The Problem with Prophets

“The Prophet John was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light”
John 5:35 NRSV  

Most people like prophets, at first. Not the ‘tell the future’ kind – I’m talking about the ‘tell the truth’ kind - the Martin Luther King Jr or Mother Teresa type.

When Prophets show up it’s usually to take down the biggest oppressors in town. They speak with passion and light up the secrets and unmentionable things that stand on our throats and choke out our joy and life… I mean, sometimes “the man” has really got you down… The moral clarity and personal fidelity of the Prophet is a brilliant beacon against the dark oppressions that we all love to hate - the big giant ones like human trafficking and slavery, corporate greed and low pay, communists and politicians, and of course aspartame and non-organic free range eggs. Things we all want to be shamed and exposed for the harmful ways they affect our lives


The problem with prophets is that they just don’t know when to quit.

If they would just be happy with taking on ‘bad guys’ and with the fat book deal they get as a result, we could keep right on loving them.

But as it stands, our relationship with prophets is complicated.

Even after we cheer for them for taking on our enemies, they are terribly ungrateful and just keep going in their pursuit of so-called injustice. Eventually their passion and light shine on the (tiny and hardly worth mentioning) dark corners and recesses of our own lives. Their inconvenient inability to know when to quit makes them a real bummer at parties. Even prophets don’t like being around other prophets. Actually, it seems unavoidable - hang out with a Prophet long enough, and you will hear some inconvenient truth about yourself.

And then you will have to kill her.

No not with a knife or gun, but with good old fashion gossip. Just whisper words and drop of few hints of innuendo, then sit back and watch as the crowd takes care of the rest. Voila! Your prophetic friend’s head is served up on a platter of tragedy and denial.

People will applaud you for it. They will wish wish it had been done sooner. They will talk in hushed tones about how it’s really too bad that she couldn’t learn to pick her battles and save her voice for more critical issues. 

Prophets are such a pain in the ass.

…Unless they become comedians. Then they can serve up as much brutal, biting, and honest truth as they want as long as they are funny. Comedians are the best kind of prophet. They tell us the truth, but allow us to laugh and relieve the anxiety it causes us. Sure we are exposed, but we are still safe because nobody expects us to take comedians seriously…

Photographer + Storyteller. Pastor + Advocate. Schemer + Party commencer.