Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
When reading the Old Testament, the chastisement of the Jews is relentless. Every time they turn their back on God through disobedience, they are attacked, enslaved, or displaced. Every time. But they kept on doing it.
Reading about the Old Testament Jews reminds me of watching a horror movie. You scream fruitlessly at the screen “Don’t do it!! Exile and slavery are waiting behind the door!!” Alas, alack.
That is the thing, characters in a horror movie do no know they are in a horror movie, they live their lives as if all is normal.
So too, life in chastisement seems much the same. Do you think that your average brick making Jew in Egypt realized that his people were being purified? Nope. He was as pre-occupied with making bricks as I am with going to work each day.
Chastisement can be that way. Many have this notion that chastisement is a sudden and unmistakable event of obvious biblical comeuppance “Sodom and Gomorrah” style. Sometimes. But if the Bible teaches us anything it is that run-of-the-mill chastisement is a centuries long event.
There is an expectation among many Christians today that a chastisement for a sinful world is long overdue and that there is an unmistakable event of obvious biblical comeuppance “Sodom and Gomorrah” style in our near future. Our deserving of such a correction—and that is what God’s chastisement is all about, correction—is not even up for debate. The only real question is when. When will God act?
May I suggest that we are making bricks in exile? What I mean to say, we are in the middle of a great chastisement but we are so busy making bricks that we fail to see the big picture.
Just the other day, Pope Benedict noted that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. Yup, chastisement.
When the third secret of Fatima revealed a vision of a Bishop dressed in white making his way through a half ruined city and over corpses only to be cut down by bullets, many people wondered “Wow! That is a prophecy of chastisement. When will that happen?” Look around.
More Christians have died for their faith in the past century than the past 2000 years put together. The chastisement is now. We are the chastisement. We tend to think of chastisement as something unusual sent by God. More frequently, and the Old Testament confirms this, chastisement is God allowing us to suffer the consequences of our own contrary wills. And do we suffer.
Now it may be that dramatic and sudden events will occur in the future to drive the point home or bring the chastisement to an end. I don’t know. But I suspect that one day, someone will view our story as a horror movie, the same way I do with the travails of Old Testament Jews, and shout at the screen “What are you doing? Turn back to God and stop the suffering. It is so obvious!”
It may be obvious to them, but we were too busy making bricks to notice.