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2: Jubilee – Land, Greed, & Grace in American Folk

May 27, 2008

Part of the genius of the Jewish tradition was that it allowed no segmentations between “spiritual” and “secular.” When the Hebrew slaves were freed from Egypt, Torah—the Guidance given to them—was all encompassing, from toilet habits to economic practices. This was the “real world” redefined.

The world whence the Hebrew slaves came had a particular definition of reality: in Egypt, the powerful—the Pharaoh—expropriated the labor and wealth of the masses of the poor. No rest for the weary, no time to recreate or worship—if you think there’s time for that, then keep making the same quota of bricks and start collecting your own raw materials. This was the ethic of Pharaoh, a “reality” propped up by theological, political, and social convention. In contrast, the freed Hebrews would practice Sabbath rest, in explicit contrast to the way of Egypt.

So Sabbath rest was extrapolated into a great variety of economic practices: every seven years, debts were to be forgiven; every seven years, slaves were freed; every seven years, the land, too, was to rest, and lie fallow. Then—keenly aware of the manner in which greed creates social inequities—Torah stipulated that every seventh seven years was to be a Jubilee, a celebration in which the land “sold” in the intervening years would be restored to its original family. That is, the “reality” of Egypt would not be permitted to become the “reality” of Israel.

This desire to draw a different picture of reality lies at the root of much folk music. When Mike Seeger, well-known folk-music performer and musicologist was asked what fits under the moniker of “American folk music,” he replied, “all the music that fits between the cracks.” Not surprisingly, one often finds in this music “between the cracks” the longing for Sabbath and Jubilee—longings for rest for the weary working man; longings for land and shelter and sustenance to be shared; the hope that greed would be gobbled up by generosity. It is these sorts of cries coming from between the cracks—sometimes angry, sometimes hopeful—that we explore tonight.

1: Tokens Radio Theme

Our Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys

2: How Can You Keep Moving On

Buddy Greene

3: Opening Monologue

Lee C. Camp

4: The Little Beggar Man

Buddy Greene

5: Gimme More

Token Radio Players

6: Interview: Mike Seeger

Mike Seeger with Lee C. Camp

7: Plague of Blood

Julie Lee

8: How Much Land Does a Man Need, Part 1

Tokens Radio Players

9: Soapbox

Julie Lee

10: Interview: There Is No Me Without You

Melissa Fay Greene with Lee C. Camp

11: Prayer for the Children

Uncle Dave's 4

12: What A Friend We Have in Jesus

Our Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys

13: The Adventures of June

Tokens Radio Players

14: Praise

Bill Miller

15: Class & Grass

Our Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys & Annie Moses Band

16: Dear Preacher Man

Tokens Radio Players

17: Healing of the Land

Bill Miller with the Annie Moses Band

18: How Much Land Does a Man Need, Part 2

Tokens Radio Players

19: Gimme More Too

Tokens Radio Players

20: Limehouse Blues

Our Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys & Annie Moses Band

21: Interview: Crunchy Cons

Rod Dreher with Lee C. Camp

22: Now is the Cool of the Day

Hope Cooper with Uncle Dave's 4

23: Closing Monologue

Lee C. Camp

24: Kingdom Hymn

Buddy Greene

25: Oh Mary Don't You Weep No More

Full Company