Because whiteness lies at the center of biblical studies, the accepted way of doing biblical scholarship is one that engages white questions, white concerns. The system forces scholars of color, especially those who receive their doctoral trainings in the western educational system, to be familiar with white scholarship.
Perhaps this parable is not about stewardship of resources, in the sense of asking the maximum effort to produce the maximum gains, but is rather about revealing and denouncing unethical behavior that reinforces oppressive structures of the past and the present.
These systems of oppression, much like the golden calf, do not represent the God of love and righteousness. Instead, the fashioning of what can be tamed points to our depraved greed, moral bankruptcy, and the diabolical strategies we employ for survival.
In Exodus 17, the people of Israel confront a barren landscape that seems to guarantee imminent death. Today police violence, especially against Black people, seems to be similarly embedded in our social landscape. This essay turns to Angela Davis to ask if dry land can become springs of water.
The tendencies of any group of human beings to normalize power and hide harm are themselves, then, subject to the process Matthew’s gospel is describing. The frankness of communication, of subsidiarity mediation and conflict negotiation, the expectation of honest and mutual accountability described here should also be applied, as healthily and faithfully as possible, to the workings of authority, relationship, and power system within the community.
The God present in the book of Jonah is a God who never gives up hope on anyone, even those who have perpetrated the worst evils. Also, the God present here is a God who demands that we repent thoroughly, completely, and without reservation. This is not a cheap reconciliation, but a very costly one indeed.