Consider this:  In Hebrew messenger and angel are the same word.

Back in 2004 Howard Dean wasn’t being ‘un-presidential’ with his outburst so much as he was just being his passionate self!  He was doing exactly what he said he was doing.  He was showing his appreciation and support for the 3,500 young people who had traveled to Iowa to help his campaign.  “But” you say, “He apologized.”  Yes.  And that was because his political advisors told him to.

What I want to say about all that is this:  Howard Dean is a contemporary example of what the Hebrew Scriptures call a ‘prophet.’  A prophet is a truth-teller.  A prophet’s truth is about a societal situation that is contrary to God’s will.  A prophet’s proclamation is always a passionate call for change.  The problem is this; change is the thing we as human beings least like to do.

Anyway, a prophet is attractive and passionate.  So we listen to the message.  Eventually we begin to embrace that message.  (The other candidates were pulled to the left by Dean’s blatant and successful criticism of Bush’s Iraq policy.)  But then, whenever we get a chance, i.e. when the messenger is down, we jump on him.  Why that happens will be left for another writing.  But it happens.  Is it any wonder we have so few prophets?

Among many in the Old Testament, starting with Jeremiah prophets have always been killed.  Jesus is our best example among New Testament prophetic voices.  In the post-canonical period there’ve been Joan of Arc and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  And, of course there are our political sacrificers, including Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas K. Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.

Maybe the ancient Jewish people had it right.

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