Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

Are we headed for another depression?

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” is a very important song, summing up a theme during the Great Depression. Please explore the Wiki article about it at…. Afterwards, please listen to the famous song by Bing Crosby at

Pay special attention to these pictures!

Don’t read any further – wait until you listen to the song – study the pictures carefully!

But First – A Baptist Story

Last week, I did a reflection on hell. Now I tried to be “objective”, without siding with a particular position. Nobody objected.

Well, almost nobody…

You see, there was one commentator, who was a Baptist scholar and theologian.


Where I was presenting the Inclusivist viewpoint, I raised some questions relating to how the Exclusivist position would handle exception cases. It was implied I disregarded the entire tradition of Christianity – I’m a heretic – I’m promoting inclusivism – everything is terrible.

What about the many other debatable topics? What if I presented something on “open theism” (…)? How about the Old Earth Theory (…)?

Suppose I also presented the opposing sides, but raised questions on the position he favored? Wouldn’t the same criticism apply?


  1. This blog entry was presented on different Christian forums, looking for feedback.

  2. Other theologians and scholars didn’t read “non-objectivism” into the blog.

  3. The blog contained an entry to, which is about as “Exclusive” as possible.

Oh, yes…if I presented a link on CARM refuting Universalism, wouldn’t the same objections apply to Inclusivism? So if I’m promoting a particular position, why inject a well-defended rebuttal into the equation?

Here’s the point…whether you make limited exceptions as an Exclusivist…exceptions to folks of other religions as an Inclusivist…or exceptions for all people (at some point) as a Universalist…you become an Inclusivist – the only difference is the DEGREE of exceptions.

This minister did tell me about his many accomplishments…his advanced degrees…his fine scholarship. Now should I conclude “he’s being objective” or “suffering from the sin of pride?”

Gecko Commentary

Let’s return to “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”. Let’s see an analysis summary at I’m breaking it up into chunks, and add some Gecko commercial commentary. I think I “accidentally” spiked some famous quotes into the Gecko commentary (GB = Gecko Briefing – from the Insurance TV commercial).

An Everyday Narrator – like you or me

“In ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,’ Harburg creates an Everyman narrator for his song, a person who has built railroads, skyscrapers, and tilled the fields. This person has contributed to the vast bounty of the land (through his plow) and kept faith with the promise of the land by bearing guns for it in time of war.”

GB: “I’m also not very analytical. You know I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.” —aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

Manifest Destiny Illusion

“There is even a veiled allusion to the theme of manifest destiny when the narrator tries to understand how, after he has helped build a dream of ‘peace and glory ahead,’ he can now be standing in a breadline. And there is a somewhat ironic allusion to the patriot’s theme in the lines where he describes the half-million ‘boots’ that went slogging through hell ‘Full of that Yankee Doodle-de-dum.’”

GB: “I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what’s moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves.” —Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003

An Important Footnote:

“This last line would remind listeners of the old Revolutionary War song, and also of George M. Cohan‘s ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and his ‘Over There.’ The allusion is veiled enough that Harburg wouldn’t necessarily bring down the wrath of the man who once ‘owned Broadway’ but the line serves as a mild indictment of the patriotism that swept us into war but seems not to be reciprocal.

GB: “This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating.” — as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

The Man is Bewildered…Like Joe the Plumber

“Harburg has said of his narrator that he isn’t bitter, ‘He’s bewildered. Here is a man who had built his faith and hopes in this country . . . Then came the crash. Now he can’t accept the fact that the bubble has burst. He still believes. He still has faith. He just doesn’t understand what could have happened to make everything go so wrong’ (quoted in 1971, Green 69).”

GB: “We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.” —Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002

Let’s Finish with Another Version

Let’s finish with another version at

Pay special attention to these pictures!

Don’t read any further – wait until you listen to the song – study the pictures carefully!

Randy Kemp


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