Monday, May 25, 2015

Eurovision and Australia


Australia had a wildcard entry in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest 2015 - which is surprising, given that Australia is 'down under' and nowhere near Europe! I was up early to watch the grand final live in Austria (not to be confused with Australia) and to cheer on the Australian contestant, Guy Sebastian. Australia finished 5th in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, receiving 196 points including the top votes from the host nation Austria and the competition winners Sweden.
I love the fact that the face of Australia at Eurovision, Guy Sebastian, was born in Malaysia from a cultural background of a Portugese/English mother brought up in India, and a Sri Lankan father from Malaysia, and that the Australian results were beamed in by Australian newsreader Lee Lin Chin, Indonesian-born of Chinese descent. I love the fact that they represent Australia at its best as a vibrant, multicultural nation
It was interesting to reflect on Pentecost in light of all these different nations belting out their music (too many power ballads, in my humble opinion!). It was interesting to reflect on the Pentecost story, and that there is no one divine language, but that God’s Spirit was revealed in multiple languages. That all languages are holy and equally worthy of carrying God's stories. That multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism are intrinsically interwoven into the fabric of God's church on earth.  There's much to celebrate in that, and much that presents a challenge to us all. About how we make space for difference, and how we learn to orient our ears to different languages. About how we respect the boundless variety and creativity of human voices. About the way powerful first world countries can use language as a weapon and restrict languages of other peoples in order to oppress and eliminate those perceived as different or threatening.

"We should listen carefully to the gospel — the good news — of Pentecost. On that day when God moved in fiery inspiration, God gave the divine voice to all the languages, to the marginalized, to the street. Any time a language or a voice crying out is suppressed, it is God’s voice, too, we are attempting to silence. We might do well to participate in Pentecost with this in mind, listening for the voice of God among the silenced, the powerless, the ignored, the forgotten, the oppressed, the nobodies.Pentecost wasn’t just about evocative images of fiery tongues and a rushing wind. Pentecost was a rebellion against those that would seek to restrict God to a single, respectable or official language of a single, righteous people or a single, systematic theology. Pentecost was a protest in which God refused to be silenced by the language of the powerful. Instead, on Pentecost, God spoke. And the people in the streets understood. They spoke, too, in the tongues of angels, the divine voice. Nothing could have been more subversive". David Henson, Patheos
And maybe it's worth a look at some of the Eurovision songs. While Australia's contribution was a great R&B 'get up and dance' song, some country’s songs contained political messages, some subtle, some more blatant. Greece's One Last Breath, was supposedly about divorce but mirrored its current economic brinkmanship with European creditors. Armenia’s group Genealogy was forced to change the name of its song Don’t Deny to Face the Shadow, as it was considered too provocative in this 100th anniversary year of the Armenian genocide. It purports to be about universal values and that happiness is born when people are united and live in harmony. Romania's song is All over again. The official music video shows a young boy whose parents are working in Vienna. Visibly sad at his parents being away, he writes letters to them begging them to come home and even dreams of sailing all the way up the Danube to find them. Towards the end of the video, this message appears on-screen:“More than 3 million Romanians are working abroad, trying to make a better life for their children. Unfortunately, the children are left behind.” In an age where economic downturn has hit hard across Europe and such sacrifices are a very real part of people’s daily lives, the song is unique in that it expresses the feelings surrounding this social phenomenon.

Russia's contribution was a beautiful anthemic and hopeful song, A million voices.

We are the world's people
Different yet we're the same
We believe, we believe in a dream

Praying for peace and healing
I hope we can start again
We believe, we believe in a dream

So if you ever feel love is fading
Together like the stars in the sky
We can sing, we can shine

When you hear our voices call
You won't be lonely anymore
A million voices
Your heart is like a beating drum
Burning brighter than the sun
A million voices

Now as the world is listening
From cities and satellites
We believe, we believe, in a dream

If you ever feel love is fading
Together like the stars in the sky
We can sing, we can shine


When I look around at these faces
I can see the stars in the sky
We will sing, we will shine

Singing out, Singing out..... a million voices.....



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