Idle Thoughts from Mt. Was
The Jonah syndrome...
by Ollie Harris
Jan 31, 2013 | 418 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For those who went to sleep during Sunday School, or who quickly slipped out of the chapel and headed downstairs toward the Sunday School classroom ahead of the teacher, only to duck out a side door, and outright ditched class, Jonah was an Old Testament prophet. He was a reluctant oracle.

As the story goes, Jonah was told by the Lord to threaten the people of Ninevah with destruction if they didn’t shape up. Jonah didn’t want to do it. This reluctance was the first recorded case of the Jonah syndrome. I wonder if Jonah was an old guy who was growing tired of always being told to do stuff. Frankly, I can sympathize with him.

Even Old Testament prophets were human. I can just hear Jonah muttering the Hebrew equivalent of, “To heck with this.” But, seeing as how he was a prophet who engaged in conversation with the Lord, it surprises me that he thought he could run away from his responsibility.

Still, he tried to run away, and we all know how that worked for him. He bought a ticket and got on a boat. There came a great storm. He was thrown overboard and the storm ceased. I wonder if Jonah was a bit depressed. It is written twice that he said it was better for him to die than to live.

As the story goes, the Lord prepared a great fish and Jonah was miraculously saved from drowning. Being sufficiently motivated, he went back to Ninevah and explained to the people what was about to happen to them. I don’t think he was happy with them. He was likely telling himself that if it hadn’t been for them and their wickedness he wouldn’t have had to go through that whole nightmare with the fish.

After he delivered his message, he went up onto a hillside above the city and made a little bowery. He sat down to watch the show, to see what a good destruction looked like. It would serve them right for causing that whole nightmare with the fish.

I like Jonah. I feel a kinship with him, although I am not suicidal and would have fought tooth and nail to have kept from being tossed into the sea. And, I am way too claustrophobic for the belly of a fish, no matter how great.

Sometimes, and more and more lately, I just want to be left alone. I would like to do only those things I want to do. I am afflicted with the Jonah syndrome. It may be that the Jonah syndrome is natural to me. When I left my father’s home for good, a few weeks after I turned 20, it was the 35th house I had lived in, counting the tent in which I was born.

My mother told me that we once moved because my father had been called to be a Sunday School president. Rather than serve in that capacity, he bundled us up and away we moved. It seems he was also afflicted with the Jonah syndrome.

I was in the little Colorado town a few months ago. While there, I thought I should visit a relative, but I didn’t want to go. It was a clear case of the Jonah syndrome. I didn’t make the visit.

Many of the things I do reluctantly because I am asked or told to do them, I might willingly do on my own. But I may never know because others are so inclined to ask me or tell me to do stuff.

I just realized that what I have written qualifies as a rant. I have been known to occasionally rant, but never to rave. And, my rants are usually so mild that they have to be pointed out as the rants they are.

Suffice it to say, I am afflicted with the Jonah syndrome, for which I see no cure.


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