Today I want to talk about the upcoming U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, and the dreaded “J” word, which I have never taken on either in music or blog. Yes, you guessed it, the name of “Jesus”. The historical Jesus is one of the most interesting and talked about people in history, even years after his death. The U.S. social forum is just the next in a long line of people’s alternatives to the forums where politicians and corporate heads get together to divvy up the economic pie, like the World Economic Forum, Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) summits, G-8, World Trade Organization, G-20 and so on. Come to think of it, maybe I will post my pictures of the streets of my birth town, Pittsburgh, during the G20 and call it “Pittsburgh Under Authoritarian Rule”. Anyway the corporate heads and politicians seldom consider people at these forums, just profits. So the people’s forums continue a line from the Zapatista uprising in 1994 (as NAFTA came down) through the Battle of Seattle in 1998 to the first World Social Forum in Brazil, 2001 to the U.S. Social Forums. This time, there will be an attempt to pull in religious organizations, unlike previous events:
Bill Wylie-Kellermen, a Detroit minister, writes:
Our regional version – The first US Social Forum was held three years ago in Atlanta. Many people from Detroit attended and were moved and changed by it. However, it could be said that the first forum missed the boat on connecting well with churches, communities of faith and spirit. I got involved with the local organizing partly to make certain things are different in Detroit. To be sure, dominant and mainstream religion has been historically complicit in empire, in the assaults on the planet and on the poor (and so we confess), but spirituality and gospel faith have been a grounding and sparking force as well in witness and the movement work of social transformation.
Indeed. I was watching the movie “Religulous” by Bill Maher. Many countries have used religion to justify imperialist goals, wrapping themselves in rhetoric of “God and Country” to justify land grabs, oppression, taking resources, and even slavery. Thomas Jefferson, a founding father, wrote a book called “The Faith and Moral Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth”, in which he took the Gospels, took out Jesus’ miracles, and removed any statements claiming divinity. After a discussion of his doubts with some devout men in a Trucker’s Chapel in Raleigh, NC, Maher said to them, “Thank you for being Christ-like and not just christian.” Like Maher, I don’t know if Jesus is or isn’t God, but, like the lyric in Jesus Christ Superstar, “one thing I’ll say for him, Jesus is cool!”
As regards the people’s U.S. Social Forum: WWJD – What would Jesus do? Certainly he did preach against the rich (it is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the kingdom). Perhaps it is because those riches come at the expense of others. He might have us consider if our possessions are causes of war or oppression. He might say there is no such thing as a “holy” or “just” war- people made that shit up. He might say religion is a real bad idea. Unlike John Lennon, he might not care about countries anymore, since the oppressors are multi-national and don’t belong, care about or align with countries anymore. Everyone sing along, “Imagine no G20, no banks or corporate greed, some might not get what they want, but all get what they need”.
Anyway it is in this spirit that I present you my latest rough mix demo song, called “Easter Song” with lyrics by my friend and sometimes writing partner, Lester Dore’, and music and the rest by me, Steve Deasy.
And to those people of faith who do attend the forum, regardless of affiliation, if you do the hard work of justice and peace you are doing God’s work. Don’t be “just christian” – be Christ-like. Be Ghandi-like. Be Martin Luther King-like. Click the link below to hear the song: