Thursday, August 2, 2012

Protest (Jonah 4:9-11)

God said to Jonah, “What gives you the right to be upset about the castor oil plant?”
                He replied, “I have every right to be angry, to the point of death!”
                Adonai replied, “You feel sorrow because of the castor oil plant that cost you no labor, that you did not make grow, that sprouted in a night, and that perished in a night. Is it not right, then, for me to feel sorrow for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?”
Jonah 4:9-11

San Diego Gay Protest Sign

The ability to protest is an existential leap into self-being. Culture is accustomed to pronouncing its judgments and investing in the building of legal and social controls to buttress the so called self-evident truths of the status quo. To raise a protest in such times is to invite the slings and arrows of an angry society. Yet, it is also to establish a self beyond the repressive forces of rank-and-file thinking. It is the movement from life with the herd into the authentic life of the self as defined from the inside out.

The voice of protest is the arrow strung on the tension of injustice, released to fly against the battlement of indifference. This solitary arrow finding its mark creates the chink by which the edifice of prejudice is weakened and falls under the weight of its own pretenses.

The voice of protest in the book of Jonah is the voice of the Sacred. The object of the protest is the Divine’s own prophet.

Jonah does not care for Nineveh the capitol of Assyria. As a riving leviathan Assyria swallowed up nations and people in a blood lust of brutal atrocities for the sake of empire building. All her neighbors formed the opinion that Assyria and her great murderous heart, Nineveh, deserved nothing less than cruelty. Praise to those who brought her down and let her blood.

The Sacred was of a different opinion.

The contrast here is not between God and Assyria. The contrast is between God and Jonah. God calls Jonah to self-individuation. But, Jonah is unable to emerge from the status quo.

We queers also need to heed the call of the Sacred to individuation. It is our divine call to raise the protest. We must assert the message that God is not satisfied with things as they are. We must sound the alarm that God’s concern is for all the peoples of the earth. We must share the empowering news that the Holy One of Israel is not stymied by people of faith. We must object when religion is perverted for the domination of persons. We must, as God does, protest.

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