Sunday, April 03, 2005

It's Good To Be the King?

At my church this morning, the pastor was preaching from the book of Judges (part of a series he's been teaching for a couple of months now). Part of the text he was discussing today was Judges 9:7-15. A minimal background is useful here: this part of Judges concerns one of the Israelites' frequent, periodic spasms of Baal worship and other such pleasantries; two factions of Baal-worshipping folks are contending to see which one should rule over a place called Shechem, which was about halfway between what would later be called the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. One man named Jotham addressed a crowd of Shechem-dwellers thus:

Listen to me, O men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, "Reign over us!" But the olive tree said to them, "Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?" Then the trees said to the fig tree, "You come, reign over us!" But the fig tree said to them, "Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?" Then the trees said to the vine, "You come, reign over us!" But the vine said to them, "Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?" Finally, all the trees said to the bramble, "You come, reign over us!" And the bramble said to the trees, "If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out of the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon."

In this arboreal parable, none of the trees that were worth anything, and that did anything useful, were interested in being El Grande Presidente. The worthless thorn bush, on the other hand, was happy to volunteer.

Does anything about this seem familiar, O fellow-subject of petty bureaucratic mini-tyrants in early 21st century America? Do you recognize Our Glorious Supervisors? Brambles, the lot of 'em!

It's a thought that might be worth remembering, the next time the propagandists of the Tweedledee and Tweedledum Parties are trying to whip up Voter Enthusiasm. One Baal worshipper is worth exactly as much as the next one -- exactly nothing, that is.

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