So You Say You Want a Prophet?


So you say you want a prophet? Because you want to know the truth that lies beyond the official script. You want to see beyond the matrix. Good for you! But keep in mind what prophets are. Prophets are seers. They see what we do not. They’ve seen behind the curtain. They’re not fooled by smooth words or slight of hand. The prophet is vital because the prophet can help us recover our imagination. We had an imagination once, as children (children who could enter the kingdom of God); but we grew up and that imagination got conscripted by the so-called “real world.” Yes, we need the help of the prophet to recover our imagination. But remember, the prophet is ever and always controversial. The prophet doesn’t salute the status quo, the prophet offers his withering critique. The prophet dares to speak of other alternatives—alternatives that some will find threatening. The powers-that-be are wary of the prophets and their poetic imaginations…as well they should be. But you still want to find the prophet, don’t you? You want to see beyond the veil, don’t you? You want to hear something other than the “approved statement,” don’t you? That’s what I thought. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Wendell Berry—the farmer-prophet from Kentucky. (Amos was a farmer-prophet too, wasn’t he?) But keep in mind prophets are not safe. Prophets aren’t ear-ticklers, they’re butt-kickers! So if you can handle a dose of prophetic truth, well, here goes…

Despite its protests to the contrary, modern Christianity has become willy-nilly the religion of the state and the economic status quo. Because it has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been made the tool of much earthly villainy. It has, for the most part, stood silently by, while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire. It has assumed with the economists that “economic forces” automatically work for good, and has assumed with the industrialists and militarists that technology determines history. It has assumed with almost everybody that “progress” is good, that it is good to be modern and up with the times. It has admired Caesar and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caesar, Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation. For, in these days, Caesar is no longer a mere destroyer of armies, cities, and nations. He is a contradictor of the fundamental miracle of life. A part of the normal practice of his power is his willingness to destroy the world. He prays, he says, and churches everywhere compliantly pray with him. But he is praying to a God whose works he is prepared at any moment to destroy. What could be more wicked than that, or more mad?

(This is from Wendell Berry’s sermon Christianity and the Survival of Creation.)