Working in the factories would kill a dog.
Working on the belt line killed your soul.
Working in the limestone and cement quarries withered your lungs.
Working in the cotton mills shot your legs and feet all to hell.
And working in the steel mills burned up your spirit like a gnat that lit in the melting pot.
But out of this whole mixing bowl of hell and high water,
The working folk have marched against Billy clubs, against machine guns,
And they sang their way through the whole dirty mess.
Now, the bank men have got their union, and the landlords got their union,
And the finance men got their union.
But down south and out west
On the cotton farms and working in the orchards and fruit crops,
It’s a jail house offense for a few, common everyday workers
To form them a union and get together for higher wages
Honest pay and fair treatment.
Woody Guthrie, 1941
Just like Guthrie’s guitar didn’t literally kill fascists, so this blog doesn’t literally love God’s children, you do know that, right? But I do pray with all my heart that maybe, just maybe you who are reading might more clearly know that God’s got you. Close. Really close. No matter what very powerful people are telling you.
It’s startling to me to hear the old folk union songs. They are rough and home-spun, but they are borne out of a grit that I admire. A tough-as-a-pine-knot will that I thought was the soul of fundamentalism. It’s not, but that tenacity for justice is still admirable.
This recording down here is a set of those union songs. Don’t let the historical politics distract you. Instead of “labor union,” think of the “union” as the unity in the Church Universal. It’s lonely to do the hard thing, but it’s really not that lonely in the long run. Our Heavenly Father is near, our BrideGroom is defending us, the Spirit is comforting us, and the Church is encouraging us. We shall not be moved.
God bless. We are praying. . . .