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#41 / 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.

 

“We all came here for peace …” -Christine Miller

 

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” I’ve heard the phrase throughout my life. I never knew what it meant until I got a little older and had the ability to move around. On multiple occasions, I experienced some type of hardship and decided to flee. Sometimes after the move, I realized that my new home was just as bad as my former one. On at least one occasion, my new home was so bad that I immediately moved. Through it all, I learned the grass was definitely not always greener on the other side. I’ve often wondered how many people moved to Jonestown with great hope and quickly realized that it wasn’t as peaceful as they thought it would be. Christine Miller points out such disappointments. Basically asserting, this is not what we signed up for. Throughout life, we must always be careful where we create our homes. Though God will be with us no matter what, we might end up the victim of our great expectations.

 

Amen.

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