Monday, July 11, 2011

Jesus listens to Rage Against the Machine

"The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” -Psalm 12:5

Recently I embarked upon a new project with my friend is called DarkRed.Nation.

It is more of a political blog which aims to help apathetic youth understand the ethics and values this country was founded on. Hopefully it will be a place to communicate these ideals to the future leaders of the American nation in an accessible and relevant format.

We'll see if it works...

I don't talk about politics here though.
That is intentional.

Spirituality is not a product of our politics. I've stated this before, and I believe it fully.

I do believe our values shape our ethics, and that our ethics can, and do, determine our choices at the polls, or if we even choose to attend the polls.


I don't believe Jesus and God have certain political affiliations, and that they bolster one party while tearing down the other...

So to use Christ as a political tool, in my opinion, is just plain wrong.

That said...

As I was listening to my "social justice music" play list the other day, and dreaming up ways to pursue this new project, I mused that Jesus probably would listen to Rage Against the Machine on his own iPod.

Yes, friends, you heard me right...

There is a play list on my iPod that I listen to when I want to do any sort of activism.

And yes...

Apparently, the Lord in Heaven uses Apple products.
But this isn't really a shocker...I mean, come on! Just look at their designs and how well they function and tell me Steve Jobs didn't have help from above...

And yes...

I did just speculate about Jesus' own playlist.

Allow me to share why I came to said conclusion...

There are very few musicians that actually have the power to inspire me with their music.

Most popular music is fluff, in my humble opinion. It lacks substance, vision and direction. I mean, honestly, when I hear California Gurls I don't exactly want to get down to my local soup kitchen or food pantry and "serve it up"...

When I hear LMFAO's song "Shots" I don't end up packing my bags for a hurricane relief trip.

Now, I'll be honest with you, fluff is necessary sometimes.

Sometimes we need a song that has virtually no meaning to it. They can be fun, and catchy. Sometimes I need a little Ke$ha to numb my brain, dumb me down a bit, and take the edge off the week...

Rage Against the Machine, however, is not fluff.

Zach de la Rocha and company are, arguably, one of the most passionate music acts ever formed...and I think that Jesus could relate to much of their passion.

In fact, there is also the potential to find a bit of Christ himself in their music, if one chooses to listen carefully.

Here is a brief snapshot of this group:

Rage is a group that fights to give a voice to the voiceless.
They are very anti-establishment.
They are incredibly involved in social justice issues.

In many ways, as crazy as it may seem, their view of the world is much closer to the idea of the Kingdom of God, as I understand it, than many mainstream politicians, or evangelical voters for that matter.

This kingdom that Jesus talks so much about, doesn't oppress others.
It is diverse.
It is not self-serving.
It is not deceitful.
It doesn't make profit off of the misfortunes of others.

The Kingdom of God is one that transcends any sort of political establishment, or regime that humans have the potential to set up.

I think that it is incredibly ironic, that the true Kingdom of God is remarkably anti-establishment, don't you? It doesn't seem right. To us, the idea of a kingdom has boundaries, it has a hierarchy and an infrastructure. It has an economic game plan.

This particular idea of kingdom that Jesus talked about, was different. It assumed harmony amongst people. It assumed equality amongst all, united and restored under God.

This teaching contradicts our ideas about how things should work in the world. We need our systems to run the show somewhat smoothly. What Jesus proposes is completely anti-establishment; at least, establishment as we know it.

The crooked politicians, the special interests, the earmarks, corruption, scandal, profiteering...

See, God understands us better than we humans understand ourselves. Crazy, huh?
He knows that there is a unique human tendency to use our created systems that are intended for good, whether governmental, religious, or educational, to serve ourselves.

He knows that any man-made system ends up breaking. It ends up giving privilege to few, while taking advantage of many.

This is why he didn't set up a new empire in his time on earth.
Jesus was all too familiar with the Evil Empires of the world.


These were the greatest empires of the world. These were the indestructible powers of the world that were thought to be eternal in their power and glory. These were the systems that humanity set up to rule the world our own way.

Rome, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia all have another thing in common...
They are nowhere to be found today.

Each respective superpower of the world which has been perceived as "indestructible" has collapsed at some point. Human systems don't work.

We need something new.
Something of God.

And it is at this place that the opinions of Jesus and Rage Against the Machine diverge...

Rage tends to advocate throwing off oppression and empowering the proletariat to run the show. Though they say they do not advocate violence, there is a definite attitude behind their music that implies that the only way to find peace is to forcibly take the power back.

After all, those who are oppressed will run things much better than the oppressors, because they know exactly how they don't want things to work. It is a great idea in theory, but flawed to the core...

Jesus, knows this isn't the way of freedom. He knows that it is just another system in the process of being set up and, as was noted earlier in the post, human systems do not work. Violence and political revolution aren't the answer.

We need a coup of another kind...

Jesus offered this new kind of revolution in his teaching about the Kingdom of God.

However, before one begins condemning Rage Against the Machine for their skewed ideals of freedom and what it takes to establish it...I want to remind us of a group that was not so different in this kind of thinking.

It was a group Jesus called his own. His beloved.

His disciples.

As I read it, in the accounts of Jesus, his very own core group of followers, had thoughts about the implementation of the Kingdom of God that are eerily similar to Rage Against the Machine's philosophies.

These were the followers who spent just over three years with him, all day, every day. He told them everything about the Kingdom...

and they still didn't get it...
Isn't that how people are?

I know that when I personally hear any story of oppression, I find anger a natural reaction. It wells up inside almost instantaneously. I want to fight for justice, and to make things right. I want things to be as they should be.

How can people do this to one another?
How can we as a society allow this?
These oppressors deserve to know how it feels to be oppressed!

If I am not careful, the fine line that separates righteous (justified) anger will be crossed, and in its wake a vengeful soul will be left with nothing but hatred within.

This isn't the way of God, and it will never bring resolution or healing to the world.
"An eye for an eye and the world goes blind" isn't just a cute statement, but a universal truth.

Jesus embodied a new standard. A new kind of revolution.

One which reconciles enemies.
Forgives oppressors.
Leaves justice to God.
Brings people together, rather than divides them.

Jesus was a revolutionary. He was a radical.

I think that he, and the "guilty parties" in Rage Against the Machine actually have quite a lot in common, though their methods may differ when it comes to the "plan of action."

I think he smiles at their passion.
Their heart for those less fortunate.
Their desire for justice.
For these things are in the heart of God as well...

There is a lot to love about this band. Oddly enough, there is much about their passion and social consciousness that is strangely, yet profoundly, more "Christian" than many church-goers I know.

Rage will always be one of my favorite music groups, but it is equally awesome to realize that Jesus is probably rockin' out to them too...


Anonymous said...

hey, i´m brazillian so, sorry for my english.
i want to ask you about the sleep now in the fire song of RATM. He say something about the bless of jesus, is it in a positive way or negative way?
thanks !

Josh said...

It's very likely a negative context. Though I don't think RATM would have a problem with the actual person of Jesus, I think they have a big problem with religion, and his followers. That taints their opinion of him. :)