What Is a Prophet?

My first thought: Whatever they are, we could use a few now.

The word itself is derived from the Greek: pro (for) combined with phanai (speak), so presumably a person who speaks on behalf of another, with the authority, veracity and wisdom of the source, in times past, usually God.

My second thought: Ah, Walter Brueggeman’s Prophetic Imagination, all of us called to be prophets in the sense of resisting the values of our culture and re-envisioning communities in which Biblical values are the abiding norm.

How’s that working out for us? Hogwash is a Middle English derivative, its original meaning being food past its prime and of dubious nutritional value.

Yet every age, especially one as tumultuous as ours, has its prophets, probably going, as Jesus noticed, without honor in their hometowns, which, given the global age, means pretty much everywhere. Time will sort out the truest, although Jesus’ words are still an accurate touchstone. Certainly, Teresa of Avila remains a solid and enduring prophetic voice, notable both for her soul wisdom and her engagement with the world.

The Cresset: A Review of Literature, the Arts and Public Affairs published my poem, “Ode to 1577,” in its Easter 2019 issue. In reading and taking comfort in Teresa’s words, I was struck by the topsy-turviness of her times. Everything changing. Centrifugal forces ripping to shreds formerly-held verities. One researched bit led to another (thank you, Internet). And, I won’t further explain the poem, which is available here online. My thanks to poetry editor Marci Rae Johnson for choosing the poem and to editor Heather Grennan Gary for her support.