Winter Revolution: A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

5 12 2010

“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

– Luke 1:51-53, NIV (from “Mary’s Song”)

See the whole list on YouTube – A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

1. Matisyahu – “Miracle”

The cover of the album "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration." Released in 1992 by Warner Alliance.

2.  Rage Against The Machine – “No Shelter”

3.  Patti Austin – “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming”

(from the album Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration)

4. Stevie Wonder – “Someday At Christmas”

5. Flobots – “Whip$ and Chain$”

6. Kirk Franklin – “Revolution”

7. Tracy Chapman – “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution”

8.  Erran Baron Cohen (feat. Jules Brookes & Y-Love) – “Dreidel”

9. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”

10. Anita Baker – “Christmas Time Is Here” (originally from A Charlie Brown Christmas)

11. Kanye West – “Family Business”

12. Donny Hathaway – “This Christmas”

13. Queen – “Thank God It’s Christmas”

14. Green Day – “Holiday”

15. Ben Harper – “Better Way”

16. Enya – “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”

17. Adam Sandler – “The Hanuka Song”

18. Common – “The Light”

19. U2 – “Peace on Earth”

20. Jars of Clay – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”

21. José Feliciano – Niño Jesus

22. Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rapping”

23. Lauryn Hill – “Joyful Joyful”

24. Paul Simon – “Getting Ready for Christmas Day”

25. Will Smith Feat. K-Ci – “Will 2K”

Honorable Mentions — Some of my favorite holiday moments from TV and film

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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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Easter & King’s Assassination: The Political Utility of Resurrection

4 04 2010

“There is a war going on for your mind… We are the insurgents.”

As I sat in church this morning, I found myself singing U2 in my head.

“Early evening April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky… Free at last they took your life but they could not take your pride… In the name of love, one more in the name of love…”

I was contemplating an interesting coincidence – Easter falling on the same day as the 42nd anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking King was walking in Jesus’ footsteps. He too was assassinated while opposing imperialism. And because of the non-violent nature of his movement, I think we fail to consider a simple idea that even the occasional military history magazine can express quite clearly — that King’s movement should be thought of as an insurgency.

And maybe Jesus’s movement was, too.

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