Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Sparkle, Enemies and Weddings

July and Sparkle 2011 are gradually approaching. I’m looking forwards to it a lot.

I guess the main news of this week is all tied up with Osama bin Laden.

I’m not making comments about the justice or otherwise of recent events. But I have to admit to having grave doubts that the world is any safer a place because of them.

There’s a Larry Norman song that I mentioned in an earlier post that sums up some of my feelings. It was written a long, long time ago when even I was young … sometime in the very early 70’s.


The Great American Novel
Larry Norman

i was born and raised an orphan
in a land that once was free
in a land that poured its love out on the moon
and i grew up in the shadows
of your silos filled with grain
but you never helped to fill my empty spoon

and when i was ten you murdered law
with courtroom politics
and you learned to make a lie sound just like truth
but i know you better now
and i don't fall for all your tricks
and you've lost the one advantage of my youth

you kill a black man at midnight
just for talking to your daughter
then you make his wife your mistress
and you leave her without water
and the sheet you wear upon your face
is the sheet your children sleep on
at every meal you say a prayer
you don't believe but still you keep on

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it

you are far across the ocean
in a the war that’s not your own
and while you're winning theirs
you're gonna lose the one at home
do you really think the only way
to bring about the peace
is to sacrifice your children
and kill all your enemies

the politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take note
and they exaggerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them
whether this country sinks or floats
well i wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote

well my phone is tapped and my lips are chapped
from whispering through the fence
you know every move i make
or is that just coincidence
will you try to make my way of life
a little less like jail
if i promise to make tapes and slides
and send them through the mail

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it

you say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don't ask me for the answer i've only got one
that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

It’s available to listen to here:


It’s strange how everything changes all the time and yet some things never seem to change. Just about the entire song is more relevant today than it was even in 1970.

It seems that we often still act as though the answer to the following question is yes:

do you really think the only way
to bring about the peace
is to sacrifice your children
and kill all your enemies

But really … we know the real answer is no.

One of the readings at the recent Royal Wedding included part of the following:

Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another. Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers. Ask God to bless those who persecute you---yes, ask him to bless, not to curse. Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God's anger do it. For the scripture says, "I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord." Instead, as the scripture says: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame." Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.
(Romans 12:9-21 GNB)

I don’t think there’s any latitude allowed for killing even some of your enemies in that. Not really.

I know, there’s a bit about God taking revenge for the bad stuff … but it’s clear that people aren’t supposed to get involved.

But of course … Paul the apostle couldn’t really have meant that to be taken literally could he? Everyone knows that you only have to take stuff literally if it’s anti-something … anti-gay, anti-trans-gender, anti-other-religions. How could something that looks almost pro-enemy be taken seriously.

Actually there were times when I was a Christian that reading those words would make me cry because I could see how far short from that ideal I fell. Reading them now they have the same effect. Learning to love people … even when you don’t like them … even when they hate you … now that just might be the way to bring about the peace.

It seemed sort of ironic to me that later in the wedding they sang Jerusalem.

The first verse is as follows … with some answers that I’ve added:

AND did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among those dark satanic mills?

The answers are nice and consistent at least.

And then there’s the second verse:

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
in England's green and pleasant land.

Now tell me … can you imagine Jesus singing along with this? [No] is the answer I’m looking for here.

Actually, I really dislike this song. I guess I’m not a nationalist.

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