Radio Hymns #4: By the Rivers of Babylon

boney_m_-_rivers_of_babylon_1978_single In our now time-honoured Sunday tradition, we turn to music. This week in my new series Hymns from the Radio Dial, we get political with a call for social justice from Psalm 137. It is most likely that we all remember Rivers of Babylon as a late-70s song by German disco group Boney M. In fact, the song was written and recorded in 1972 by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of The Melodians (1965-73), a Jamaican group in Kingston, the birthplace of reggae.

“Rivers of Babylon” was recorded for reggae record producer Leslie Kong (Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley) and became an anthem of the Rastafarian movement which, among other religious convictions, rejects western society as entirely corrupt, referring to it as “Babylon”, which is considered to have been in rebellion against “Earth’s Rightful Ruler” since the days of the King Nimrod. Rastas avow that “Zion” (to them Africa, especially Ethiopia) is a land promised to them.

Barack Obama & the Social Pulpit

obama_bbery.jpg The inauguration of Barack Obama last week caught a lot of attention, naturally. It’s the sense of a new day in Washington, DC that Americans are all-too-aware of, and the world is taking notice with the hopes of a renewed, kindler, gentler US of A. Some are suggesting this presidency marks a seismic shift — no ordinary change of power, but a milestone marking a change in the way things are. Obama’s effective use of the Internet in his campaign has been likened to Kennedy’s effective use of television, with Arianna Huffington going as far as to say that without the Internet, Obama would not be president. In many ways, it’s the fruition of Joe Trippi’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Revised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything.

On Just War: War, Pacifism, and the Pursuit of Justice Through Military Means

peace-people.jpg Today is Remembrance Day, and for the occasion, I’ve resurrected the oldest draft post in my arsenal… from back in 2004. I began with an idea jotted down and then thought it would be better left until the whole Iraq thing cooled down… but of course you know how that’s gone. Opening the post up for the first time in (literally) years, I see I hadn’t written as much as I thought I had, but the gist of an idea is there, and it’s percolated for some time now.

A Pathetic Prophetic Response to Obama Victory?

obama-change.jpg Earlier today, my wife mused aloud, wondering what those “prophetic types” are saying about Barack Obama being elected in the USA. I thought Grace choking on her scone in response to an appalling snippet of conversation concerning the rise to power of Barack Obama, “almost exactly like the Left Behind books.” No wonder she choked on her scone. I mentioned this “end times” idea to my wife as a suggestion of what these prophetic types might be saying. She made a mental note to ask a friend who tends to get told these things by people who thinks she cares. At least, that’s how my wife put it. So a few hours ago, Frank Viola tweeted a link that brought this whole question up again. Now by the way, Frank’s blog post today not only offered his view on the recent presidential election, he also named who he considers the top six Christian bloggers around, including yours truly. I’m not sure if I’m actually that good or if Frank’s a little deranged, but I figure it’s best not to press to far, just in case I don’t like the answer.

America, the World is Watching

obama.jpg Today’s the day — the campaign is finally done, and we’re all just waiting to see what will happen while you sip your free Starbuck’s coffee. I have to say, I think we will miss the SNL intros that have been so good lately. While the world is watching you, it might be worth taking a few minutes to watch a couple of brief videos to prime your thinking about voting today. After all, if you aren’t doing it to participate in democracy and honour the political process, certainly you’d do it for a free cup of Starbuck’s Joe, wouldn’t you? (I hear it isn’t really poured by “Joe the Plumber”.) So Consider these:

McCain & Fey:

[ RSS Readers may need to click through ]

Palin & two Montreal comedians:

This has Been a Frayed Political Announcement

With the US-ian elections just a couple weeks away, I thought it’d be appropriate to cover some material relating to the candidates.

First, it looks like some heavy endorsements are coming out now.

[ RSS Readers may need to click through ]
See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Then of course there’s the “alternate” race…

[ RSS Readers may need to click through ]
See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

And if it’s all just too much, you could try another recommendation…

[ RSS Readers may need to click through ]
See more Natalie Portman videos at Funny or Die

Politics & The Church

Graph Matt Stone did a Church &amp Politics Quiz that looked interesting, so I took the test as well. My score is plotted on the graph image, which looks to be about the same as Matt’s. The quiz suggests I see the role of the church as primarily a prophetic one. Since my score is pretty much along the midpoint of the vertical axis, I’m in between “Radical Reformer,” a group which would “see a strong prophetic role for the church and combine this with a robust call for political engagement to seek social and political change” and the “Quiet Critic,” representing those who “steer away from a direct role for the church in politics, instead emphasizing the church’s purity by maintaining a separation from the state. From this perspective, the church best shares the gospel by being an alternative community that models Christian love.”