At the Daily Beast, under the heading, Blogs and Stories is the article “Is Michael Jackson in Heaven?” by Jason Boyett.
Boyett begins “Michael Jackson was raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses and flirted with Scientology and Islam. Now many Christian groups wonder if the King of Pop is residing with the King of Kings.” He ends saying, “Is Michael Jackson in heaven? We don’t know, and to speculate about it makes pastors uncomfortable.” Those who have read my previous post “The King of Pop and the King of Kings” will know why many pastors feel uncomfortable addressing the question. They believe, contrary to Scripture, that if Michael Jackson did not give his heart to the King of Kings before he died he is even now sufferring an eternity of everlasting conscious torment in hell. The Bible however says that Jackson is now sleeping in the dust of the earth, awaiting the resurrection and judgement when Jesusm comes (Dan. 12:2).
Meanwhile ASSIST News Service (ANS) (Tuesday, July 21, 2009), in an article titled, “The Pop Gospel According to Michael Jackson” suggests you “Test your knowledge of some of the biblical connections to the music of the Jackson 5 and Michael’s solo career with this 20 question quiz.”
1. What was the first song Michael sang in public at age 5?
2. This gentle ballad by the Jackson 5 begins: “You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back”. Name it.
3. What carol, first made popular by the Harry Simeone Chorale, appears on the Jackson 5 Christmas Album (1970)?
4. What was the first single from the Jackson 5’s Skywriter album (1973)?
5. What video for a song on The Jackson’s Triumph album (1980) was voted one of the 100 best videos of all time, in a 2001 poll to mark the 20th anniversary of MTV?
6. This dance-pop R&B classic from Thriller (1982)–the best-selling album of all time–includes the lyric: “But the kid is not my son.” Name the song.
7. Also from Thriller, this song’s theme echoes Proverbs 20:3 “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.” Name the song.
8. What 1985 song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie was recorded by a supergroup of 45 musicians billed as USA for Africa?
9. A gospel choir is heard on what song from Bad (1987)?
10. What song from Dangerous (1991) promotes racial unity?
11. This song includes the lyrics:”And you can go by feel/’Stead of circumstance/But the power’s in believing/So give yourself a chance”. Name the song.
12. On what song does Michael sing: “See the nations turn their swords into plowshares”?
13. What gospel-influenced song from Dangerous resembles a lament psalm?
14. What’s the setting for the 1992 video, Remember the Time?
15. What 1995 ballad centers around the destruction and rebirth of planet Earth?
16. What music video directed by Spike Lee was filmed in Brazil, the streets of Salvador, and a shantytown in Rio de Janeiro?
17. What song from Invincible (2001) asks the question: “And will the sun ever shine in the blind man’s eyes when he cries?”
18. What song did Michael ask pastors Andrae and Sandra Crouch to sing to him just weeks before his death?
19. When Michael was rehearsing “They Don’t Care About Us” with dancers during a June 23 session at the Staples Center, a 1963 sound byte from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was added. What does King say?
20. What was the first song performed at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service? (July 7/09)
1. “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, at Garnett Elementary School in Gary, Indiana
“Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, sung by the Mother Abbess to Maria. The inspirational song encourages others to take every step towards attaining their dreams.
Michael: “When I finished that song, the reaction in the auditorium overwhelmed me. The applause was thunderous and people were smiling; some of them were standing. My teachers were crying and I just couldn’t believe it. I had made them all happy. It was such a great feeling. I felt a little confused too, because I didn’t think I had done anything special. I was just singing the way I sang at home every night. When you’re performing, you don’t realize what you sound like or how you’re coming across. You just open your mouth and sing.”
Climb Ev’ry Mountain http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NIlawTy6gM
2. “I’ll Be There”. The song continues: “Where there is love, I’ll be there/I’ll reach out my hand to you/I’ll have faith in all you do/Just call my name and I’ll be there”
In the book of Jeremiah, God invites people to call to him:”Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
3. “The Little Drummer Boy” (Davis/Onorati/Simeone). Also known as the Carol of the Drum, Katherine K. Davis first composed the words and music–transcribed from a traditional Czech carol–in 1941. The Trapp Family Singers recorded “Carol of the Drum” prior to their 1955 retirement. In 1968, Rankin-Bass produced a stop motion animated Christmas TV special based on The Little Drummer Boy.
4. “Hallelujah Day”. The Hebrew “hallelujah” combines “hallelu” and “yah,” and translates as “Praise God”. The phrase is found in the book of Psalms (such as 113:1) and four times in the book of Revelation (such as 19:1)
From the song: “Somebody found the key/Somebody opened up the door/Now there’ll be dancing in the streets/This is the day we’ve been waiting for”
(Matthew 7: 7-8) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
5. “Can You Feel It”.
From the song: “Spread the word and try to teach the man/Who’s hating his brother/When hate won’t do”
(1 John 4:20) If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
The song continues:”‘Cause we’re all the same, yes/The blood inside of me is inside of you”
One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism
Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
(Genesis 1:26-27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
6. “Billie Jean”. Jackson says in his autobiography, Moonwalk (1988) that “Billie Jean” was based on the groupies he and his brothers encountered while part of The Jackson 5: “There never was a real Billie Jean. The girl in the song is a composite of people my brothers have been plagued with over the years. I could never understand how these girls could say they were carrying someone’s child when it wasn’t true.”
In Genesis 38:25, Tamar sends a message to her father-in-law, Judah, saying, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these.” [Judah’s own seal, cord and staff]. Later,Tamar gives birth to twin boys. In Judah’s case, the kids really are his sons.
7. “Beat It”.
“They’re out to get you, better leave while you can/Don’t wanna be a boy, you wanna be a man/You wanna stay alive, better do what you can/So beat it, just beat it”
From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_It): “The music video opens with the news of a fight circulating a diner. This scene repeats itself at a pool hall, where gang members arrive via foot, forklift, and out of sewers. The camera cuts to a scene of Jackson lying on a bed, contemplating the senseless violence. The singer leaves the room upon hearing the commotion caused by the rival gangs. Donning a red leather jacket, Jackson dances his way through the diner and pool hall, towards the fight. Arriving at the scene, the singer breaks up the fight and launches into a dance routine. The video ends with the gang members joining him in the dance, agreeing that violence is not the solution to their problems.”
(Romans 12:18) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
8. “We Are the World”. Frederica Mathewes-Green writes at
(www.christianitytoday.com/ct/article_print.html?id=15208): “My favorite [Bible blooper] is a line from that 1980s anthem, ‘We Are the World’: ‘As our God has shown us by turning stones to bread.’ I picture the songwriters Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson thinking, ‘Hey, we’re singing to raise money for hunger relief and there’s something in the Bible about bread and stones–Cool!’ The Bible describes Jesus being tempted, but refusing to turn stones to bread. The composers, the instrumentalists, singers, and technicians must each have read over these lyrics at least once. Nobody said, ‘Hmm, is that right? I’d better check a Bible.’ ”
(Matthew 4:1-4) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Lionel Ritchie, co-writer of “We Are the World”, sang “Jesus Is Love” (from the Commodores’ 1980 album, Heroes) at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service with the First AME Church Choir (July 7/09). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aLnmRlYs_g
9. “Man in the Mirror” (words & music by Siedah Garrett/Glen Ballard). Jackson added background vocals from Siedah Garrett, The Winans, and the Andrae Crouch Choir.
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his ways/No message could have been any clearer/If you wanna make the world a better place/Take a look at yourself and then make a change”
(James 1:22-25) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it–not forgetting what they have heard but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine writes: “When people first heard the studio version, he sounded full of himself. But at the  Grammys, he took the song to church, with a full-blown gospel production that stands as one of his most stunning vocal workouts. In a way, this was as majestic and definitive as the Motown 25 moonwalk.”
10. “Black or White”. From the chorus: “But, if you’re thinkin’ about my baby/It don’t matter if you’re black or white”
How did different skin colors come about?
11. “Keep the Faith”. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.(Hebrews 11:1)
12. “Heal the World”.
(Isaiah 2:4) He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
13. “Will You Be There”. The song begins: “Hold me, like the river Jordan/And I will then say to thee/ You are my friend”.
Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-16)
“Carry me/like you are my brother”
(Isaiah 46:4) I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
“Weary/tell me will you hold me”
(Psalm 139:9-10) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
“When lost will you find me”
(Luke 15:3-6) Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
Near the close of “Will You Be There”, Michael speaks the following:
“In our darkest hour/In my deepest despair/Will you still care?/Will you be there?/In my trials/and my tribulations/Through our doubts/and frustrations/In my violence/In my turbulence/Through my fear/and my confessions/ In my anguish and my pains/Through my joy and my sorrow/In the promise of another tomorrow/I’ll never let you part/For you’re always in my heart.”
Types of Psalms
Jennifer Hudson performed the song at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2mVK0–A5E
14. Ancient Egypt. The music video for “Remember the Time” became one of his longest at over 9 minutes. It featured groundbreaking visual effects and an appearance by Eddie Murphy as Pharaoh Rameses II–believed by many scholars to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
According to the Bible, Moses was the leader of the Israelites when they were delivered by God out of slavery in Egypt. Dr. Paul L. Maier writes: (http://www.equip.org/PDF/DA111.pdf): “The very name Moses is Egyptian, as witness pharaonic names such as Thut-mose and Ra-meses….It is true that few remains of encampments or artifacts from the Exodus era have been discovered archaeologically in the Sinai, but a nomadic, tribal migration would hardly leave behind permanent stone foundations of imposing buildings en route.”
15. “Earth Song”. Jackson and the Andrae Crouch Choir engage in a back and forth chant as the song reaches it’s climatic finale. New York Times music critic Jon Pareles describes “Earth Song” as “a complaint to God about problems that range from war to endangered whales.”
“What have we done to the world/Look what we’ve done/What about all the peace/That you pledge your only son”
(2 Peter 3: 10;13) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare….But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
16. “They Don’t Care About Us”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrNRBHBJQs
“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see/But if Martin Luther was livin’/He wouldn’t let this be”
For the first time in his career, Jackson made a second music video for a single–also directed by Spike Lee. This second version was filmed in a prison. It also contains real footage of human rights abuses, such as the Rodney King beating.
(Matthew 25:44-46) “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
17. “Cry”. The healing of a blind man is recounted in Mark 8.
The Bethsaida miracle – Jesus healing a blind man
D. Keith Mano writes: “As far as I can judge, this is irrefutable evidence that a miracle did occur at Bethsaida. Back in 30 A.D. the blind did not often receive sight: there were few, if any, eye surgeons and seldom a decent miracle-worker. No shill in the crowd could have faked it all by pretending to be blind–because only someone recently given his sight would see “men as trees, walking,” would see the Cubist jumble that Virgil told Oliver Sacks about. A faker, not knowing about post-blind syndrome, would have reported that Jesus had given him perfect vision.”
18. “It Won’t Be Long”, which begins: “It won’t be long, then we’ll be leaving here/It won’t be long, we’ll be going home”.
19. “…in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” This is part of the opening sentence in King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
I Have a Dream
“They Don’t Care About Us” [rehearsal, June 23/09]
20. “Soon and Very Soon”, sung by the Andrae Crouch Choir. The first verse: “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King…Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the King.”
Facing a massive tour, Michael Jackson reached out to gospel superstar Andrae Crouch and his minister/musician sister Sandra weeks before his death [June 30, 2009] http://www.bullypulpit.com/
Cher:”He [Michael Jackson] was a great singer. You know, it’s like God gives you certain gifts. And some people he gives different gifts and some people he gives more gifts.” (June 25/09, Larry King Live)
President Barack Obama:”I think that Michael Jackson will go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers. I grew up on his music, still have all–all his stuff on my iPod. You know, I think that his brilliance as a performer also was paired with a tragic and in many ways sad personal life. But, you know, I’m glad to see that he is being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts as an entertainer.” (Associated Press, July 2/09)
(James: 1:17) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Pastor Lucious W. Smith (Friendship Baptist Church, Pasadena, California) closed the Michael Jackson Memorial Service (July 7/09): “Our Heavenly Father, we thank you this day for the memory of Michael Jackson that means so much to us, even right now. Thank you for the gift of music that he gave us….Even now, the King of Pop must bow his knees to the King of Kings, and we pray that you remind us, Lord, that our lives are but dust, we are here for a moment and then we are gone.”
Closing Prayer by Pastor Lucious W. Smith [begin at 2:30 sec. mark]
For further reference
The Jackson 5
The Jacksons: An American Dream [Part 1 of 25]
Assessing Michael Jackson’s tortured soul
by Andy Cook
Michael Jackson: In His Own Words [December 2007]
Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror
Transcript of Michael Jackson Memorial Service (July 7/09)
The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992)
Michael Jackson Dies
June 25, 2009 (Runs 11:37)
Michael Jackson: 1958-2009
June 26, 2009 (Runs 18:04)
Is Michael Jackson in Heaven?
by Jason Boyett
Michael Jackson: The Essential Moments
by Rob Sheffield
Master of an Empty Kingdom: The Tragically Short Life of Michael Jackson
by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Michael Jackson’s Sabbath Rest
by David Waters
Michael Jackson was the gift
by Donna Brown
Michael Jackson Memorial Service (July 7/09) [Full Video]
Freelancer David Buckna produces — THE POP GOSPEL — a column that communicates Judeo-Christian truth to the postmodern culture using a Q & A format. Questions are gleaned from movies, television, music, literature, current events and other aspects of pop culture. Buckna’s previous quizzes for ANS can be found at the ANS Search Archive page, searching for Buckna. Copyright 2009 by David Buckna. THE POP GOSPEL. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Buckna reads email at email@example.com
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