Matthew 23 and Luke 11

Damn you Quakers
You hypocrites
Outside you look righteous
Inside, you are filled with hate

Damn you donors with names on lists
Damn you who are seen marching for causes
In your private lives you are greedy
You do nothing to help those around you

Damn you who’s meeting is a gated community
Surround yourself with the wealthy
You lie when you claim sympathy for the oppressed
Damn you, for you look down upon the poor

What happens if the poor enter your meeting?
Can they even find the front door?
Will they be welcomed
Damn you — their absence says they were not

Damn you who cry out for economic justice
Damn you who are superior because you eat organic
You pile judgment upon the poor
Condemning those who choose between warmth and food

Damn you who make others feel unwelcome
Damn you who claim to make people equal
You charge money for the ability to speak
Raising the prices for conferences if the poor choose to attend

Damn you who pressure others to speak as you
Give them a community as long as they are your mouthpiece
You silence all other people
You teach them to be more damnable bigots than you are

Damn you who make token sacrifices
Damn you who brag about the little things you do
Do you not judge others by your little rules?
You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel

Damn you who brag about John Woolman and Levi Coffin
Did you listen to them when they spoke?
Did you not cast them out of your meetings?
Why do you brag when they condemned you?

You are no different than your ancestors
You are proud and comfortable
Live your comfortable, self righteous lives
Do not think you shall escape the hell you have built

This is an example of Seminary homework. We are sharing what we find in scripture for class — this is specifically looking at scripture in the terms of the social justice context. Unfortunately, we read passages like this, and we do not think of the impact. Pharisees were the people who took Torah seriously. They wanted to find a way to live out every law. The bulk of Torah is about social justice. Jesus was talking to people who cared deeply about the minutia of social justice, but he saw that so often, they cared more about following rules and expectations than being just.

For this poem — its important to show the depth of Jesus’ speech. Jesus is cursing the Pharisees — Considering the language of 23:33, damn you seems to carry the meaning quite well. I need to turn away from the Pharisees to a group who is respected, and well known for following social justice rules. In the context of a Quaker seminary, it is difficult to choose a better group than Quakers. While it is possible to see a common pattern between this and Matthew 23 / Luke 11, I focused more on expressing the feeling than the literal meaning. Think of the feeling in this passage, the shock value of Christ’s curses against the Pharisees is perhaps greater.

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2 comments on “Matthew 23 and Luke 11

  1. Charity says:

    I think this was a good interpretation. It is challenging, especially as a Friend to Friends. Thanks for your honest look at our shared weaknesses.

  2. LAR_Northman says:

    Youch! Well done.

    As I was reading this I was wondering what had happen to make you write such a thing. Homework though makes sense.

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