Monthly Archives: June 2005

Freedom Summer 2005

Forty-one years ago today, three young men were killed as they sought to help others exercise their rights as Americans to vote and as humans to live free of fear. They came to Mississippi as part of a massive influx of people to register voters in a state known as a “closed society” that ensured that only a few kept their power. They came to Mississippi as young men but never left alive.

Today, one man was convicted of helping to orchestrate the murder of these three young men. He lived a life in Mississippi that sought to limit the rights of others to be human and American. In a previous trial, one juror kept the others from conviction because she could not believe that a preacher could do such a thing. Now feeble and infirm, continuing to deny any connection to the crime or to the organized hate that facilitated it, he faces up to sixty years in prison, never to walk free in Mississippi again.

Summer began today, and I think Mississippi can call it another Freedom Summer. People from around the world have come to Mississippi to cover the trial, and we have seen glimpses of a new Mississippi. This new Mississippi is like the new creation that Paul talks about in his epistles: it hasn’t come yet, and we don’t know what it will look like. We may even miss it when it comes our way, and it probably won’t be finished in time for us to see what it looks like. Nonetheless, it is coming.

Today was one glimpse of that new creation, a new world where justice and peace reign, where those who wrong others are forced to face their sin and begin the process of repentance.

Tomorrow, another glimpse of that new creation is set to begin just around the corner from the courthouse where justice was finally served today. At the Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner Living Memorial Civil Rights Education Summit and UNESCO’s Breaking the Silence Project, teachers and others will gather to talk about how to teach about these events in schools. When I was growing up, the most I ever learned about the Civil Rights Movement came from news coverage of the release of Mississippi Burning. It is certainly a sign of the new creation that people are trying to teach these things to the children of this place that remains so torn by the violence that has marked its history for so many centuries.

Pray that the new creation may come quickly into our midst in Mississippi.


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some new music (with old roots)

Several weeks ago, I decided I would “pre-order” Coldplay‘s new album X&Y from iTunes. So this morning, I got up and downloaded the songs and put them on my iPod before I went walking so I would have something new and interesting to listen to. I was generally underwhelmed, but right as I was getting ready to change to something entirely different, “A Message” came on.

Within seconds, I knew the song, and I nearly stopped walking to listen more closely. “A Message” is clearly indebted to the wonderful Samuel Crossman hymn “My Song Is Love Unknown” with the tune LOVE UNKNOWN by John Ireland, a fact only slightly acknowledged on the web (see here and here for the references I have found). Here’s my interpretation of the lyrics, since none that I have found on the web are accurate with the references to the original hymn:

My song is love
Love to the loveless shown
And it goes on
You don’t have to be alone

Your heavy heart
Is made of stone
And its so hard to see clearly
You don’t have to be on your own
You don’t have to be on your own

And I’m not gonna take it back
And I’m not gonna say I don’t mean that
You’re a target that I’m aiming at
And I get that message home

My song is love…
My song is love unknown
But I’m on fire for you, clearly
You don’t have to be alone
You don’t have to be on your own

And I’m not gonna take it back
And I’m not gonna say I don’t mean that
You’re the target that I’m aiming at
And I’m nothing on my own
Got to get that message home

And I’m not gonna stand and wait
Not gonna leave it until it’s much too late
On a platform I’m gonna stand and say
That I’m nothing on my own
And I love you, please come home

My song is love, is love unknown
And I’ve got to get that message home

Some reviewers and listeners have called this a love song, but I can’t. The similarity between the hymn and the song is striking — I wouldn’t call it plagiarism but could certainly describe it as inspiration. There are certainly elements that move the song beyond the Lenten themes of the hymn, but I find it to be a deeply spiritual thing.

The next time someone claims that Christianity is dead in Britain or the US or anywhere, I will simply point them to this song. The next time someone says that old hymns aren’t good for anything, I will point them to this song that many are already describing as a hit. It’s clearly not the age of the music that makes things good or bad — it is the depth of the spirit in it.


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old habits reincarnated

As I spend more time at home, I’m finding that some of my old habits are coming back. For example:

  1. It’s really hard to get any “work” done at home. I try to read or do something other than watch TV or sit in front of the computer, but I always seem to end up right back here where I started. I recognize that part of that has to do with different space and having other people closer in to my space, but I still find it hard to do the reading and other sorts of things that I would have done in another space with this same amount of time.

  3. Somewhat related to this are eating and personal care habits. I all too easily break back into unhealthy eating and excuses to not exercise while I’m here. I try pretty hard, but I don’t succeed. I’ve always had much better success when I can start from scratch and do things in an entirely new way.

  5. I either live in my room or outside the house. Thanks to a rearranged room, I have more openness in my bedroom than I have had since I was little. However, I can’t spend much time outside of it without leaving the house altogether. I find that I have to take some kind of trip every day to keep my spirits up and simply make sure that I don’t completely lose it!

I’m simply glad this is a temporary arrangement!

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