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The Words of the Prophets (Are Written on the Subway Walls)

May 2, 2018 by

Prophets. Bearded, staff-bearing visionaries railing against stiff-necked Jews. Or maybe green-haired, nose-stud-wearing, spray-can-bearing societal outcasts?

“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.” These lines of Paul Simon’s run through my mind again as I walk Asunción’s streets of cobbled stone. If these words are true, Asunción must be a sort of training ground for prophets-to-be, amateurs who haven’t yet made the cut, speaking in tongues but getting hung up on the weird English spellings. Definitely not the book of Isaiah.

But the Old Testament prophets weren’t phylactery-swinging, socially acceptable bourgeois priests, hand in hand with secular authorities. They were rebels, outraged at the corruption and sin at the center of governmental power, scrawling their challenge, if you will, on the rough walls of power.

Sort of like what I’ve found in the streets of Asunción:

graffiti that says we don't need to whisper

(I guess they mostly shouted it out from the rooftops anyway.)


graffiti that says give and give

Giv and Giv. If we would all take that to heart, especially in this global economy.


graffiti that says craziness without remedy

Craziness without remedy – like most of life.

Some messages are difficult to interpret. Prophets, like geniuses, are often misunderstood:

graffiti that says your best friend is not your girlfriend


Don’t always take them at their word:

graffiti that says to smoke weed


Some pull at the heartstrings:

graffiti that says you will never know how beautiful you are to me


And here’s my favorite. It really says it all:

graffiti that says be happy, not perfect


Vincent Moody, age twenty, lives at Villa Primavera, a Bruderhof in Asunción, Paraguay. He teaches English and is learning Spanish. He also works on plumbing, electrical, and air conditioning systems (good business in the wilting heat of the Paraguayan sun).

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