Waiting in Neil Young’s “Peaceful Valley Boulevard” for the One to Lead the Nations

creation waits

With this blog post I’m simply presenting another “apocalyptic” song of Neil Young, along with several texts from the Christian New Testament. I trust that readers will be able to notice the correspondence of thought between them. I believe it is quite possible that Neil Young directly drew from Paul’s Letter to the Romans in the “questioning” section of the song.

I would like to add that the song “Peaceful Valley Boulevard” begins at the 26:25 minute mark in the movie “Le Noise.” I’d also like to add that I loved Neil Young’s Bruce Cockburn-esque guitar in this beautiful song.

I suppose that my point for this post is simply to say that as we find ourselves in this day and age wherein the technological abilities of humankind continue to develop both for good and for ill, we can find that our stewardship of the planet has long been the subject of the Hebrew and Christian Holy Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. My purpose is also to call attention to the outrageous claim of the early Christ followers that Jesus of Nazareth was the “second adam” through whom the God of the Hebrew people, believed to be the one and only true God of the Universe, had begun the process of restoring humankind to its stewardship of the earth. In other words, the project, process, and promise of a veritable New Creation has begun.

So perhaps the best-kept secret of Christian theology is that “redemption” was never mostly about “souls being saved to heaven” or about private and personal piety or peace. “Shalom” was always known to encompass “the big picture” of the entire creational existence – even though the ecclesiastical stewards of this truth sometimes seem to have done their best to not only bury that light under a basket, but to even perpetuate the horrible violences known in the wars of humans against humans, and exploitations of the creation by humans. The biblical view of the nature of life seems to agree with the empirical view of life, wherein we live our lives in the violent “Boulevard” where apocalyptic “shots ring out” in violent disruption of the intended  “Peaceful Valley” of Eden. But from that place we are encouraged to look to the Spirit of God’s recreation of humanity in Christ wherein human reconciliation and the renewed stewardship for the gift of earthly creation can be found. That may not seem to be “the gospel” we’ve heard before, but it is the “good news” that has come into the world. (Below is a valuable reference for further study.)


“Peaceful Valley Boulevard”

One day shots rang across the peaceful valley
God was crying tears that fell like rain
Before the railroad came from Kansas City
And the bullets hit the bison from the train
Shots rang across the peaceful valley
White man laid his foot upon the plain.

The wagon train rolled through the dusty canyon
The settlers full of wonder as they crossed
A gentle creek where two old oaks were standing
Before the west was won there was a cost
A rain of fire came down upon the wagons
A mother screamed and every soul was lost.

Change hit the country like a thunderstorm
Ancient rivers soon began to boil
People rushed like water to California
At first they came for gold and then for oil
Fortunes were made and lost in lifetimes
Mother earth took poison in her soil.

An electro cruiser coasted towards the exit
And turned on Peaceful Valley Boulevard
“People make the difference” read a billboard
Above a long line of idling cars.

Who’ll be the one to lead this world
Who’ll be the beacon in the night
Who’ll be the one to lead this world
Who’ll be the beacon in the night
Who’ll be the one to lead the nations
And protect God’s creations

A polar bear was drifting on an ice floe
Sun beating down from the sky
Politicians gathered for a summit
And came away with nothing to decide
Storms thundered on, his tears of falling rain
A child was born and wondered why.

The Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 2:5-13

5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

were-the-ones

The Letter of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Chapter 8:18-22

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

For further reference, the book below is probably the best I know of to show the story “from Genesis to Revelation” that has been tragically missed for nearly two  millennia. Of course there have always been glimmers and glimpses in the thoughts and writings of many, but perhaps now as the stakes seem higher than ever, humanity is ready to rediscover the promise and responsibility included in what Jesus simply called “the good news of the reign of God.”

Middleton

Comments and questions are always welcomed. Thanks for reading.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2016.

 

 

 

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“Cry of a Tiny Babe” by Bruce Cockburn with Lou Reed and Rosanne Cash

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

music & lyrics by Bruce Cockburn

Lou Reed, 1942-2013

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – On the wounds of friendship

godric3

I have started reading the unusual and wonderful book “Godric” by Frederick Buechner, and plan to post some of the colorful passages therein as I discover them. I am grateful to have recently discovered the books of Frederick Buechner.

In chapter one, Godric tells of his five friends:

“That’s five friends, one for each of Jehu’s wounds, and Godric bears their mark still on what’s left of him as in their time they all bore his on them. What’s friendship, when all’s done, but the giving and taking of wounds?”

When Godric banished Fairweather and Tune, they all three bled for it, and part of Godric snaked of too nevermore to come again. And it’s Godric’s flesh that Ailred’s cough cleaves like an axe. And when brave Mouse went down off Wales, he bore to the bottom the cut of Godric’s sharp farewell. And when Gillian vanished in a Dover wood, she took with her all but the husk of Godric’s joy.”

Gentle Jehu, Mary’s son, be thine the wounds that heal our wounding. Press thy bloody scars to ours that thy dear blood may flow in us and cleanse our sin. Be thou in us and we in thee that Godric, Gillian, Ailred, Mouse and thou may be a woundless one at last.” (Godric, 7-8)

Notes: “Fairweather” and “Tune” were actually snakes, though “Mouse” was a real man, and a sea captain; Ailred was an abbot; of Gillian Godric says, “I have forgotten my father’s face. But her face I’ll remember ever. Gillian I will not forget.”

Comments are always welcomed! Thank you.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013

“Manifest Propensity” Explained

300px-American_progress

“Manifest Destiny”

This painting (circa 1872) by John Gast called American Progress, is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Here Columbia, a personification of the United States, leads civilization westward with American settlers, stringing telegraph wire as she sweeps west; she holds a school book. The different stages of economic activity of the pioneers are highlighted and, especially, the changing forms of transportation.

The purpose of this post is to explain why this blog is called “Manifest Propensity.” I have said a few things in this regard, but have never offered a full explanation. The name comes from two sources. The first source you may have guessed due to the verbal similarity. Continue reading

“A Poem of Apocalyptic Emancipation” – An autobiographical explanation of the meaning

New Earth

A little over fifteen years ago I composed “A Poem of Apocalyptic Emancipation” which I decided to post on this blog a few weeks ago. It was the narration of a struggle I had been having for some time as I wrestled with the clash of two worldviews that seemed to be colliding in my conscience. The struggle is epitomized in the title/subtitle of the poem:

“…And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” 

(A Poem of Apocalyptic Emancipation) Continue reading

“Here Comes the Flood” by Peter Gabriel – On the judgments of God and the hope of Easter

I have always loved this song, and consider it one of Peter Gabriel’s best ones. It was the last cut on his first solo album after he left Genesis in the mid 1970’s. I believe the song provides the basis for a meaningful meditation on the subject of hope in today’s world. So have a listen to “Here Comes the Flood” and then I will consider the hopeful meaningfulness I find in the song. I find the song extremely complex and filled with rich imagery, which of course makes it difficult to know exactly what Peter Gabriel may have had in mind especially regarding a precise “story line.” But I hope that what I offer will be generally harmonious to what he may have been saying in his wonderfully poignant song.

Continue reading

“Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” by Blind Willie Johnson – NASA’s Golden Record’s witness to Jesus in Gethsemane

voyager-record

It is fitting that NASA’s  interstellar mission of Voyager includes the song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” on the Voyager Gold Record, being Blind Willie Johnson’s musical depiction of Jesus in Gethsemane; The passion of Christ which concerned humankind, the angels and God, the earth and the heavens. Continue reading