City on a Hill

Will Butler of Arcade Fire fame, with song: City on a Hill

“In a tweet, Will Butler (of Arcade Fire fame) described the track “City on a Hill” as a “hot new Christmas jam” replete with “some cussin’.” In practice, however, Butler’s [Christmas 2015] offering is quite solemn in tone, a piano-driven number reflecting on all the new fears presented by a modern world that often feels as though it hasn’t made good on its promise of being that shining city upon a hill.”

Article From: Arcade Fire’s Will Butler Shares Somber Christmas Song ‘City on a Hill’

Caution: Language.

City on a Hill, by Will Butler (Released Christmas, 2015)

On a crowded afternoon, I just want to look out on a normal room
Without that fear in my heart, every time someone comes through a door
And I know that some day soon, it’ll happen again and I’m not a fool
I keep watching the stranger’s eyes, as if he might be holding knife

In a city on a hill, I was born and grew up and I’m living there still
Tonight the curtains are drawn, and the gates are locked and the alarm is on
But f*#k off, let’s light up the lights
Because the winter is dark and I’m sick of the night
There’s strangers dying outside, and some people are muttering on to just let them die
But my god do you think we can hide, a city on a hill

There was no room at the inn, not in Indiana, not in Texas, not in Maine
So they prayed and they headed to Berlin, as if God was on there side
C’mon, let’s light up the lights
Because the winter is cold and I’m sick of the night
There’s strangers dying outside, and some people are muttering on to just let them die
I’m not here to preach Christ crucified, but that the blood of the innocent it rarely stays quiet
And f*#k off, I’m not going to die
From a terrorist bullet or some radical spy
I could die in a car crash tonight or from a lightning strike or a meteorite
Yes I’m scared and I might want to hide, in my city on a hill
But my god do you think we can hide, a city on a hill

A prophetic outburst to those who have ears to hear…

To read the original reference to a “City on a Hill“, look at Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5.

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Butler writes:

“I’m not here to preach Christ crucified, but that the blood of the innocent it rarely stays quiet.”


I, on the other hand, am here to preach Christ crucified.

I agree with Butler that the blood of the innocent will not stay quiet. We find as much in Genesis 4:10 after Cain killed his brother Abel:

“The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen!

Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”

Mere lament will not take care of it; it may raise our awareness – but God in Christ hears the cries of innocent blood, and has come, and is present to do something about it.

If you have ears to hear… listen.

Advertisements
Posted in Poems, Proverbs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wild Hope of Christmas

 

 

Posted in Poems, Proverbs | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This is America

Warning: this video may be disturbing to viewers… because it’s supposed to be!

In this month to consider the place of violence in our times, “This is America” is an assaulting song/video; it is bizarre and disorienting; it is a prophetic word about the times in which we live.

CNN reported:

“Donald Glover’s musical alter ego, Childish Gambino debuted the song “This Is America” [first weekend of May 2018] and everyone is still busy tossing around theories about it.”

Rolling Stone reported:

“The video, helmed by Atlanta director Hiro Murai, is a surreal, visceral statement about gun violence in America as Glover alternates between gleefully dancing and remorselessly unloading firearms at unsuspecting victims over a series of unflinching long shots.”

Billboard reported:

“In the four-minute clip, Gambino goes from dance meditations to murder in the blink of an eye — and that’s the point. What starts with the actor/musician grooving along to the beat of an acoustic guitar player sitting nearby turns into an instantly murderous moment, as Gambino picks up a gun and shoots the man, now hooded, in the back of a head 53 seconds into the video.

The first words out of his mouth? “This is America. Don’t catch you slippin’ up.”

From there, Gambino’s joined by dancing school kids and a gospel choir, who sing until Gambino mows them down with what appears to be a semi-automatic rifle. The refrain continues, as cop cars enter the frame and chaos unfolds around him and the dancers: “This is America / Don’t catch you slippin’ up / Look how I’m livin’ now / Police be trippin’ now / Yeah, this is America / Guns in my area (word, my area) / I got the strap / I gotta carry ’em.”

To see all the lyrics go to “This is America” by Childish Gambino.


What is your response?

What does your prayer sound like – look like in light of this?

Posted in Proverbs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Awakening in the World

A Blessing: Awakening in the World

by John O’Donohue

Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing.

May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of the question “Who Am I?” and may it brighten your longing.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness with which your body belongs to the world.

May the sense of something absent enlarge your life.

May your soul be as free as the every-new waves of the sea.

May you succumb to the danger of growth.

May you live in the neighbourhood of wonder.

May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance.

May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind circle of God.


In John O’Donohue’s book, “Eternal Echoes, Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong“, he says in a Celtic dialect of Ireland, when someone asks a child who he is, he says “To whom do you belong?” The Longing to Belong speaks to some eternal echo, as O’Donohue writes:

The human heart is a theatre of longing. One of our deepest longings is to find love and friendship.

Our first journey was the journey to the earth and we are still travelling… there is no other way into the universe except through the body of a woman.

[We come as children]: the child lives in the neighbourhood of wonder where innocence keeps mystery playful. Each new event and encounter is all-absorbing… the child lives in the house of discovery.


May you discover the One to whom you belong.

May we discover those with whom we belong.

For more see: “The Greatest Gift of my Friendship.”

Posted in Poems, Prayers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just a Shot Away

Gimme Shelter

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Rape, murder yeah!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away yea

The floods is threat’ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away

War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away

Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger
Gimme Shelter lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

Consider the place of violence in our times:

“… a storm is threat’ning my very life today
If I don’t get some shelter  Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away…

War, children, it’s just a shot away… it’s just a shot away.”

Here is an example of a prophetic word cried out into the bleakness of our day. But Jagger and Richards don’t know from whom or in whom to take shelter; they merely cry out “gimme shelter” (sic).

The Psalmist sings:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.


Gimme Shelter” is the opening track to the 1969 album Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones.  Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, praised the song, stating that the band has “never done anything better.”

Of Let It Bleed’s bleak world view, Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine:

Well, it’s a very rough, very violent era. The Vietnam War. Violence on the screens, pillage and burning. And Vietnam was not war as we knew it in the conventional sense. The thing about Vietnam was that it wasn’t like World War II, and it wasn’t like Korea, and it wasn’t like the Gulf War. It was a real nasty war, and people didn’t like it. People objected, and people didn’t want to fight it … That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It’s apocalypse; the whole record’s like that.

From Wikipedia

Posted in Poems | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What about us?

Listening for the currents of popular culture that serve as a prophetic word about the times in which we live, “What about us?” performed by P!nk, is a prayerful lament. Though the specific meaning behind this song is unclear, this is an example where the authors may have had different ideas about whom they address the haunting question.

More and more are songs like this making it to the fore in a world that has either forgotten God, or has been profoundly disappointed to not find Him on the broad way of destruction:

What About Us?

We are searchlights, we can see in the dark
We are rockets, pointed up at the stars
We are billions of beautiful hearts
And you sold us down the river too far

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?

We are problems that want to be solved
We are children that need to be loved
We were willin’, we came when you called
But man, you fooled us, enough is enough, oh

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
Oh, what about love? What about trust?
What about us?

Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?

Sticks and stones, they may break these bones
But then I’ll be ready, are you ready?
It’s the start of us, waking up come on
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
I don’t want control, I want to let go
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
‘Cause now it’s time to let them know
We are ready, what about us?

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
So what about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
Oh, what about love? What about trust?
What about us?

What about us?
What about us?
What about us?
What about us?
What about us?
What about us?

Written by Alecia B. Moore, John Mcdaid, Steve Mac • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group. “What About Us” is the first single from P!nk’s seventh studio album Beautiful Trauma. The song was released on August 10th 2017.

This contemporary song carries a lingering theme of W.B. Yeats’ “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” circa 1937.


Here is an excerpt from the Billboard interview with one of the song collaborators, Johnny Mcdaid. Though he wouldn’t discuss the specific meaning behind the song, he described the “alchemy” behind its creation and explained to Billboard that the message was very much something that “revealed” itself over the collaborator’s time in the studio together.

McDaid: I have a thing that every songwriting session that I go into, it’s such a sacred space and I don’t ever think about what a song is for. It’s really just about allowing it to happen and be whatever it decides to be. It tells you, or tells the people that are there what it should be. If you go in with a kind of prescriptive attitude of, you know, ‘This is going to be or should be a single,’ then I think you probably limit its potential.

Do you have any other songs on the album?

This is the only one from the sessions that made it onto the album, but we wrote some other songs a few days prior to that, which I thought were really, really great and certainly the process was really important. Often that is the case, where no song that you write is a mistake and no song that you write isn’t important, because it alters everything you do after it…. So for me the fact that the other songs aren’t on the record, they were still important to have written, because we wouldn’t have gotten to ‘What About Us’ if we hadn’t written the ones before it.

So when you guys first getting together are you sharing influences, things you’re into, or is it just kind of understood you get in there and get to work?

The best kind of writing collaborations that I’ve done are always conversations that lead to a song. Bob Dylan once said that the song is in the room, when you walk in there, you just have to find it. You just have to put a butterfly net into the sky and pull down whatever comes and look at it and say, is this what I want to say? And I think this was very much one of those sessions. Alecia’s got so much to say and she says it really profoundly. So really it becomes a case of shepherding home whatever message reveals itself in the room. So we of course shared influences and a lot of stories and anecdotes and we talk about family and we talk about friends and we talk about our lives and then, out of that, comes an idea — it was already in her, it just needed to be revealed.

What can you tell me about those conversations that led to the song, or the meaning behind it? 

Explaining what a song is about is kind of a dangerous thing for me, because it takes away the possibility of a song becoming whatever it is to somebody that listens to it. From my perspective the creation of it is about looking into yourself, interacting. It’s like alchemy, you know, you interact with the person there in the room and you — these things, these ideas come out and what the ideas are for Alecia are probably different to even the person hearing it. And that’s the beauty of her, she really allows people to receive her music the way they do. She doesn’t take it personally. Whatever way they react to it, she has a very secure sense of self and writing with someone like that is a real joy…. Alecia doesn’t hold back. Her heart is so open, her heart is giant and it makes our life as collaborators not just easier, but really joyous.

And sometimes when you’re writing a song you don’t know what it’s about until it tells you. Often I’m involved in a songwriting session where I come away from it and I listen to it later and I think, ‘Wow, that was actually what was being said?’ Because I’m receiving it in a different context from where it was created.

Posted in Poems, Prayers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

These are the Days of Miracle and Wonder

alexiafoundation.org

Boy in the Bubble, by Paul Simon

It was a slow day
And the sun was beating
On the soldiers by the side of the road
There was a bright light
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby, don’t cry
Don’t cry

It was a dry wind
And it swept across the desert
And it curled into the circle of birth
And the dead sand
Falling on the children
The mothers and the fathers
And the automatic earth

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, oh yeah

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby, don’t cry
Don’t cry

It’s a turn-around jump shot
It’s everybody jump start
It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
The boy in the bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart

And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle
Lasers in the jungle somewhere
Staccato signals of constant information
A loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all, oh yeah

The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby, don’t cry
Don’t cry, don’t cry

These are the days of Miracle and Wonder

…these are the days violence & terror; of evasion & ignorance; of self-protection &  pre-emptive strikes – but today “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Posted in Poems | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment