Aboriginal people at work were explaining totems to me. You don’t eat your totem. To my friend’s mob, kangaroos were sacred. So as well as being a complex tapestry of different languages and countries, this culture saw Australia as a tapestry of different animal sanctuaries.
That blew my mind a bit. It’s abundance thinking, recognising that, as long as you don’t get greedy, the regenerative machine of God’s creation will provide enough for all forever. A practical way of ensuring God’s will is done on earth as in heaven: God gave us all these animals. If you respect that gift enough to never kill all of any one kind, you’ll have them forever. And that is personally expressed through being bought up having an empathic affinity with a particular animal.
Today’s passage is about the corruption and greed of all Israel. God won’t allow them to point fingers at each other. You’re all equally bad, the passage says.
It explains God’s choice of prostitution to make the point, because the religious practises they had adopted in defiance of God’s revelation literally involved a lot of prostitution. Their spirituality and their economy was built on it. Sacred and secular, almost everyone complicit in this deep corruption of their society.
I say almost everyone, because the prophesy will not allow the double standard of victim blaming:
“I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots”V14
Very clear that Hosea’s story was not about “slut shaming” Gomer, wife and prostitute, but exposing the exploitative patriarchy she was born into.
I thought: our society isn’t as bad as that. There is a lot of good. We aren’t as corrupt as Israel was. And I don’t know the answer. But I’ll tell you, greed is on the up and up.
Look at toilet paper. When the history of the 2020 pandemic is told, the ridiculous toilet paper crisis in Australia may be forgotten.
But you can’t find it anywhere. Most Australians seemingly decided that the way to stock up for the possibility of 2 weeks of quarantine was to buy about a years worth of toilet paper, so the shops are currently empty of it.
This is not abundance thinking, it’s selfish greed, admittedly fuelled by panic. But the toilet paper thing seems like a prophetic symbol worthy of the old testament in a world where inequality is dramatically rising, and political movements based on xenophobia keep winning elections.
God promises that the world does have enough for everybody, if we can just be less greedy. But still, greed is rampant.
And sexual exploitation is in this weird place. It’s more harshly condemned than ever in my lifetime, via #metoo and the demarginalising of all kinds of sexual preferences. But at the same time the internet swirls with unprecedented access to it. But I suppose no weirder than the contradiction of Hosea’s marriage. Plus ca change..
So our spiritual health is patchy perhaps, but not great, not at all.
Prophesy is about being God’s presence. WWJD. We’re good for toilet paper.