But Not The Moabites!

2 Dec

In this passage from Isaiah 25:6-10, we have the glorious image of all gathering on God’s mountain and engaging in a feast of fellowship and inclusion.

Except for the Moabites.

The shroud that lays across the world will be lifted.

Except for the Moabites!

Death will be swallowed up and be no more.

Except for The Moabites!

All tears and sorrow will be wiped away.

Except for the Moabites!

All disgrace and shame will be taken away from all people.

Except for the Moabites!

All shall be saved by God.

Except for the Moabites!

And the Moabites?

Smashed to pieces and dumped in the sewer!

That’s what happens to the Moabites.

Not much else to say really.

What a way to spoil an otherwise glorious vision and spectacle. To make scapegoats of a people so others may rise and be rewarded.

What a way to spoil the vision of God for all people when you leave one group out. Not only do you leave them out, but you sanction their destruction.

Some commentators suggest that this just the way it is, the brutality of politics and social mores. This is what humans do. Get used to it loser. Our God trumps yours!

Really? Is that good enough?

Unfortunately, it has been the pattern of the colonizing western civilisation across the world. Conquering nations, subjecting their people to the dehumanisation of enslavement and genocide while all the time benefiting from the fruits of their success, taking from those who were there what was once theirs.

Is it good enough to just say that is the way it is, suck it up Moabites, we did it to you before or because you did it to us.

Is this the way of God? Why do we have to have winners and losers, why do we have to subjugate others so that we can experience the goodness of God?

Can we ever consider what that might feel like? Can we ever see a day when we will be in the place of the Moabites? Will the balance of power in the world change sufficiently so that we are no longer the ones with the power and the right to rule over others?

When I was a boy my brother and I would play cowboys and Indians. We were always cowboys. I now understand him and I are, in this scenario, the Indians. We know what it’s like to be pushed out of the centre and to live with the Moabites, those of us who did not die under the genocide.

Thomas Merton wrote, in reference to race issues in America, we will not understand until we think like an Afro American. I am not sure whether he had this passage in mind or not, but the truth is we will not understand our own humanity until we think like, see through the eyes of, feel with the heart of the Moabite, the Aboriginal, the Muslim, the trans person, the disabled person and all who are not included at the feasting table on the mountain of capitalism and consumerism.

We cannot make a fairer world until all think like those who are on the margins. What do I mean here? To think like those in the margins is to understand that we who are they think very differently to you when we are in conversation or interaction with you and your culture. The following are some examples of how we have come to think:

  • Limit possibilities and opportunities, I aspire to. Yes, I can be anything I want to be as long as it what you say I can be.
  • Be careful what I say and who I say it to. To say the wrong thing to the wrong person may see me being sent to a “mission” to be re-educated and kept away from others, so I do not incite revolution.
  • Remember my place in society – do not get above myself – I will always remain the conquered.
  • Replace my autonomy with compliance with the wishes of others for to say no means death, not physically but I know I will be shut out of the conversation and any future opportunities.
  • Be grateful, always grateful, for the crumbs from the edge of the table, to ask for more or something different is an impertinence and will not be tolerated.
  • Remember others will always know what is best for me, even, especially when they know nothing about me at all.

This is not an exhaustive list but it’s a start. I am not going to make the connections to the treatment of indigenous and non-whites around the world. You do that.

There can be no true feast of hospitality on the mountain of God until all are equally included and no one is cast out. Not even the Moabites!


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