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Top 40 Philosophy: Michael Bublé, “Silent Night”

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, Music, and Top 40 Philosophy

We’ve done a song from each of the top two “Holiday” albums this week, so on we move to the third: Christmas, by Michael Bublé. I’ve never liked Michael Bublé simply because he’s Canadian (and Americans have to dislike Canadians, like fans of rival sports teams) and his last name sounds like an American pretending to have a French accent (stupid Americans). But that’s no good reason not to like someone, especially not someone with such a good voice.

In any event, “Silent Night” is on both Mr. Bublé’s and Ms. Menzel’s Christmas albums, so let’s make it our third song for the week.

This is a classic Christmas carol now, unlike the question songs from Monday and Tuesday. In four years, it will be two centuries old. It will have well and truly grown up.

In “Silent Night,” though, Jesus is said to be “Lord at

[his] birth.” And that is undemocratic in at least two ways.

First, babies aren’t allowed to vote in modern democracies, much less run for office. In England, of course, they don’t need to run. All they have to do is stand. But still. Newborn babies can’t even do that.

And second, you don’t get to be the democratic ruler of a country just by being born who you are. People have to vote for you.

I know, I know. You don’t vote for kings. But that’s the point. Christianity, abstractly speaking, is an un-democratic religion. It holds that there is a single human person who has the right to rule everyone, simply because of who that person is. Practically, however, Christianity can and should be much more democratic, given Jesus’ non-violent view of his own kingdom and description of how to be a leader in that kingdom.

But still, Jesus never said, “Choose your political leaders by popular vote.” So, even for Christians, the answer to the question of how best to decide who should have political power isn’t set in stone. Let us, therefore, ask the question once more.

Why should the person with the most votes get to rule? The best justification John Locke — whom I love dearly — could come up with boils down to, “The majority would beat the minority in a fight.” Might makes right, in other words.

But surely there’s a better answer than that.


The Hidden Track

Q: What kind of philosophy were we doing today?

A: Political Philosophy.

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