Amos: The First Blogger (@layanglicana)

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Shutterstock image ID: 20276593 Copyright: Leah-Anne Thompson

 

Amos preached in Israel in the 8th century BCE. Wikipedia drily says he: “wrote at a time of relative peace and prosperity and neglect of religion. He spoke against an increased disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor.”

So his world was completely unrecognisable to 21st century Britain, then.

Actually, with the simple addition of a hoodie and some jeans, Amos could pass for one of us in any of our cities. ‘The theme that runs through all of the material is one of protest against the social injustices that prevailed in northern Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II‘. Have you noticed that, since the general election, Twitter and Facebook commentators whose utterances are usually limited to the finer points of biblical exegesis have morphed into frenzied protesters against social injustice, both perceived in the present and feared for the future? Righteous anger bubbles up in them, and some have hotly accused those who voted Conservative of denying Christ.

This is strong stuff, but it is entirely reminiscent of the writing of Amos. If you believe that the message of Christianity is inseparable from the message of social justice, it is easy to feel that politics, or salvation through faith plus works, trumps faith alone. Contemplation and prayer seem insufficient response to those who are sleeping on the streets, or to children who come to school hungry.

Amos was the first of the prophets to write down the prophecies he felt led by God to broadcast. This was at least in part because, determined to speak unpalatable truths to those in power, he predicted correctly that he would not long be left at liberty to speak in public as he pleased.  Writing down what he had to say could ensure that, by passing it from hand to hand, it could be read by an influential, if relatively small, group.

In the west, many bloggers see the end of organised religion as we have known it for millennia, and some see the breakdown of civilised society. Bloggers can and do say rude things about their governments with impunity and are rarely imprisoned as a result, even if some of us wonder if Big Brother does not begin to watch us a little more closely.  However, there are many countries in the world where such questioning of government authority is met with brutal responses.

Still to this day, we need those who are prepared to tell the authorities truths they may be unwilling to hear, following in the footsteps and along the path set by Amos.

 

 

 

About Laura Sykes