Watching, Wandering, and Seeking
Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government and former chair of the department of Government and International Studies at Berry College. He serves as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science, and has been chair of the politics and literature section of the American Political Science Association. He also served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has written or edited fifteen books and over 200 articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues. He was the 2007 winner of the Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.\r\n\r\nLawler served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2004 – 09. His most recent book, Modern and American Dignity, is available from ISI Books.\r\n\r\nFollow him on Twitter @peteralawler.
My Christmas gift to you is this version of the African-American spiritual "Go Tell on the Mountain," sung by the Blind Boys of Alabama (with Stephen) on the Colbert Show.
Attend to the lyrics, which are about watching, wandering, and seeking:
When shepherds kept their watching
Over Wandering flocks by night (verse 1)
When I was a seeker
I sought both night and day. (verse 6)
He made me a watchman
Upon the city wall. (verse 7)
They're also about humility as the virtue that tells the most truth about who we are:
Down in the lowly manger
Our humble Christ was born. (verse 3)
I asked the Lord to help me
And he showed me the way. (verse 6)
And if I am a Christian
I am the least of all. (versue 7)
Humility is even the imitation of Christ. He was born in a "lowly manger," clearly inadequate temporary housing for displaced people on the move.
The lyrics of "Go Tell It on the Mountain" were changed by Peter, Paul, and Mary during the Civil Rights Movement to turn that Christmas carol into an anthem for that struggle for justice.
There's nothing wrong with that, to a point. The American "Negro spiritual" typically has a double meaning that attends to two forms of liberation, one celebrated on Christmas and the other from slavery through political transformation.
But on Christmas we remember that the liberation we most seek we can't provide for ourselves. We remember--or should remember--that we have the longings of wanderers, wonderers, and seekers, and that the truth about those longings is often captured in the music and poetry of those who might be regarded, from a socioeconomic point of view, as the most "lowly" of Americans.
So let me close with with a bit of the lyrics of a carol that originated with the lowly white people of Appalachia:
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesue the Savior did come for to die
For poor on'ry [ordinary] people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.
- Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
- The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
- Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
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