Monday, December 29, 2008

Seeing the Future

In the previous post, I discussed how prophets tend to be ignored by their contemporaries. They beseech their brethren to turn away from the negative direction they're heading, lest tragedy befell the entire society. These prophets offer up a new path to tread and warn that, if their message is not heeded, dire consequences will result.

So, what exactly is a prophet and how does he/she "know" such things? If a person chooses to take the orthodox approach, a prophet is a person selected by the all mighty. Their words are God's words and the prophet tells of things that are preordained -- in other words, they have the ability to see into the future.

If a person chooses to take a much broader view -- someone like yours truly -- then a prophet is someone in tune with the world around them. Rather than being divinely selected, the individual is inspired by the rhythms of the universe. Their words are their own and the prophet predicts what will happen in the future based on the current trajectory.

It's often not that difficult to have a really good idea of where a society or nation is going by looking at where they are now and the direction they're headed. If a person watches a group walk due south for hundreds of miles without the slightest deviation, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where they will end up.

Therefore, in a manner of speaking, the prophet does indeed see into the future -- it's simply not done by magic but rational and deductive thought.

Of course, one of the reasons that contemporaries always doubt the prophets in their midst is that they are always on the lookout for false prophets. I certainly don't fault anyone for initial skepticism because there are a slew of snake oil salesmen out there and, if you don't weigh what any given person is trying to sell you, you're far more apt to fall for anything.

For me, I always look at the foundational principles that gird the structure of a person. If these principles are borne of love, compassion and justice, then I'm far more apt to listen to their words of warning. On the other hand, if their foundation is built on hate, distrust and fear, then, in my book, the person definitely is a false prophet and I willfully ignore them.


  1. There are no prophets. No one can see the future.

    There are astute analysts, there are realists, there are visionaries.

    Prophets are identified after the fact by those who seek to profit from them.

  2. I don't necessarily disagree with your point. That said, I'm using the word prophet as a more general term for a sage or a visionary because prophet is the more generally accepted term in our society.

    Regardless of which term a person decides to employ, the future will be the determinant of whether or not the person made a good analysis or had correct vision.

  3. the prophet is the one who cuts through great tangled knots of lies - a paraphrase of thomas merton

  4. Beth,
    That's a great way of putting it. Thanks to you (and Merton) for adding it to the dialog here.


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