When the blood is flowing in the streets, when the grapes of wrath have filled and split open like so many mothers’ broken hearts, what then is the approved protocol?
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.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.