Proverbs Is Garbage
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. – Proverbs 22:1, 3-4 (NRSV)
The Book of Proverbs is garbage.
I said what I said. Don’t @ me.
It’s full of dubious wisdom. “Follow the rules and you’ll be rewarded. Suffering is for the stupid. If you lose your good name, you’re sunk.”
Reading Proverbs, I wonder, what world is this person living in?! Not the one where bad things happen to good people and wealth has no correlation to virtue. Reading Proverbs I wonder, what God is this person worshipping? Not the one who hears the cries of the suffering or who is always giving folks new names.
At Gilead Chicago, we have an explicit policy on name changes. We will call you whatever you put on your name tag. No questions asked. If you’ve been Elizabeth for as long as we’ve known you, but you come through the communion line with a “Betsy” tag, it’s “The Bread of Life broken for you, Betsy.”
If you have a name that’s dead, or unsafe, or that doesn’t fit, or comes with too many stories or too many memories, you can come up with a new one, or tell us your true one. If you have lost your “good name,” the good news is, we worship a God who offers an unending supply.
Which, come to think of it, is better than riches. But the rest is still garbage.
As a new year begins, teach us the good names for which you made us.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.