By George Shulman
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Extra info for American Prophecy: Race and Redemption in American Political Culture
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among nations and rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isa. 2:2–4)16 Prophets would “redeem” the suffering of war and exile because, as Arendt says, “we can no more master the past than we can undo it. But we can reconcile ourselves to it. ” Still, exile-as-loss is named but then overcome as lamentations promise a recovered plenitude that escapes worldly and historical limits.
Prophetic voices ask not whether we are ruled by authority, but which authority rules in and through us. From Jeremiah to Blake, Thoreau, and Baldwin, prophecy asks, What gods do you already serve? What is your animating faith? Do you serve Mammon, the god of success, or the authority of the state, which Nietzsche calls a “cold idol”? We can avoid or defer the question of authority—of which faith we presume, of what commitments we orient by—but we always answer it. Accordingly, they neither belittle as infantile the effort to answer this question, nor treat any answer as only dangerous, for freedom and ﬂourishing depend on it.
Introducing Jeremiah’s Legacy 7 lematic invention of a collective subject responsible for its acts because it can act otherwise. Amos explains God’s grievances with the Hebrews’ conduct: “I brought [thee] up from the land of Egypt,” his God declares, but the Hebrews “have despised the law of the Lord and have not kept his commandment” (2:4). Accordingly, he says, “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, you only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you” (3:1–2).
American Prophecy: Race and Redemption in American Political Culture by George Shulman