L.B.: Downpresser Man

Sinead O'Connor has recorded a nice version of the Peter Tosh song "Downpresser Man." Hearing it yesterday, I was struck by how Tosh's lyrics capture the meaning and the spirit of the apocalypse better than anything Tim LaHaye has ever written.

If you haven't heard it, "Downpresser Man" is an explicitly apocalyptic song. It describes the Day of the Lord's Judgment, complete with wrath raining from heaven — "the sea will be boiling … the rocks will be melting." This divine wrath will leave the "downpresser man" with nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

The oppressor will be overthrown, the powers that be will be cast down and the end of the age will bring, at last, liberation.

The Rasta understand the meaning and the central importance of liberation. And because they understand liberation, they understand the apocalypse. The downpresser man — the antichrist, the beast, The Man — may be winning now, but he cannot ultimately win. His might and power cannot save him anymore than Pharaoh's could.

You remember Pharaoh: Enslaved the people, declared himself God and acted like he really believed it? That guy. Remember what happened to him? That's what the apocalyptic is all about.

For all the desperate cutting-and-pasting of scripture done by prophecy-obsessed PMDs like Tim LaHaye, they never seem to connect the downpresser man of John's Revelation with the original downpresser man of the book of Exodus. They don't connect the seals and bowls and horsemen of John's apocalypse with the apocalyptic plagues of Egypt. And thus they never consider that these outpourings of divine wrath might be seen as agents of liberation.

So instead of exultant, hopeful songs like "Downpresser Man," they write turgid, oppressive novels like Left Behind.

Tim LaHaye could learn a lot from Peter Tosh.

  • jwhook

    When you’re part of the downpress, how can you exult about liberation?

  • Sharaloth

    Pharoh? The guy that had a long, successful and famous reign over an empire that lasted for thousands of years? Built engineering marvels, refined civilization, made a good show of being able to ‘take it with you’?
    No, I don’t remember him at all.

  • Aaron

    Yes I.
    It’s more than worth pointing out that Tosh didn’t write the song. Downpressor Man is an adaptation of the old gospel song Sinner Man. Not even much of an adaptation as it just uses a bit of Rasta terminology. The Wailers were performing and recording it–first under the original title–in the early sixties long before Bunny or Peter left the group or any of them converted to Rastafari. It was an expression of the general Zionist impulse growing among many diaspora black Christian groups, not just Rastas, which also contributed to the eventual development of what we now call liberation theology. A reminder, though, for mainline Christians and Rastas alike to continue chanting down Babylon in all the ways we can.

  • Jay Denari

    L&J probably wouldn’t understand it b/c it also implies that judgment will punish those who use religion to “downpress” others.

  • Denizen

    “For all the desperate cutting-and-pasting of scripture done by prophecy-obsessed PMDs like Tim LaHaye, they never seem to connect the downpresser man of John’s Revelation with the original downpresser man of the book of Exodus.”
    Yes, they do and blatently so. In the middle of “Descreation: The Antichrist Takes the Throne” they rip-off word for word the conversation between Moses and the Pharoah, with Nicolae Carpathia in place of the Pharoah and I think Ben-Judah in place of Moses. All the Anti-chirst’s followers are afflected with the plague of sores.
    “They don’t connect the seals and bowls and horsemen of John’s apocalypse with the apocalyptic plagues of Egypt. And thus they never consider that these outpourings of divine wrath might be seen as agents of liberation.”
    Yes, they do. In later books. And blatently so. Tribulation Force members are immune to the “seals and bowls and horsemen of John’s apocalypse”, and while the wretched nonbelievers writhe in agony, the Tribulation Force takes the opportunity to stroll merryily through the carnage and do what they like, travel anywhere they please, take what they want, in a word “liberation”, though in an entirely different sense then being liberated from slavery.
    Again why is the theme of the song supposed to be superior to the themes in the books? The theme in the born-again christian world-view is less of liberation from oppressive powers and more of paving the way for the ultimate power and oppressor (Christian God) to come and oppress all the non born-again christians simply for being non-born again christians, “through the seals and bowls and horsemen of John’s apocalypse”. Ordinary Non-christians and evil, arrogant oppressive worldly powers seem to be equally worthy targets of God’s wrath in the eyes of many chrisitians.
    So the theme of being liberated doesn’t seem very sympathetic, if not downright hypocritical, on all levles.
    P.S, once freed from slavery Moses and the Israelis were allowed to enslave other people.

  • Johnny Clark

    money get funny

  • Ken

    Best “exultant, hopeful” sermon I heard on the Apocalypse was in an essay somewhere on Hollywood Jesus that used Lord of the Rings: Return of the King imagery. Went something like this:
    “The Dark Lord gone forever, his works crumbled into the Void, the sun shining bright in the heart of Mordor; and from the Great Gate to the Tower of Echthelion the cry goes forth through Minas Tirith: “THE KING HAS RETURNED!”


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