Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, Part 2
3:22PM Jun 25, 2020
If you have a growing gap between those who have and have more and more and more, and those who don't have, well then, you're going to have to spend.
And here, let's bring this into 2020. If you have a select few who are stockpiling to such a degree that wealth is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer and fewer people while more and more people are struggling for basic housing, education, health care; if you don't address that growing gap, then what you're going to have to do is spend more and more money protecting those who have stockpiled from those who don't have enough, because, inevitably, those who've been left out, they will cry. If their cry is not heard, they will cry louder. Then they will get angry. And then they may want some of that surplus.
Yeah, so if that's happening, and then you put people in the midst of that gap, whose job is to protect, the question is, “Who are they protecting from what?”
Now, let me just add a disclaimer right here. Somebody breaks into your house, you need to have somebody to call. We'll get to this in a second. Somebody is physically assaulting you, you need to have somebody to call. We're not talking about basic defense of houses and cars and stuff. We're not talking about security systems. We're not talking about a business having a security camera. None of this okay. So, obvious disclaimer, right? You're with me? Because we're talking about deep spiritual energies here.
But if you have a world in which more and more and more people have less—can't get access to the basics—while there's a growing small group of people who have more and more and more, and then you put somebody in that system to protect the ones of the surplus, and then you give them guns, and then in 1997, you pass an act where local police departments begin receiving surplus military gear, including tear gas, grenades, and, sometimes, tanks, when you begin using the weapons of war, that traditionally—we'll get to that some other episode…When you begin giving, traditionally, the weapons of war, which were meant to defend and go to war with other nations—when you hand those to police officers who are designed to protect people, but now have weapons that are used to harm people, how is that not going to be a very, very bad thing? And then when you have cities like the city of Los Angeles, where for years now, the police budget dwarfs all of the other budgets for housing, health and human services combined. Yes, of course, you have to spend more. You have to build more Hazors, Megiddos, and Gezers. You have to militarize. Yeah, so can you see?
Okay, here's the thing. Can you see how you can ban chokeholds, but if you don't restructure the whole thing, you'll just continue to have brutality? You see that? Do you see how you can spend tens of millions of dollars on police reform? Which has been done, and the data shows it makes almost no change. You can have people go to sensitivity training, bias training, even body cameras. What we now know, my friends, from the data is that police reform and the money spent on that isn't a good use of money. We have the data. Why? Because there's a larger structural issue here. Do you see that? And if you don't deal with the larger structural issue, then the pattern will just keep repeating.
Yeah. If you don't come at it from some different way… so if you continue to complain about looting and pointing out how horrible looting is without asking the question, “How did this system create people who loot?” If you don't get to the structural causes, then you'll just stay stuck in the same old loop.
If when you're the Democratic soon to be nominee for President, and you're asked about defunding the police, and you say, “No, I'm just going to give them more money for reforms,” but we know that those reforms don't work, what you're doing is enabling a broken system to continue to be a broken system. That's why, when you go back to Exodus, the storyteller wants you to see, it's structural. You have to go way, way, way back. You have to go back to some of the first police departments in America that we're used to protect white people and their surplus. You’ve got to go all the way back, and you’ve got to get to the core way in which the structure is off. It's broken. And you’ve got to address it. You don't just reform. You’ve got to go back and reframe what we even mean.
Here's an example. And I'm sure you're familiar with Camden, New Jersey, right? A couple different friends this week, I was like, “You know about Camden, New Jersey, right?” They're like, “Yeah, of course. Doesn't everybody?”
Camden, New Jersey. The police department had become so corrupt that a number of years ago, they disbanded their police department. Yeah, they just disbanded it. And essentially, started over. And I'll just give you just a brief summary here. And please, please go pause right now and go read about Camden, New Jersey, because it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in America. The police department had become so corrupt, it's so broken, they disbanded and started over and rethought what they meant, even by policing. You can reform, or you can reframe what you even mean by policing, because if you keep the same old gap—these people are protecting these people who are stockpiling from these people who don't have enough—well, you'll never get anywhere.
So one of the things they did is they had essentially rethought what what they even mean by policing. What does it mean for us to police ourselves? When they did bring in police officers, first off, they attracted a very different kind of person to be a police officer. One of the first things the police would do is if you were going to be over a neighborhood, helping protect the neighborhood, you then had to go door to door in that neighborhood and meet everybody and ask them what they need and how you can help. So instead of an adversarial relationship it became partners together to keep this place safe. Yeah. And if you go into the Camden story, we're like, “Whoa!” Because what's happened is you have all sorts of new data about different ways for us to keep ourselves [safe]—basic safety and policing—without entering in to the ancient pattern of these people protecting their stockpile, and these people over here with less and less until I don't even have enough to get by.
Yeah, there's so much! Many other places to go with this. A couple things here, then, for each of us, then. What to watch for. One question that often helps me is to say, when I see an issue, “Should we keep this system or should we build a better one?” So go all the way back. See if you can trace it, whatever the issue is. Ask yourself, “Is this system even working? What do we know? What does the data say? Should we keep the system, or build a better one? And when you hear people pontificating, ask yourself, “Does this keeps the system intact? Or does it contain, within itself, the seeds of imagination to build a much better system in which justice flows for all?
Because what the storyteller is doing here with Solomon, and with Egypt, and with the constant loop back between Solomon and Egypt is to keep saying this is a system. It's structural.
And you have to go back to store cities, you have to go back to scarcity, you have to go back to oppression, you have to trace it all the way back to its roots. Because if you don't address the roots, the core, and because everything is spiritual—Yes, everything is spiritual—you have to go back and find the core animating spiritual energies. Because these animating energies endlessly create structures that we then inhabit. And if the animating energy is greed, if it's scarcity, if it's violence, if it's revenge, if it's oppression, then the structure, if it's racist, then, the structure will be broken, and you’ve got to go all the way back.
Now, a couple things to wrap this up, just to lay on this plane.
Maybe for some of you you're like, why haven't I heard this reading of the Bible. Yeah, why don't people talk about this when they talk about the Bible? I know. Well now you can see why I do what I do. But you can see why. Right?
Right? If you're a citizen of an empire, that's 4% of the world's population, but it has over 40% of its weapons; if you are a citizen of an empire in which the flag and the cross have been interwoven; if you are a citizen of an empire in which the President of the United States has protesters tear gassed, so he can stand in front of a church, and hold a Bible. If that isn't empire in its corrosive fullness, building a wall, exerting its military power. Good God!
Yeah, of course. In those settings, you're not going to hear much, because if you actually were to read that book. It would be a critique of the very thing that it's being used to promote. Yeah, yeah. You’ve got to neuter it.
This is why for a lot of people, the Bible, what the only way they heard the Bible was predictions about how the world's going to end. Yeah, because otherwise you have to read it for what it is: a vision of how the world is to be ordered.
Now, structures of wealth and power and abundance—you tilt them in favor of the weak, the vulnerable, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner among you. Yeah, yeah. You build a safety net. That's what you do. You build a safety net for everybody who's in trouble, for everybody who's vulnerable—by the way right now, obviously, we see all this data, but you look at all of the countries where people are doing well. It's always countries with a strong safety net, where just basics like health care and education and such things, like those are all just, like, “Yeah, of course, we'll take care of that.”
Yeah. Yeah. When you look at the countries that are thriving they're always countries that have bent everything towards making sure that justice flows to everybody. Yeah, of course. Of course, of course. There's actually not much that's new about all this.
Okay. There's so much more here. We're just scratching the surface, but I gotta do one more thing here at the end. You ready for this my friends? I left this to the end. Because when I first came across this 15 years ago I was like, “What?!”
Oh, my word! You ready for this? This episode is called Hazor, Migeddo, and Gezer. Let me focus on that middle word Megiddo, because these are three military bases that Solomon was building and fortifying. They've essentially been military bases. He was just rebuilding them, expanding them.
“Megiddo”, “magiddo”, “amegiddo”, “ah-meh-gid-don”, “ah-me-ged-don”. You with me on this? Do you know what the Greek word or way that you pronounce Megiddo in Greek?
Ever heard that word? Yeah, Armageddon is just a translation of the word Megiddo. So when you've heard about, “Oh man! It felt like Armageddon.” “It was Armageddon time.” “Is this Armageddon, the final battle?” Yeah. That's Megiddo. Yeah, I've been there. I climbed up on a mountain above it and looked down on it. It's a place. Right now, it's a burial mound in present day Israel. Yeah, it exists. Yeah.
So in the book of Revelation, Armageddon, in this sort of apocalyptic poetry, is the site of a great sort of epic final battle or conflict. Yeah, well, of course. Of course. Because what was Megiddo originally? A military base. What's a military base? It's a place where you store weapons. Why do you store weapons? Because you're protecting something. What are you protecting? Your surplus, your abundance, your wealth. Who are you protecting it from? Somebody who doesn't have it, and wants it, and probably somebody who has less? Yeah. Well, why don't they have enough?
Well if you begin with generosity and abundance and a generative Earth, if somebody is trying to get your wealth, there's a good chance they don't have any. And if there's a good chance they don't have any, it's because of some system. Yeah, so we can talk about hard work, we can talk about discipline, we can talk about people being motivated. Yes. Very, very important. But at some level, systemically, it's probably because somebody has been stockpiling at the expense of someone else. They have been blocking the flow of generosity. And so what's fascinating in the book of Revelation is this great conflict, this great battle happens at Megiddo, Armageddon. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And what are we seeing now? What are we seeing now in our world? See, it's not, in the ancient Hebrew prophetic tradition—it wasn't, first and foremost, about that it happened, but about that it happens. It was as much about the event as it was about the ongoing truth of the event.
So what are we seeing right now in our world? Great conflict and upheaval. What is it about? The protection—yeah—the militarized, weaponized protection of wealth and abundance and surplus from those who don't have enough. Yeah, it will always lead to collapse of some sort, conflict of some sort, upheaval of some sort—yeah—violence.
Yeah, of course. Of course. There's looting, and then there's asking questions about what kind of system created people who loot. Yeah. Yes, the invitation for us. The invitation is for us to see all this in structural, systemic terms, to not fall for the easy performative gesture or solution that makes everybody feel all warm inside, but to ask, “No no no no no no! We gotta go deeper. We gotta go deeper.” Because we might do this thing there by saying, “Oh, this is the thing to do. That will make everything better.” But it might just be a surface swap. It might just be cosmetic. What we're learning to do is see these ancient patterns, to go, “Wait, does it actually get to the core destructive impulse, the animating energy that actually created this entire structure? And if you don't get to that, then you end up just looping around and around and around and around.
Yeah. Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. You just keep building military bases and fortifications. More and more and more money goes to protecting instead of asking, “Why are we needing so much money to protect ourselves? What is it about this system that has us so terrified? We have to spend another billion to protect ourselves from who? Why?”
“What are the conditions of their lives? What do they need? What needs aren't being met? What antagonism is that producing and how can we address that?”
Because you address that, and now, you're actually building a better world.
So there you are my friends. There's a sermon called Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. I hope this opens you up to new ways of thinking. I hope this helps you see the depth, the thing behind the thing. I hope this helps you get more keen and sharp and you're thinking about systems and structures, and most importantly I hope this helps you see possibilities.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, there, there could be a whole new reworking of how we see everything that's happened before. And is it time for this to happen. Again it will require a great courage. It will involve all sorts of disorientation and upheaval, and it will require an embrace of imagination that things could actually be arranged in a much, much better way in which there actually was justice for all.
That's the vision of the prophets. That's my hope for us, and I'm sure that's your hope as well. And now more than ever, my friends, Grace and peace.