A disgrace we can forgive?

100 thoughtful elected representatives look at and hear the evidence of corruption and betrayal and say “We see nothing here”. The Republican party buried the words truth and impartial justice in order to stay in power with its vote to ignore documented ongoing outrages by the American president. The Republican pride in covering up wrongdoing teminds me of the pride with which people read of three Hebrew lads in Babylonian exile. Should there not have been three who did what the Babylonian government wanted while the rest said no to idolatry? Surely we can forgive that? Won’t we?

Empty slogans and proverbs

What were the Hebrew people telling their children about their 70 year residence in Babylon? What conditions could have led to 3 boys standing apart from an idolatrous community? What was the buzz in such a dire situation?

Let us call it fundamentalist indoctrination and well-crafted fables. If American intelligence and interests seem to coincide with anyone one else’s interests one is likely to be sleepwalking. The exile of Jewish people in Babylon and the African diaspora of modern times have something in common: God’s definite plan for ultimate good.

And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Jeremiah 25:11

The exile was a national embarrassment and it hurt Jewish families too. On top of that, access to one’s food and culture was clearly reduced. Were they supposed to protest and defend themselves? Did God expect them to settle in, build homes and plant gardens?

The right time to confess

Refusing to worship an idol (the Babylonian state?) may have been juvenile ignorance.  The memory of Aaron leading in worshipping the golden calf may have inspired them.  The narratives  of Israelite idolatry are nevertheless everywhere. Avoiding idolatry can be strong propaganda but is more likely to be a convenient blindfold we take to our faces so we cannot see our own intoxication with a disgraceful past.

For thus says the LORD, Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself, and to all your friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and yours eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.

Jeremiah 20:4

God or country, never both

Nebuchadnezzar’s image may have been an imperial symbol. Submitting to his government was not idolatry.

That at what time all of you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, all of you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up:

Daniel 3:5

The anti-Jewish segment of society exploited a known Jewish aversion to idolatry. Bringing charges of disloyalty they sought to draw attention to Jewish integrity.

There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded you: they serve not your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.

Daniel 3:12

It worked! The disgrace of false gods is never far from people caught up in the preparation of God’s kingdom.