Sunday favorites

Amos 5:10-15

They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Therefore, because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    The problem is that righties, especially the “Christian” ones believe that justice is whatever the powerful wanr.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    The problem is that righties, especially the “Christian” ones believe that justice is whatever the powerful wanr.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    That would be “want”, of course.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    That would be “want”, of course.

  • Matri

    They have already changed the definition of “good” and “evil”, so every verse with a condemnation of “evil” only sanctifies their behavior and “proves” how godless the rest of us are.

    It’s October. Soon, they’ll be having the annual “War On Christmas” whinging. Why can’t they understand that we don’t hate Christmas?

    We just have an intense BURNING indifference.

    :)

  • Matri

    They have already changed the definition of “good” and “evil”, so every verse with a condemnation of “evil” only sanctifies their behavior and “proves” how godless the rest of us are.

    It’s October. Soon, they’ll be having the annual “War On Christmas” whinging. Why can’t they understand that we don’t hate Christmas?

    We just have an intense BURNING indifference.

    :)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Heck, I for one love Christmas b  I’d love it even more if a lot of people weren’t telling me how much I hate it all the time.  Course I’d also like it better if it weren’t for the crazy level of commercialization too… I mean crap;  it feels like decorations go up the day after Halloween a lot of the time.  (Thanksgiving? WTF is that amiright?)

    Point of course being that if there’s a war on Christmas, it’s not non-Christians who are specifically waging it nor is it greeters saying “Happy Holidays” – it’s those schmucks doing everything they can to make you feel like a terrible terrible person for not being able to give everyone you like tons an tons of STUFF for the holidays.  Because stuff = love.  Or something.  (I mean yes, getting and giving gifts can be lovely, but there’s a difference between “This is a token of how much I think you’re cool” and what gets pushed at us as the supposed meaning of the holiday.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Heck, I for one love Christmas b  I’d love it even more if a lot of people weren’t telling me how much I hate it all the time.  Course I’d also like it better if it weren’t for the crazy level of commercialization too… I mean crap;  it feels like decorations go up the day after Halloween a lot of the time.  (Thanksgiving? WTF is that amiright?)

    Point of course being that if there’s a war on Christmas, it’s not non-Christians who are specifically waging it nor is it greeters saying “Happy Holidays” – it’s those schmucks doing everything they can to make you feel like a terrible terrible person for not being able to give everyone you like tons an tons of STUFF for the holidays.  Because stuff = love.  Or something.  (I mean yes, getting and giving gifts can be lovely, but there’s a difference between “This is a token of how much I think you’re cool” and what gets pushed at us as the supposed meaning of the holiday.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Heck, I for one love Christmas b  I’d love it even more if a lot of people weren’t telling me how much I hate it all the time.  Course I’d also like it better if it weren’t for the crazy level of commercialization too… I mean crap;  it feels like decorations go up the day after Halloween a lot of the time.  (Thanksgiving? WTF is that amiright?)

    Point of course being that if there’s a war on Christmas, it’s not non-Christians who are specifically waging it nor is it greeters saying “Happy Holidays” – it’s those schmucks doing everything they can to make you feel like a terrible terrible person for not being able to give everyone you like tons an tons of STUFF for the holidays.  Because stuff = love.  Or something.  (I mean yes, getting and giving gifts can be lovely, but there’s a difference between “This is a token of how much I think you’re cool” and what gets pushed at us as the supposed meaning of the holiday.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    As to the post itself -

    I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit it but… I think this may be the first passage I’ve ever heard from Amos.  In fact I think I only vaguely remember hearing it existed.  It just wasn’t something that came up.

    I think I see why

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t they understand that we don’t hate Christmas?

    I don’t know; one more autumn spent listening to a radio station that plays Christmas music almost nonstop…

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    As to the post itself -

    I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit it but… I think this may be the first passage I’ve ever heard from Amos.  In fact I think I only vaguely remember hearing it existed.  It just wasn’t something that came up.

    I think I see why

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t they understand that we don’t hate Christmas?

    I don’t know; one more autumn spent listening to a radio station that plays Christmas music almost nonstop…

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t they understand that we don’t hate Christmas?

    I don’t know; one more autumn spent listening to a radio station that plays Christmas music almost nonstop…

  • Anonymous

    it’s those schmucks doing everything they can to make you feel like a terrible terrible person for not being able to give everyone you like tons an tons of STUFF for the holidays.  Because stuff = love.  Or something.

    This is why I asked my family to have their gifts to me be donations to water.org or gift cards to kiva.org.

  • Anonymous

    it’s those schmucks doing everything they can to make you feel like a terrible terrible person for not being able to give everyone you like tons an tons of STUFF for the holidays.  Because stuff = love.  Or something.

    This is why I asked my family to have their gifts to me be donations to water.org or gift cards to kiva.org.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    That right there is fantastic b

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    That right there is fantastic b

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    That right there is fantastic b

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    That right there is fantastic b

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Clearly this “Amos” guy is a dirty fucking hippie. Why does Amos hate America? He’s probably a Muslim.

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Clearly this “Amos” guy is a dirty fucking hippie. Why does Amos hate America? He’s probably a Muslim.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    To be fair to poor Amos, I suspect everyone was rather dirty given the time period I suspect bathing was not the priority of the day usually.  (What?)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    To be fair to poor Amos, I suspect everyone was rather dirty given the time period I suspect bathing was not the priority of the day usually.  (What?)

  • P J Evans

    I only have to remember being at the dentist last fall, where the non-stop Christmas music include a version of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ where the singer’s voice sounded like it had had more booze and tobacco smoke running across it than was reasonable (and I was getting visions of elves with sequins and pasties with tassels).

  • P J Evans

    I only have to remember being at the dentist last fall, where the non-stop Christmas music include a version of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ where the singer’s voice sounded like it had had more booze and tobacco smoke running across it than was reasonable (and I was getting visions of elves with sequins and pasties with tassels).

  • P J Evans

    I only have to remember being at the dentist last fall, where the non-stop Christmas music include a version of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ where the singer’s voice sounded like it had had more booze and tobacco smoke running across it than was reasonable (and I was getting visions of elves with sequins and pasties with tassels).

  • chris the cynic

    Here is a song to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas, as we observe it in the United States.

    From 1959, but it still applies.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Here is a song to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas, as we observe it in the United States.

    From 1959, but it still applies.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Ya know… that song is as depressing as it is funny… truth is like that sometimes I guess.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Ya know… that song is as depressing as it is funny… truth is like that sometimes I guess.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Ya know… that song is as depressing as it is funny… truth is like that sometimes I guess.

  • http://www.davetrowbridge.com Dave Trowbridge

    Wonderful bit of synchonicity: that set of verses came up on the Bible app on my phone while I was at Meeting!

  • http://www.davetrowbridge.com Dave Trowbridge

    Wonderful bit of synchonicity: that set of verses came up on the Bible app on my phone while I was at Meeting!

  • MaryKaye

    What does “gate” mean in this context? Is it a city gate?  I’m not sure what “establish justice in the gate” is supposed to be.  Having the rich push to the front of queues is unfair, but if that’s the complaint, why is it specially singled out?  It sounds like it should be something more serious.

  • MaryKaye

    What does “gate” mean in this context? Is it a city gate?  I’m not sure what “establish justice in the gate” is supposed to be.  Having the rich push to the front of queues is unfair, but if that’s the complaint, why is it specially singled out?  It sounds like it should be something more serious.

  • Joshua

    MaryKaye:

    What does “gate” mean in this context? Is it a city gate?  I’m not sure what “establish justice in the gate” is supposed to be.

    In walled cities in ancient Israel, a lot of public business was conducted just inside the gate: A wide-open, public space where a lot of people pass through.

    There are many references in the First Testament to contracts being agreed to at the gate, elders hanging around at the gate, things being witnessed, other business being transacted. In that culture, it’s the archetypical public place. Like the agora in Athens.

    I’m not sure that it has a modern equivalent. The CBD of a western city, the courtyard or park where people speak from soapboxes, as well as mundanely transport corridors like motorways.

  • Joshua

    MaryKaye:

    What does “gate” mean in this context? Is it a city gate?  I’m not sure what “establish justice in the gate” is supposed to be.

    In walled cities in ancient Israel, a lot of public business was conducted just inside the gate: A wide-open, public space where a lot of people pass through.

    There are many references in the First Testament to contracts being agreed to at the gate, elders hanging around at the gate, things being witnessed, other business being transacted. In that culture, it’s the archetypical public place. Like the agora in Athens.

    I’m not sure that it has a modern equivalent. The CBD of a western city, the courtyard or park where people speak from soapboxes, as well as mundanely transport corridors like motorways.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    A good analogue in terms of modern terminology might be “public square” really.  It’s not that a lot of places actually (to my knowledge) use or even have an actual public square, but the meaning is something most people get.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    A good analogue in terms of modern terminology might be “public square” really.  It’s not that a lot of places actually (to my knowledge) use or even have an actual public square, but the meaning is something most people get.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    “The gate” is more than just a reference to public spaces. Public hearings (trials, effectively) were conducted in the open space just inside the city wall, near the gate.
     

    They hate the one who reproves in the gate,and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.

     

    you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,and push aside the needy in the gate.

     
    The people Amos is condemning here hate those who speak out on the side of justice in legal disputes (which were very often about money and property). In the context of the section Fred quoted, including verses immediately preceding it, it’s clear that Amos’ condemnation is directed at the powerful, who try to use their influence to subvert the legal system towards their own ends rather than the cause of justice for the marginalised.
     
    Sound familiar to anyone?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    “The gate” is more than just a reference to public spaces. Public hearings (trials, effectively) were conducted in the open space just inside the city wall, near the gate.
     

    They hate the one who reproves in the gate,and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.

     

    you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,and push aside the needy in the gate.

     
    The people Amos is condemning here hate those who speak out on the side of justice in legal disputes (which were very often about money and property). In the context of the section Fred quoted, including verses immediately preceding it, it’s clear that Amos’ condemnation is directed at the powerful, who try to use their influence to subvert the legal system towards their own ends rather than the cause of justice for the marginalised.
     
    Sound familiar to anyone?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @mistharm:disqus I’d recommend reading Amos in its entirety, if you’re interested, and especially accompanied by a good scholarly explanatory text.

    Amos is the first of the prophets to be recorded in the scrolls. He was around in the middle of the 8th century BCE which was a time of relative peace and prosperity in Judah. However, the prosperity was concentrated on a small group of people who lived in luxury while exploiting the bulk of the populace*. This violated the covenant with YHWH and outraged Amos.

    *Again, familiar to anyone?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @mistharm:disqus I’d recommend reading Amos in its entirety, if you’re interested, and especially accompanied by a good scholarly explanatory text.

    Amos is the first of the prophets to be recorded in the scrolls. He was around in the middle of the 8th century BCE which was a time of relative peace and prosperity in Judah. However, the prosperity was concentrated on a small group of people who lived in luxury while exploiting the bulk of the populace*. This violated the covenant with YHWH and outraged Amos.

    *Again, familiar to anyone?

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I may just do that hehe; it’s funny how I feel like I have a greater appreciation for the Bible since leaving the faith than I did before… maybe because now I can freely say “Okay that part’s stupid” without feeling guilty; so I no longer have to deal with questions like What the hell, God?

      Besides, it has to be less depressing than my namesake book Gotta love them locusts.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I may just do that hehe; it’s funny how I feel like I have a greater appreciation for the Bible since leaving the faith than I did before… maybe because now I can freely say “Okay that part’s stupid” without feeling guilty; so I no longer have to deal with questions like What the hell, God?

      Besides, it has to be less depressing than my namesake book Gotta love them locusts.

  • Matthew Funke

    Actually, it was reading the book of Amos that cemented certain notions in my head: namely, that people who preached that removing welfare was a kind of tough love, and people who preached that supporting the rich was the best way to increase the wealth of the entire society, were Getting It Wrong.  I mean, the idea had been cooking in my head for a while; I had just been struck by an urge to read the parts of my Bible where pages still tended to stick together(*), and reading Amos just caused things to “click”.

    Amos also gives me hope because he was taking the rich and the leadership to task, but he wasn’t a professional faith leader himself — he was a shepherd.  More importantly, he was a nobody who saw injustice and tried to get other people to see it, too(**).  He helped me realize that even though I don’t hold the sway over Evangelicalism that, say, Pat Robertson or Tim LaHaye or any of our appointed parachurch leadership does, it’s still okay to get hopping mad at this stuff, and to try to help others see just how unfair it is as well.

    (Reading the prophets was liberating.  First of all, because most of what they had to say was related to Real Life Here And Now; it wasn’t all relegated to blurry prognostications about the Messiah’s First and/or Second Coming, which is generally the only thing about the prophets that you get taught in Sunday School.  And second, because they got mad when they saw injustice.  Sure, Jesus got mad, too… but He was Jesus, you know?  Can’t trust the sheep to get that right, I guess.  And, like the spiritually slow student I am, over time, they actually helped me see Jesus’ bitter invective against His own religious leadership in a new light (Matthew 23).  I wish they’d teach from the prophets more often… but that might lead to questioning whether or not the Evangelical leadership we have elected with our dollars is really helping or hurting when people want to see Christ, and we can’t have that.  There’s real money at stake here!)

    ———-

    (*) It’s remarkable how much time you can spend in an Evangelical church and never leave the Psalms and a few of the Pauline epistles.  It’s also remarkable how much time you can spend in a church that looks at a few pages like this week after week and consider yourself familiar with the Bible.

    (**) Often with very strong language.  Telling the idle rich that they will be taken away with hooks is an image that sticks with you.

  • Matthew Funke

    Actually, it was reading the book of Amos that cemented certain notions in my head: namely, that people who preached that removing welfare was a kind of tough love, and people who preached that supporting the rich was the best way to increase the wealth of the entire society, were Getting It Wrong.  I mean, the idea had been cooking in my head for a while; I had just been struck by an urge to read the parts of my Bible where pages still tended to stick together(*), and reading Amos just caused things to “click”.

    Amos also gives me hope because he was taking the rich and the leadership to task, but he wasn’t a professional faith leader himself — he was a shepherd.  More importantly, he was a nobody who saw injustice and tried to get other people to see it, too(**).  He helped me realize that even though I don’t hold the sway over Evangelicalism that, say, Pat Robertson or Tim LaHaye or any of our appointed parachurch leadership does, it’s still okay to get hopping mad at this stuff, and to try to help others see just how unfair it is as well.

    (Reading the prophets was liberating.  First of all, because most of what they had to say was related to Real Life Here And Now; it wasn’t all relegated to blurry prognostications about the Messiah’s First and/or Second Coming, which is generally the only thing about the prophets that you get taught in Sunday School.  And second, because they got mad when they saw injustice.  Sure, Jesus got mad, too… but He was Jesus, you know?  Can’t trust the sheep to get that right, I guess.  And, like the spiritually slow student I am, over time, they actually helped me see Jesus’ bitter invective against His own religious leadership in a new light (Matthew 23).  I wish they’d teach from the prophets more often… but that might lead to questioning whether or not the Evangelical leadership we have elected with our dollars is really helping or hurting when people want to see Christ, and we can’t have that.  There’s real money at stake here!)

    ———-

    (*) It’s remarkable how much time you can spend in an Evangelical church and never leave the Psalms and a few of the Pauline epistles.  It’s also remarkable how much time you can spend in a church that looks at a few pages like this week after week and consider yourself familiar with the Bible.

    (**) Often with very strong language.  Telling the idle rich that they will be taken away with hooks is an image that sticks with you.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The prophets are pretty awesome.

    One of the things I appreciate about being in a church with a formal liturgy is that you’ll hear a pretty full cycle of readings from the Bible, not just the pet favourites of whoever’s leading the show. Every Sunday I’m going to get an Old Testament reading (usually one of the prophets), a psalm, a bit of an epistle, and a gospel reading. It’s not all Paul, all the time.

    Not that I have a big objection to Paul, but it makes a lot less sense to hearing what he has to say divorced from the context of what the prophets and Jesus had to say first.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The prophets are pretty awesome.

    One of the things I appreciate about being in a church with a formal liturgy is that you’ll hear a pretty full cycle of readings from the Bible, not just the pet favourites of whoever’s leading the show. Every Sunday I’m going to get an Old Testament reading (usually one of the prophets), a psalm, a bit of an epistle, and a gospel reading. It’s not all Paul, all the time.

    Not that I have a big objection to Paul, but it makes a lot less sense to hearing what he has to say divorced from the context of what the prophets and Jesus had to say first.


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