I have just posted a reflection on Isaiah 5, Psalm 80, and Matthew 21 over on Political Theology Today. Within it I explore the significance of the prophetic vine parables and the vantage point that they can provide us upon our own nations:
As the vast drama of the nation of Israel is allegorized in prophetic parables of vines and vineyards, the hearers of the prophetic message are granted an unusual vantage point from which to regard the history of their nation. This fecund matrix of symbolism can give birth to insight, as it enables the hearers of vineyard parables to regard the nation and their place within it from a revealing perspective. The nation is figured as a unified collective agency which ought to respond fruitfully to the generous providential hand of God over the course of its history. The leaders of the nation are responsible to tend to its fruit and to deliver its produce to its owner. The proper response to the parable is one of recognition and judgment in the hearer, an epiphany in which they appreciate the part that they are playing in the narrative and interrogate their performance accordingly.
The reader of these parables in our modern context might be struck by the fact that the perspective they afford to their hearers is one rather strange to us. Although we may regard our nations as possessing a quasi-agency, this agency is typically depersonalized and abstracted from our own. Viewing ourselves as a people with a collective moral agency, responsible to answer God’s generous rains of blessing with good fruit, offers us a surprising and rather unsettling perspective upon our histories.
Read the whole piece here.