Linda Henry

Thatwhich

Jonah as God's Project Manager

September 28, 2014

House of Mercy, Feast of Jonah
As he listened to the worm crunching away at the only comfort he had left in the world, Jonah wondered: What if instead of praising, lamenting, and beseeching God, I had offered God a SWOT analysis? At a seaside café in his younger days, Jonah once overheard some guys talking about “learnings” and “leveraging” and the importance of having good thought leadership. He watched as one of them wrote on a big easel of paper with a blue marker. The guy drew a grid with four squares, and labeled the squares Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. They called it a SWOT analysis. They filled in the boxes, one by one, listing all the aspects of some big project, a startup or a product launch. It was all so clear-headed and rational, and for a moment Jonah had thought about a career in marketing or product development. But that was a long time ago. Now he imagined what might have been. Maybe instead of praying to God from the belly of the fish, he should have leveraged those long-ago learnings and provided some thought leadership.

Strengths: As the Almighty, you’ve got this one, God. You are strong. You sent a storm to rock the sea. You had me swallowed by a large fish. And I have faith that if this SWOT analysis pleases you, and I agree to go preach to the Ninevites, you have the power to save me. So as far as strength, you’re good, like with a capital G.

Weaknesses: This one’s pretty obvious, at least to me. Your weakness is your mercifulness. A little goes a long way, Lord, especially with all that strength. If I go preach to those guys and they repent, you’re just going to forgive them. Where is the justice in this? Also, I feel at some point it’s just enabling bad behavior, like I’m caught in this epic case of co-dependence in a town with no Alanon chapter.

Opportunities: How about this for an opportunity? I’ll just take a nap, or you could just let me die. Much as I complain about the darkness and I praise being delivered from it, I have to admit it’s familiar, maybe even comfortable sometimes.

As for Ninevah, where’s the opportunity there? Why bother with them, even with their many cattle? Surely they will self-destruct. Another idea would be for you to just smite them, or threaten to smite them and see if they repent. But let’s eliminate the middle man, because I can’t bear to watch what we both know is going to happen, over and over and over. See above regarding your mercy.

Threats: You are uniquely positioned, God, to be threatened by no one or no thing. How cool is that? It seems like you could be leveraging this more, especially in the current climate where we’re facing strong headwinds, market uncertainty, and geopolitical violence and destruction. Some days it feels like the world is self-destructing.

Wait. You do face a threat: your creation is self-destructive. If we destroy ourselves, what’s left of you? Your mercy is all that can save us.

Comments

  1. September 29, 2014 6:42 PM EDT
    LOve this, ironic, but honest!
    - Barbara Szopinski

Selected Works

Essays
My daughter likes depressing books. “Someone dies in the first chapter,” Grace says gleefully of a novel she can’t put down. Maybe this inclination comes naturally, growing up with the ghost of a sister she never knew. 
In which my brilliant son prevails against middle-school bullies. Adapted from "A Voice Not My Own"