In 1972, the original Christian rocker Larry Norman wielded a sharp scalpel of social commentary in his album “Only Visiting This Planet.”
Telling stories of an “outlaw” Jesus Christ who didn’t fit in any better in His time than He would today, and taking aim at modern American society’s golden calves, history has treated Norman kindly, with the album being named CCM Magazine’s second greatest album in Christian music and the album being inducted in 2013 into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
Part of the reason for that is that Norman’s criticism is incredibly specific to the time in which it was released, but also timeless. Take for example “The Great American Novel,” from that album, in which Norman sings the following:
“I was born and raised an orphan in a land that once was free
In a land that poured its love out on the moon;
And I grew up in the shadows of your silos filled with grain,
But you never helped to fill my empty spoon ...
... And your money says in God we trust,
But it's against the law to pray in school;
You say we beat the Russians to the moon,
And I say you starved your children to do it.”
This song immediately came to mind last week when my attention was drawn to a Tweet by one of my least favorite politicians — Bernie Sanders.
“No. Congress should not provide a $10 billion handout to Jeff Bezos for space exploration as part of the defense spending bill. Unbelievable,” Sen. Sanders Tweeted on Nov. 16.
Apparently, in all the news about rich guys going into space on their own dime, we missed a measure inserted into the proposed defense spending bill that would give Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo $10 billion in tax dollars to further space exploration.
No, that wasn’t a typo. We want to give Jeff Bezos — net worth $241 billion — $10 billion to continue the rich white dude space race while we fight for a few scraps to potentially help the poor of this nation survive another month. It’s the ultimate in entitlement spending but it’s taking a socialist to call it out. The conservatives who usually call out what would appear to be waste aren’t raising much fuss about this one.
Perhaps that’s because they have much more in common with Bezos — and stand to benefit more from his favor — than they do the people who would benefit from an extra $10 billion in public aid spending, such as healthcare expansion and continuing the expanded child income tax credit.
I had hoped that I would be able to take this Thanksgiving week column and wax poetic on the holiday, which has always been one of my favorites, going back to spending the holiday at my grandparents’ house on Chloe Road every year. But, sometimes, you run into something that’s so immoral, that’s such an affront to common sense, that you just have to call it out.
This situation is a prime example of exactly what’s wrong with this country — we’re more focused on the skies that on the men and women sleeping in the cold under the bridges over which we drive each day. I’m fine with scientific exploration, I just want some common sense applied. There’s no way that Jeff Bezos is going to take that $10 billion, develop something connected to the space program, then not use it to make more money. We’re giving funding to a company that, it could be argued, is the one company in this country that could least use it.
And we’re arguing over whether it’s appropriate to support families with tax dollars.
Larry Norman, in his time, was calling out the lack of morality in how we conduct ourselves as a nation, just how far we had fallen away from being a nation which, at one time, made Jesus Christ an example to follow. It’s a dang shame that his songs still strike bone 50 years later.
I pray you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving. Take the time to spend time with those you love. Celebrate the family. Celebrate your freedom. And, if you’re so inclined, express thanks to God for the blessings you have received over this year.