I had just posted my Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing piece (which was ultimately picked up by Believe Out Loud) and it would seem that someone thought the best way to to disprove what I said, would be to prove that I am gay.
I know, the problems with that kind of logic are mind-boggling, but it happens all the time. If you can't attack the message, attack the messenger. In this case, it also happens to be impossible to prove, because I'm not. And, at the same time, it really shouldn't matter if I were. It's like arguing that Newton's theory of gravity simply can't be believed because he directly benefits from it being real. Hogwash.
So, as I mentioned, Believe Out Loud picked up my Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing piece and it kind of had a second life. I've even heard that it's making its rounds in some Mennonite circles. That's pretty cool. Along with it came a whole new set of Google searches bringing people to this blog. And among them is my new favorite. Are you ready?...
I'm a PROPHET!!! Woo hoo! And there was much celebration and general-merrymaking.
Actually, the Google search was for “false prophet mark sandlin.” But still, "prophet" – woo hoo? And there was mild joviality and arbitrary-frolicking.
Like I said, if you can't attack the message, attack the messenger. So, someone doesn't like what I say, or doesn't want to grapple with whether or not it is actually biblical, or whatever – so they Google “false prophet mark sandlin.” So, now that's a thing. Google databases have me and “false profit” forever linked. And I just don't care.
I am no prophet. False or otherwise. Big surprise, right? But I am just the littlest bit humbled by the whole thing.
I, on the other hand, sometimes pull punches – stopping just shy of telling the full truth, as I understand it, because someone at my church may get upset or someone else may use it as a way to dismiss everything I say, or whatever. Speaking the truth can get you run out of town. You can find yourself homeless... and even friendless. I'm no prophet.
Here's a dirty little secret, very few ministers are. We do not boldly speak truth into the darkness. Most of us allow fear of losing our job or, at least, of losing our “flock” box us in to the point that we are all Dr. Feelgood and very little Captain Justice. Honestly, I'm a bit embarrassed. More than that, this week as we celebrate Dr. King, I am ashamed.
I am ashamed that when that guy searched for “false prophet mark sandlin” he didn't get a million Google hits. You see, when prophets get prophetic, people don't like it. They try to squash and silence you. In the day of Amos and Micha, if you were prophetic they chased you out of town. In our day and age of social media, well, there's no town from which to chase you, so they try to ruin your name. Slander. Hate. Name calling. That's the online equivalence of a pitchfork and torch.
So, I make this promise as we begin 2012. While it is true, that I am no prophet, I promise to continually try to honor one of my all-time heroes, Dr. King, by not being so afraid to speak prophetically. I promise to never shy away from trying to shine light on the dark injustices of our world. I promise to always oppose violence and to do it non-violently and at the risk of personal peril if need be. I promise to not only speak of charity but to practice it with an eye set on exposing the systems that cause the need for it. I promise to exclusively practice inclusivity valuing each person regardless of color or creed, sex or sexual orientation, financial ability or level education, political affiliation or nationality – I promise to not just see you as my brother or sister but to treat you as my brother or sister.
In short, I promise to see this world the way that it should be - the way that God intended it to be and to not just talk about it, but to begin living into it. Because I may be no prophet and you might not be a prophet but that is no excuse to not speak prophetically, that is no excuse to not live prophetically, that is no excuse to not love our neighbor just as God as loved us. Yes, we may not be prophets, but we are brothers and sisters. We are each part of the human family and it is about time we started acting like it.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King. And thank you for showing us what a modern day prophet looks like. In progressive circles we often bemoan your loss and speak longingly of “the next Dr. King.” I sure hope we realize, before it's to late... that it's us.