Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: In/Correct Protest
The author doesn’t explicitly name which responses to which world or national situation(s) he’s referring to. Can you list some possibilities?
Where do you think the line should be drawn between right and wrong responses to injustice? Once you’ve answered that, argue the other side: come up with a historical example of a time when someone “appropriately” broke your rule. (For instance, if you draw the line at the destruction of private property, you might cite the Boston Tea Party as a counter-example.)
- Who should get to decide which are the “right” or “wrong” ways to respond to injustice in the world? Does it make a difference whether a person is a sufferer of, perpetrator of, or adjacent to the injustice?
So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles. – Revelation 14:19-20 (NRSV)
A lot of people have been expressing a lot of opinions about the wrong ways to protest injustice. Apparently there are correct ways to express one’s anger, and incorrect ways. There’s an appropriate tone to use when talking about the destruction of a member of your community, or your family. There’s a right way to throw off oppression, and a lot of wrong ways.
To the arbiters of appropriate behavior: I’m just wondering what your approval rating for God’s response to injustice is. According to the Bible, God’s response is to toss everybody in a wine press and stomp until a wall of blood flows across the land. Does that go in the acceptable or unacceptable column?
Of course, some of you are too refined for Revelation. How about a Pulitzer Prize-winner, then? “[A]nd in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage,” says Steinbeck. Tom Joad’s life is a misery from the beginning, and then he watches his brother get murdered. What is the correct response, please?
When the blood is flowing in the streets long before God starts stomping, when the grapes of wrath have filled, dropped to the ground, and split open like so many mothers’ broken hearts, what then is the approved protocol?
When you speak through the actions of the oppressed, O God, let the whole world listen – including me. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.