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How is history made — songs, dreams, and sermons included?

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — the moral arc of history from Billie Holliday via MLK to Obama — and beyond, who knows? ]

Our topic here is foresight — prediction, prophecy, prognosis, projection.


The Legatum Institute today tweeted a Pew Research projection of Muslim and Christian growth 2010-2050.

Pew Christian Muslim to 2050

It is now 2015, so for practical purposes, we’re thinking here about prophecies and predictions that offer what their authors hope will come close to 35-year foresight.

Short form: I don’t get it.

Obama, like him or not, Christ or Antichrist, Peace-Nobelist or Pol, is now US President and has — whatever his strengths, failings, or both — some influence on how the earth turns, which way the moral arc of the universe bends, and or what history will be seen and written once the future is present.

Short form: How does history happen?

I’ll raise that question by posting three videos along one such arc of history — and I’ll avoid the usual genre of “news” and work with song, dream and sermon.


Describing the impact of Billie Holliday’s song, Strange Fruit, David Margolick wrote in his “biography of a song“:

An “historic document,” the famed songwriter E.Y. “Yip” Harburg called “Strange Fruit.” The late jazz writer Leonard Feather once called “Strange Fruit” “the first significant protest in words and music, the first unmuted cry against racism.” To Bobby Short, the song was “very, very pivotal,” a way of moving the tragedy of lynching out of the black press and into the white consciousness. “When you think of the South and Jim Crow, you naturally think of the song, not of `We Shall Overcome,’” said Studs Terkel. Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary record producer, called “Strange Fruit,” which Holiday first sang sixteen years before Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, “a declaration of war … the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

As Shelley reported, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”


Preaching borders on prophecy when it addresses dreams, as in Martin Luther King’s great 1963 oration, spoken decades after Abel Meeropol published Strange Fruit as a poem in 1937 and Billie Holliday recorded it in 1939:

It’s surely notable that a singer had a part in that speech, too. As Wikipedia reports, citing DD Hansen‘s The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation:

The focus on “I have a dream” comes through the speech’s delivery. Toward the end of its delivery, noted African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to King from the crowd, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” King stopped delivering his prepared speech, and started “preaching”, punctuating his points with “I have a dream.”


The President of the United States is an acknowledged legislator, constrained by checks and balances that preachers and poets do not face, yet his voice too has been raised from rhetoric to song:

Here are the Here are the “three rhetorical aspects” of Obama’s speech that James Fallows singled out for special praise:

  • The choice of grace as the unifying theme, which by the standards of political speeches qualifies as a stroke of genius.
  • The shifting registers in which Obama spoke—by which I mean “black” versus “white” modes of speech — and the accompanying deliberate shifts in shadings of the word we.
  • The start-to-end framing of his remarks as religious, and explicitly Christian, and often African American Christian, which allowed him to present political points in an unexpected way.
  • Amazing Grace now takes the place of Strange Fruit, and a President that of a poet and a singer — much has changed, yet much remains.


    My own Prior Art on prognostication:

    Recently, in Simply so much.. 02 here on Zenpundit, I pondered the nature of foresight in terms of a Marine Corps forecast:

    I’m thinking of Lise Meitner as I view the Marine Corps’ ambitiously titled Security Environment Forecast 2030-2045. Who would have thought in 1919 that Hahn, Meitner and Strassmann in 1935 would begin a program that resulted in 1939 in her 1939 paper Disintegration of Uranium by Neutrons: A New Type of Nuclear Reaction — which in turn led to Moe Berg‘s attending a lecture by Heisenberg, the Trinity test at Alamagordo, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    And yet the period from 1919 (Treaty of Versailles) to 1939 (fission theorized) is only 20 years, and from 1919 to 1945 (nuclear warfare) is 26 years — equivalents, respectively, to the periods from 2015 (today) to 2035 (a third of the way into the USMC’s period of prediction) and 2041 (still within the UMSC timeline).

    That’s my attempt at a sober assessment of how difficult it is to “see ahead”.


    My Art of Future Warfare story, War in Heaven, is set — as the contest rules required — in 2090.

    By twenty-ninety, in my fanciful hypothesis, we may well have learned how to choose which timeline we want to live along in a “manyworld” of constantly branching possibilities – “words are many, worlds are many more, if possible” I wrote, and supplied portals to worlds secular, magical, religious and fictitious:

    Forty some years from now, in the wake of John Hardy Elk’s vision and its definitive corroboration “in the external” by physicists at the CERN Diffraction Lab, Shamanism is overturning “the Enlightenment” as the preferred intellectual basis for inquiry. With its gestalt understanding of the interconnectedness not only of space and time but of chance and will, context and perspective, self and other, the Shamanic method of burrowing into deep external space “in the internal” has proven more powerful, faster, and – yes — way more creative than what are now known as the old “heavy lifting” methods of transport.

    With schools of Tibetan, Navaho, Benedictine and other forms of contemplative instruction now rapidly surpassing CalTech as the educational venues of choice, and Oxford morphing back towards its earlier life in which theology was Queen of the Sciences, a great many talented explorers have now visited realms considered impossibly “far away” even a decade earlier, the “digital” has fallen away at a time when communication between the like-minded is achieved telepathically, and “radiance bombs” vie with “dark bombs” in the end-of-century duels scattered across many galaxies in which “white” and “black” magics compete — under the law, some would say theory, of the Conservation of Moral Balance.

    Who knows? Who can really say?


    And then there was the ChicagoBoyz Afghanistan 2050 RoundTable. Introducing the RoundTable, Lexington Green noted:

    40 years is the period from Fort Sumter to the Death of Victoria, from the Death of Victoria to Pearl Harbor, from Pearl Harbor to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. It is a big chunk of history. It is enough time to gain perspective.

    The event, then, was pitched five years past the Marines’ forecast, though still forty years short of my War in Heaven. And once again, though more explicitly this time, I relied on the branching worlds idea.. Here, though, I attempted –- not unlike a circus performer astride two horses -– to bring together the physical and moral universes:

    Historians — on the world-line this is written from, and consequently in those cognate worldlines in which you are reading me — tend to date the by now (2050) clear shift in priorities (if not in actualization) currently emerging along these world-lines to the 2020 joint publication in Nature and Physical Review G of Dogen’s confirmation of the Everett-Klee Transformation Hypothesis, which stated (in its minimal formulation) that free choice is the mechanism by which a human individual switches tracks in a given “present moment” from a “past” world-line to a particular “future” world-line, branching “in that moment” from the first.

    We don’t, I posited, move across parallel “shadow” worlds by diving into portrait size Tarot cards, walking a kundalini-enhancing maze, or substituting the sky, landscape and other furniture of one world-line into that of another, though the great Roger Zelazny in his Amber series posits these as methods for planet-hopping.

    My suggestion: we chose which routes we take when faced with the constant bifurcations of the manyworlds by the moral choices we make.


    And in all this I attempt, however playfully, to glimpse how the past and present might prefigure our possible and impossible futures — and how one or more of those futures may pass through the sieve of the onward-pressing present to become history

    Tomorrow (October 6th) and tomorrow and tomorrow

    Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — Apocalypse Tomorrow: predicting another failed prediction ]

    The Author and Giver of all good things, as the Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity calls Him, provided us with both an Authorized Version of his book (1611) and a Revised Version (1881, 1885); told the story of the earth’s creation in Genesis 1.1 — 2.3 and revised it in Genesis 2.4 — 2.24; and has now supposedly revised its ending from last week until, yes, tomorrow. From today’s Guardian:

    world will be annihilated wed oct 6 2015


    It seems to me the Guardian is playing this, a little tongue in cheek, as a minor skirmish in the alleged Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom:

    Scientists have several theories about when Earth will be destroyed, although none of the data points to this Wednesday.

    Assuming tomorrow is much like today and further tomorrows await us, in other words, science will be vindicated, much to the discomfort of the religious, no?

    But wait — even the most starkly religious seem to be hedging their bets these days..

    “There’s a strong likelihood that this will happen,” McCann said, although he did leave some room for error: “Which means there’s an unlikely possibility that it will not.”

    Chris McCann, leader and founder of the eBible Fellowship, is the guy who, in this instance, has updated Harold Camping‘s failed predictions to provide his own.


    It was Shakespeare‘s Macbeth who suggested somewhat bleakly that tomorrows would follow tomorrows in an unbroken stream “till the last syllable of recorded time”. And you’ll note that even that last phrase is an undated prediction, made by a fictional character on a stage within a stage..

    An end times update, updated

    Monday, October 5th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — will these end times never end? ]

    Back in November of last year I noted that a site that promulgates the prophecies of “one of the most significant Islamic books that have ever been written” had updated its estimation of the arrival of the Mahdi from “late 2013” to some time “either in 2015 or 2016” with variants
    On a variety of sites this group has claimed, eg:

    Most likely, the beginning of the End of Time is in 2013, the appearance (arrival or coming) of the Imam Mahdi (Mehdi) is in 2013, and Jesus Christ (p)’s return [or second (2nd ) coming as referred to by Christians] is going to be in 2022, in-sha-Allah.


    On Our Numerical Based Analysis Of The Quran And Hadith, The Official Beginning Of The End Of Time And The Coming Of The Imam Mahdi Will Most Likely Be In 2014 And Jesus Christ (p) Will Come Down From Heaven To Earth In 2022, In- sha Allah (if Allah is willing).


    The beginning of the End of Time, including the emergence of the Imam Mahdi (Mehdi), will most likely be either in 2015 or 2016 (possibly on September 22 or 23, 2015), while Jesus Christ (p)’s return [or second (2nd) coming] is in 2022, in-sha-Allah (if God is willing).


    And as September 22 and 23 2015 were rapidly coming up on us, I thought it was important to note that last version.

    In my earlier post, I mentioned some specific references to IS and al-Baghdadi which had featured in a page that’s no longer available except on the Internet Archive:

    So their eschatology has an Islamic State component, as indeed does Al Baghdadi’s.


    Here’s how their quantitative prophetic estimates have vared as dates pass and prophecy fails:

    June, 2014:

    Year 2014 probabilities

    Oops! September, 2015:

    Year 2015 probabilities

    Oops! In fact there’s an update posted just three days ago

    Oct 1 2015

    We squeaked by September 23rd, and now 2015, of which less than three months remain, is edging out 2016 in the odds.

    Les jeux sont faits, rien ne va plus?


    Ah, so!

    Meanwhile, Erdogan of Turkey may be seeing himself, as some of his followers apparently see him, as either a prophet or divine figure — according to Today’s Zaman, an organ of the Gulen movement.

    Will these end times never end?

    Signs in the skies II, for Richard Landes

    Sunday, October 4th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — supplementary material on 2030s apocalyptic, including dominionist postmillenialism ]

    Richard Landes, talking with Terry Gross on NPR in 1997, said:

    I’m willing to predict right now that Christians will redate after 2000 to 2033, and that we can expect another wave of Christian apocalyptic expectation and messianic hopes and so on around 2033.

    I noted Richard’s presentiment that millennial expectation wouldn’t die down after the failure of the year 2000 to provide us with the End of Days in Armageddon: if you can’t hasten it, maybe you can dodge it? and illustrated the idea with a graphic from the Passage through the Veil of Time video in Simply so much.. 02. And in my first Signs in the skies piece, I briefly alluded to the Four Blood Moons theory which some Christians — and even some Mormons, but more on that shortly — have been viewing as indicative of the End Times or Latter Days.


    In light of that, here’s another view of the blood moons, this time from the postmillennial side, as represented by the Christian Reconstructionist (see *Note below) Dr. Joel McDurmon, writing in the October 2nd issue of American Vision:

    What to do before the NEXT Four Blood Moons (yes, there’s another coming….)

    I won’t belabor the beating of this dead horse too much, but you should be aware that there is indeed another “Four Blood Moons” to occur within our lifetime (God willing!)—one almost identical to the one we just lived through the past two years.

    As previously posted, the so-called “Blood Moon” prophecy was impossible from the beginning, but that did not stop Hagee (and others) from Pontificating. Hagee now owns the label of false prophet, and they are all trying to rationalize their failed predictions.

    What they never told you is that this event was really not even that unique. In addition to the good amount of fudging historical events to fit previous “tetrads” into an eerily precise narrative, the 2014–2015 cycle is not the last to come. Yet if you listened to all these prophecy pundits, this is God’s final warning.

    Well, not if you look ahead on the calendar. When this September passed without event, just as I predicted, I then look ahead just to see how far out the next cycle of prophecy shyster book sales could be expected. I expected it to be hundreds of years before such a rare event would occur again. But I was surprised.

    The next “Four Blood Moons” event is only 18 years from now: 2033–2034. Lord willing, I’ll only be 59 years old when it starts. You, too, will probably live to see it. And yes, this tetrad of lunar eclipses each falls directly on the Jewish Passover and Feast of Tabernacles for those two consecutive years, and is split half way by a solar eclipse. ..

    This is only the first one I found. There are almost certainly others yet to come if you search through the NASA charts of lunar eclipses, and compare then to the dates of the Jewish feast days.

    You can probably bet there’ll be a whole new crop of anxious Christians comprising a ripe market for a handful of unscrupulous rapture mongers. They will have forgotten how the last blood moons hype came and went as a farce way back in 2015.

    *Note: Christian Reconstructionism is one of various terms used to describe different facets of the movement initiated by RJ Rushdoony to implement Biblical law (including the civic stoning of disorderly & recidivist children) in thr US and eventually throughout the world — other terms include theonomy, dominionism, kingdom now theology, etc.


  • Julie Ingersioll, Building God’s Kingdom: inside the world of Christian Reconstruction
  • RJ Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law
  • Prophets and poets

    Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — poets on the geolocation and fulminology of prophets ]

    SPEC Berry Plath prophets


  • Sylvia Plath, The Hanging Man
  • Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America

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