Treat People With Kindness

In Harry Styles’ song, Treat People With Kindness, he says:

“Maybe we can
Find a place to feel good
And we can treat people with kindness
Find a place to feel good
I got a good feeling
I’m just takin’ it all in
Floating up and dreamin’
Droppin’ into the deep end
And if we’re here long enough
They’ll sing a song for us (ah-ah-ah-ah)
And we’ll belong”

Reminds me of brother Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

While exile was understood as a punishment for Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness, Jeremiah didn’t believe that God was finished with the exiles. He speaks of gardens, offspring and multiplication like Genesis 1 and 12. The garden and the promised land were to be ground zero for covenant faithfulness. Now Babylon is ground zero. The exiles are not sidelined, they are not junior varsity, and the blessings of the covenant for the people and the planet are not on hold. Earthling unfaithfulness is no match for God’s faithfulness to his promises, even among uncircumcised Babylonians, so Jeremiah recommended intermarriage. In fact, the welfare (Shalom in Hebrew) was also the Shalom of the exiles. I believe that’s because we belong to each other and belong together. Jeremiah does not recommend listening to the false prophets who say otherwise. He didn’t believe God sent them. Neither do I. Grace and peace be with y’all.

In which Habakkuk uses the myth of redemptive violence as a theodicy.

The prophet asks God how long he’s going to let all the destruction and violence continue.

What good are laws if justice never goes forth?

The Lord answers that the violent nation Babylon is carrying out justice on his behalf, and the prophet answers that surely the everlasting one can do better than that.

God’s response? Well, the Babylonians will get what they deserve too, I’m in my temple so everyone can stop complaining.

So Habakkuk, like many before and after him, props up the myth of redemptive violence (MRV) as a theodicy, and goes back to singing worship songs.

And when Jesus’ life and teaching calls the MRV into question, they kill him for it, then centuries of Christians interpret that death through the MRV.

I believe “the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” when we finally stop adhering to the MRV. How long will that take?