i own one VeggieTales DVD.
it’s josh and the big wall – because i like that the french peas of jericho attempt to deter the children of israel in this vegetarian interpretation of the conquest narrative with slushies.
i’ve always liked slushies.
i’ve always disliked peas.
i’m ambivalent about the french.
were i to buy another VeggieTales tale, it would most definitely be jonah – a VeggieTales movie, in part because of it’s interesting interpretation of the ‘wickedness’ of the people of nineveh. played, of course, by the french peas.
they slap each other with fishes.
the story of jonah is itself a biblical conundrum – one of those sections of scripture that may cause some more practical and scientific minds to question the accuracy, infallibility and authority of scripture.
‘really? a guy got swallowed by a giant fish, was puked up on shore and then started preaching?’
he must have smelled atrocious.
regardless of whether or not one is able to wrap their minds around a giant whale hosting the reluctant prophet of God for days on end before vomiting him onto the beach, the greater impossibility of the story of jonah is this ::
the wicked fish-slappers of nineveh repented.
and God forgave them.
that mere fact was too much for jonah to handle. he prayed to YHVH and said,
‘was this not what i said you would do?? this is why i tried to run away – because i knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in hesed.’
the people of ninevah were among the most wicked of the ancient world – beyond just slapping one another with fish. they were cruel and intimidating, rebellious and defiant. as was common for nations in ancient near eastern culture, their treatment of conquered peoples, women and prisoners of war was anything but compassionate.
yet God was compassionate to them.
and jonah didn’t like it.
the story concludes with jonah brooding in a self-absorbed depression, even holding out hope that perhaps God would indeed destroy the city. he climbed up to a spot east of nineveh and waited to see what would happen.
in spite of God’s promise of peace, the pouting prophet hoped for punishment to those people.
combating compassion and fighting against divine grace, jonah in his narcissism reminded himself of their shortcomings. they were wicked. they were gentiles. they deserved judgement.
surely God’s righteousness wouldn’t be overshadowed by his grace?
in the story, YHVH converses with jonah and justifies his showing love and concern for even the people of nineveh. he asks a rhetorical question to the angry prophet, but there is no answer. the story stops there.
the sacred text ends the tale abruptly, its author employing a literary device at its conclusion that leaves the reader wondering whether jonah ‘got it’ or not.
for us, the question is :: do we?
what do you think?