Sunday, November 19, 2006

Do not preach of these things

Micah 2:6 – "Do not preach"--thus they preach--"one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us." – is part of a larger piece that talks of what happens when people do wicked deeds. But one of the clear things that happen with evil is an attempt to muzzle people. It’s not whether it’s in the worship service or not. It’s not whether it’s of a pastor or not. But when people declare that it’s not nice to speak of things, or that it’s traitorous to speak of these things, or any of the other various ways to shut people up, then there’s a problem.

There are times when one can ask other’s not to speak of such. I tell my employees not to use swear words at work. But I don’t limit their speech outside of work and I encourage them to tell of problems, issues and things we should fix in the workplace. With good information one can make a bad decision, but without good information a bad decision is almost inevitable. The passage from Micah is not talking about keeping someone from yelling fire in a crowded place, but about limiting discourse to what is nice and neat and predictable and keeping the not-so-nice things out of sight.

But the not-so-nice needs to be talked about. The problems in society must be addressed in pulpit and park, in public and private, in season and out of season. There’s something about that ‘do not preach on these things’ that is kin to lying and telling untruths. We who are Christian are to seek out the truth and that can cause us to go to dark places and find out things we do not wish to know.

Those who talk about how things are getting better and better fool themselves. Those who talk about staying the course without any examination of what is happening delude themselves. Those who talk of the needs of the rich and ignore the cry of the poor are hypocritical. If the stock market is booming and yet many are without health care our priorities are in the wrong order. If tax relief for large estates is pushed and welfare funds are cut then we have not heard the cry of the poor.

Certainly there are times when one shouldn’t speak. In the U.S.A. we have clear rules for tax-exempt organizations. They can’t promote one candidate over another, not even indirectly. But they can and should speak out about what concerns they have on issues in this world and this nation.

When I hear something about not saying such things I remember the passages I’ve read about the prophets. They spoke in spite of being thrown into pits and dungeons, in spite of threats of torture and death, in spite of disagreement and derision. They spoke the truth in as many ways as they could in satire and show, in pun and riddle, in messages clear and obscure, in ridiculous ways and strait-laced patterns and more.
We’re called to do the same.

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