Defend Atlantis: Confronting climate change with J.R.R. Tolkien & the Flobots

19 05 2010
Sauron Defeated. 2002 Edition. HarperCollins. Cover illustration by John Howe.

Depiction of the drowning of Numenor. Art by John Howe. Paperback cover of Sauron Defeated, published by Harper Collins.

“Then suddenly… there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Númenor went down into the sea…”from The Akallabêth by J.R.R. Tolkien

“And survival hinged on the ascent by the humble… We let the altars die to keep our pulse alive.” – from “Defend Atlantis” by the Flobots

As I watch the suspiciously opaque “climate bill” flounder in the Senate, I find that my mind keeps drifting to the legend of Atlantis.

No, seriously.

The story of Atlantis has been retold scores of times by different artists since the days of  Plato. But my favorite by far has long been J.R.R. Tolkien’s version, as recounted in The Silmarillion, a collection of the histories that form the back story of The Lord of the Rings.

I’m also a big fan of hip-hop/rock band the Flobots. As I wrote in SPIN Earth a while back, their latest album, Survival Story,  has a lot to do with environmental justice, especially global warming. And they retell the story of Atlantis in their own way in their music.

The other day I had an epiphany about an important insight these Atlantis stories share. And you don’t have to be a fan of either to appreciate it.

Both the Flobots and Tolkien suggest that our environmental issues are about far more than politics or economics. In a very real sense, they say, the root of these problems is actually about idolatry — what some might call free-market fundamentalism.

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The Progressive »» Returning the Banjo to Its Black Roots : The Carolina Chocolate Drops

5 05 2010

Check out my article about all-black folk band, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, featured in the May issue of The Progressive! The article hits shelves and mailboxes nationwide this month.

Here’s a tiny sneak peek:

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