This hymn, by Graham Adams, arose from an ‘Empire’ module at Luther King House in Manchester last week. Graham says, “feel free to use as you wish!’ It connects with the Passion/Easter season. It was particularly stimulated by a discussion around whether ‘the alternative realm’ (God’s basileia/kingdom/empire) is ‘a quaint dream’ or something more ‘threatening’ – and the destabilising language of poetry spoke to this”.
The people wanted soldiers
so hope might come as curse,
to smash the occupation –
but change turned up as Verse:
the poetry of yeasting,
the parabolic sword,
no match for Pax Romana*
and yet this Lamb still roared.
Although it claims possession
of mind and heart and soul,
the Empire’s grip has limits –
it can’t control the whole:
the surplus lives as Poem
for those with ears to hear,
resisting final closure,
declaring what is near:
This dream of re-creation,
this threat of life set free,
disturbing tame religion,
confounding how we see:
it won’t succumb to cliché
where purities abound,
but glimpsed in seeds’ potential,
it ruptures solid ground.
Where empires grow by violence,
where systems blame the last
and close down other futures
by editing the past,
the Poem can’t be silenced,
though quietly it dies,
and dances through the fissures
to teach us how to rise!
Graham Adams (2021) … prompted by the conversations during the Empire module
Potential tunes: THORNBURY, CRUGER…
*Pax Romana is ‘the peace of Rome’ secured through military violence; if it’s easier to replace this with ‘crucifixion’, the meaning still works.
This image was resonated for me in Jess Gillam’s recording of Dappled Light https://youtu.be/oUElwOOuBhk
Look, listen, relax…
Days now to an anniversary…and we witness strife (an understatement) in Afghanistan and this hymn, perhaps still speaks to us. That saddens me (understatement again). I thought it would lose any validity or use within days of being written…I hoped
When will we ever learn…
Twenty years ago this year the USA, and with it the world, was shaken with the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. This exacerbated the polarisation of faith traditions and ideologies across the globe. Tensions increased and an ‘us and them’ mentality, already present, was exaggerated by political posturing, understandable, to a degree, in the light of what had happened. Broken bridges have still not been rebuilt but today those labelled enemies in Western nations are as much within as outside out borders and reconciliation is still needed. Ideologies are in tension with each other and this is overlaid by the threat of a pandemic. Global cooperation has never been more necessary. A hymn I wrote in 2001 within 24 hours of 9/11 is perhaps still pertinent…those we label or sense to be enemies inhabit the fabric of our own politics. Their actions are not as obvious but just as damaging…trust is at a premium…
1 God's on our side, and God will grieve
at carnage, loss and death;
for Jesus wept, and we will weep
with every grieving breath.
2 God's on their side, the enemy,
the ones we would despise;
God quench our vengeance, still our pride,
don't let our anger rise.
3 God's on each side, God loves us all,
and through our hurt and pain
od shares the anguish, nail scarred hands
reach out?love must remain.
4 God show us how to reconcile
each difference and fear,
that we might learn to love again
and dry the other's tear.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© 2001 Stainer and Bell Ltd., please include any use on your CCL Licence return or contact Stainer & Bell via www.stainer.co.uk. Administered in the USA by Hope Publishing.
Tunes: AMAZING GRACE; BASIE (Kleinheksel)
Some of the poetry in Words, Images and Imagination are perhaps pertinent to this situation…
Friends, I’ve been watching the news here in the UK. Know that you have friends here who hope that your election of Joe Biden may be respected, who stand with you, pray for you and long for the restoration of your nation which I have come to know a little and respect a lot. Blessings and prayers, Andrew
So Covid-19 has mutated.
If only we had taken note of Richard Dawkins instead of lambasting him for his poor understanding of theology we might have learnt something to our advantage from his book, ‘The Selfish Gene’. This mutation was bound to happen. Mutations aren’t weird but natural and normal
All living things, however complex or simple, have a built in mechanism for self-preservation. Humans run away from lions, fish swim in shoals to save all of them being eaten by dolphins.
The Covid-19 virus was affected by our avoidance strategies. Relatively speaking it is a simple organism, a complex chemical. It can change, and does change, regularly, as a matter of course. It doesn’t think about this. It just happens. We can’t predict how it will change, but what is certain is it will.
Changes which are beneficial to the virus will enable its survival. Genes survive if they are ‘selfish’ – though there is no intention implied in this.
We have slowed the virus’s transmission by simple processes of washing our hands, social distancing and wearing masks.
A change which enables the virus to transmit more effectively is beneficial to it. Until we have effective vaccination we need to maintain actions which lessen that transmission. These actions will need to be kept in place until the R number is consistently below one to the point where the virus is no longer transmitted and/or an effective, long-term vaccination has been administered to everyone and test and trace is applied to anyone entering each country. Unless we are to exist as a totally isolated country all of this has to be applied with totality internationally.
This has massive economic and social consequences which we need to address to enable ALL people to participate in these measures and to survive. The process is not indefinite, but it is inevitably long-term. Our willingness to participate in this process is, for Christians, an indication of our love of our neighbours. Survival is predicated on our willingness to make personal and corporate sacrifices.
Without them the virus wins.
BBC News – Independent SAGE representative suggests whole of UK should be on Tier 4 (2200hrs 22/12/2020)