David Gibson’s piece on Carrie Prejean, Queen Esther and American Evangelicals was an eye-opener for me, and I am not even entirely clear about his conclusion. But the fact that the conflict-embroiled Miss USA wannabe is being touted by many Christians as a contemporary Queen Esther is pretty interesting. And in some ways, they have a point.
Like Queen Esther, Miss Prejean seems to be caught up in a controversy that is beyond either what she ever intended or even fully comprehended. Like Queen Esther, and totally unlike the current mis-reading of the story by Prejean’s Evangelical supporters, this is a story with many players pulling at, and pushing on, the heroine to get her to do what they want as much as her acting based on her own deeply-held beliefs.
Contrary to the quoted Boston University professor in his piece, Esther never asserts the belief that she has become queen in order to save her people. Those are Mordechai’s words when he pushes her to speak out on their behalf. In fact, Esther is only able to carry out the mission on which she is sent because she resigns herself to failure and even death if she disappoints the king.
The most interesting thing here about the comparison to queen Esther is that for the parallel to work, we would need to presume that Evangelical Christians are being persecuted by a government which seeks their physical destruction. Is that what they believe? Now that’s something worth exploring….
What does it mean when a community that is as much as 100,000,000 people strong in America alone, portrays itself as a victimized minority? Is that kind of victim status ever the ground of the most responsible decision-making? How often is the mantle of victimhood worn as insulation from asking questions about our own communities and their behavior?
This is not an Evangelical thing or a Jewish thing, it’s a human thing. But given the size and power of the American Evangelical community, they need to be especially cautious about assuming that they play the role of Esther in the Biblical story.
At the very least, they need to ask themselves what other characters in the narrative they may be. The Bible, which portrays Haman as the ultimate bad guy, reminds us that he is from the Amalekites, which means that he is from Esau. Esau was Jacob’s twin brother. So we are all each of the characters in the story, at least a little bit. Let’s hope Miss Prejean and those who imagine her to be a modern-day Esther can remember that.