On Sunday, Aug. 5, white supremacist, Wade Michael Page shot six people to death and wounded a police officer at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
On Monday August 6th a mosque in Joplin, Mo. was burned to the ground a month after an attempted arson at the Islamic center.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7 a man armed with a hammer was caught on video trying to destroy a sign at a mosque in Rhode Island.
Being wigged out by strangers and people of religions different than ours is nothing new in human nature.
Most of us know the story of “Jonah and the Whale.” For the most part it is told as a cute children’s story, a kind of Jewish Disney tall tale.
However Jonah’s intestinal jostling inside a big fish has a very clear spiritual message for us today. Here is a brief play by play of the sacred morality play.
God calls Jonah to preach in Nineveh and confront them concerning their wickedness. Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian empire, known for their brutal military violence against other nations.
Jonah promptly boards a ship going the opposite direction. God “hurled a great wind upon the sea” which threatened to break the ship into soggy lumber. The sailors cast lots which reveal Jonah to be the bulls eye of this heavenly wrath.
They pitch him over board and the Lord “appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” While in the innards of the fish Jonah has a seafood special conversion. “And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
God said lets try this again - to Ninevah you go. This time Jonah complies. The people and the King of Assyria repent! Preacher Jonah was ecstatic, right? Nope.
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” Jonah didn’t want foreigners to receive mercy. He confessed this is why he fled God’s Google map to begin with.
Jonah bitterly complained. “I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm.”
Jonah was so outraged he demanded that God take his life! Pouting, he camped outside the city under a lean-to poised to witness God’s next move.
First God “appointed” a plant to give Jonah shady refuge from the sun. Jonah was very happy. The next morning God appointed a worm to attack and wither the plant. Then God appointed a scorching wind and blazing sun to beat upon Jonah’s head. Jonah pleaded once more for God to take his life.
The spiritual parable closes with God delivering a soliloquy that is as current to our nation and globe as the anticipated iPhone 5.
“You pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
May Jonah’s God immigrate to America!
Chuck Freeman is Minister of the newly forming Free Souls Church of Round Rock. He is also creator, producer, host of Soul Talk Radio and founder of The Free Souls Project.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.