Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center, listened to the preaching the Rev. Jeremiah White, the retired pastor of Chicago's Trinity UCC Church and then listened to the words of the prophet Jeremiah that was recently read in many synagogues.
Traditionally, Jewish congregations each Shabbat read a portion of the Torah and a passage chosen long ago by the rabbis from the Prophets -- one that has some connection with the Torah portion. On the Shabbat (March 21) that followed a week of tumult about Pastor Jeremiah, the traditional Prophetic reading was a passage from the Prophet Jeremiah (7: 21 to 8: 3 and 9:22-23).
Reading it, I found not only our country but myself challenged at a profound level:
The ancient Jeremiah channeled God's burning anger at seeing the people
betray their covenant of love, justice, and fairness. Bitterly, furiously,
he denounced the kingdom of Judah for turning its burnt-offerings of animals
and grains into the burnt-offerings of its own children, thrown into fires
they thought would delight their God..
But on behalf of God, the ancient Jeremiah cried out that "the carcasses of
this people shall be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the
earth." Even the dead shall not escape disaster -- for "the bones of kings
and leaders, priests and prophets, even ordinary citizens, will be ripped
from their graves and exposed to the sun they had worshipped, so that their
own bones will become dung on the face of the earth."
How does this differ from the most extreme statements of Pastor Jeremiah
Wright? How does it differ from "God damn America!" except by being far
Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director of The Shalom Center and author of many books on Jewish thought and practice and on public policy. Most recently he is co-author with Sr. Joan Chittister and Saadi Shakur Chisti of "The Tent of Abraham."
Read the rest: On Faith: The Two Jeremiahs.