Musical Explorations #2: “Belleau Wood”

Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence
Over Belleau Wood that night
For a Christmas truce had been declared
By both sides of the fight
As we lay there in our trenches
The silence broke in two
By a German soldier singing
A song that we all knew

Though I did not know the language
The song was “Silent Night”

Then I heard my buddy whisper,
“All is calm and all is bright”
Then the fear and doubt surrounded me
‘Cause I’d die if I was wrong
But I stood up in my trench
And I began to sing along

Then across the frozen battlefield
Another’s voice joined in
Until one by one each man became
A singer of the hymn

Then I thought that I was dreaming
For right there in my sight
Stood the German soldier
‘Neath the falling flakes of white
And he raised his hand and smiled at me
As if he seemed to say
Here’s hoping we both live
To see us find a better way

Then the devil’s clock struck midnight
And the skies lit up again
And the battlefield where heaven stood
Was blown to hell again

But for just one fleeting moment
The answer seemed so clear
Heaven’s not beyond the clouds
It’s just beyond the fear

No, heaven’s not beyond the clouds
It’s for us to find it here

Garth Brooks is the best-selling artist in history, cross-genre. He is one of the few performers to sell more than 100 million albums, and he’s even bigger than the Beatles.

There are a couple of his songs that deal with world peace, as mega-artists are wont to record. His cover of the Ed McCurdy classic “Last Night I Had the Stranger Dream” was recovered by Johnny Cash on American VI, Cash’s last studio album.

What strikes me about this tune about the Christmas truce of WWII is not the anti-war message (besides, the actual Battle of Belleau wood occurred in the spring, the truce in the song was during Christmas, however).

The very end of the song, in the final lines, reveals a, surprisingly, postmillennial view of the world. We are not sitting and waiting for Christ to come and “make everything better.” He has delegated that task to us, his disciples.

If we want heaven, we have to build it. The Apostle John sees the City of Jerusalem coming down to earth, not people going to somewhere beyond space.

To say otherwise is to adhere to a Platonic belief that the material world is bad, dirty, evil, and that we should always be striving to “get off” the world and go somewhere clean. If this was the case, then why care about anything? Why try to advance the Kingdom of God? Why care about the environment (although liberals take this way too far)? If we’re leaving, just let this place go to hell.

This Platonism makes us less responsible. We expect to make a big mess here on earth, but we’ve got new digs up with Jesus, it’s all good. He’s built us a new house. It’s clean. This one is filthy. Oh well. Good thing we’re leaving soon.

Christ has not built a house. Christ is building a House. We are the workers, and He is the Chief Cornerstone of the foundation.

Heaven’s not beyond the clouds, it’s for us to build it here.

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6 comments

  1. Nick House

    I’ve never thought of the concept of postmillenial country songs, but it’s quite awesome. A while back I discovered I had the talent to match any song to one of the Five Points of Calvinism, but none of my friends were impressed.

  2. iKarma

    In Sunday school, we just finished covering post-millennialism. And I agree with you. Just like, as Christians, why should we bother reflecting Christ’s image if there are no consequences when this world comes to an end? God demands us to live a Christian life-style, that honors and glorifies him, in order to reap the rewards of eternal life in heaven.

    • MadDawg Scientist

      Just an additional thought: Paul tells the Corinthians that if the Resurrection is false, then we are idiots and we die for a lie…

      The belief in leaving this world behind because it’s dirty and beneath us is also called Gnosticism. Very prevalent in modern Rapture theory, etc. The truth is, rather, that we glorify this world through Christ, not give up on it.

      Thanks!

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