Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Greenbelt Festival does to me.

'I recall meeting a musician from El Salvador, William Ramírez, and asking him to teach me a song from his country. He gave me the text in Spanish, which I had translated into English so I could try to fit the English text to the Hispanic tune. When I looked at the words I saw that they were far too political--all about corrupt judges and corrupt courts. Then I discovered it was Psalm 94.

By teaching me that song he opened me to the witness in the Psalms of God's preferential option for the poor and of God's engagement in matters of social justice. Otherwise I would not have known that. I would have sung and read the Psalms as private spiritual nuggets and never have known they had a political and economic dimension.
What other gifts--theological and musical--might we receive from songs being sung in Japan or Peru or Zimbabwe?
If the church in the Northern Hemisphere does not in the next ten years use songs that come from Asia, South America and Africa, it'll be deemed racist. It will be seen as a case of musical apartheid. Most Christians in the world are black and poor. They're not white and affluent. If that's the body of Christ of which we are a member, then we have to share the joy and the pain of fellow members.'

John Bell - Greenbelt Festival speaker
and with us again this year.
Bring it on.