Computer-Generated Prophetic Poetry

December 24, 2011

Is it computer-generated prophetic poetry? I piped my last post Is God Behind Occupy Wall Street (and We’re Missing It)? through Wordle to create a word cloud. Here’s one of the results!

word cloud

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

6 responses to Computer-Generated Prophetic Poetry

  1. Jon, what do you see in the Occupy movement that is distinctly Christian? How are they bringing honor to the name of Jesus? What are they doing that reflects lives empowered by the Holy Spirit? What indications show that they know and are performing the will of the Heavenly Father?
    More to the point of this post, how is this anything other than a projection of your opinion and what you wish to be true?

    • Skippy,
      The other post goes into the questions I and others are beginning to ask. Check it out.
      As for the “projection of my opinion,” hey, allow a guy some whimsy, will you? The prophetic and the whimsical often go together. I look at that word cloud and find that as I let my eye explore it, the words that are close spark my sense of wonder.

      • Not good enough; I have checked it out, and you still have not answered my questions.
        The first post was little more than a bunch of “mights,” “what ifs” and “maybes.” You have not constructed a plausible argument other than to say, “Brian McLaren says so. Wouldn’t it be cool if this were the case?”
        I particularly object to your cheapened use of the term “prophetic” in this post. The prophets of the Bible did not engage in whimsical practices to “spark [a] sense of wonder,” but to cause people to fall on their knees in response to the word of the LORD out of reverence to the King of the universe. That is what I want. That is not what you have done.

        • Skippy,
          Sure, it’s a bunch of “mights,” “what ifs” and “maybes.” I’m asking questions. The answers aren’t there yet. But the question itself was startling to me, and that’s why I share it. Whether or not this is “the” prophesied youth movement, there are certainly strong kingdom elements to the Occupy movement. Can you see any, or none at all?
          But your other objection seems larger, and would certainly affect the Occupy question. And that’s the word you point out, “prophetic.” Have you ever prophesied, to an individual or to a church body? Have you had someone prophesy over you? Have you heard modern-day prophesies, or met modern-day prophets? None of these are equivalent to scripture. I think we both agree that you could speak heart-piercing truth dead-on, but that it wouldn’t be canonized as scripture.
          My use of the term “prophetic” applies to all these, and more. Any time someone calls out what is that should not be, or what is not that should be, it’s prophetic because they are speaking the words of God to a particular individual, body, or situation. To call something “prophetic” is softer than saying “it’s a prophecy” or “he or she is a prophet.” I didn’t make this up; it’s a common phrase in Vineyard circles, precisely because we needed a softer word that didn’t have such strong authority. It’s especially important when people are just learning how to speak prophetic words.
          So yeah, anything that sparks a sense of wonder in me to see a different world, I’d call that prophetic. I’ve related this in the past to the connection between artists and prophets.

          • At the risk of sounding like a belligerent bore, if you will permit me I will comment one last time.
            In the previous post, you said, “In modern prophetic circles, there have been prophecies for some time about God raising up a new generation. There were words about ‘a great shaking’ and ‘going beyond church walls’ … This wouldn’t be the first time God has chosen to go outside of religious authority structures, even in my lifetime.” I am highly suspicious of any claims that God will work outside the church–not because I am concerned that the church will lose some measure of status, but because God has ordained the church as the specific tool for His usage. So even though I have my own political views about the Occupy movement, they are irrelevant for the topic at hand. You could have replaced “Occupy Movement” with “Tea Party,” “Arab Spring” or “Twi-hards,” and I would still disagree with you as to the substance of your claims.
            So, this leaves me with two issues that deserve to be addressed. Firstly, how do we determine whether the Occupy movement (or any movement, for that matter) is of God? Sure, maybe if I mentally squint, I might be able to perceive a handful of “kingdom elements” in the Occupy movement, but I would prefer to look with open eyes at the Word of God and see what He has to say on the topic. Scripture affirms that the church is “a people belonging to God;” other than the nation of Israel, no other group is so designated. If God deems to raise up a new generation, I submit that it will contribute directly to the universal Church, where the strongest “kingdom elements” can already be found.
            Secondly, how do we determine which prophetic sayings are worth listening to, which have certain elements of truth, and which are complete bunk? I have not been prophesied over, nor have I had much exposure to modern-day prophets–at least, not as you mean it. But it seems clear that truth, not experience, should be the determining factor. Any modern prophetic sayings must be subject to the Biblical teaching and example of prophecy. Biblical prophecy is never a question of “what if,” it is a declaration that says unapologetically, “Thus says the LORD;” “strong authority” is intrinsically tied to the very concept of prophecy. Likewise, the fulfillment of prophecy should never be in question; either it is perfectly, patently obvious that God is at work, or it is a matter of baseless speculation and limitless controversy.
            In short, 1) who are the people of God? and 2) what is the word of God? If the people of God are the church, and if the word of God is the Bible, can you see why I might be resistant to your premise?

            • Skippy, uh, there’s a gigantic difference between going “outside of religious authority structures” and going outside the church. The kingdom of God is larger than the church. I fully agree that the church is God’s ordained agent. But sometimes, it needs to be shaken up. That’s precisely where prophetic voices come in. Sometimes, the ones God chooses to do his work are distinctly ungodly. (I think of Habakkuk’s complaint.)
              Ahh, the mental squint. You might be able to perceive “kingdom elements.” With one eye in the Scriptures, I encourage you: take your other eye and look around you. One of the things I love doing is searching out the ways God is moving. That might be in Occupy. Or it might be in a bird song.
              And of course prophetic words are subject to Biblical teaching! Any prophet who says otherwise can be safely dismissed. But to require “Thus says the LORD” prophecy is like saying there can be no teaching unless it is 100% complete. Or no healing unless is it is 100% complete. If it were, there would be no need to weigh prophecies. Your all-or-nothing approach leaves no room for people to explore supernatural gifts. Because while some are “prophets” and “teachers,” etc., we’re all called, to some extent, to prophesy and teach. Just as most of us aren’t evangelists, but we’re still called to evangelize.
              I hope you get the opportunity to step into the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in a way you won’t write off. Meaning, without flamboyant excess, but balanced. Being rooted in the Scriptures can’t mean that experience plays no part.