Hissy Fit

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. (Jonah 4:1)

Jonah is pissed. He didn’t want this stupid assignment in the first place. Now he’s the butt end of God’s happy face. It was a setup from the beginning. He knew it. He just freaking knew this would happen. Not only is he going to end up a two-page footnote to prophetic history, he’s going to look like a total jackass. God looks good; Jonah’s a girly-man with permanent fish stench.

Nineveh is a big city—a 120,000 strong as a matter of fact. That’s big enough for at least a thousand Starbucks. Unfortunately, it’s also very, very wicked. So wicked that God is about ready to erase it. But first, being the nice deity that he is, God taps Jonah (who apparently was available at the time). He tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and “preach against it.” This is a euphemism for “scream at the damn scum that they’re such an abomination, such a defecation, such a putrid pack of perverted perpetrators that I’m going to scrape them from the planet like so much dog poop.”

But Jonah knows that God is prone to backing off his threats. If history is any indication—yes, it is Biblical history, mind you, which is notoriously fuzzy on some fundamental chronologies and, worse, skewed to make God look a decent cosmic manager—but laying that aside for the moment, if history is any indication, God is a pushover for any sign of remorse. All it would take is a few Ninevites to forgo some food and put on some sackcloth and, Jonah knows, the big prophesied conflagration devolves into hugs and high-fives all around.

So Jonah blows town. But God does the belly of the fish thing and there’s Jonah on a street corner in Nineveh yelling his bloody seaweeded head off. And whaddya know? The king hears about it and leads the city in a maudlin show of remorse and repentance. Great, thinks Jonah. Just freaking great. Sure enough, God sees it and relents. No destruction. No disaster. No nothing. Jonah stomps outta there with a huge chip on his shoulder.

Listen, there’s nothing worse than going out on a limb that you don’t want to go out on only to discover that the limb you went out on has—predictably, mind you—snapped and you’re now flat on your back in a pile of raccoon droppings looking up at a cloudless blue sky where the bluebird of freaking happiness is singing his happy song reminding everybody that all is now right with the world and just as you’re about ready to complain to the disembodied cause of your less than honorable drop in elevation the cute little bluebird drops upon you a pasty white memento of your place in the grand scheme of things thus punctuating your ignoble situation with a reminder that nobody really gives guano for your predicament so you might as well take it in the teeth as yet another divine extirpation all shot to hell.

And then the deity wants to know what your problem is.

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