Monday, November 3, 2008

Jesus for President

The air is filled with smoke in the back room of the Philosopher's Stone Tavern Saturday night in downtown Charlotte. Three days from the 2008 Presidential Election and North Carolina has become a battle ground state with McCain and Obama in a statistical dead heat here. Yet as local hip-hop and rock group One Big Love perform, there were several mentions of candidates who will not be on the ballot November 4th, including an impromptu song about the election:

"I don't want to vote for McCain. I don't want to vote for Obama. I want to write in Jesus."

"We all grew up in the country," Josh says. Brothers Josh and Jason form the core of One Big Love, and aren't afraid to share their views on rap, politics, and growing up in rural North Carolina. "What we'd like to accomplish with out music is to get people to open up their mind. It's got to happen with a revolution of information," says Jason before the show. "Do you think all them rich folk out there care about what's going on here?" Throughout the show the guys express their doubts in the two-party system changing the status quo any time soon, summed up by the original artwork on their fliers, which features a donkey and elephant joined together and painted with an upside-down American flag.

Listening to their music you get a message different than most hip-hop on the radio today, more in the vein of Public Enemy's Fight the Power. Lyrically and occasionally musically the group is similar to Colorado intelli-rap group The Flobots, who speak of social justice with Christian overtimes. Josh says, "We're anti-bling, we don't rhyme about any of that. It's so country and so real. We don't say one thing about Cadillacs. We didn't grow up like that. And people out there rhyme about it that don't have that, like Jason says 'congratulations on being wack.'"

A around a year ago I initially started my spiritual journey to rediscover who Jesus really is, looking at the Bible and forgetting the religious dogma and political spin. I started thinking and having ideas, not knowing at the time that I wasn't alone with these thoughts, or that anybody else had come to any similar conclusions. The brothers haven't heard of Shane Claiborne' s book Jesus for President, but they see past what the religious and political parties are telling us to believe. "Write in Jesus!" They proclaimed again later, as Josh holds up one of the posters for the cheering crowd. It is a sort of epiphany where I think, "Maybe there really is a revolution going on here in Jesusland."

"I try to come from a Biblical standpoint, plain and simple, and that's what the world needs right now," Jason says. "This is Babylon, for real, there's so much confusion and I try to be a beacon for truth. Not everyone knows what's going on, and I'm not saying I do. I try to make people think outside what they hear on the radio or on CNN. It's really a positive movement going on."

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