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Old 06-06-2006, 12:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Modern Prophets

The Old Testament of the Bible is full of stories of the prophets: people who saw things going to hell around them and preached a line of repentence, of guidance -- and of consequences if things didn't straighten out.

The prophets didn't shut up, even when ridiculed, persecuted, tortured, or ignored. They saw what was wrong with society and wanted to speak their truth and persuade people to do better, no matter what.

It occurs to me that you don't have to have a private line to God to be a prophet. You just have to have a true insight that other people don't want to hear, because it would disrupt their easy existence. And you have to keep pushing it, no matter what, because you know it's important. Because having people like you is less important than trying to convince them to save their own asses.

Anybody who ever faced down a group they were part of, to really try to convince them that what they want to do is wrong or dangerous, is a prophet. Prophets are seldom rewarded, even when they're right. Sometimes being right makes a prophet even more unpopular.

Is there anyone alive today or recently -- famous, infamous, or obscure -- that you consider to be a prophet? I'd be interested in knowing. Let me start out. Prophets come in a variety of flavors and intensities:

* Martin Luther King -- he kept leading and talking -- about racial equality, but also about social justice and even the righteousness of America's foreign policy -- until they shot him. He had his faults, but that's not the point.

* Ann Landers, Dear Abby, Miss Manners: All the old advice columnists and their heirs. They try to keep polite society on track, and yet they also empower people to break convention when the conventional advice (honor your parents, etc.) is getting them abused or degraded. They continually exhort people to treat each other well, and to assert themselves against people who want to bully or take advantage of them -- and those are worthy messages these days. I particularly remember the column in which Ann Landers told middle-aged Middle America to Get Real about masturbation -- hoooah!

* Pat Buchanan. I actually don't like the guy or his politics. But he's been on message for 15 years now that the average man in America is getting it in the shorts from both parties, big business, and the upper classes. While all the other pols try to distract the citizens with smokescreen issues like gay marriage. Pat's not particularly well liked by the right or left, but his basic message is true and he just keeps going.

* Jon Stewart and the Daily Show crowd. They're obviously not feeling any pain -- they've very successful -- but they do skewer stupidity, avarice, and hypocrisy daily wherever it appears. Some of the funniest things they ever did were about John Kerrey, not Bush. And you've got to give Steven Colbert some serious cred for that speech to Bush and the White House Press Corps.

* My wife. She sees more clearly than many people; and when people she knows are doing something wrong or dangerous or abusive toward others, she tells them. No matter what or who. Many people are uncomfortable around her; it makes them nervous that she challenges people in authority. But a few very thoughtful people like her very much and want to hear what she has to say.

So: who do you think the prophets of today are?
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Old 06-06-2006, 01:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm a big fan of Jon Stewart. I dont think his success is a fad, I think it's genuine because of his talent and his message. Though he has writers behind him, he is not a talking head. I guess I would agree that he is a 'prophet' in your modern sense, but I'm still wary of granting anyone that kind of status. I prefer to leave it to history to tell us.
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Old 06-06-2006, 01:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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by your definitions it would include

Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jackson, George Clooney, Tim Robbins, Sara Sarandon...

personally I don't see anyone today being anything of a "prophet"

a mouthpiece yes... but prophet? Hardly.
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Old 06-06-2006, 02:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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How about Brian David Mitchell, kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart? His defense is predicated on the fact that he's a prophet.

I see your point, but I subscribe to the idea that one man's prophet is another man's pain in the ass. I think that would apply to just about everyone on your list, with the possible exception of your wife. I don't want to go there.

By your definition, the idiots that used to hang out in front of the VFW in Grinnell, IA and called me "faggot runner-boy" every time I ran by there at the start of my warm-up loop 5 days a week would qualify as prophets. They were consistent in their message, I didn't want to hear it, and they were at least 2/3rds right in that I was indeed a teenaged runner.
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Old 06-06-2006, 02:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
How about Brian David Mitchell, kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart? His defense is predicated on the fact that he's a prophet.

I see your point, but I subscribe to the idea that one man's prophet is another man's pain in the ass. I think that would apply to just about everyone on your list, with the possible exception of your wife. I don't want to go there.

By your definition, the idiots that used to hang out in front of the VFW in Grinnell, IA and called me "faggot runner-boy" every time I ran by there at the start of my warm-up loop 5 days a week would qualify as prophets. They were consistent in their message, I didn't want to hear it, and they were at least 2/3rds right in that I was indeed a teenaged runner.

Well, let me add one additional criteria, one that might even rule out some of the people I mentioned: it should actually hurt to speak the word. It shouldn't be any fun. The prophet actually pays a price for speaking the truth; it would be easier to shut up. That would rule out the VFW yahoos, who were simply indulging themselves for fun.

Here's one situation in which we've all had the chance to be prophets: you're in a group of people that wants to do something. Everybody seems to want to do it but you, but you know that it's stupid or wrong or harmful. You also know that everybody in the group wants to think it's okay to do what they want, and they'll all be pissed at you if you speak your mind. Some of them might even break off with you. And you're not an outgoing guy, particularly. But you speak up anyway, strongly, because you know there's a greater good at stake than whether all your buds still love you.

And folks, that is hard for most people to do, even with a peer group. That's the part of being a prophet that the VFW guys, and maybe even Jon Stewart, fall down on.

I don't claim that all prophets are right, but that they believe they're right and are willing to pay a price to keep speaking their truth, instead of only saying the truth when you're paid.

As for being a pain in the ass -- that's practically the base definition of a prophet. Reminds me of what they used to say about good newspaper editors back in the old days -- you could always tell when a good one died, because his funeral procession was really short; they pissed off _everybody._

The short job description for prophet: "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."

Last edited by Rodney; 06-06-2006 at 02:28 PM..
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Old 06-06-2006, 02:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Billy Graham, he's been preaching since he was a small boy, and now that he is ancient, still can pack a stadium to standing room only.
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Old 06-06-2006, 03:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Prophesy is a very slippery slope. What is a false prophet? Is that term relative to perception or denomination? Even moving to the secular, prophesy isn't just being a futurist...the term implies some supernatural power (right?). I don't really see anyone as being supernatural. There are those that are excellent leaders and who can make brillient decisions based on their progressive beliefs, but I don't see them as prophets.

IMO
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Old 06-06-2006, 03:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodney
I don't claim that all prophets are right, but that they believe they're right and are willing to pay a price to keep speaking their truth, instead of only saying the truth when you're paid.
Yeahhhh, maybe I'm too much of a relativist, but I'd have to say that very, VERY few people know and speak the Truth with a capital T. Very few people are just plain RIGHT beyond all doubt, applicable to any and all situations in any culture, in any country.

Now, a TON of people think that their truth (little t) is Right, but that sure as hell doesn't make them a prophet. That makes them a preacher. I don't think someone is a "prophet" simply because "they believe they're right and are willing to pay a price." A lot of assholes (or even kind, but blind people) do that, and they aren't any more right than the rest of us delusional humans. It also makes them martyrs, whom I am not a big fan of. The only modern martyrs that got my attention were the self-immolating Vietnamese monks during the Vietnam War. Now that was Truth.

Pressed to think of a prophet, though, the only one who comes to mind is Stephen Colbert, in his performance at the recent press corps dinner. IF that was all original, and all his... well, that's pretty damn Truthful. hehe.

You see how subjective this is, though...
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Old 06-06-2006, 04:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Here's one situation in which we've all had the chance to be prophets: you're in a group of people that wants to do something. Everybody seems to want to do it but you, but you know that it's stupid or wrong or harmful. You also know that everybody in the group wants to think it's okay to do what they want, and they'll all be pissed at you if you speak your mind. Some of them might even break off with you. And you're not an outgoing guy, particularly. But you speak up anyway, strongly, because you know there's a greater good at stake than whether all your buds still love you.
Rodney, what you describe here is not a sign of a prophet, but an example of a person with integrity toward his or her inner values. Many of us would rather remain silent than confront friends in an action or belief that we disagree with. That does not make those that do speak out for their beliefs, whether friend or foe, a prophet.

I think your question might be better answered by the general relativism that has been adopted over time. Do *you* hold values of such importance that you would speak out against anyone who would violate those values? I am sure you do, but does that make you a prophet?
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Old 06-07-2006, 06:05 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I thought the very definition of prophet included a God figure.

Perhaps you are talking about activists instead of prophets?
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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JOHN LENNON was a prophet, maybe not in the Biblical/religios sense.

He was able to get huge amounts of followers to believe his causes and fight injustices,insanity, greed and war, not for him, but for the purpose that all those injustices are such bullshit.

As for GOD figure, Lennon just taught what Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and so on taught. He was the most vocal and visible person to combine religious/philosophical beliefs and to show that they all teach the same thing. That is to love, to understand, to forgive and to work out a peaceful union for all people and he also taught self reliance, self worth and self responsibility.

I fear a lot of his message and teachings died with him, because of the government, religious leaders, greed mongers who try to destroy his name. It is also sad that so many will point out his personal demons and then discount what he taught. But, I truly believe in 50 years or even sooner, people will rediscover what he taught and look upon it with reverence, respect and that his teachings will indeed become ingrained into some present religious teachings.

Every man has demons, Lennon was nowhere near perfect, however, IT IS what he taught and how he truly tried to stand by and live what he said, that should be what people focus on.

Lennon never claimed to be a prophet, or God sent nor did he ever claim he had the answer.... all he ever said was, "we should try peace, love and understanding and work for them because throughout our history we have tried nothing but hate, greed, war and negativity and people do nothing but suffer because of it. Perhaps if we spent that energy positively now, positive life would be our results."

While other stars and people, who tried to say the same thing were true hypocrites, liars, thieves and publicity hounds, because they told people how to live, but refused to even try to live by what they tried to dictate to others how to live.

Lennon was a true prophet, man of respect and one we all should be thankful was here to use his fame to work to better mankind.

RIP John...... you shall be remembered as one of the greatest teachers, such as Buddha, Christ, Confucious, John Calvin, Martin Luther, the Apostles, the Dalai Lama, and so on.
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Last edited by pan6467; 06-07-2006 at 08:30 AM..
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:29 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Prophets were the political commentators of their time.

Some were just lucky enough (or perhaps popular enough) to be documented and collected in the collection of writings that became the Bible.
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:29 AM   #13 (permalink)
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According to the bible the test for a prophet is simple. Everything they prophesize must come true. Your list clearly does not meet that standard.
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:45 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rekna
According to the bible the test for a prophet is simple. Everything they prophesize must come true. Your list clearly does not meet that standard.
But who is to say when the prophecy will come true?

I have heard all my life about how the Book of Revelations is talking about the present.... and yet, studying history, it could be used at any period in time. The signs that we point to today, are the same signs someone in any period could point to, perhaps in a differing way, but to them it would still be "the sign".

Nostradamus' teachings and "prophecies" are similar. They are interpretted to say whatever the interpretter wishes them to say and thus can be used in any era.

To me a prophet is one who challenges social norms and tries to teach mankind to truly better itself as a whole and individually. Again, IMHO, Lennon did just that.
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I just love people who use the excuse "I use/do this because I LOVE the feeling/joy/happiness it brings me" and expect you to be ok with that as you watch them destroy their life blindly following. My response is, "I like to put forks in an eletrical socket, just LOVE that feeling, can't ever get enough of it, so will you let me put this copper fork in that electric socket?"
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:00 AM   #15 (permalink)
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different times = different prophets

in our time real prophets are anti-prophets

they are obscure and, for the most part, they shut their mouths - because that is what people need to hear.
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:05 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I think many of you are confusing great people, moral people, leaders, ect with prophets. Just because someone has a large impact on the world doesn't make them a prophet. Prophets claim divine inspiration and the ability to prophesize. I'm pretty sure most of the people you have all listed do not claim divine inspiration or claim to be able to prophesize.
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:19 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rekna
I think many of you are confusing great people, moral people, leaders, ect with prophets. Just because someone has a large impact on the world doesn't make them a prophet. Prophets claim divine inspiration and the ability to prophesize. I'm pretty sure most of the people you have all listed do not claim divine inspiration or claim to be able to prophesize.
That is probably quite true in the literal sense.

However, I would rather follow a man like Lennon who taught what he believed from his heart,and challenged people to find their own individual way. I cannot follow a man who believes he was God sent and given all the answers, like for instance a Pat Robertson or a Rev. Moon or a George Bush etc.

So as I stated above, a prophet to me is one who works to better mankind by teaching hope, faith and challenges the wrongs he/she sees on their own, and their teachings stand the test of time.
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I just love people who use the excuse "I use/do this because I LOVE the feeling/joy/happiness it brings me" and expect you to be ok with that as you watch them destroy their life blindly following. My response is, "I like to put forks in an eletrical socket, just LOVE that feeling, can't ever get enough of it, so will you let me put this copper fork in that electric socket?"
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:19 AM   #18 (permalink)
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You just have to have a true insight that other people don't want to hear, because it would disrupt their easy existence. And you have to keep pushing it, no matter what, because you know it's important.
Quote:
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Am I the only one who thought this was hilarious?
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:36 AM   #19 (permalink)
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The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly coloured, and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question - is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say 'Hey! Don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.' And we...kill those people.

"Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter because: it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.
Bill Hicks. I'm still waiting for someone to step up and take his place.
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:55 AM   #20 (permalink)
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If you are going to use the prophets of the Old Testament to define what a prophet is then, the definition the Old Testament provides is the one you should use.

Number 12:6 reads:
Quote:
And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
That is why the title of prophet is associated with divine instruction. A person who stands up for whats right, even in the face of fierce opposition has several titles, Role Model, Man or Woman of Integrity, Hero, Pillar of Morality etc. or in the Christian vocabulary, Servant of the Lord.
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:25 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pan6467
So as I stated above, a prophet to me is one who works to better mankind by teaching hope, faith and challenges the wrongs he/she sees on their own, and their teachings stand the test of time.

Coincedently one of the tests of the prophets from the bible is this. Some of the other tests other than everything coming true is they will produce good fruit, they will not contridict God's word (the bible).
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Old 06-08-2006, 09:30 AM   #22 (permalink)
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The difference between secular "prophets" and other individuals that speak out against the "establishment" is time. Time has a way of romaticing events and people.
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