Earned? (Isaiah 54-55)

Mid 1995, I walked off USS Billfish after my first time a sea, a short ten week run to the Mediterranean and back.  Among the families greeting their loved ones, I took my ten-month-old son into my arms; he struggled reaching for Mom.  He did not recognize me.  We drove home pretty much in silence, holding back the confounding mix of emotions that we would come to recognize as typical for returning to port.  Once home, I took out the Dr. Sues book that I had read on the video tape before I left.  After the first rhyme his eyes lit up.  Soon enough he was smiling and happy for me to hold him.

I made sacrifices for my country during those five years in the Navy.  And, had I not worked hard and mad those sacrifices, I would have suffered consequences.  I earned the right to stand up during Diamondbacks games when they honor veterans.  I deserve to walk with my daughter in the Veterans’ Day parade.

Of course, some of the advantages I enjoy are not the result of something I earned.  I did not have much to do with my dad being a scout leader who encouraged me to be an Eagle Scout.  I did not have much to do with my mom knowing how to fill out financial aid forms and assuming out of the gate that I would go to college.  Nor did I earn having my opinions taken more seriously when I spoke up in class, or people assuming that I’m one of the people in charge, both of which have much to do with my gender and race.

That’s the thing about being the privileged, or the chosen–it doesn’t mean you don’t work for what you have nor does it mean that you can’t do stupid things to lose what you have–it merely means that in addition to all of that, there is an element of luck prior to anything you ever did.

The nature of Israel’s chosen status is examined at the end of what is called Second Isaiah sometimes.  Chapters 40-55 were likely written after the Northern Kingdom had been taken into exile by the Assyrians, but before the Southern Kingdom had been taken into exile by the Babylonians.

Israel longed for a return of its special status, perhaps.  Isaiah 54:6 says, “‘The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God.”  Note, in this metaphor, the wife doesn’t really deserve to be called back.  It is an act of love rather than a transactional response. In Isaiah 54:17, “‘This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.”  Inheritance is not earned.

Despite Israel’s longing, as the Southern Kingdom stood on the precipice of what would seem like eternal defeat.  Not just exile, but a destruction of the temple, the faith of Moses and of Abraham would survive by transforming from a local religion to a global one.  As Isaiah would write, in 55:8, “Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

How does Israel’s demise relate to White Male Privilege?  The faith of Abraham survived because the chosen gave up their chosen status.  The chosen recognized, transformed, revised–whatever–the faith to be a faith of the world.  Imagine if those who benefit from our societal structures could both recognize the advantages they have received and work to reorder systems so that such unfair advantages would be removed.  How cosmically powerful is such a notion that the privileged in our society could let go of that chosen status for the betterment of the entire culture.  It would be as grand a change as the followers of YHWH seeing their God as the God of the world.

Israel wouldn’t give up its chosen status until absolute, apocalyptic, cataclysmic destruction was imminent.  What would it take for the privileged in our society (like me) to be willing to surrender their privilege?

7 thoughts on “Earned? (Isaiah 54-55)”

  1. Needed to create you one very small note so as to say thank you as before relating to the breathtaking thoughts you’ve shared on this site. This is so remarkably generous with people like you to grant publicly all that most of us might have advertised for an e-book in order to make some profit for themselves, specifically seeing that you might well have tried it in the event you desired. The strategies in addition served to be a good way to fully grasp that the rest have the same interest the same as mine to figure out a little more when considering this condition. Certainly there are thousands of more fun opportunities in the future for those who start reading your website.

  2. I enjoy you because of all your valuable hard work on this web page. Ellie really likes participating in investigation and it’s really easy to understand why. My partner and i learn all of the dynamic ways you make both interesting and useful steps by means of your blog and therefore increase participation from some others on that matter and our favorite girl is really studying a lot of things. Enjoy the rest of the year. Your performing a very good job.

  3. I simply wanted to thank you very much all over again. I am not sure the things I would’ve created in the absence of those information provided by you on such concern. It had become a scary concern in my circumstances, but seeing the well-written tactic you processed it took me to jump for gladness. Extremely thankful for this help and as well , expect you are aware of a great job you were carrying out educating others through the use of a blog. More than likely you haven’t come across any of us.

  4. I and also my friends appeared to be reviewing the best thoughts from your web page then then I got a terrible feeling I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for them. Those women ended up warmed to see all of them and now have honestly been taking advantage of these things. Thanks for getting quite thoughtful and also for going for this kind of important information most people are really desirous to know about. Our honest regret for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  5. I am also commenting to make you understand of the great discovery our daughter gained visiting your webblog. She learned a lot of details, which include what it’s like to possess an excellent giving character to let other individuals very easily know precisely certain impossible subject matter. You undoubtedly exceeded people’s expectations. Many thanks for displaying these informative, dependable, edifying and even fun guidance on this topic to Jane.

Leave a Reply