God Gets Pissed at Our Politics – Amos 8:1-12

 

People often call for the separation of state and religion, but in reality, we tread in the middle especially for LGBTQ+ Christians, every day. The scripture today calls for us to strengthen our faith while fighting for those who are oppressed. It calls for us to question the system and the politics that continue to undervalue those who are having trouble supporting themselves.

iconEpisode Transcript

Brian: Welcome to the Queer Theology podcast!


Fr. Shay: Where each episode, we take a queer look at the week’s lectionary readings. We’re the co-founders of QueerTheology.com and the hosts for this podcast. I’m Father Shay Kearns 


B: And I’m Brian G. Murphy.


FS: Hello, hello, and welcome to the QueerTheology podcast. It’s Sunday, July 21st and this week we are going to take a look at Amos 1-12, I’m gonna go ahead and read it for us. It will also be on the show notes, you can access those at QueerTheology.com/286, but again, Amos 1-12.


B: And that’s Amos 8:1-12


FS: Yes, thank you.


This is what the Lord God showed me: a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?”

I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”
Then the Lord said to me,
“The end has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again forgive them.
On that day, the people will wail the temple songs,”
says the Lord God;
“there will be many corpses,
thrown about everywhere.
Silence.”


Judgment on oppressors and hypocrites
Hear this, you who trample on the needy and destroy
the poor of the land, 5 saying,
“When will the new moon
be over so that we may sell grain,
and the Sabbath
so that we may offer wheat for sale,
make the ephah smaller, enlarge the shekel,
and deceive with false balances,
in order to buy the needy for silver
and the helpless for sandals,
and sell garbage as grain?”


The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Surely I will never forget what they have done.
Will not the land tremble on this account,
and all who live in it mourn,
as it rises and overflows like the Nile,
and then falls again, like the River of Egypt?


On that day, says the Lord God,
I will make the sun go down at noon,
and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into sad affairs
and all your singing into a funeral song;
I will make people wear mourning clothes
and shave their heads;


I will make it like the loss of an only child,
and the end of it like a bitter day.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord God,
when I will send hunger and thirst on the land;
neither a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the Lord ’s words.


They will wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they will roam all around, seeking the Lord’s word,
but they won’t find it.


Yeah! What do we do with this?


B: So, I am obsessed with Amos. One of my favorite passages in the Bible of all time is in Amos. Amos 5:18-24 which I will put links to in the show notes for this episode which you can get at QueerTheology.com/286. But Amos is just like most, if not all of the Hebrew prophets, does not mince words and has some harsh things to say. What struck me about reading the text this time, I love this process of going through the lectionary and sort of revisiting text over and over again, and sort of uncover new meaning each time. This is actually the first time doing this passage on this podcast, but what struck at me this time while reading this passage that right here at the beginning it says: The Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again forgive them.”


It’s kind of like fun to see an angsty God here, because we just know that that is not true, right? So either God is an unreliable person, thing, being that changes God’s mind or sort of makes empty threats. And/or, the people recording their accounts of the Bible run their experience of God through their own personal lens and narrative and experience and it shifts by the context at their end. And/or God really never is going to forgive us ever again. So, that is something that sticks out at me. This reminds me of a passage recently that we did or a few passages recently that we talked about depression and seeing overwhelmed and despair in scripture. I think can be really powerful especially for folks that have been taught to always be positive, and positive thinking, and daily affirmations, and just like law of attraction, prosperity gospe: if you just believe good things like life can be great. So it’s interesting to see this overwhelmed and despair reflected in scripture I think that that’s very human and understandable and as queer people, something that we can definitely relate to. What about you Shay?


FS: I love all of that that you just said because I think it’s important that we look at how God changes throughout scripture right? Also, that we look at how people’s understandings of God shift and that they’re trying to make sense of it and that’s what scripture is: it’s that people are trying to make sense of what’s going on and what’s happening. I love too that this to me feels so relevant to now and this section on oppressors and hypocrites and those who trample the needy and destroy the poor of the land. Who make measures smaller, but money worth less, right? This feels to me like America in 2019. I’m always struck by the folks who come to churches or who aren’t in churches and are like, “Churches shouldn’t be political. Get the politics out of it.” 


And I’m like do you not read scripture? 


B: Right?


FS: You can’t read this text and not talk about politics. You can’t read this text and can’t talk about the way in which systems exist that oppress people and that God is pissed about that, right? 


B: Yup!


FS: It’s here and it’s all over scripture. It’s not like just one or two text, it’s everywhere. And so I think it’s really important that we grapple with that and that we talk about the fact that our faith and what we believe about God does in fact, impact our politics and it should, right? This isn’t a situation where we should be compartmentalizing these things and I think we can talk about the fact that you can have a separation of state and religion, that is possible. But you can not divorce your politics from your spiritual values, and that comes out in the ways that you live, and move and work through the world. And so I think it’s really vital that we talk about that, and that we grapple with that, and that we deal with that. So this passage is a reminder to me do that work, to continue to do that work, and to continue to figure out how my faith informs my politics, what it looks like and what that means. And to call in to question the ways in which I’m participating in systems that are oppressing poor people and needy people. And I think that’s it’s really vital and ongoing work.


B: Amen! We’ve done a handful of other podcast, written some articles and made a video or two about faith and politics. In particular, the politics of Jesus. So if you want to dive more into how our faith and our politics interplay, you can go to QueerTheology.com/politics to check all of those out and again, we will put all of these links in the show notes to this episode which you can get at QueerTheology.com/286. If you are interested in this stuff, and want to dive deeper, and rustle with it and be in a community of folks that are also going through life and figuring this out together, sanctuary collective might be a great thing for you. It’s an international community of folks, LGBTQ christians and straight cisgender supporters from all over the world. We’ve got subtopics so you can discuss each episode of the podcast as it comes out, to talk about sex and bodies, to talk about how it’s okay to be LGBTQ, a place for prayer requests and getting support. And then just a place to talk about life, and faith, and our joys, and our sorrows. You also get access to a growing library of resources, so you can learn more about that and join at QueerTheology.com/community. We would love to have you in there! If you have any questions, shoot us an email connect@queertheology.com or send us a message on any of the social medias that you are connected to us on.


[outro music plays]


B: The Queer Theology podcast is just one of many things that we do at QueerTheology.com which provides resources, community, and inspiration for LGBTQ Christians and straight cisgender supporters. 


FS: To dive into more of the action, visit us at QueerTheology.com. You can also connect with us online: on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, and Instagram.


B: We’ll see you next week.

Download the transcript

Highlights for today’s episode:

  • The scripture talking about depression and despair is very relatable
  • Importance of looking at God’s changes throughout the scripture
  • Politics and religion intertwine — whether you like it or not, here’s another episode about faith and politics
  • Listen to Brian’s favorite passage here

If you are interested to learn more and dive deeper, here are a few links to help you:
QueerTheology.com/resources
QueerTheology.com/politics
QueerTheology.com/community

Amos 8:1-12

This is what the Lord God showed me: a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?”

I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”

Then the Lord said to me,

“The end has come upon my people Israel;
I will never again forgive them.
On that day, the people will wail the temple songs,”
says the Lord God;
“there will be many corpses,
thrown about everywhere.
Silence.”

Judgment on oppressors and hypocrites
Hear this, you who trample on the needy and destroy
        the poor of the land, 5 saying,
“When will the new moon
        be over so that we may sell grain,
        and the Sabbath
        so that we may offer wheat for sale,
        make the ephah smaller, enlarge the shekel,
        and deceive with false balances,
in order to buy the needy for silver
        and the helpless for sandals,
        and sell garbage as grain?”

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
        Surely I will never forget what they have done.
Will not the land tremble on this account,
        and all who live in it mourn,
    as it rises and overflows like the Nile,
        and then falls again, like the River of Egypt?[b]
On that day, says the Lord God,
        I will make the sun go down at noon,
        and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into sad affairs
        and all your singing into a funeral song;
    I will make people wear mourning clothes
        and shave their heads;
    I will make it like the loss of an only child,
        and the end of it like a bitter day.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord God,
        when I will send hunger and thirst on the land;
    neither a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water,
        but of hearing the Lord ’s words.
They will wander from sea to sea,
        and from north to east;
    they will roam all around, seeking the Lord’s word,
        but they won’t find it.

Photo by Marco Oriolesi

This article was published by Brian & Shay, Queer Theology