On the eve of All Saints Day (a.k.a. ‘All Hallows Eve’ or Halloween’) in 1517 an obscure German parish priest and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg was busily rummaging through a carpenter’s tool box in search of a hammer.

He had just finished writing down a long list of grievances, a scathing denunciation of the sale of indulgences that were being used as a papal get out of jail freecard (with jail meaning purgatory.)

Fed up with the peddling of such mendacious malarkey, he was anxious to publish his polemic and engage in debate. A hammer along with a few nails and the door of the Castle Church would serve as the ‘technology’ for what amounted to a Medieval ‘blog post’ to the academic community.

As he pounded the nails through the paper containing his 95 Theses and into the old church door, little did Professor Luther expect or intend these hammer blows to echo throughout all of Christendom. And little could he have imagined that because of a relatively new technology known as the ‘printing press’ his Medieval ‘blog post’ would go ‘viral’ and change the course of world history. Thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s high tech marvel, within two weeks the 95 Theses had spread throughout the Germanic lands, and within a matter of months much of Western Christendom was all abuzz about the grievances Luther had raised, sentiments that many ordinary folk felt as well.

Nowadays most ordinary folk will be much too occupied this Sunday (October 31) to recall those historic hammer blows to the church door that announced the onset of the world altering Protestant Reformation just over 500 years ago. The tapping on their own doors on this All Hallows Eve will rather announce the arrival of another group of tiny tots dressed in their jaunty Halloween costumes, eager to be treated from the cornucopia of candy that this secularized religious holy day has become.

More importantly, neither will they realize what a historic and critical day this is for the fate of all life on planet Earth as church bells across Scotland ring out to announce the start of COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

So far, similar conferences have failed to produce the decisions and actions required to significantly reform the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, such reticence allows humanity to continue down our own self imposed dead end road to perdition.’ We cannot, we must not continue this suicidal fools journey any further. COP26 must begin the construction of a ‘ROAD CLOSED’ sign as world leaders hammer out enforceable commitments that chart a new course to salvage a dying planet.

As I think of Luther and his hammer protesting the abuses and injustices of the Church of his day, I find myself also thinking of a more contemporary ‘protest-ant’ and his ‘hammer song’ that sings of reforming this land into a more just, free and loving place. On this All Hallows Eve I wish to conjure up the ghosts/spirits of not only Martin Luther, but also of that modern troubadour, Pete Seeger, who inspired and led a renaissance of folk music in the United States with his trademark five-string banjo and songs of love, peace, brotherhood, work and protest.

Pete hung up his banjo and breathed his last on January 27, 2014. Upon his passing, then President Obama said this:

Once called ‘America’s tuning fork,’ Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community — to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be… Over the years, Pete used his voice — and his hammer — to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger.”

With its images of hammers and bells and songs, “If I Had a Hammer” was written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays in 1949 as a rallying call for justice and equality for the common laborer. The last time Pete sang the song in public was at a Farm Aid concert in September of 2013. The frail and feeble 94 year old troubadour’s flesh was weak, but the spirit was willing. With the aid of his audience assisting his lagging lungs and faltering voice, he called upon them to hammer and ring out DANGER and WARNING and to sing out LOVE between brothers and sisters all over this land. [See the inspiring performance HERE.]

As COP26 begins may Pete’s swan song along with his life well lived serve as an inspiration to all of us around the world to take up hammers, bells, songs and whatever tools at our disposal to warn of the dangers of inaction and obfuscation in the face of global ecocide and summon up the love of the common good it will take to bring justice for all creation.

If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land
I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer out love between
My brothers and my sisters, ah-ah
All over this land

If I had a bell
I’d ring it in the morning
I’d ring it in the evening
All over this land
I’d ring out danger
I’d ring out a warning
I’d ring out love between
My brothers and my sisters, ah-ah
All over this land

If I had a song
I’d sing it in the morning
I’d sing it in the evening
All over this world
I’d sing out danger
I’d sing out a warning
I’d sing out love between
My brothers and my sisters ah-ah
All over this land

I got a hammer
And I’ve got a bell
And I’ve got a song to sing
All over this land
It’s the hammer of justice
It’s the bell of freedom
It’s the song about love between
My brothers and my sisters
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land
All over this land