Thursday, April 26, 2007

The words of the prophets

The prophetic voice is becoming a popular topic. At the Faith in Public Life blog as as well as Father Jake Stops the World, there are link to sites discussing the need for people to speak to power and to speak for the powerless. This is not what many people have in mind when they hear the word prophet, which has come to have a popular usage as a kind of doomsayer or fortune teller.

Father Jake, for example, quotes Presiding Episcopalian Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in an article from Episcopal Life by McCaughan:
There is something gravely and sinfully wrong with a world where the division between the rich and poor continues to expand, where some still live in palaces and recline on ivory couches while others starve outside their gates," (Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori) told about 120 parish, diocesan and national church communicators from around the country.

"In our day, the prophets still speak for a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, where all children are educated and no one is denied the basic necessities of life"...

..."Each and everyone sitting here is capable of changing the world. Somewhere, somehow each one of us has the capacity to tame the chaos around us and turn it toward the peace of shalom. So where are the prophets? Who's going to speak those words? Who's going to do that work?

"What you or I do in this moment can bring hope or wholeness somewhere," she said. "The language or images we use can inspire or move others to be change agents themselves ... to move people to a different place. Your ability to tell stories like these can inspire others to change the world"...

...While thanking communicators for their ministry within the church, she added that their task is to "challenge the injustices and death-dealing realities around us and to inspire and encourage others to build toward God's dream of shalom of life abundant, not only for ourselves but for every creature in the cosmos.

"Prophets have two tasks, to critique what's unjust and to offer strength and comfort to the despairing," she said...
Bishop Shori also makes an interfaith nod to the idea of interdependence as represented in Hinduism/Buddhism as Indra's Net:
Borrowing an image from Hinduism of a fishnet with a jewel at each junction of the web that reflects every other jewel in the net, Jefferts Schori encouraged the gathering to cultivate a sense of fundamental unity, to see connections, find common ground, in an attempt to build greater unity among people and positions that seem remarkably disparate.

"If we could see ourselves as a jewel like that, reflecting and involving every other jewel, we might begin to respond differently. You do reflecting work when you offer a vision of hope, a story about where God is at work or an invitation to enter into suffering of others," she told the communicators.

Faith in Public Life meanwhile is reporting on a Connecticut group called Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, described as "gathering of religious leaders and people of faith, joined by our belief in the God of justice and love, who calls us 'to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.' In this time of crisis and war, we believe that walking humbly with God requires us to advocate and practice nonviolent love, in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr."

There are many spiritual groups who could be these criteria be considered prophetic, even among spiritual progressives, but the current movements still comprise just a drop in the ocean. Do you consider yourself to have a prophetic obligation, and if so, how have you used your voice?


  1. Thanks for the Faith in Public Life shout out. Glad that you found some useful content.

  2. Oh, I find useful stuff all their all the time. But I generally just let the link in the blog-roll point people to the FiPL site rather than just reprocessing it here. Good stuff! :7)


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