Missing From Our Hymnals: Peacemaking Songs
Don’t get me wrong. John Lennon’s peace song Imagine moves me.
But does the dream of “living as one” have to mean “nothing … to die for, and no religion too?” Where is the art of the church to move hearts and minds toward a deeper and different vision of peace in the concreteness of the world we live in?
Ugandans at our Duke Summer Institute sang and danced the story of the Ugandan martyrs, the first Christians there who chose to die in 1866 rather than renounce that Christ was Lord to the king. “Where are songs about John Perkins? Jean Vanier? Dorothy Day?” I wondered, others who lived sacrificially for God’s peace. Later at the Institute a Japanese composer offered the hauntingly beautiful Poem of the Pain. This lament for the Queen of Korea killed by the Japanese helped us feel pain and hope walking together. A spontaneous, joyful gospel choir also formed, singing from the African-American tradition which told the truth about God amidst a mainstream church making peace with slavery (see the song Go Down Moses).
Thank God for restless Duke Divinity student and Black Seminarians Union member Darriel Harris. I was blown away by “The Impact of Love,” his”Spoken Word” performance at Duke’s juried arts exhibit Reconciling All Things.
Watch, feel, be moved by Darriel’s performance. How can we inspire more art like this–visual, musical, story-telling–which moves hearts and minds towards God’s way to peace? Through such art God offers powerful and unique gifts at times when, as Darriel puts it,
“… the world crumbles and nations rumble
When the sky is falling, when atrocities occur that are past appalling
When things fall apart that you’re personally involved in
When problems arise with no adequate solution to solve them”
“Christ is the power to transform
The power to give shelter in the midst of the storm
To erase situations to adjust the norm
To make you see clearer and make you perform.”
About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. His writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.
- Defining Spoken Word
- BSU Member Darriel Harris performs at “All Things Reconciled Art” Exhibit
- Reconciling All Things Juried Art Exhibit
Last Five Posts by Chris Rice:
- Restored to Wonder
- The Future is Mestizo: Beyond Integration and Diversity to New Creation
- Integration and Diversity are Insufficient
- Credibility for Christianity: A Revival at America’s Margins
- Richmond, Virginia: America’s Unlikely Capital of Racial Healing