Only occasionally have I been called “a Jeremiah”. That is because only occasionally have I gone around foretelling doom.
1: a major Hebrew prophet of the seventh and sixth centuries b.c.
2: person who is pessimistic about the present and foresees a calamitous future
3: a prophetic book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture
From Mirram Webster online dictionary, September 5 2011
Then too, I am not usually pessimistic about the present. That could change if one of the kooks running for president in 2012 should get elected. We have survived some pretty poor presidents, but I am not quite sure that our education system could survive someone that thinks Paul Revere warned the red coats that the rebels were coming. Maybe she thought that the rebels were the bad guys. Still, I am puzzled and doubtful about Sarah Palin. There is hope for my confusion, however.
I used to be puzzled by Jeremiah and now, not so much. In Jeremiah’s case the easing of my confusion came with reading THE MAN WHO KNEW GOD, Decoding Jeremiah by Mordecai Schreiber. I am not going to review the book – mostly because that would be too much work and eventually it would bore everyone – but I am going to point out point out a few things I learned by reading it. Click here for a few short reviews or on the title for the author’s opinion of the book.
One of the things I learned is that the book in the Old Testament, Jeremiah, is not in chronological or any other sort of order. That goes a long way in explaining a large portion of my confused understanding of Jeremiah, the man. And for me, II Chronicles and Kings were not much help in figuring out the “real” history of either Jeremiah or the chaotic times in which he lived. Rabbi Schreiber takes all of the donkey work out of arranging the events of Jeremiah’s life into an understandable sequence. That in itself is not an easy task. But, the author does more than that. He makes Jeremiah (and those he dealt with) real. Later on he also decodes Jeremiah’s true message.
The person that emerges is not a gloomy Gus carrying a crudely hand lettered “the end is coming” sign but a sublime poet with a message of hope. For Jeremiah, God loved his people and eventually would take care of them (as well as all of the [other] nations). His question was: "Why don’t you love God and do things his way – like worshiping the one true God instead of all those silly bits of wood and stone?"
I read much of THE MAN WHO KNEW GOD while waiting in the ER and hospital to find out about what was happening to my mother. I could not help but wonder what would have happened if a modern Jeremiah had met her and prophesized to her about her alcohol consumption. I suspect that she would not have appreciated such a person even had he been as a great a poet as Jeremiah. Probably she would have disliked him as much as the Judeans (Jews) of the time disliked Jeremiah. I certainly never did but I know that at least one physician tried. He told my mother that if she continued to drink alcohol she would develop Wernicke - Korsakoff Syndrome and not be able to walk. Sure enough, she continued to worship alcohol and sure enough, she developed Wernicke - Korsakoff. My mother denies that a physician ever told her that she would lose the ability to walk (as a result of the disease).
Do you suppose that the Judeans of Jeremiah’s time were also in denial?
We later Jews and Christians can’t be in denial (about Jeremiah’s message); we have the book, after all.