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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FAR Future, Episode 23: The Prophet

I’ve been debating about whether to include this episode, or just work it in sideways. But if I don’t post something, who knows how long before I’ll get the next one done? Sometimes, you just have to go with what you got.

Friday, April 19, 2013
The Prophet

There is a prophet in Atlanta. Or so they say.

He surfaced (is that the word?) early this year, standing and preaching on street corners like so many more before him. But some people have made a pastime of capturing his sermons with cellphone cameras, and there’s a website dedicated to gathering and collating those pieces of video. It makes for some interesting watching.

Fortunately for The Prophet’s “chroniclers,” he tends to preach the same sermon for several days, then change only parts of it. That gives them a chance to piece together most of an entire sermon. They still haven’t caught the beginning of any of them, though, so the site has to go on eyewitness reports to provide complete transcripts.

In the videos, The Prophet is a black guy, maybe 5-foot-9, and looks bulky (although that could be the coat). He has a buzz cut, a ratty trench coat, and of course he carries a Bible. He has a big knot on the right side of his forehead, like someone clubbed him a good one. In the videos, he refuses cash donations (which sent my respect for him up about six notches) but blesses anyone who leaves food or bottled water. He has a refrain when people put food or water bottles in a cardboard box at his feet: “Those who leave so much as a glass of water for the servants of God will not lose their reward.”

The mainstream preachers aren’t exactly thrilled with the attention he’s getting. The kahuna at the big Baptist church down in Atlanta gets this sour look on his face every time a TV reporter asks him about the Prophet, but he says mostly neutral stuff like “preaching The Lord’s word and doing His work is always honorable.” But there’s a big contrast that he can’t paper over, and the TV reporters don’t overlook it — the wealthier churches have set up soup kitchens where you have to go — when people give food to The Prophet, he takes it to where it’s needed. (People have followed him a few times.)

He was recently giving a 21st Century Beatitudes (cut & pasted from the site):

“Blessed are those, who open their homes to neighbors and sojourners in Jerusalem, for the Lord shall open the gates of heaven to them.” (He refers to Atlanta as Jerusalem, according to the site.)

“Blessed are those, who bring firewood to the cold, for they shall be warm in heaven.

“Blessed are those, who bring food to the hungry, for they shall feast in heaven.

“Blessed are those, who look after their neighbors, for the Lord in heaven shall look after them.

“Blessed are those, who continue to work and pay their debts, yet all debts will be erased. Their faithfulness is written in the Book of Life.

“Blessed are those, who make peace with their enemies, for they shall live without fear.

“But woe unto those who hide away from the stranger at their door! for the Lord shall shut the gates of Heaven against them!

“Woe unto those who hoard their fuel, for the fires of Hell will be bitter cold to them!

“Woe unto those who withhold their food from the hungry, for Hell shall not feed them!

“Woe unto those who say, 'I have earned my ease, let my neighbors look after themselves,' for the Lord will surely turn His back on such!

“Woe unto those who say, 'Why should I pay my debt, even though I can?' for the Lord will surely blot out the names of the faithless from the Book of Life!

“Woe unto those who take up arms against their enemies, for ever shall they live in fear of their lives!”

There are some videos of people coming to his cardboard box altar for salvation and baptism. He opens a bottle of water and baptizes them on the spot. :-) Some of them look like they're dressed pretty well, so I guess the Prophet is reaching more than just the poor in town.

Heavy stuff. I'll transcribe more if something jumps out at me.



  1. Excellent Far! In my opinion, this is you're best in the series, so far! Very provative! In the end times, there will be many false prophets, that doesn't imply all, right?

    Now I'm going to stick my neck out here, which I almost never do. There is a black man out there who's promoting change. Come on, Bush, Clinton, Bush, then another Clinton? What would this suggest to you? Does this even matter? I suspect not.

    But when push comes to shove, perhaps in five years, people will be looking for "truth". If we cannot find the truth in this society, perhaps, the bible will be the only place to find it! Suppose, it's been there all the time, if people will only look...

    I very much suspect in five years this may be the only thing people will be able to hold onto, because there might not be much else, (as if there ever was).

    Thanks, yooper

  2. Morning FAR.

    I agree with yooper - Excellent.

    Yep, after the fall there will be a lot of people preaching hope and some false prophets. Although this preacher seems to be preaching pretty good stuff.

  3. Hey guys!

    I'm glad you liked it — like I said in the intro notes, I was a little hesitant to post it. Not because of the content, mind you, but I didn't want to throw *too* much of a twist into the story. But he's going to be part of several of the sub-plots going forward, so in the end I thought it would be best to introduce him to you. Looks like I made the right decision.

    In my latter years, I "know them by their works" and a lot of the church seems to have gone the wrong way in several respects. A counter-example, even a fictional one, could be useful.

    Yooper, I hadn't made the Prophet-Obama connection, consciously anyway. But people in hard times will often turn to God… I just hope most of them will find someone who can lead them that way.

    FM, I hope he is. He reflects a lot of what I think is good about religion.

  4. I’ve been debating about whether to include this episode, or just work it in sideways.

    Fwiw, I agree with the gents upthread that this installment has a very strong resonance. As I've been reading along, it's all been interesting, but this piece is where I started to get that tingly feeling in my reader-brain that usually accompanies a major plot-line opening itself up. If it's any use, my reader-brain also wants The Prophet to be not quite what he seems to be; close to what he seems to be, but the truth hiding an angle somewhere.

    Good stuff!

  5. Hey Far! I suppose, I wasn't really making any connection with the Black Prophet and Prophet OBama, or Prophet Hilary in disguise, or Prophet Kunstler with a can of shoe polish in his back pocket. I guess it really doesn't matter who it is on the corner wearing signs straped onto their sholders, pronouncing the "end of the world". We think they have a message, but it's incomplete. We like what we hear in bits and pieces but want the whole thing!

    Suppose The Prophet and his "chroniclers" will be like Forrest Gump and his followers? For no particular reason... Well, since I've made it this far, why not go a little further? Like those followers, they never got the beginning so they couldn't see the end? But there they were running, waiting for something to happen, that just wasn't there.

    I think, life can be that way for a lot of people. They're just running because they felt like running and have no particular reason or understanding, of why they're doing it. Kinda like mice running a tread mill, going nowhere.

    Tell ya what Far, I'm very leary of people with incomplete messages. Perhaps, they're holding back just to keep our attention? Perhaps, they're just like Forrest Gump, there was no message in the first place.

    Thanks, yooper

  6. Jen, you're perceptive! I have several plot lines I'm working on… of course, the one that comes next is the least thought-out. ;-P As for The Prophet, he sort of elbowed his way into my head about a month ago and we'll both get to see what he's about when the time comes. I hope you're feeling better — you sound like you are, anyway. Sorry about the session not going well, keep poking at it & you'll get there eventually.

    Yooper, you've laid your finger on something (I think) so fundamental it's easy to look right over: incomplete message, not getting the beginning so they can't see the end… how often that's true in real life! But The Prophet has a message. Stay tuned. ;-)

  7. I thought about the Obama thing too. This installment did start things in a new direction. I'll be interested to see just where it goes.

  8. Hey Far! Yup, and our pal John, is the master at this eh? ha!ha! Hey, have your read "Atlantis"? If you want, I'll send you my copy.

    Thanks, yooper


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