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What happens when a persecuted minority like Christianity becomes acculturated into the heritage of empire? Walter Benjamin observed that rulers adopt the histories of past empires to gain the appearance of eternal power:

Those who currently rule are however the heirs of all those who have ever been victorious. Empathy with the victors thus comes to benefit the current rulers every time…Whoever until this day emerges victorious, marches in the triumphal procession in which today’s rulers tread over those who are sprawled underfoot. (Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History VII, [page #])

A Jewish cultural theorist who lived and wrote in interwar Germany, Benjamin argued that the powerful reconstruct history to reflect the structures that enable their power. He critiqued the powers of his day for their recurrent use of imperial habits and gestures. The Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon's French Republic and the Italian Fascists all costumed themselves with Rome’s legacy, remaking Rome in their own image; the religious empire of Christendom can often be seen to use the same costumes.

lyrics

Walter Benjamin put down with pen
the roman empire will never end
lightning flashes like a camera lens
Carthage attacks Rome again

the angel of history is flying backwards
into the storm of so called progress
calamity after calamity piles high the wreckage
we are not angels and we are not helpless

you said history is written by victorious tyrants?
well its symbols of power are just gaudy dress
the empire power is awesome in emptiness
Can John Calvin rule away this guilty Christian’s choice to dance?

You had the chance to shake shake shake it off
Shake shake it off

credits

from The Rise and Fall of Christendom, track released August 26, 2014
Mixed and mastered by Jon Tornblom at Transparent Mastering, acoustic drums played and recorded by Michael Siegrist, songwriting, composition, and all other instruments written and recorded by Jared Both.

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the Gospel of Barn Owl Hamilton, Ontario

Since releasing three albums as the Toronto band Barn Owl, songwriter Jared Both has regrouped in Hamilton as a electro garage rock project. Now the Gospel of Barn Owl, the band continues its critique of Constantinianism with experiments combining electronics and dub effects with fuzz guitars and analog synthesizers. ... more

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