Amos was not a prophet by occupation. In reality, he was a sheep herder. He was less MDiv, more FFA . At one point, he blurts this out as if to say "I didn't ask for this job...". Talk about getting swept up in the purposes of God.
Regardless of his paying gig, he speaks it pretty straight. In fact, factor in the brevity of his work - nine short chapters - and I'm thinking his poke-per-chapter index is higher than any of the other prophets on the major list, minor list or elijah list.
Amos prophecied for a brief period of time when the northern and southern kingdoms were enjoying a false sense of security. Looking at their accomplishments and ideals, none would have imagined that in 40 years, the kingdoms would be desolate and the society collapsed. Just when everything looked rosy, the bottom drops out and people were only left with what they'd stored in their hearts. One would think there are lessons to learn here.
One of the things Amos goes after hard is a false sense of dispensing justice. The second edition of the New Living Translation is my favorite - it says
"You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the oppressed."Apparently one of the precursers of the destruction of the kingdom was their mishandling of these matters - not only the poor, but how they thought about the poor and what they did to fix the issue. Sometimes, even in fixing the issue, we do things that are fundamentally wrong, tainting the whole process.
Ever hear about Product (RED)? I've been following this Product (RED) media frenzy for a bit, and I'm thinking it smells like fish. Or slightly twisted justice. Rather than try and explain how it works, I'll just paste in their words from their website.
"As first world consumers, we have tremendous power. What we collectively choose to buy, or not to buy, can change the course of life and history on this planet...(RED) is not a charity. It is simply a business model.In short, you buy products labeled (RED) and a portion of the profits goes to buy medication for legitimately needy people. It's hard to argue with this. Good will be done here...but I think we have to ask what we're really buying...An iPod or a smug sense that we are a part of the solution?
You buy (RED) stuff, we get the money, buy the pills and distribute them. They take the pills, stay alive, and continue to take care of their families and contribute socially and economically in their communities.
If they don't get the pills, they die. We don't want them to die. We want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. And it's easy. All you have to do is upgrade your choice."
A lot of hip brands are buying in. GAP. Motorola. Amex. Apple kicks in $10 every time you buy a $250 iPod Nano. Interesting. (RED) manages to congeal our innate desire to be philanthropic with our overarching characterteristic of being self serving. It's a great idea for the Africans - and I'm glad they're getting the mdication - but I wonder what it's doing to our mentality.
Is it really a good thing when a 20 year old thinks justice is best fulfilled by skipping through the mall, chatting on her RAZR, en route to the GAP where she'll smack her AmEx against the upper credit limit?
Is this justice? Or just another way for us to buy stuff and still feel good?
I've probably gone too far...rattling not only Oprah fans, but those who worship at the altar of the foul mouthed irishman. I know that questioning such a (hip) humanitarian endeavor is to risk commiting blogicide, but when the most prosperous people on the planet land on consumerism as the model for justice, it makes me wonder what (really) comes next.
Maybe we've got to do more than upgrade our choice. Maybe we upgrade our motives.