Wednesday, February 26, 2014

John Brown's Jeopardy Question

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
But his soul goes marching on.             


Chorus:

Glory, glory, hallelujah,
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
His soul goes marching on.

 
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
His soul goes marching on.
Chorus:


My "guilty pleasures" tend to be rather tame, and I'll confess that one of them is the television quiz show Jeopardy! Earlier this week the Final Jeopardy answer was:

Frederick Douglass said this man’s “zeal in the cause of my race was far greater than mine.”

The "question" that came to my mind was "who is Abraham Lincoln?" Actually I don't think in terms of questions, but Jeopardy! does. Two of the contestants agreed with me, but we were all wrong. The correct question was "who is John Brown?" I immediately muttered a self-reproach because I recently read the National Book Award winning novel The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride. It features the zealous, quixotic quest of John Brown to free slaves in America. It was based on his deep religious convictions and in the novel Brown enlists the support of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became an eloquent leader of the abolitionist movement. Brown launched an assault on the armory at Harper's Ferry to procure arms for a slave uprising but it went awry, he was captured, and eventually executed.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Some feel that Brown's ill-considered efforts nonetheless heightened the abolitionist cause and the eventual eradication of slavery.

A fair number of great reformers have been as being nutty as they come. Even the saner ones can seem crazy to their peers. including the biblical prophets.

One hundred and fifty years later John Brown's truth and legacy go marching on. Go figure.

Did you know the John Brown story? Do you know any nutty prophets? Do we need more of them?

2 comments:

roger said...

I didn't know the John Brown story, but I had felt confident thinking the answer to final Jeopardy was Lincoln. Alex tricked a lot of us!

David Mundy said...

Ya, that Alex can be crafty.