The Sunday before last, freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a Gospel hymn to her social media accounts in support of the Green New Deal. In a short video, she sings along with the Resistance Revival Chorus, “a collection of more than 60 women who come together to sing protest songs in the spirit of collective joy and resistance,” according to the group’s Twitter account. On the Instagram iteration, AOC emblazoned the phrase “#GreenNewDeal” across the video. But in an irony lost to the performers themselves, the hymn they sang actually makes the case against the Green New Deal.
“This joy I have,” they sing, “the world didn’t give it to me. The world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away!” The song explains that the joy that animates the faithful does not derive from the physical world, which will pass away, but from the eternal Creator of the universe and Savior of mankind. As Christ says in John 16:33, “In me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Curiously, AOC and gang only sing that one line, which they repeat several times. The rest of the lyrics make the point more explicit. “Let me tell you somethin’,” riffs Shirley Caesar, who popularized the hymn,
You know, there are many things in this life that we have that people can take from us. The robber can break in our home, can snatch our pocketbooks. The Man can come and repossess your house, repossess your automobile. But I’m glad tonight that we’ve got somethin’ on the inside the Man can’t take from us! For Jesus paid the price, way [up] on ol’ Calvary! And paid the debt, and this is what we left back up over here. The Holy Ghost that I have—the world didn’t give it to me…
Caesar isn’t singing about the natural environment. The joy at the center of the song is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity and the bond of love between the Father and the Son. AOC and the Resistance Revival Chorus either misunderstood the song they’re singing, or else they’re appropriating a Gospel hymn for their own religion of environmentalism. Perhaps it’s both.
In either case, the group fails to grasp the words they sing. If their joy is not of this world, then that joy does not depend upon the world. Icebergs may melt, temperatures may rise, storms may surge. Come what may, our joy rests beyond the world. If, on the other hand, our joy is of this world, then we must do whatever it takes to preserve the natural environment, no matter the likelihood of success and no matter the cost.
Even leftists can appreciate the beauty of traditional religion and culture. Unfortunately they tend to reject the spirit that animates that beauty. AOC and her background singers acknowledge the charm of sparkling white dresses; but they dismiss the virtue of purity that those garments represent. The singers appreciate the power of a Gospel melody; but they reject the Gospel that inspires the songs.
The joy, such as it is, that AOC sells depends entirely on this world. The world gives it, the world will take it away, and no amount of white dresses or Gospel choirs can cover up the hopelessness of that false religion.