Sunday favorites

Amos 5:16-24

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:
In all the squares there shall be wailing;
and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning,
and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing;
in all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through the midst of you, says the Lord.

Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why do you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, not light;
as if someone fled from a lion,
and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
and was bitten by a snake.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?

I hate, I despise your festivals,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.

But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Of course, for righties, justice is what the powerful want and righteousness is opposing gay marriage and abortion.

  • Kerry

    My all-time favourite Bible passage.

  • Anonymous

    But if you cross-reference it with Exodus, Acts, and the Psalms, it becomes clear that he’s actually saying… /s

    Yeah, this is an excellent passage.

  • reallyaimai

    Mr. Aimai and I were discussing this passage this morning and we had two different interpretations of it. My take on it was that Amos is saying “If you do justice/live justly as a society” then g-d won’t destroy you. Mr. Aimai’s interpretation was, basically, “this is justice and you won’t  like justice (when g-d is angry).”  

    It was a stunning passage and though I must have read it some time ago I had totally forgotten that it is what preceedes “Let Justice Roll down…”

    aimai

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    Wow! God’s idea of justice sounds horrifying–like you’re screwed no matter what happens. Why do people WANT Judgment Day again? I wouldn’t want anything to do with this kind of God!

  • http://twitter.com/mattmcirvin Matt McIrvin

    What came to my mind was “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?”

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    I think it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. The bit before supports your position http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=193583925 but the entire passage also has a flavour of “you’ve had your chance”.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    This is because they ignore the first bit http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=193583925

  • Anonymous

    Yes, a God who despises rituals but praises justice! How terrible!

  • reallyaimai

    Well, but this has been an ongoing debate in human society since the very beginning of time. First of all the very notion that this thing is mere “ritual” where ritual is synonymous with “meaningless show” and that thing is “just” where “just” is synonymous with social acts is just incredibly ahistorical.

    In many, if not all, archaic religions and societies “ritual” acts were thought to create and ensure the wellbeing of society, the individual and family, and even the universe.  To draw an arbitrary line between things which are “merely” ritual and things that are efficacious in a magical or spiritual sense is not possible–its the product of a larger argument about g-d and the world and human action that is incredibly complicated.

    The early Hebrews like almost everyone else–and many modern Hindus–beieved that public and private acts of sanitation, purity, pollution, commensality and sexuality were all really affecting the world or the individual’s physical and spiritual state. The physical and the spiritual are not seen as seperable. To chastise people for following rules prescribed by their understanding of g-d and to fault them for not following some other (higher? lower? alternate?) set of rules is not particularly moral. Its just a different morality.

    If you believed that a particular act (having sex, refraining from having sex, sacrificing a human, sacrificing a goat) brings about a good state for an entire civiliazation or family telling people to refrain from doing that in order to perform some other act isn’t clearly warranted. Everybody always thinks they are doing what g-d commanded yesterday. Sometimes people start bitching that g-d told them something different today. Or that you’ve all misread the sacred texts. But its not necessarily the case that the choice between the two paths is clearly marked and that “justice” is anything more than tomorrow’s failed interpretation.

    aimai

  • reallyaimai

    Well, but this has been an ongoing debate in human society since the very beginning of time. First of all the very notion that this thing is mere “ritual” where ritual is synonymous with “meaningless show” and that thing is “just” where “just” is synonymous with social acts is just incredibly ahistorical.

    In many, if not all, archaic religions and societies “ritual” acts were thought to create and ensure the wellbeing of society, the individual and family, and even the universe.  To draw an arbitrary line between things which are “merely” ritual and things that are efficacious in a magical or spiritual sense is not possible–its the product of a larger argument about g-d and the world and human action that is incredibly complicated.

    The early Hebrews like almost everyone else–and many modern Hindus–beieved that public and private acts of sanitation, purity, pollution, commensality and sexuality were all really affecting the world or the individual’s physical and spiritual state. The physical and the spiritual are not seen as seperable. To chastise people for following rules prescribed by their understanding of g-d and to fault them for not following some other (higher? lower? alternate?) set of rules is not particularly moral. Its just a different morality.

    If you believed that a particular act (having sex, refraining from having sex, sacrificing a human, sacrificing a goat) brings about a good state for an entire civiliazation or family telling people to refrain from doing that in order to perform some other act isn’t clearly warranted. Everybody always thinks they are doing what g-d commanded yesterday. Sometimes people start bitching that g-d told them something different today. Or that you’ve all misread the sacred texts. But its not necessarily the case that the choice between the two paths is clearly marked and that “justice” is anything more than tomorrow’s failed interpretation.

    aimai

  • Thulcandran, slacking

    It sounds horrifying, except when you throw in Grace. Real justice, the kind Pharisees/RTCs are begging for– if they really want God to come down and give everyone what they deserve according to His own laws… that justice would be horrifying. But instead, because He loves humanity too much to do that, He sacrificed Himself to that justice, and we all are forgiven.

    Which makes it kind of horrifying, still, to hear people going “Forgiveness? Forgiveness? But they don’t deserve that! They’re [gay/lesbian/trans/pro-choice/Democrats/black/poor/Communist]! We want judgment, damn it!” That’s where this passage is such a splash of ice-water. You really want God’s judgement on this entire world? Seriously? Do you know what you’re asking for?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    This is probably just depression talking, but actually this sounds pretty good right now. 

    There comes a point where trying to avoid the consequences of our choices just seems like too much unjustifiable work, and justice rolling down like waters once and for all seems a far better alternative.

  • Amaryllis

    There’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
    I packed my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm
    Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
    That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
    Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
    Blow away the dreams that break your heart
    Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted…

    …I believe in a promised land…

    -Bruce Springsteen

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    It’s the nature of the “justice” that sounds horrible, Lonewolf343. You can’t escape (it’s like running from the jaws of a lion into the jaws of a bear), you aren’t safe ANYWHERE (it’s like reaching out to touch a wall and getting bitten by a snake), and the whole world is buried in darkness. 

    Everyone on the planet is completely screwed.And, of course, since this is all being done by an omnipotent being, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.I’m sorry, but this God does not sound worthy of worship. It sounds more like the lunatic out of the Left Behind series.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    It’s the nature of the “justice” that sounds horrible, Lonewolf343. You can’t escape (it’s like running from the jaws of a lion into the jaws of a bear), you aren’t safe ANYWHERE (it’s like reaching out to touch a wall and getting bitten by a snake), and the whole world is buried in darkness. 

    Everyone on the planet is completely screwed.And, of course, since this is all being done by an omnipotent being, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.I’m sorry, but this God does not sound worthy of worship. It sounds more like the lunatic out of the Left Behind series.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux


    It sounds horrifying, except when you throw in Grace.

    I don’t know what “grace” is in a religious sense.

    Real justice, the kind Pharisees/RTCs are begging for– if they really want God to come down and give everyone what they deserve according to His own laws… that justice would be horrifying.

    Yeah. That’s what I find so repulsive. A god’s justice should be just. It should not be horrifying.

    But instead, because He loves humanity too much to do that, He sacrificed Himself to that justice, and we all are forgiven.

    Well, that theory works if you believe in Christianity. What if you don’t?

    You really want God’s judgement on this entire world? Seriously?

    Of course they don’t. They want God’s judgment on the people they don’t like.  Then, after God is done smiting all of the people they hate, they want Him to smile on them in unmitigated approval.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux


    It sounds horrifying, except when you throw in Grace.

    I don’t know what “grace” is in a religious sense.

    Real justice, the kind Pharisees/RTCs are begging for– if they really want God to come down and give everyone what they deserve according to His own laws… that justice would be horrifying.

    Yeah. That’s what I find so repulsive. A god’s justice should be just. It should not be horrifying.

    But instead, because He loves humanity too much to do that, He sacrificed Himself to that justice, and we all are forgiven.

    Well, that theory works if you believe in Christianity. What if you don’t?

    You really want God’s judgement on this entire world? Seriously?

    Of course they don’t. They want God’s judgment on the people they don’t like.  Then, after God is done smiting all of the people they hate, they want Him to smile on them in unmitigated approval.

  • http://twitter.com/mattmcirvin Matt McIrvin

    The last two lines were quoted by Martin Luther King as the endpoint until which “we will not be satisfied”, and, from that quote, were put on the Montgomery Civil Rights Memorial.  I’d say that he was putting a more positive spin on the words, but I’d guess he was perfectly aware of the context and was thinking of it in mind of all the associated pain getting there.

  • http://twitter.com/mattmcirvin Matt McIrvin

    The last two lines were quoted by Martin Luther King as the endpoint until which “we will not be satisfied”, and, from that quote, were put on the Montgomery Civil Rights Memorial.  I’d say that he was putting a more positive spin on the words, but I’d guess he was perfectly aware of the context and was thinking of it in mind of all the associated pain getting there.

  • http://twitter.com/mattmcirvin Matt McIrvin

    The last two lines were quoted by Martin Luther King as the endpoint until which “we will not be satisfied”, and, from that quote, were put on the Montgomery Civil Rights Memorial.  I’d say that he was putting a more positive spin on the words, but I’d guess he was perfectly aware of the context and was thinking of it in mind of all the associated pain getting there.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what “grace” is in a religious sense.

    In a word, mercy.

    “Justice,” in strictest terms, is sort of cruel. In a literal sense– justice untempered by humanity, by mercy, by pardon. The death penalty– you take a life, your life is taken. You cause pain, pain will be caused you. Intent Is Not Magic. And so on, and so forth. But… like I said below. I believe in grace over justice, every time. And I believe that because it’s the Right Thing, and I believe that’s how this universe/afterlife/multiverse/whatever works.

    Well, that theory works if you believe in Christianity. What if you don’t?

    If you don’t believe in the grace and forgiveness part, why believe in the harsh punishment part?

    And yeah, that’s my issue with them– judging only the people they don’t like would not, in fact, be justice. So they’re not really calling for justice at all, they’re calling for arbitrary punishments doled out with no mercy, as they see fit. But they’re calling it God’s Justice, Judgement Day, and that is abhorrent.

    I’m sorry if this comes off as attacking or anything. It took me a long time to type up, because I am terrible at verbalizing this stuff. But I only mean to explain a perspective, not condescend or insult– I do apologize if it winds up coming off that way.

  • Lindenharp

    Those last two lines are also on the MLK memorial in San Francisco. . . which is a waterfall.  There’s a walkway behind it, and the walls are inscribed with various quotes by Dr. King.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Well, that theory works if you believe in Christianity. What if you don’t?

    Well, from what I can find, the words for “charity” and “justice” are closely related in Hebrew.  What that seems to mean to me is that “justice” as a Jewish concept isn’t just punishment — it’s fairness. 

  • Mau de Katt

    The image of “The Judgement Of The Lord” painted in this passage brings to mind the movie Legion, where God “[gets] tired of all the bullshit” and unleashes the Hordes of Heaven to destroy all of humanity. 

    I say “hordes” because the the Holy Avenging Angels are very typically “movie demonic” in their actions and, with two exceptions, appearance. 


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