Reprinted from Wallwritings
Psalm 2:3 (above) is sung in George Frideric Handel's Messiah before the arrival of the triumphant Hallelujah chorus, when audiences rise to their feet, following the tradition set by England's King George II at the Oratorio's first London performance.
Handel's Sacred Grand Oratorio, which had its first performance in Dublin, Ireland, on April 17, 1741, has been described as "the most famous piece of sacred music in the English language."
Recently, while listening to a live performance of the Messiah, I remembered an article by John Pilger (above) which he adapted from his Edward Said Memorial Lecture presented in Adelaide, Australia, September 11.
The Adelaide lectures have been presented annually since 2005 in honor of the late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar and political activist who was as a major face and voice of Palestine.
I had been thinking about the absence of Christian outrage and action from the institutional Christian church over this summer's Gaza massacre. Pilger, an Australian-born film-maker and author, who now lives in England, connected Said for me, to Psalm 2:3. He did so with a statement Pilger quotes from Said:
"There is a taboo," said the visionary Edward Said, "on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free."
Handel chose Psalm 2:3 to deliver this same wisdom in Part Two of his Messiah: "Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us."
Our refusal to speak and act on the truth about Palestine's physical and mental bondage imposed by the military might of Israel is a manifestation of our last taboo.
What exactly is this taboo?
Said (above) believed the "great destructive force behind Israel" demands that we honor the taboo against telling the truth about Palestine.
During this Christmas season, what does the Christian church say and do, in its individual and corporate forms, about this bondage?
We sing about angels in Bethlehem, and we thrill to the musicality of the Hallelujah chorus that follows Psalm 2:3 in Handel's Messiah.
We preach about loving our neighbor, but we say and do nothing to love our Palestinian neighbors enough to speak out and act against the Israeli occupation bondage which our nation defends, endorses and finances.
Bethlehem is not a stage setting for a fairy tale envisioned by Walt Disney. The birthplace of Jesus is a real city surrounded by a gigantic prison wall.
The birthplace of Jesus is a city held in bondage by the taboo against telling the truth about Palestine