Theology

The Prophecy of Amos, Revised

Note: what appears in this post isn’t intended to be a translation– it’s a reaction to the words of Amos as I read them in English in the NIV, ESV, King James, and the Message. It’s an interpretation based on trying to find modern meaning and truth in an ancient text. Also, I am aware of the problems of taking passages that apply to ancient Israel and forcing them onto modern-day America.

~~~~~~~~~

Amos 2 : 6-8

This is what God says:

For your sins I will not turn back my wrath.
You sell the innocent for middle-class comfort and
ignore the needs of our immigrants for tomatoes you don’t want to pick.
You climb your corporate ladders on the backs of minorities
And claim that Ferguson and Baltimore “isn’t about race.”

Father and son sexualize and objectify every woman they see
Taught by a culture that says “no means yes and yes means anal
And so you profane my holy name.
You go to church wearing clothes made by sweat shop workers
And drink coffee grown and picked by enslaved children.

Amos 3 : 9-10

Assemble yourselves in the mountains of Afganistan
See the great unrest and the oppression that your interventions have caused.
You gave them weapons to help you,
but then you turned on them and destroyed their government.
You do not know how to do right.
You store up in your bases and forts and air stations all the military might that
Going to war and “preserving our foreign interests” have given you.

Amos 5 : 21-27

I hate, I despise your Passion Conferences
I cannot stand your church services.
Even though you gather the offering every Sunday
I will not accept it.
Though you have “fellowship hour” before Sunday school,
I will have no regard for it.
Away with the noise of Casting Crowns and Third Day!
I will not listen to the music of your electric guitars.

But let justice roll on like the river,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!

Did you bring me your offerings
Ever since the Great Awakening?
You have lifted up the Shrine of your Constitution
The Pedestal of the American Flag
You say the pledge to the Christian Flag–
All of which you have made for yourselves.

Therefore I will make the Almighty Dollar less than the Euro
And destroy the industrial-military-congressional complex
says the Lord, whose name is God.

Amos 6 : 3-7

Go to Canada and look at it;
go from there and to Great Britain
Compare: how many women die in childbirth there?
How many rapists are punished?
You ignore the evils justified by “national security”
And terrorize Pakistan with UAVs and bombs.

You assemble your Ikea furniture
and lounge on Ethan Allen
You dine on lambs shipped from New Zealand
And feast on veal and filet mignon.

Your hipsters strum away on their guitars
And you Christian-ize “Take me to Church” and “Hallelujah.”
And wear T-shirts that parody Facebook and Coca-Cola for your pride.
Your youth groups chug gallons of milk for a contest
And you teach girls to obsess over “modest is hottest.”

But you do not grieve over the black and brown children gunned down by police
And their sisters, handcuffed, who have to watch them die.
Therefore you will go into exile: your lock-ins and potlucks will end.

Amos 9 : 11-15

When I end all of this,
I will restore the communities destroyed by urban programs and gentrification
I will repair the decayed walls of those who live in assisted housing.
I will build it as it should have always been
So that the poor, marginalized, and oppressed can be given what was stolen
Stolen by slave owners and plantations and white privilege.

The days are coming
When corrupt farming conglomerates are overtaken by the migrant workers
And CEOs by the burger-flippers.

New wine will drip from the mountains
And flow from the hills
And I will bring my black and brown and LGBTQ children the justice I require.
They will be given the opportunities cishet white men have always had
They will earn a living wage.

I will plant them in their own land,
Never again to be uprooted.

Says the Lord your God.

Artwork by John Jude Palancar
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  • Damn.

    That’s all I got.

  • I very rarely reblog, but this is brilliant. Absolutely fantastic.

  • Reblogged this on Living an Ecumenical Life and commented:
    Samantha of “Defeating the Dragons” takes an ancient prophecy and adapts (not interprets) it for us today.

  • Wow! This is amazing. I wish I could say something more profound, but that’s all I got: Wow.

  • This makes me so uncomfortable. I agree with the content overall, but the setup is too reminiscent of God Will Destroy This Formerly Christian Nation for Its Homosexuality and Abortion rhetoric. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, just … gah, so much anxiety.

    • This was something my small group talked about a lot while we went through Amos last month. This is one of the reasons why I clarified at the top that there are problems trying to make this about America.

      That being said, I think it’s important to keep in front of us exactly what pisses God off so much that he wants to rage-stomp, and it’s this. It’s the rich drinking “bowlfuls of wine” while the people around them starve. It’s no justice in the courts for the poor. It’s trusting in military power, or thinking that being rich means that we’re “blessed.”

      Also, Amos and I are just people, and I’m not entirely sure either of us can really speak for God. When God actually did something it was to become Jesus. That says a lot more than either of us could put together.

      • I’ve been trying to figure out where the line is, for me, between believing fully that something is right and claiming it’s right because God thinks so. I am so wary of the latter because it’s the cherished tactic of the Religious Right, and fundamentalists of all stripes.

        I get that this is a creative exercise, and you’ve made it clear you’re not claiming divine inspiration or anything, ha! I’m going to reread Amos and think more on this. Thanks for prompting lots of reflection.

      • “….or thinking that being rich means that we’re “blessed.” …”

        And worse, thinking that we owe nothing to those less “blessed”, because if they had been deserving they’d have what we have. It’s accepting a privilege without the responsibility. To whom much is given, much is expected.

    • I meant to add: the ending is the most important. Yes there’s a few chapters if woe and destruction, but then there’s 9: God restores. Redeems. Makes right. We get the happy ending.

    • I get what you are saying here. I’m not sure I agree with every point as a lot of it seems very political, however I will agree with Samantha that these are the kinds of things God gets pissed off at.

      • I’m certainly far from perfect, and any rendering I give will be flawed, but I don’t think there’s any way to describe Amos as anything but “political”.

        • Excellent point. I don’t disagree with the generally message and what you wrote was quite brilliant.

  • Given what the Franklin Grahams of the world are saying to try and “rally the Right,” I think what you’ve written is powerful and something he and those pandering his type of fear need to read. Bottom line: If our nation falls, it sure won’t be because of same-sex marriage and abortion, as FG would like to have everyone believe. If our nation falls, it won’t be because God has ordained her fall. If our nation falls, it will be because we haven’t “done justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God.” The consequences of hating our brother will bring us down. So much hate and fear.

    Thank you for this. It knocked my socks off.

  • wonderful

  • Stef

    Wow that was powerful. I think it is a good exercise too at least for me. That way the Bible becomes more relate able to our time.

  • Sylvia

    I think this is the best one you’ve written so far. Definitely a wow.

  • Echoing the others – all I can say is “wow”
    I love Amos, and you seem to have nailed so many of his laments as well as the promises of justice and restoration. Wow.

  • Crystal

    Such passion!

  • Yes, impacting and I do believe has prophetic merit. [Edited].

    • Please read my comment policy before you continue commenting. Your comment was racist.

  • Damn. Hear the word of the Lord.

  • Aibird

    You are the best person. This is absolutely amazing.

  • Peggy Trivilino

    Samantha, from your keyboard–and beautiful mind–to God’s ear!! AMEN!!!

  • Verónica

    Samantha, I should thank you my dear. We call this method RELECTURA (re-reading) and it is inscribed into Contextual Hermeneutics, thats a brilliant exercise. From Latin America we are apropiating the message to bring close to our realities; thats exactly what you have done. If Bible speaks not about our realities, becomes unatractive for our struggles, that’s why less and less is being read it. Thank you for the poweful insight.

    I have translated your text to my first language: spanish
    https://www.facebook.com/mtravero.lozada

    Blessings!

  • Bravo, well done.
    All empires fall when their expectations exceed the military’s ability to achieve.

  • Reblogged this on Liminality and commented:
    Very good message to America from god. This is a god worthy of being god, almost. Actually bringing about the reversal would make it worthy of being a god.

  • Brilliant Samantha! 😉

  • Kieran

    Thankyou for this. Beautiful.

  • YES. Thank you. Thank you, so much, for interpreting that into words. God’s sense of justice and righteousness does not change, according to the words they hold so dear, but they carry on as if breaking the new covenant would not be just as disastrous for them as it was for Israel – which, btw, probably ought to be listed among their sins. Setting themselves up as her saviour and taking pride in it.

  • Teabag

    This is brilliant. It lays bare very skilfully the extent to which contemporary Christianity has been co-opted by neoliberal capitalists, whether Catholics or Evangelicals; and American nationalists. I see some people are criticising it for being ‘political’, but the whole construction and practice of US Christianity is, and always was, extremely political – to the extent that some people evidently see basic respect for the humanity of non-whites, non-Americans, LGBT people, etc, as a (left-wing?) ‘political’ stance. Which says it all, really! Worth also thinking about is the fact that Christianity – certainly by the time that the Bible as we have it now was put together by the authorities of the Roman Church – has always been a political tool in the hands of those in power, and always used in the service of power. That people actually believe it is what makes the system work and no doubt gives comfort and identity to individuals, but anyone who wants to turn religious belief to good needs to be pretty watchful about how their desire to do good is being used by people who have absolutely no desire to do good – pious Christians who support the Republicans are a good example of this. They think it’s a godly way to vote, but they’re just voting for big oil, environmental destruction, deregulation of things that need regulating for the good of consumers (cancer-causing chemicals in food, cosmetics, etc), further crushing of workers’ rights and other corporate interests. Your version of Amos ought to make people think a bit about whether the Christianity endorsed by, and that endorses, corporate America, has much to do with God.

    • Peggy Trivilino

      Superlative analysis–thank you!

  • Margaret N

    Powerful. Thank you. Really made me stop and think.

  • Brilliant.

    It’s astounding how easy it is to read something like this (or any of the OT prophets for that matter) and start thinking of all the times you’ve seen someone else commit injustice or engage in gross hypocrisy.

    But then you think a little deeper, and you realize: “Shit. She’s talking about me…”

    • And me, too. I’m either an active participant or implicit in many of the things I talked about.

  • Amazing. I am brought to a standstill by this. Thank you.

  • Amen, Sister!

  • I am Enopoletus Harding -atheist, conservative, admirer of Steve Sailer, Murray Rothbard, Pinochet, Deng Xiaoping, Park Chung-hee, Andrew Jackson, and (to some extent) Stalin. This is a mockery of one of your re-interpretations I posted on James McGrath’s blog, as James has linked to you. James told me to comment on the blog originally publishing the ideas rather than on his reposts only.

    “I will restore the communities destroyed by urban programs and gentrification”
    -I think the words “destroyed” and “restore” have, by some wizardry, switched places.
    “I will repair the decayed walls of those who live in assisted housing.”
    -They aren’t always decayed. Besides, it’s kind of difficult to maintain housing over which nobody has any sense of ownership.
    “So that the poor, marginalized, and oppressed can be given what was stolen
    Stolen by slave owners and plantations and white privilege.”
    -Raw cotton and some buildings (including the U.S. Capitol)? Oil? Metal ores? Pastureland? I think they’d find it useless. Ever wonder why oppressed became that way? And what is this “white privilege”? Is there an “Indian-American privilege”?
    “The days are coming
    When corrupt farming conglomerates are overtaken by the migrant workers
    And CEOs by the burger-flippers.”
    -If that led to anything better than what came before, it would have already happened.
    “And I will bring my black and brown and LGBTQ children the justice I require.”
    -I thought Jesus was Jewish, not Black.
    “They will be given the opportunities cishet white men have always had
    They will earn a living wage.”
    -They already have these. Most Americans earn well above the “living wage” of the early twentieth century, when America certainly wasn’t in a state of famine.
    “I will plant them in their own land,
    Never again to be uprooted.”
    -:-) Jews to Israel! U.S. Blacks to…Liberia!

  • Too AWSUM for words.

  • krwordgazer

    One thing regarding “wearing clothing made in sweatshops,” etc — there is a real question of whether boycotting is the right response. What happens to a sweatshop worker or a child who loses their job because of boycotts? They don’t find better jobs or get sent to school. International Aid for Children offers better ideas. http://aipe-cci.org/eng/finding-solutions/

  • NICE!