STJ#1017, Building a New Way

For all the awfulness of Reddit (a  social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website that recently had to crack down on alt-right and Nazi content/users), there is also some wonderfulness – from the AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts with famous and not so famous people, to the joy of helping others find songs, films, and shows in Tip of My Tongue, to the highly rigorous academics of Ask An Historian, and of course Aww, where folks show photos of adorable pets (adorableness being in the eye of the beholder). There is even a group (subreddit) for us, called UUReddit, where we get a fair number of seekers.

Among the wonderfulness is Today I Learned (TIL); as folks go through their days, the share a fact they learned from an old article or interview. Sometimes we already knew that, sometimes we didn’t, but for me, the joy is in seeing someone sparked by new information. The posts always start the same: “Today I learned that….”

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Today I learned that there’s a Weavers tribute band called Work o’ the Weavers. They’re based in the Hudson Valley, and essentially they have picked up (with accolades from original Weavers Pete Seeger and Ronnie Gilbert) where this important folk quartet left off, singing both songs from the Weavers’ albums and their own compositions.

Out of this new repertoire comes today’s hymn, written by Work o’ the Weavers member Martha Sandefer. And once you know it’s in the style of the Weavers, it makes perfect sense to be a bit bluesy, a bit folky, a bit repetitive, a lot justice-oriented.

We are building a new way.
We are building a new way.
We are building a new way,
feeling stronger ev’ry day,
We are building a new way.

We are working to be free.
We are working to be free.
We are working to be free,
hate and greed and jealousy.
We are working to be free.

We can feed our every need.
We can feed our ev’ry need.
We can feed our ev’ry need,
Start with love, that is the seed.
We can feed our every need.

Peace and freedom is our cry.
Peace and freedom is our cry.
Peace and freedom is our cry,
Without these this world will die.
Peace and freedom is our cry.

I don’t love the second verse – it feels like it’s missing some words – and maybe in the original it’s worded better. But it’s definitely of a time, and now that I have learned, I see that it’s purposely so.

It’s a popular piece in our congregations, but I’m not sure I like it, although I have a greater appreciation for it now. I’m not quite sure how “building a new way” sits on the ears of those whose land greedy Europeans have taken, either, as it sounds to me a bit like John Winthrop’s “shining city on a hill.” But I know people like it and use it. I’m not sure I ever have or ever will.

Photo is of people ACTUALLY working on building a new way, not just singing about it: Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis (Kairos Center  and fellow Union alum), Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray (UUA president), Rev. Traci Blackmon (UCC national officer), and Rev. Dr. William Barber II, launching the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, DC, yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the original campaign.

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