What Jonah Can Teach Us About Finality

  
Jonah is one of the best stories in the Bible, in my opinion. Here’s a brief synopsis: 
God: “Yo, Jonah, go tell those people about me.” 

Jonah: “Umm…those people are the fucking WORST.” 

God: “Do it anyway.” 

Jonah: “Lol, nope. #Tarshishbound”

God: “You know what else is funny? Sinking ships and Moby Dicks. That’s the name of my band, actually.” 

Jonah: “Okay, it’s awful in here, get me out?” 

[Fish vomits]

Jonah (to King of Nineveh): Yeah, so…God and stuff, or fire and brimstone. 

King: “We believe!”

Jonah: “FUUUUU—!”

God: “You mad, bro?” 

*The End*

To me, the greatest part about the Jonah story is the ending, because it’s never really clear to us what happens to Jonah. Does he overcome his deep seated need to see the wicked of Nineveh punished, even though they’ve repented of their ways? I think the ending of Jonah taps into something natural about humans, and something, I think, that keeps Christianity running. 

  • We Long For Finality

I like the ending of Jonah because it ends at right the moment where we are. In many ways, Jonah lacks a “and that’s exactly what you should learn from this story, kids” bent, because it stops in the middle of whatever is Jonah’s next move, and you don’t know what that is. That, I feel, is much more representative of what life is really like than the black and white lessons that Christians attempt to foist on children. 

But many, many people reject those kinds of lessons because they are hard. And there aren’t always bad guys. And you don’t always get told that you’re a good boy. 

  • Did I Get It Right?

In short, human beings just want to do the right thing most of the time, and they desperately want to be justified. The story of salvation is that one day, we’ll finally KNOW whether or not what we did was right, and I just don’t think that’s the way it works. I don’t think we get a nice summary of how this went down. I think that rejects the ambiguity that is the truth of the human experience/condition, which is that each of us does our best, based on a number of factors, to do what we think is best, but in the end we don’t know. And we just have to do things anyway.

At the end of the day, we have to be comfortable saying, “This is who I am. These are the decisions I’ve made.” And I think the thought of God telling us we’re right or wrong at the end of time eases that responsibility, it takes the weight off of the depth of the choices we have to make in the dark.

But though it might be comforting, that doesn’t make it true. 

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4 thoughts on “What Jonah Can Teach Us About Finality”

  1. I always thought Jonah’s story was funny when viewed in light of what eventually happened to Nineveh. In Amos 7:8, for example, God says that he will spare Nineveh no longer, and ultimately Assyria was in fact destroyed. You know that Jonah would have been shouting, “What the fuck!!! You make me live inside a fish for three fucking days because I don’t want to preach to them, and then you destroy them anyway!”

    More evidence that the Yahveh was a total dick.

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      1. Good point — though it’s really not too surprising since God expects a whole lot from us that he obviously doesn’t hold to himself. Perhaps the hypocrisy of Christianity is a sign that they truly are trying to be more God-like.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think Jesus, in many ways, had it right. Like Matt 23, where he’s just like, “You guys are fucking liars, hypocrites, two-faced thieves” and says in other places that people would do well to do what the religious say they should do – not what the religious do.

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