To them you are like a singer of love songs, one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; they hear what you say, but they will not do it. When this comes—and come it will!—then they shall know that a prophet has been among them. (Ezekiel 33:32-33)
Came across these words last night. They catch my eye and give me pause.
The "speaker" of these words is God to the prophet. God has just spent, in verses previous, warning of coming disaster, the "word" that the prophet is to pass on to the people of God. There is nothing beautiful about it.
Then God says, "and they'll come listen to you, and talk about you around town and even invite their friends to come hear the prophet. But to them all this warning is received like a love song?
But . . . I wonder. It seems to me that since my childhood in the 1970s, the culture has become more violent. Of course, we had our violence then, too, but now it feels more pervasive, more acceptable, more taken for granted. A sociologist could tell you if I'm right or wrong about this, but it feels this way to me.
And I think we take all this violence and destruction and treat it, if not like a love song, then certainly as entertainment. Yes, the entertainment of our time is violent, but in general, violence seems to be received as entertaining. Whether fabricated by Hollywood or reported on the news (some might say there is less and less difference), we see the signs of destruction and we're just entertained by it.
Love song or slasher movie, it's all the same to us.
Is that what God is saying to the prophet?
I'm reminded of a few lines from Joni Mitchell, released on her Dog Eat Dog album in 1985:
No tanks have ever rumbled through these streets
and the drone of planes at night has never frightened me
I keep the hours and the company that I please
And we call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Are we so comfortable in our "peace" that we wish to be stimulated by what is fake, what is brutal, what is perceived as innocence?
It seems counter to our evolutionary self-interest, but there is something in us that wants to have the adrenaline rush. We are addicted to it and like most addicts, we reach for ever higher dosages. Maybe not individually, but as a culture.
As always, I'm mostly left with more questions than statements but here I am with this:
What if we could wean ourselves off the adrenaline rush of violence? What if we were able to tell stories that inspired the pleasure of kindness, gentleness, and peace. What if even our prophetic utterances were more about the possibilities of love rather than the threat of destruction?
As I've asserted before, we need to tell new stories. The survival of our planet requires we begin to tell new stories.