As a Canadian, I have a particular fondness for the Arcade Fire, as a number of the members of the “indie” band hail from Montreal. Although I confess, when I first listened to their recent release, The Suburbs, I had to trust the reviews that it would grow on me. It is subtle, at times a little monotonous, but it rewards frequent listening; to such a degree that for a while, it was all I listened to. Particular favourites of mine are “Modern Man,” “We Used to Wait” and “The Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).”
There’s a line that I’m sure gets currency among the emergent church crowd (or whatever they’re called these days) from the song “City With No Children In It,” where Win Butler sings, “You never trust a millionaire quoting the Sermon on the Mount”–a lyric of U2 proportions to be sure.
After Christmas I had a few bucks to spare on an Indigo Books gift-card. I made my way to the lit-crit section and found the Penguin Books “Great Ideas” edition of some of Orwell’s essays entitled Why I Write. I bought it primarily for the excellent (and horrifyingly convicting) essay, “Politics and the English Language,” an essay I will read and re-read for the rest of my days. However, another of the essays, “The Lion and the Unicorn,” caught my eye. In it Orwell deals with the English response to the war that raged against Hitler. He offers stinging criticisms of those, like Chamberlain, who courted Fascism; although Orwell offers socialism as a corrective to said totalitarian system and its cousin Communism. Be that as it may, my reading gave me insight into (possibly) where Win Butler got the line I quoted above about millionaires and the Sermon on the Mount:
One need not doubt that a “peace” movement is on foot somewhere in high places; probably a shadow Cabinet has already been formed. These people will get their chance not in the moment of defeat by in some stagnant period when boredom is reinforced by discontent. They will not talk about surrender, only about peace; and doubtless they will persuade themselves, and perhaps other people, that they are acting for the best. Any army of unemployed led by millionaires quoting the Sermon on the Mount–that is our danger (George Orwell, Why I Write, [London: Penguin, 2004], 63).
So, what makes me chuckle a little about this quote, is that Orwell here uses it satirically to harangue pacifism. Most emergents that I know tend towards a Yoder-ish style pacifism. Without wanting to wreck a perfectly catchy song for them, nevertheless, I hope the irony isn’t lost.