Bible in Pop Culture Week 4: In El Salvador, “Jacob wrestled the angel / And the angel was overcome”



The track “Bullet the Blue Sky” by U2 was released in 1987 on the album “The Joshua Tree.” The lyrics of the song were inspired by a trip that Bono took to Central America in 1985 with Amnesty International. On the trip, he stayed in the mountains in the north of the country with a group of guerilla fighters. While he was in the hills, he witnessed Salvadorean planes firebombing villages nearby in an attempt to kill guerilla fighters. Officially, the U.S. was acting in an advisory role in El Salvadore to strengthen the military dictatorship running the country as a bulwark against Communism. What this meant in practical terms was that the U.S. government was supplying arms, munitions, tactical advice and often manpower that led directly the tens of thousands of civilian deaths.

Bono, who described himself as a person who regularly read Scripture, was upset that Christians in America were supporting a proxy war that resulted in the devastation he was witnessing, so he penned the lyrics for “Bullet the Blue Sky” using Biblical references. A section of the lyrics reads as follows:

“In the howling wind comes a stinging rain / See it driving nails / Into the souls in the tree of pain / From a firefly, a red orange glow / See the face of fear / Running scared on the valley below / Bullet the blue sky / In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum / Jacob wrestled the angel / And the angel was overcome.”

The lyrics describe strafing runs and the dropping of napalm, as well as an interpretation of Jacob’s wrestling with an angel that seems to present the good, innocent villagers as the angel being overcome by man’s evil.

Sources: & the above video.

A Wall Covered With Names of the Dead in Union Square Station, New York City

Each tile on this Union Square station wall has the name of a person who died on September 11th, 2001 on it.

You may have never noticed this, but there’s a wall in Union Square station where each tile has the name of a dead person on it.  If you enter the station near Food Emporium on the corner of 14th St and 4th Ave, you have to angle off to your right after passing through the turn-styles and then head towards the N, Q, and R trains.  As you walk down the long passageway to those train lines, on the left hand side you’ll notice the tiles with the names on them.  In the photo above I was heading in the opposite direction, coming from the Q and heading towards the station exit.

Name stickers placed on tiles in Union Square station, each of a person who died on September 11th, 2001.

I somehow doubt this was done by the city, since the names are simply on stickers.  Still, it was a great effort on someone’s part to help keep the events of September 11th, 2001 in the public consciousness.  Union Square is a major station and sees a lot of foot traffic every day, which could potentially give these stickers a lot of exposure.

One of the stickers on the tiles in Union Square station, showing the name of a person who died on September 11th, 2001.

I have yet to visit the site of the former World Trade Center since I returned to New York City last September.  I suppose I should make it a point to head down there and see what sort of progress they’ve made in rebuilding the area.  The last time I was there, in May of 2008, it looked like this:

The site of the former World Trade Center, New York City, May of 2008.

Philippine President Arroyo Reminded To Not Steal Aid Money From Typhoon Victims

An excerpt from an ABS-CBN News post:

    ““Given the critical situation of our brothers and sisters in the evacuation centers and areas ravaged by Ondoy, it is urgent to ensure that the funds the Arroyo government received in the name of the victims benefit only the victims and their families. The administration’s well-deserved reputation for corruption leaves one uneasy to think that the money for the victims is left to this government’s management,” Ocampo said.
    “Every single centavo must be utilized to ensure the health, security and rehabilitation of the victims and their homes, as well as their damaged communities. The Arroyo government must be frequently reminded that it’s a mortal sin to steal from those who have already lost everything,” Ocampo added.”

My take on it:

Wow. It’s pretty harsh when other members of your own government are telling you that you shouldn’t steal money from victims of a national-scale natural disaster. But, in Arroyo’s case I think the criticism is well deserved. Everything I’ve read about the woman reeks of corruption, from the way she cheated her way into office, admitted it on TV, refused to leave office, to her wasting 1 million Philippine Pesos on a dinner in NYC.

Of course, I’m no expert on the matter, having only visited the Philippines a few times, but my wife lived there, and my wife’s friends lived there, and no one seems to hold this woman in high regard.  Not to mention her son doesn’t seem to care all that much that there’s a disaster.  During the height of this tragedy he was in Rustan’s, buying expensive booze.  You can’t tell me that was for aid relief.  When he was later confronted about it, he made the statement that there should be more regulation of Facebook and social networks.  I guess he thinks he lives in a Communist country.  Instead of admitting fault and taking responsibility, he instead expressed a desire to limit freedom of speech on the internet to hide the truth from people more effectively.  Funny that his statement should come at a time when the FCC in the United States is preparing to institute laws that will make it illegal to perform traffic shaping based on content, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  I also thought it worth pointing out that there’s a vast difference between what Mikey Arroyo is saying and the transparency policy that helped make Obama popular in the US.

Corruption in the Philippine government seems to be traditional, like having a Christmas celebration on the 25th of December. From what I’ve been told, the last time the government actually worked and the economy wasn’t screwed was when the country was under martial law. That’s kinda sad in a way.