“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Sound familiar?For those of you who live under a rock, I am referring to hymn number 118 in the blue hymnal, formerly known as hymn number 606. This is a hymn of many purposes; from closing every single GC hymn sing ever to petitioning God to “Please make our team win” at soccer games.
But the true meaning behind those sweet harmonies cannot be ignored: oppression is alive and well. Yes, my friends, oppression!
Now, I know what you are thinking: “But Stephen, how can a hymn in which all God language is gender neutral and 50 percent of the words are hallelujah possibly be oppressive?”
Well, my dear hypothetical reader, I can answer such a question with one word: tradition.
This may come as a surprise, but Goshen College students occasionally like to talk about social justice and equality issues. Now, take a deep breath, because this next bit of information may come as even more of a shock. I don’t quite know how to say this, but sometimes church tradition… oppresses people.
Now, I know what you’re thinking (again): “But isn’t tradition defined in Sam Brownback’s “Dictionary of the Utopian State” as ‘all things good forever and ever despite fact and cultural irrelevance?’”
Faultless as this “logic” may be, mine is better. It’s quite complicated, so follow my reasoning carefully. Hymn number 606 is a tradition, and tradition breeds oppression, therefore by the transitive property 606 is oppressive.
And if that’s not enough, consider the following: isn’t it spooky that 606 is just one number away from 666? Do you really want to accidentally summon the Dark Lord himself at the next hymn sing? I think not.
So now I call on all of you, my Goshen College hive-mind… err… community, to stand with me against oppression. Together we can go to men and women’s soccer games, stand tall at 1:18, and proudly sing 118, our Mennonite theme song.
I do not doubt the overwhelmingly positive response and subsequent social movement that will stem from this flawlessly penned call-to-action. After all, Stefan Baumgartner (author’s note: Stefan (STEH-fahn), not Stephen (STEE-vuhn)) need only speak the word and Goshen College dons their purple shirts of social justice.
Yes, Goshen College, your track record on social justice issues suggests that you will support my cause. So come next year’s soccer games, join me in the exhilarating rush of trying to finish 118 before the clock runs down. A new age has dawned!