Violence and Exploitation   1 comment

Ruins of Babylon 1932

Above:  Ruins of Babylon, 1932

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-16078

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, raise your throne in our hearts.

Created by you, let us live in your image;

created for you, let us act for your glory;

redeemed by you, let us give you what is yours,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 50

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The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 3:1-18 (Monday)

Daniel 3:19-30 (Tuesday)

Psalm 98 (Both Days)

Revelation 18:1-10, 19-20 (Monday)

Revelation 18:21-24 (Tuesday)

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In righteousness shall he [the LORD] judge the world

and the peoples with equity.

–Psalm 98:10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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I have the read the Book of Daniel (in its Jewish/Protestant and Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox versions) closely.  Neither version has a chronology which makes any sense.  Thus, I conclude, we are reading theologically important folk tales, not anything resembling history.

The character of Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned 605-562 B.C.E.) was not only violent but willing to reverse previous decisions, as the Book of Daniel presents him.  This combination placed others in dangerous positions, for what was mandatory one day might contribute a capital offense the next.  In Daniel 3, for example, the monarch made committing idolatry mandatory upon pain of death.  Then he found three Jewish men–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego–who disobeyed him.  Nebuchadnezzar II tried to execute them in the furnace, but they survived without even a singe mark.  Next the monarch promised violence against anyone who blasphemed Yahweh.

We know from history that, after the time of Nebuchadnezzar II, the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the forces of the Persian Empire in 539 B.C.E.  “Babylon” became the code word for the Revelation to John, which owed much to the Book of Daniel.  In Revelation 18 “Babylon” has fallen and those merchants, monarchs, and other people who had benefited from her oppressive and violent system mourn her demise.  There is much rejoicing in Heaven, however.

“Babylon” functions as an effective, damning metaphor in our day.  We of today live within systems of politics and economics which depend on violence and exploitation, do we not?  Some of us are even invested in one of these systems, whether or not we know it.  If it were to end tomorrow, such people would mourn its passing.  And that fact would stand in condemnation of such people.

I think of this text then ponder the ways in which even my simple lifestyle depends upon deplorable labor conditions and immorally low wages everywhere from down the street to far away.  Who made my garments, shoes, and radios, for example?  And under what conditions?  I apply the same questions to the pens I used to write the first draft of this post and the notebook in which I wrote it.  I could continue in this line of thought, but I have made my point plainly.  Would I mourn the fall of “Babylon”?  (I hope so.)  Would you, O reader?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR MACARTHUR, COFOUNDER OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, EPISCOPAL DEACON

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-24-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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  1. Pingback: Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 24, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary) | ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS

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