Witty Songs

ŠTed Schaar 2011

8.  "Free Your Mind...and Your Ass Will Follow."

George Clinton, Ray Davis, and Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic created Number 8 which was recorded by the group in 1970 and released on an album of the same name.  A Wikipedia entry about the song states: "The inspiration for this album was, according to George Clinton, an attempt to 'see if we can cut a whole album while we're all tripping on acid.'"29 

The result is a psychedelic experience with distorted guitar riffs and lyrics full of pronouncements.   It's easy to imagine writers higher than the Himalayas coming up with the clever title line and then repeating it dozens of times.  Possibly as an explanation of what it means or as an expansion, it typically is followed by the refrain "The kingdom of heaven is within," which sounds like an ancient biblical phrase but isn't--at least not exactly.

Closest to it I discovered through an online search is Luke 17:21 which I subsequently found in my King James version of the bible: "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."30   However, the phrase is "kingdom of God" not "kingdom of heaven."

I asked college buddy now Pastor Don Stein (Shepherd of the Hills Church, Lacrosse, Wisconsin) about this and he replied in an e-mail:  "As for the phrase 'Kingdom of God,' that is primarily found in the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel of Matthew prefers to use 'Kingdom of Heaven.'   I checked my resources, more than a dozen English and one Greek New Testament.  The only reference that I found is the one you cite.  Matthew does not record those words of Jesus. The Greek text shows no variants or glosses substituting heaven ('ouranous') for God ('Theos') so I doubt that any translation would substitute one for the other here." 

Some online commentators think the two expressions mean the same thing.  Former The Way31  member Mark Clarke, for example: "There is no indication in any of the words of Jesus that there is a distinction between 'kingdom of God' and 'kingdom of heaven.' The two terms are synonymous. 'Kingdom of God' is the literal term for what Jesus preached, while 'kingdom of heaven' is a figurative way of saying the same thing. It is figurative because 'heaven' is put for 'God' who dwells there."32

Others think there are differences.  The following is from the Learn the Bible website which is sponsored by Antioch Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tennessee:  "In Scofield’s notes on Matthew...he states that the kingdom of God can be distinguished from the kingdom of heaven in five respects. The characteristics of the kingdom of God are summarized as follows:  The kingdom of God is universal and includes angels and saints of all ages, the kingdom of God is entered only by the new birth, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven 'have almost all things in common,' the kingdom of God is chiefly inward and spiritual, and the kingdom of God merges into the kingdom of heaven when Christ puts all things under His feet."33

That's not exactly clear. 

Literary colossus Leo Tolstoy, writer of War and Peace and other monumental works, published a book titled The Kingdom of God Is Within You.34  I found an online version and scrolled through. Subtitled Christianity Not As A Mystic Religion But As A New Theory Of Life, it was published in 1894 and translated by Constance Garnett.

From Part 3: "Christianity recognizes love of self, of family, of nation, and of humanity, and not only of humanity, but of everything living, everything existing; it recognizes the necessity of an infinite extension of the sphere of love. But the object of this love is not found outside self in societies of individuals, nor in the external world, but within self, in the divine self whose essence is that very love, which the animal self is brought to feel the need of through its consciousness of its own perishable nature."

From Part 4: "The position of our Christian humanity, if you look at it from the outside with all its cruelty and degradation of men, is terrible indeed. But if one looks at it within, in its inner consciousness, the spectacle it presents is absolutely different. All the evil of our life seems to exist only because it has been so for so long; those who do the evil have not had time yet to learn how to act otherwise, though they do not want to act as they do."

From Part 7:  "That is why that Power cannot require of us what is irrational and impossible: the organization of our temporary external life, the life of society or of the state. That Power demands of us only what is reasonable, certain, and possible: to serve the kingdom of God, that is, to contribute to the establishment of the greatest possible union between all living beings--a union possible only in the truth; and to recognize and to profess the revealed truth, which is always in our power."

None of the above strikes me as clear, either.

While exploring Tolstoy, I came upon a Wikipedia entry that led to a surprising essay he published in 1906 titled Tolstoy On Shakespeare

From Part I:  "I remember the astonishment I felt when I first read Shakespeare. I expected to receive a powerful esthetic pleasure, but having read, one after the other, works regarded as his best: 'King Lear,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'Hamlet' and 'Macbeth,' not only did I feel no delight, but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium... Several times I read the dramas and the comedies and historical plays, and I invariably underwent the same feelings: repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment.  At the present time, before writing this preface, being desirous once more to test myself, I have, as an old man of seventy-five, again read the whole of Shakespeare, including the historical plays, the 'Henrys,' 'Troilus and Cressida,' 'The Tempest,' 'Cymbeline,' and I have felt, with even greater force, the same feelings--this time, however, not of bewilderment, but of firm, indubitable conviction that the unquestionable glory of a great genius which Shakespeare enjoys, and which compels writers of our time to imitate him and readers and spectators to discover in him non-existent merits--thereby distorting their esthetic and ethical understanding--is a great evil, as is every untruth."35

His reaction to Shakespeare is "repulsion," "tedium," "weariness and bewilderment," "great evil," and "untruth"?  A writer would fail to see the brilliance of Shakespeare only if he or she was blinded by an ego even more dazzling.  Frank Lloyd Wright had a similar flaw in that only rarely was he able to discern excellence in a structure of his era that he didn't help shape. 

Greatness, oddly, is sometimes accompanied by smallness.

Before moving on, I feel compelled to present the following which I stumbled upon while looking into Funkadelic's "the kingdom of heaven is within" proclamation. 

It's the source of the "camel through a needle" comparison that sometimes pops up when doubters discuss the improbability of well-heeled televangelists, prosperity preachers, and rich fundamentalists making it into the kingdom of God (or heaven):  "One of the more intriguing scriptures in the 'our wealth' area concerns what we often refer to as 'Jesus and the rich young man,' a biblical passage which goes like this:  As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.' He said to him, 'Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.' Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!' And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, 'Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.' They were greatly astounded and said to one another, 'Then who can be saved? Jesus looked at them and said, 'For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.'"  (Mark 10:17-27, NRSV.)36

Although at first this seems like a clear description of a condition--wealth--that will by itself prevent an individual from being favored by God or Jesus, probably the slippery-as-petroleum-jelly types who are rich Christians will find some way to avoid giving away their Earthly possessions.

In fact, what saves them and any believing Christian--even Adolph Hitler, who supposedly never renounced Catholicism--is plain old faith.  As Jesus says in the above, "...for God all things are possible."  So even Jim Jones, David Koresh, Jim Baker, and other rogues of religion--and it's a long, long list--will be up there flitting about forever, in the unlikely-to-the-point-of-impossible event Christians have it right.

But, I digress.  Meanwhile, the song is here on YouTube.

Lyrics

Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Open up your funky mind and you can fly
Free your mind, your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
 
Freedom is free of the need to be free
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind, your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Yeah

Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within

Whoaaaaa!

Free your mind
Will you free your mind?
And your ass will follow
I have never, never, never
Never in my life
Have this given to me
Free your mind and your ass will follow
Free your mind, man, like a newborn
Not like you
You are as free as you want to be
Your ass will follow

Well, I discovered that this life that was given' to me
Is not really mine
Free your mind
If it were mine, I would have fun all of the time
I'm very discontent now
Now, I want a way out, now
I have to find a way
I have to find some way out
Free your mind and your ass will follow 
Give it up, give it up
Free your mind
Give it up and give it to me, baby
I'm calling you love
Love
From my heart
Free your mind and your ass will follow
Wowww!
Free your mind and your ass will follow 
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind and your ass will follow
Get it on!
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within 
The kingdom of heaven is within
Free your mind!
The kingdom of heaven is within 
Are you satisfied?
I'm so confused about the whole thing
I don't understand it
I can't free my mind
I'm so mixed up
Gonna get it on, etc.


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