The other day, my wife and I went downtown to see one of my favorite people, Nadia Bolz-Weber, speak (incredible, btw — I’ll likely be writing a piece about it when I finish gathering my thoughts).
After her talk at Old St. Pat’s Roman Catholic Church (which, btw, the Catholic/Protestant tension during her talk was fabulous) she signed her book and my wife got a photo of it.
As I was sharing the photo on Instagram (because I had to, right?), I wrote as a caption:
It’s not every day that you get to be in the same room with a living prophet.
Immediately, I felt weird about it. It was amazing how quickly my mind scanned right past people who’d likely be fine with it and jumped to the biggest cynic it could find. All I could see was a dear family member, whom I love dearly, shaking his head in his disapproval of me calling this lady (yeah, a female, of all things) a prophet.
I deleted my caption (but then I put it back later).
Somehow, a lot of us got this idea of a prophet as a chosen one who speaks for God over the rest of us. And it’s easy to interpret the Bible as saying that Jesus is the only prophet. I mean, I know Jesus warned against false teachers and prophets, but this is kind of a blanket statement. I just can’t believe that God stopped speaking and loving and raging against the machine through us with Jesus.
Now, please know this… I don’t worship Nadia Bolz-Weber. I don’t think she’s God. I see her as yet another messed up/brilliant human just like any of us. But she says some prophetic stuff, no doubt. She’s a force of nature who’s saying some very unpopular but powerful things right now against the dominant power structures in our culture.
Here’s the qualifying question in order to determine how prophetic you may be…
Do you speak truth to power and risk the crucifixion of self (literally or metaphorically) for the good of the powerless? If so, you are a prophet.
Jesus was this for the ancient Hebrews. But I don’t think he was the only one. I equate this word with the word ‘genius’ — I believe all of us have genius in us, but not many of us activate it. I think that we all have the inclination to be prophetic, but not many of us do it. I mean, it’s not for everyone, this whole prophet thing.
So there you go… I think you could be a prophet right now. Your mom, dad, uncle, or cousin might not agree (however, who are we to speak for them?).
But I got you.