Sunday, April 14, 2024

WILD COOT: In a whale’s belly


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Last Sunday morning I went to church – a habit developed from childhood. Arriving early, as my wont, I filled the time before service commenced by randomly perusing the Holy Book and reading from wherever the spirit led.

Lo and behold, I opened to the book of Jonah, a native of Galilee. So I read the gripping story in amazement. Imagine a man, swallowed up by a whale, being able to move freely in the whale’s belly as if in a living room, reasoning with God and then spewed back out without getting bitten or having any ill effects, all on the high seas, wrought and tempestuous.

We’re not sure whether he was coughed up into the sea and had to paddle or if he was vomited up on land. Anyway, the story gets even more interesting and draws us into the narrative. This fish-swallowing happened because Jonah was on his way to Tarshish instead of Ninevah where God had sent him; he was to get the wicked people to do a double take. God-like as he professed, he did not wish to see the people of Ninevah turn from their evil ways – something like the Bajans who use guns and cutlasses in buses and in the Accident & Emergency room in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

As is the case with Barbados, Jonah was asleep in a ship while a storm was raging. Tossed into the sea by the crew, God made the whale to swallow him just like he is going to make the creditors swallow up those who are responsible for our woes and put us in “pucketery”. Mark you, God is willing to forgive us and send us a preacher (not Hinn), to help save us, but we must get rid of the government drag and stop printing money.

Anyway, the story gets interesting. Jonah eventually went to Ninevah, preached to the people and they listened much to his regret as he really thought that they deserved punishment for their wickedness. Same thing is happening in Barbados for electing the Government in 2013, even though we are now sucking salt – the equivalent to sackcloth and ashes.

Then Jonah, like a petulant little boy, built a thatch hut and sat under it. We went and borrowed money from loan sharks and sat satisfied that our foreign exchange was healthy. But God showed us that our ways were wrong just as he got the worm to eat the gourd shade in the Bible. Bajans will survive even though we have to endure sackcloth and ashes like the people of Ninevah, and the illegal shack of the politicians will be blown away by the wind after the gourd (wealth and pensions) has been eaten away by the worm.

One cannot fail to see the allegory of this reading brought to the attention of the Wild Coot in a most contemplative moment.

But the lessons on Sunday did not end there. The next reading was about the man who had a vineyard and who hired people at various hours of the day. There are people in authority who engage their workers and pay them as they like for doing spurious jobs whether in the day or night. The Wild Coot would not delineate the jobs out of public decency, but the way of payment or receipt of appreciation does not vary – graft. For every good deed rendered by a politician, even though he is elected for the stated purpose, there is a sum certain in money [called a salary] for the facilitating. Thus the vineyard keepers can say who are the last to be hired but not the first to be fired. They can state categorically that for the next five years, this is our vineyard and what we say goes.

It shows the power of the vineyard keepers. But God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. Man can only perform for five years at a time.

“But Wild Coot, are you sure that you were listening to the preacher? Your interpretation of the proceedings vary substantially from standard lessons to be learnt from the stated passages and you probably should reassess your worshipping habit.”

We have people like Jonah whose hearts vary from the glad tidings spewed forth by them. These may be found not only in Government but also in our private sectors and banks.

• Harry Russell is a banker.


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