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#20 / Jonestown Theology: Lenten Explorations in the Valley of Death

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Wikimedia / Nancy Wong

Wikimedia / Nancy Wong

 

God is never lost. In the midst of great evil, God is there. I have long wondered how Jonestown fits into such ideas. In the 1970s, Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple founded the settlement in the jungles of Guyana. After a few years of communal living, Jones led his followers to commit a mass suicide/murder that left over 900 people dead. The last words the community ever heard were recorded. Jones’ words are beyond disturbing. Evil resonates with every syllable. Even in the midst of such, I refuse to believe that God was absent during such terror. Lent is a time to look for God in death. To honor the victims of Jonestown, I’ve decided to seek God in the last words they heard in the order that they would have heard them.  In those evil words of death, may there also be something for us. These devotions should never be mistaken for an apologetic for Jim Jones or anything he stood for. This is a search for God.

 

“They make our life worse than hell…” -Jim Jones

 

Paranoia took over Jim Jones. Enemies were lurking everywhere. Such thinking caused Jones to act incredibly irrationally. I’m not sure that you can say that their enemies made their life worse than hell. I think it would be more accurate to say that Jones made their life worse than hell. The evil was within. Before you start blaming your enemies, make sure you’re sure that you don’t need to blame yourself.

 

Amen.

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