For all the manufactured "shocking" behavior of today's music stars, there is nothing around today that is as remotely subversive as this 1940 Woody Guthrie song. After all, it celebrates the Bible's most subversive passage, Mark 10:21: a verse in which Jesus tells the rich that they need to sell all their property and give the money to the poor in order to avoid the flames of hell.
Indeed, this is a Bible verse that is so troubling to the Christian Right that the latter basically just quietly tiptoe away from it and try to pretend it doesn't exist. What must be particularly worrisome to them is the simple clarity of the passage. This isn't one of those vague Bible verses that can be interpreted dozens of different ways.
If there is a God, then all these hypocritical, GOP-supporting "Christians," with their "screw-the-poor" attitudes will be roasting in Hell someday.
Meanwhile, let's celebrate Woody Guthrie's "Jesus Christ," a brilliant song that reclaims the heritage of Jesus from the Right Wing. It reminds us all that the Republicans have hijacked Christianity and have proceeded to warp and distort Christ's message of generosity, peace, love, compassion and forgiveness.
Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land
A hard-working man and brave
He said to the rich, "Give your goods to the poor,"
But they laid Jesus Christ in His grave
Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand
His followers true and brave
One dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot
Has laid Jesus Christ in His Grave
He went to the preacher, He went to the sheriff
He told them all the same
"Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the poor,"
And they laid Jesus Christ in His grave.
When Jesus come to town, all the working folks around
Believed what he did say
But the bankers and the preachers, they nailed Him on the cross,
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.
And the people held their breath when they heard about his death
Everybody wondered why
It was the big landlord and the soldiers that they hired
To nail Jesus Christ in the sky
This song was written in New York City
Of rich man, preacher, and slave
If Jesus was to preach what He preached in Galilee,
They would lay poor Jesus in His grave.
Lyrics from: WoodyGuthrie.org