Some days you just need to listen to some Gospel music…

… and when those days come, reach for something – anything – by Mahalia Jackson.

This extraordinary woman chose to sing Gospel all her life- she could have sung whatever she wanted, with her incredible powerful voice. She would stand there, dressed like someones grandmother complete with church-hat, and then let rip. It was a force of nature that could break hard men somewhere inside. When asked why she sang Gospel she said this;

I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free,” Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, “It gives me hope. With the blues when you finish, you still have the blues.

She sang before Martin Luther King gave THAT speech (and at his funeral) and her voice has power and authority even now that successive musicians have tried to borrow from- and mostly failed.

Today I need some Gospel music. Thanks Mahalia.

 

Rambo, Hollywood and war…

Rambo III was on this evening. I flicked past it, and found my eyebrows shooting upwards.

I have never been a fan of these films- which always made me laugh. The ridiculous plot lines, the wooden acting, the stereotypical bad guys- and the fact that no-one could shoot straight, apart from Rambo of course, who can dodge nuclear missiles. However, I had not realised that they could be prophetic- until just now.

So, a quick recap of the plot to Rambo III. Rambo’s former commander and side kick is captured whilst delivering missiles to some brave freedom fighters who are heroically resisting the evil Soviet invasion of their country- Afghanistan. The names of the freedom fighters? The Taliban. Of course, Rambo kicks much ass, kills all the bad people, and frees the Taliban from the oppressive heel of oppression.

Along the way, there is plenty of tub thumping American propoganda.

Check out this clip- and you will understand my raised eyebrows!

By way of further discussion- there is a good post by Brian McLaren in response to a recent speech by President Obama. He quotes Obama as saying this-

… mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak -nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

The President of the USA has such  responsibility. The worlds only superpower, currently fighting wars in two foreign soils. But like many, I remain unconvinced that the response to violence should be greater violence. Jesus pointed us to a different way of being…

I loved McLaren’s comment on this-

I don’t judge the President; I’m just a citizen with a lot less intelligence (of whatever sort) than he has. But I wonder if someday he will see that he was right in his first assessment of Gandhi and King: they spoke not from naivete about evil and violence but from “a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” Yes, one can be naive about the insidious reality of evil, but one can also be naive about the “germs of self-destruction” contained within our attempts to overcome evil through “the mass application of force.”Somehow we must live with vigilance against both kinds of naivete, Presidents and citizens alike.

Not for the first time, I find myself saying “Amen Brian, amen.”

Martin Luther King’s rules of engagement

martin-luther-king-2.jpg (JPEG Image, 347×300 pixels)

We recently finished a study in our house group based around Philip Yancey’s wonderful book ‘What’s so amazing about grace?

Michaela handed out a copy of Martin Luther King’s rules for his civil rights organisation. I think they are wonderful, so here they are…

Meditate daily on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Remember always that we seek justice and reconciliation, not victory.

Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.

Pray daily to be used by God in order that all people might be free.

Sacrifice personal wishes so that all people might be free.

Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.

Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.

Refrain from violence of fist, tongue or heart.

We had a short discussion about whether these were sufficient for living a Christian life. I am not sure- but i do think that they are sufficient as rules of engagement with the world about us.

In this time when increasingly Christians no longer can guarantee a place at the centre of communities, and we are starting to look for new ways (or old ways) to live missionally, (did I make that word up??) then these rules of engagements seem to me all the more important.

So the next study we are setting out into is ‘Exillio’ as mentioned here

I wonder what MLK would make of it?

Blogged with the Flock Browser