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The Past Tense of Prophesy

So many take the bible literally (or at least selected parts of it). Yet almost no one believes in contemporary prophets. Angels, yes, but that's because they're undemanding, neutered and silent. Some in various church hierarchies believe that god(s) speak through them but if you look at the bible itself, the prophets were mostly outcasts who railed against social injustice and wealth disparity. The most famous of the prophets went so far as to throw the sanctimonious out of the temple and look where that got him.

Historically, a few individuals who claimed to have god(s) speak through them have been granted recognition like Joan of Arc and Miguel de Molinos, though most often posthumously. In their day, as with ours, they were considered heretics and crackpots. If god(s) were to talk to someone, surely it would be someone important, right? And surely god(s) would say something soothing, confirming what the clerics were already saying and not this crazy doom and gloom almost Marxist crap. Mormons believe god(s) still speak, but not to the riffraff.

Sometimes, of course, things simply get out of hand, like with the Fatima children who were cloistered immediately and campaign managed by the Church. (Though I suspect it was largely to hide the fact that they simply cooked up a story to cover their truancy but it spun out of control and became too dangerous to admit the shabby truth.)

Regardless, we do still have prophets and, like the prophets of old, they say uncomfortable, often crotchety things and remain outcasts from the mainstream until their Cassandrian warnings turn, well, prophetic. At least until the "how could anyone have known" crowd has passed through, dragging their giant memory hole behind them. They much prefer the pundit who spouts nonsense that nonetheless gets treated like gospel except insofar as it is never prophetic.

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky has Jesus arrive right in the middle of the Inquisition. But Jesus can't say a word because even "hey, how's it hangin'?" would upset the elaborate architecture of Catholic dogma. Today, various extremist groups are even radically and deliberately changing Jesus to make him more manly and guntoting and less sissy neighbor-loving. At least the prophet Muhammed is treated more respectfully by his followers who must learn Arabic to read his words without the filter of a translator.

The only real difference being modern day prophets and the ones of old is that the biblical ones got grandfathered in, tucked safely in the past, defanged and spiffed up for proper company. But if Elijah could come back today, he'd be out there manning the barricades.

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