In this portion from Neaners' reflections below, it amazes me how differently this tattooed former gang leader reads the scriptures.
For instance, in these "judgement texts" from the prophet Jeremiah, Neaners does not hear it as confirming his own judgments against other religions. Nor does he seem uncomfortable, hearing a "vengeful God" tone. Instead, he hears God speaking directly to him about dropping gang allegiances! Who'd have thought? And he, like Jeremiah, feels a burden and call to share this with his own people. Gangsters he can influence.
The greatest beauty, to me, is what Neaners again expresses at the end: that he is not afraid of God's anger, but rightly hears the ache in God's heart. He relates to God! As a man in solitary confinement coming to terms with his own anger and violence, allowing the Spirit to reveal the true love and hurt beneath his rage, Neaners is able to empathize with God's feelings. His reflection here puts the light on God's hidden love and hurt. I believe this is the heart of the prophetic: viscerally feeling God's heart and then speaking it.
So far, this is some of the deepest commentary on Jeremiah or the prophets I've ever read (and right on part with the Jewish theologian A.J. Heschel).
Homie check this out. There’s this part in Jeremiah 1:14-19, but mainly 16-19--
14 The Lord said to me . . .
16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people
because of their wickedness in forsaking me,
in burning incense to other gods
and in worshiping what their hands have made.
17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 1
I read it like he’s saying to the homies, us, que we’re messin’ up, like he’s telling me, “Neaners, tell your homies to stop worshippin’ a number or color. Quit leanin on other homies when they should be leanin on me.”
Then he talks about kings, priests, the officials will be hatin’ on Jeremiah.
8 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
That’s like when we start changing an' doing good, cops don’t believe us. Or in us. People think "he’s just juicin’ the church" or something. Y active homies don’t wanna hear what we gotta say. You feel me?
Also, as it goes on, God sounds super pissed off at Israel, callin ‘em prostitutes y so on. That’s how I sometimes feel when I’m forgotten. When the visit didn’t show up. When [my sister] says she’s gonna do algo but forgets. I don’t call her but I’m hurtin’ inside. Maybe there’s a lot of people who can relate to his [God’s] hurt/anger.