I love Hozier's song Take Me to Church so much so that I decided to write a whole blog on how beautiful, symbolic, poetic and so appropriate for what we in America have become in essence of spirituality and religion. Lot's of people ask me what I think of this song as a Christian so heres my answer! It makes me really excited that it has become the #1 song for the year and I could possible see it becoming the song of the decade like Nharles Barkley's song Crazy, another favorite of mine.
What's interesting to me is that these songs have deep poetic words that not everyone probably gets the fullness of the message and sometimes the writer themselves wonder where the anapestic nature of the lyrics derived from. I've wondered it from my own writing, or I've at least sat down to write with an idea and by the time I'm done, I've concluded with "Wow, I really thought that without actually thinking it until I wrote it." Hopefully I'm not confusing you, my point is that I think the inspiring words of Take Me to Church and other songs are so spiritually influenced a lot of times by artistic poets it makes me wonder in amazement how God speaks through us by beauty, inspiration and just flat out realness of our exposed innards. (Yes I said innards! I kinda like that word.)
In those moments where I expose the inner workings of my thoughts and heart into my writing then I get down to the basics of me. I start to discover who I really am and what are in the depths of my being. Sometimes those things aren't so pretty and I'm humbled graciously to find the dirty old "planks" that have been living in the dark corners of my comfy house for far too long. But these dusty old boards become repurposed when I bring them out into the light and make use of them.
And that brings me back to the meaning of the Take Me to Church song. I think we are drawn to these songs before we really even know what they mean. As if something in our soul beckons us tap into a sort of sixth sense to try and figure out while the lyricist is asking us to. Inviting us to help them along the journey of life. Well Hozier, I will try! And while maybe Hozier totally didn't know or mean for the song to go there, (or maybe he did) I will take it there! Not only for myself but maybe I can facilitate and help point you towards the Light that inspired you as well as myself.
Love this, in a sense he's asking us to partake in the standing on our own and being ourselves despite others disapproval. I believe this whole heartedly too. Other good meaning people will always point you towards what they want you to be but God made you just the way your are and he knew exactly what he was doing and he didn't make one mistake. When we look towards others to facilitate who were called to be, we inevitably lose sight of what were suppose to be and without realizing it putting man on a pedestal where God should reside. Not only that but with the thousands of voices of consumerism, advertisements, religion coming at us all hours of the day saying we need to do something/be somebody else to feel completed and God is telling you no!
You are even more a mouthpiece of the one who sent you when you are yourself. And if you've been exposed to religion at some point in your life, you will see that, through very good intentions, you thought you had to change yourself to get closer to God but in a subversive way than religion would tell you, you are never more like God when you are naked in your clothes, bearing your heart out and coming to God as a poor crippled because any pride left is going to keep you blind to see what Grace is waiting for you. Even though if you have pride, Grace still covers you, that's the beautiful thing about Grace, it's poured on us unmeritedly and unapologetically.
And yet he is crying out from his very soul about our religion leaving him empty and telling him to not be himself. See religion will offer you a formula to get to heaven. You can say a formulated prayer to Jesus and whaaala! You suddenly know exactly how to be and what to do in life as long as you read your bible, pray and make it to church 3 times a week. And yet that will never be enough and that will never suffice. The downplay of becoming a Christian as a way to Heaven will never make you full and it will leave you always wondering if there is more. And Yes! There is more and it's called LOVE! Love will set you free. The love you have for God so much so that you start to see him in others all around you. You start believing in bringing Heaven here. You don't love him like that? It's okay, there's Grace for that! I just now started loving him like that and I've been a Christian for 15 years! I can't make you love something but I can show you the beauty of the love I have for something. And then you have the choice to love it too. That's the beauty of free will!
But anyways back to the song lyrics. I love how he is taught to keep the "goddess" on his side, she demands a sacrifice (so does religion, all the time) and showing the pagan side of that belief by changing God to Goddess. To drain the whole sea and get something shiny. The sea in the ancient times was viewed as mysterious, fearful and scary. It's the unknown but what I take from this song is when we forsake mystery and sometimes don't step out on Faith in Love, which a lot of times takes us into the unknown and is scary we inadvertently reject God and follow well, our comfortable Idols: Greed, consumerism, civil religion! See those are safe. Those are controlled by us! In shiny money we look for contentment, in consumerism and thinking about ourselves without even realizing it! And in Civil Religion we think God is on our side and he has the same enemies as us. And if we act a certain way, we can get him to do our bidding (sorry but that's just bad theology).
The Take Me to Church chorus is sadly one we can all relate to. Being hurt in or by the church, and I've been one that has been a victim of that, but it didn't keep me down and neither should it keep you down! When I hear this chorus it reminds me of the Canaanite woman, who came to Jesus to ask for help for her daughter. You see Canaanites and Jews did not interact so this was very unusal for that time period. I like how when she first comes to Jesus and ask for help he doesn't respond. Jesus spoke in metaphors, um a lot. He was testing his disciples who seemed to not understand the concept yet. They asked him to send her away for she was annoying them. Jesus responds to them and her : "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." She pleads he goes on "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs. " This sounds like a douchy thing to say for Jesus but he was testing their responses of the disciples but I can see him being surprised by her response as she doesn't mind being called a dog for she even knows the dogs are satisfied when they are fed from their master's table. Wow! Jesus was blown away by her response he heals her daughter that very hour by speaking.
And yet I feel the beautiful imagery of a dog coming to a church is so humbling and yet even I feel like I want to be that dog because in imagining God's goodness it makes us so weak by our "proud" moments we can only give thanks for God loving us the way we are. Because seriously we innocently sin without realizing it most of the time, it's so engrained in our being. We need to be re-trained by the Master to love beyond our humanness and re-distribute the Grace that has been given to us.
In the madness of this Earth in the foundation of sins as our civilizations are founded on Cain (he goes out and finds the first society) and thus our societies and way of the "world" are founded on Empires of greed, powers and of religious blame. Thankfully these powers were put to shame on the cross as our system of scapegoating crumbled because we went as far as scapegoating God and he was resurrected out of the madness of that soil and reversed our corrupt system by giving power to the victims (I could write a whole blog on this and probably will one day.)
So yes, Hozier when we can get off our high horse of finger pointing we will be able to help the starving faithful. When we realize religion might help point us to Jesus but it is not what we should reside our Faith in, then we can see our own faults. Religion won't solve our problems but Love can and will. I believe it. When we stop asking for blood and start giving Life. Then when that deathless death comes, we will not fear it.