Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Friday
Jul062018

Paul Robeson: Ballad for Americans

Four years ago, I published this article, but it was scrambled. Here's a coherent version:

Below is a summary of Paul Robeson's life from Wikipedia. (I encourage you to read the whole article.) Paul was an amazing man. Had he been born 50 years later, he—rather than Barack Obama—might have become our first African-American president. Can you imagine the crowds that a politician / president could draw with the best bass-baritone voice in the Nation?

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Paul Leroy Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American concert singer (bass-baritone), recording artist, athlete, and actor who became noted for his political radicalism and activism in the civil rights movement. Robeson was the first major concert star to popularize the performance of spirituals. He was also the first black actor of the 20th century to portray Shakespeare's Othello on stage.

[My parents took me to see Paul Robeson and Uta Hagen in Othello in Ann Arbor in 1944. And that was radical—a black man kissing a white woman onstage in '44. I was ten. I didn't understand the social revolution that was going on. And I went to sleep for a while during the performance but woke up for the last act.]

Uta Hagen - Paul Robeson - Othello

During his years at Rutgers University, 1915 to 1919, Paul Robeson was a nationally renowned football player. He was twice All-American end, junior Phi Beta Kappa, and class valedictorian. He was the third African-American to attend Rutgers and the only African-American on campus during his four years. And he achieved all this while being actively discriminated against because of his race. 

For example, the first day of football practice, the first scrimage, Paul was double-teamed, knocked to the ground, and a teammate placed his cleated foot on Paul's face.       

In 1923 he graduated from Columbia Law School. He did not excel in law school because he spent so much time with jobs in singing and acting. In 1923, Robeson went into theater work, and within a decade he had become an international star of stage, screen, radio and film.

Robeson was awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, the Stalin Peace Prize and honorary memberships in over half a dozen trade unions.James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier, and Harry Belafonte have cited Robeson's lead film roles as being the first to display dignity for black actors and pride in African heritage.

Though one of the most internationally famous people of the 20th century, Robeson was blacklisted during the Cold War and his activism was seldom covered in the mainstream media of that period.              

At the height of his career, Paul Robeson chose to become primarily a political artist. In 1950, Robeson's passport was revoked under the McCarran Act over his work in the anti-imperialism movement and what the U.S. State Department called Robeson's "frequent criticism while abroad of the treatment of blacks in the U.S.”

Under heavy and daily surveillance by both the FBI and the CIA and publicly condemned for his beliefs, Robeson's income fell dramatically, and he was blacklisted from performing on stage, screen, radio, and television. 

In the midst of oppression, he became disgusted with the United States and moved to the USSR. In turn, he also became disenchanted with the Soviet Union.

Robeson's right to travel to the United States was restored in 1958, but his already faltering health broke down under controversial circumstances in 1963. By 1965, he was forced into permanent retirement. He spent his final years in Philadelphia, PA. Hewas unapologetic about his political views and career.

Advocates of Robeson's legacy have restored his name to history books and sports records, honoring his memory with posthumous recognitions.

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Here are ways you can experience Paul Robeson--

James Earl Jones did a one-man show of Paul Robeson. It's magnificent. You can see it on imdb.com

Go to YouTube for Paul Robeson singing "Ol' Man River" from the 1934 movie, Show Boat. Also on YouTube, go to "Old Man River Lyrics" for Paul's militant rewriting of the original lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Also on You Tube is a Mix of 50 songs by Paul Robeson. "Ol' Man River" is first and the third is "Ballad for Americans." The Ballad has swift lyrics, so I have included them below.

You can see Paul's movies on imdb.com--most notably the 1936 Show Boat and The Emperor Jones, the 1933 movie version of Eurgene O'Neill's play, which was first staged in 1920. The play was Paul Robeson's first starring role. He played it both in New York and London.

As the Emperor Jones

True Story

The most famous song written for Paul Robeson was "Ol’ Man River" in Show Boat  by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Oscar's wife heard a friend speak of "Jerome Kern, who wrote ‘Ol' Man River’." Mrs. Hammerstein corrected her. "No, Jerome Kern wrote Yum-Tum-Tum-Tum. My husband wrote 'Ol' Man River.'"

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However, the great song written for Paul Robeson was Ballad for Americans . . . 

Ballad for Americans.  Music: Earl Robinson / Words: John LaTouche

My Dad bought the recording of Paul Robeson singing Ballad for Americans. It was on two ten-inch 78-rpm records. We had a portable, wind-up Victrola. And in the summer of 1944 in Midland, Michigan, I played the records over and over. 

Playing them wasn't easy. This was toward the end of World War II, and we couldn't buy metal phonograph needles. For our needles, we used natural needles that we picked from thorn bushes. The thorns produced a warm tone, but after two uses, we had to replace them.

So, Ballad for Americans helped shape the way I felt about the United States. It gives an accurate, patriotic picture. The song was good preparation for Harvard Law School because it gave me perspective.


Here are the lyrics:

In seventy-six the sky was red.

Thunder rumbling overhead.

Bad King George couldn't sleep in his bed,

And on that stormy morn, Ol' Uncle Sam was born.

Some birthday!

 

Ol' Sam put on a three cornered hat

And in a Richmond church he sat

And Patrick Henry told him that, while America drew breath,

It was "Liberty or death."

What kind of hat is a three-cornered hat?

Did they all believe in liberty in those days?

 

Nobody who was anybody believed it.

Ev'rybody who was anybody they doubted it.

Nobody had faith.

Nobody but Washington, Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin,

Chaim Solomon, Crispus Attucks, Lafayette. 

Nobodies.

The nobodies ran a tea party at Boston. 

Betsy Ross organized a sewing circle. 

Paul Revere had a horse race.

 

And a little ragged group believed it.

And some gentlemen and ladies believed it.

And some wise men and some fools, and I believed it too.

And you know who I am.

 

No. Who are you mister? Yeah, how come all this?

Well, I'll tell you. It's like this...

 

No let us tell you.

Mister Tom Jefferson, a mighty fine man.

He wrote it down in a mighty fine plan.

And the rest all signed it with a mighty fine hand

As they crossed their T's and dotted their I's

A bran' new country did arise.

 

And a mighty fine idea. "Adopted unanimously in Congress July 4, 1776,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.

That among these rights are Life, Yes sir!, Liberty, That's right!

And the pursuit of happiness."

Is that what they said? The very words.

That does sound mighty fine.

  

       Singing Ol' Man River in the movie Show Boat

 

Buildiing a nation is awful tough.

The people found the going rough.

Still nobody who was anybody believed it.

Everybody who anybody they stayed at home.

 

But Lewis and Clarke and the pioneers,

Driven by hunger, haunted by fears,

The Klondike miners and the Forty-Niners,

Some wanted freedom and some wanted riches,

Some liked to loaf while others dug ditches.

 

But they believed it. And I believed it too,

And you know who I am.

No, who are you anyway, Mister?

 

Well, you see it's like this. I started to tell you.

I represent the whole... Why that's it!

Let my people go. That's the idea!

 

Old Abe Lincoln was thin and long,

His heart was high and his faith was strong.

But he hated oppression, he hated wrong,

And he went down to his grave to free the slave.

 

A man in white skin can never be free while his black brother is in slavery,

"And we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

And this government of the people, by the people and for the people

Shall not perish from the earth."

Abraham Lincoln said that on November 19, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

 

And he was right. I believe that too.

Say, we still don't know who you are, mister.

Well, I started to tell you...

 

The machine age came with a great big roar,

As America grew in peace and war.

And a million wheels went around and 'round.

The cities reached into the sky,

And dug down deep into the ground.

And some got rich and some got poor.

But the people carried through,

So our country grew.

 

(With Susan B. Anthony and the Suffragettes,                        [This stanza is not included

We women fought with all our might                                       in the song as Paul Robeson

And we made voting our right.                                                recorded it.]

Our struggle continues to this day,            

And the people carried through,

So our country grew.)

 

Still nobody who was anybody believed it.

Everybody who was anybody they doubted it.

And they are doubting still,

And I guess they always will,

But who cares what they say when I am on my way.

 

Say, will you please tell us who you are?

What's your name, Buddy? Where you goin'? Who are you?

Well, I'm the everybody who's nobody,

I'm the nobody who's everybody.

 

What's your racket? What do you do for a living?

Well, I'm an—

Engineer, musician, street cleaner, carpenter, teacher,

How about a farmer? Also. Office clerk? Yes sir!

That's right. Homemaker? Certainly!

Factory worker? You said it. Mail carrier. Yes ma'am.

Hospital worker. Absotively! Social worker? Posolutely!

Truck driver? Definitely!

Miner, seamstress, ditchdigger, all of them.

I am the "etceteras" and the "and so forths" that do the work.

 

Now hold on here, what are you trying to give us?

Are you an American?

Am I an American?

I'm just an Irish, African, Jewish, Italian,

French and English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Polish,

Scotch, Hungarian, Jamaican, Swedish, Finnish,

Dominican, Greek and Turk and Czech

and double-check American.

  

And that ain't all.

I was baptized Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, Lutheran,

Atheist, Roman Catholic, Moslem, Jewish, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist,

Mormon, Quaker, Christian Scientist, and lots more.

You sure are something.

 

Our country's strong, our country's young,

And her greatest songs are still unsung.

From her plains and mountains we have sprung,

To keep the faith with those who went before.

 

We nobodies who are anybody believe it.

We anybodies who are everybody have no doubts.

Out of the cheating, out of the shouting,

Out of the murders and lynchings,

Out of the windbags, the patriotic spouting,

Out of uncertainty and doubting,

Out of the carpet bag and brass spitoon,

It will come again. Our marching song will come again.

 

Precious as our planet,

Deep as our valleys,

High as our mountains,

Strong as the people who made it.

For I have always believed it, and I believe it now,

And you know who I am.

Who are you?

 

 AMERICA!

  

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Purpose of this blog is to compile books for my grandchildren to read whenever they’re ready.

Copyright © 2018 by Jack Towe

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