You have a lousy reputation, even after all this time. Your sad-sack, prophet-of-doom label stuck like hot tar. I doubt that you were ever invited to a party twice.
You were right in what you said, of course, but people seldom like an inconvenient truth. Ask Al Gore or Thomas King. Take the U.S. election, too (Please!). Last year was the shock and horror of it; this year, we get to see how it unfolds.
I thought that we were making progress on the environment, feminism and human rights. And now we've got this American mess, which, of course, won't stay there; borders are so leaky after all.
Even when you were in exile, you told people to seek the welfare of the city where they lived because if the city was in bad shape, their lives would be also. Our lives always depend on the health of where we live, including our home planet. We need you to come out of retirement and talk about that once more.
I know that you didn't want the job in the first place. You complained to God that you were too young and didn't know what to say. But you ended up on the speaking circuit — an unhappy motivational speaker who was beaten up and thrown down a cistern. We don't do that now so much. But I'd be lying if I said that things were easy. Last summer, at an Alberta oilmen's golf tournament, players shot golf balls at an image of my premier's face. And there's always hate mail and other forms of violence against leaders around the country, but Jeremiah, please come back.
We need to hear some serious rants against child sacrifice, too. It doesn't happen the way it did in your day, but it's still done: children still serve as prostitutes and soldiers. They still rank at the bottom of priorities when we divide up our common wealth. Could you bring us a good one about returning to the sacred Covenant between the Creator and us?
Only small things have changed since your time. Technology, for one. People get excited about doing things faster or bigger; we end up with the collapse of cod fishery. Inventing new gadgets provides thrills, but societal values, I think, have gone backwards. Who cares if your cell phone is the latest if your kid doesn't know why bees are important, how peaches grow or that life is a sacred gift? You'd be speaking to an audience not much different from yours in 600 BCE.
The year ahead will likely be called a year of change. But I'm afraid it won't be. We'll still try to protect our planet and to live out Micah 6:8. I hope.
I remember a conversation with my father, then 80. I was in a dither about some issue. Standing in his yard, I gave my little rant to the trees and to him before asking him what he'd do. He'd done what he could, he said. "Now it's up to the younger generation to figure it out." That night, at dinner, he even wore a pin that read, "I'm retired. Do it yourself."
I hope that won't be your answer to this letter, Jeremiah. We need the wisdom of the ages. We need the example of your gutsy refusal to quit.
Whatever you decide, though, take care, old friend.
Bless the New Year.
This is the second in Carolyn Pogue’s “Letter to a Spiritual Ancestor” series.
Get The Observer’s latest stories on justice, faith and ethics by signing up for our e-newsletter. It only takes a few seconds to join and we’ll deliver award-winning content to your in-box.