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#28 / 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. 

 

“..as long as there’s life, there’s hope.” -Christine Miller

 

Christine Miller believed in hope. Jim Jones killed hope. Occasionally hope and death might go together. That wasn’t the case in Jonestown. It was for Jesus, who died to give hope to the cosmos. Who was Jones trying to share hope with? No one. After the people of Jonestown arrived with such great expectations, Jones slowly killed them. In those final moments, Miller grasped for hope. There was none to be found. By the time the massacre arrived, life was gone and hope was dead. The bodies dropped soon thereafter.

 

Amen.

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