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Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 04 July 2013


By Jim Jordal

 Isn't this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isn't it to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your healing shall spring forth speedily….and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters don't fail. Those who shall be of you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

Isaiah 58:6-12 WEB

Last week we looked at a few origins of American exceptionalism, or the belief that America differs from other nations in its mission to model for the world the benefits of freedom, justice under law, and unfettered opportunity for all to climb the ladder of success according to their ability and hard work. But today that belief appears more and more unattainable for vast numbers of workers and those born without access to money or prominent family connections.

We are victims along with the rest of the world of what many writers call predatory capitalism, or the level at which free market capitalism evolves into something far more sinister---a system where money and power gained by the biggest players enable them to control the market for their own benefit. Then the idea of free markets becomes ridiculous. We are now there as the supposedly free market run by nothing less than predators preys upon workers, immigrants, indigenous people, minority groups, and others without social or economic power. The profits made by this predatory system rise up the income pyramid to the top where they provide lavish lifestyles for the few able to control of the very political processes and institutions that made this freedom initially possible.

So we are exceptional in military power, economic strength, possession of natural resources, world political position, and the ability to get what we want even at the expense of others. But are these the attributes valued by God? Are these what he will build his earthly kingdom upon? Are these what will make America truly great? I think not.

The exceptionalism God wants for America involves selfless service to the destitute rather than heartless, greedy domination of the powerless. The above reading from Isaiah lays it all out: God’s people are to loose all bonds and yokes of wickedness, free the oppressed, deal our bread to the hungry, bring the poor that are cast out to our house, and cover the naked. This is the same Jubilee message that was repeated by Jesus in his first sermon (Luke 4). It’s the same message that was preached by the prophets and is the same message that America needs to hear today.

It doesn’t take graduate level education to perceive that most of America’s military adventures around the world and our desperate attempt to lay claim to the lion’s share of world resources and world power are not getting us what we want and are instead threatening us with impending political and economic bankruptcy. What we’re doing is totally unsustainable, not to mention exceedingly destructive to the world’s people and the planet they call home.

God’s system is eminently reproducible and leads to a renewing of the creation. But the manipulators and controllers of this system don’t want this, so the message just lies around until the time when, as economist Milton Friedman said, "what is now politically impossible becomes politically inevitable." And so it is with Jubilee!