I haven’t listened to Larry Norman’s music for about 20 years, but the other morning his most famous song, ‘The Great American Novel’, suddenly came into my mind. As I went over the words, I was reminded how relevant this song that was written in 1972 is in today’s world. As he cries out at the paradox of a nation that has produced so many great leaders but which has also caused so much suffering, you cannot help but feel enraged at the hypocrisy of some of our leaders. Just today The Age had an article about the desperate need for America to have a leader like Bobby Kennedy. 35 years later not a lot seems to have changed. As the echoes of the disaster of Vietnam ring throughout this song, you can also hear the less distant echoes of Iraq (though not in the line ‘and while you’re winning theirs’!).

However, unlike much of today’s protest which is happy to sit back and make judgments while not providing credible alternatives, Larry points to a better way, a higher way. As the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock was inched closer to midnight in the last couple of weeks, the Prince of Peace is just as relevant today as ever. Fifteen years ago, another singer with a social conscience, John Mellencamp, sang ‘now more than ever, the world needs love’. I reckon he would be singing that song even louder now.

Have a read of the words of this prophetic song and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a passion for setting things right in this broken world.

The Great American Novel – Larry Norman

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 when I was ten you murdered law
With courtroom politics
And you learned to make a lie sound just like truth
But I know you better now
And I don’t fall for all your tricks
And you’ve lost the one advantage of my youth

You kill a black man at midnight
Just for talking to your daughter
Then you make his wife your mistress
And you leave her without water
And the sheet you wear upon your face
Is the sheet your children sleep on
At every meal you say a prayer
You don’t believe but still you keep on

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

You are far across the ocean
But the war is not your own
And while you’re winning theirs
You’re gonna lose the one at home
Do you really think the only way
To bring about the peace
Is to sacrifice your children
And kill all your enemies

The politicians all make speeches
While the news men all take note
And they exaggerate the issues
As they shove them down our throats
Is it really up to them
Whether this country sinks or flIats
Well I wonder who would lead us
If none of us would vote

Well my phone is tapped and my lips are chapped
From whispering through the fence
You know every move I make
Or is that just coincidence
Will you try to make my way of life
A little less like jail
If I promise to make tapes and slides
And send them through the mail

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
You say all men are equal all men are brothers
Then why are the rich more equal than others
Don’t ask me for the answer I’ve only got one
That a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

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