

Lowell

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, so our trusted and unbiased media doesn't function?
I wonder if they remember the prophet Krugman's desire for poor Joe Lieberman?

Greg

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Did you read Krugman's column this week "Climate of Hate"? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10krugman.html

I think he put his finger on something valid.

There has been a surge in threats against members of Congress. Yes, many of those making threats have a history of mental illness. But there's something about the national climate that contributes to our pathologies.

Note this from Krugman:

"Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will."

You found a spot quote from Krugman that expresses temper. Look at the whole of his expression, and compare it with Beck, O'Reilly, etc. No comparason.

Krugman asks: "So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It's really up to G.O.P. leaders..."

Personally, I'm encouraged by some of the responses this past week from GOP leaders. They are distancing themselves from the "eliminationalist rhetoric." That's a good sign.

Lowell

 
At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda strange how i provided proof that your prophet has used eliminationalist rhetoric. What was your reply? to make a meritless claim tht others do it. Maybe you and Krugman and the DEMS both need to look in the mirror first like the GOP has done.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Lowell said...

I grant to you that Krugman's lead in his Dec. 17 column was emotionalistic rhetoric and inappropriate. You found one from him. He was wrong to write that.

Sometimes the exceptions prove the rule. It was an exceptional and usual outburst from Krugman who usually writes in a very civil way, grounded in fact and research.

Uncivil rhetoric is not exceptional or unusual from Beck, O'Reilly, Bachmann, etc.

 
At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, then find 2, lol.

Look, Lowell, the fact is, there is nothing coming from any of their mouths close to what Krugman the prophet said. And if there was so many as you say, then you could easily post just 1. But that won't happen so its been another adventure in lunacy.

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Greg,
This is a silly conversation. Just Google Glen Beck and Nazi

He uses Hitler, Nazi, Gestapo, etc. adjectives regularly.

You know about the crosshairs on Sarah Palin's website, don't you?

 
At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know about Obama bringing a gun to a knife fight. I know I went and bought a gun after that, now i'm just waiting for a knife fight.

Lowell, a double standard is not a standard, that is what is silly.

 

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