, , , , , ,

Hozier+Sheet+Music+-+Take+Me+to+ChurchIrish singer Hozier was among the early Grammy nominees in the top categories announced by the Recording Academy (the Grammy Awards are this Sunday February 8). He is nominated in the Song of the Year category for his hit song ‘Take me to Church‘ (warning: graphic lyrics and music video).

It is his torch song of pain and experienced religious hatred; it is achingly beautiful and not to be ignored by a western world that has opened the flood gates on all things sexual. The lyrics, according to Songfacts.com, were “written in the wake of a breakup with his first girlfriend; this is both a love song and a contemplation of sin, drawing influence from the late atheist writer Christopher Hitchens. Hozier described it to The Guardian as, “a bit of a losing your religion song.”

Lyrically the song is one large metaphor comparing a lover to religion.

“Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life.”

Speaking with The Irish Times, Hozier said about matters of the heart: “I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment – if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes – everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense.

Who knows how the Grammys will judge his song, but it is a modern day anthem at a time when a number of news streams confabulate around contemporary views of sexuality (here is a lot of reading and links to the original articles):

Four other news stories that intertwine:

“It has become a scary time to be a Christian professional in Canada. In 2014, lawyers and doctors were targeted by their own professional associations for direct attack because of their religious beliefs… another overt campaign to drive out or silence Christians in the legal community was commenced: The Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD) is made up of the heads of the legal departments from more than 70 major corporations. The campaign involves its own form of community covenant by these 70+ corporations (including BMO, Ford, The Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Oilers) to restrict hiring of law firms for their legal work to those who have a commitment to “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” The LLD’s definition of these words requires approval of same-sex marriage and excludes Christians or others who might have a different opinion.”

  • According to First Things, January 28 “brought news of a significant victory for religious freedom in Canada. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia found in favor of Trinity Western University (TWU) in its case against the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.” (Interestingly enough, not many Canadian news agencies covered this story; I could only find the Vancouver Sun announced this ruling?)

“Trinity Western University, a private Christian university in British Columbia, has been under fire since announcing in 2012 plans to open a law school. Despite public criticisms of the religious nature of TWU, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and British Columbia’s Ministry of Advanced Education both eventually approved the proposed program in December 2013.That should have been the end of things but it wasn’t. While a number of provincial and territorial law societies (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon) all recognized the accreditation, two societies did not. The Law Society of Upper Canada (i.e. Ontario) voted to reject recognizing TWU’s law school in an April 2014 meeting. Likewise, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society voted to reject approval of the school’s graduates. Later in October 2014, following a referendum of its members, the Law Society of British Columbia reversed its position as well, now voting against recognizing TWU’s School of Law.The question has never really been about the quality of the education TWU would offer. As noted before, it had already been recognized by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and British Columbia’s Ministry of Advanced Education. The former represents the national body which recognizes the validity of law degree programs offered in Canada; the latter represents the provincial authority that authorizes TWU to give degrees.

Instead, the issue has centered on the fact that TWU is a private faith-based school. While law schools at religious institutions are common enough in the United States, TWU would be the first such school in Canada. Critics cried foul, arguing that TWU was homophobic because the school’s Community Covenant only allows for sex within the context of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”

  • According to Time Magazine, the Nashville Church that Carrie Underwood attends (with apologies: this is just a cultural artifact), has come out for “Marriage Equality.”

“For congregants on all sides of the debate, the conversation over the past three years has been at times painful, even devastating. For Mitchell, it has been a deeply personal as well as a spiritual journey, especially as he has seen it divide friends and family. And on Sunday, Jan. 11, the church reached a conclusion, as Mitchell shared:“Our position that these siblings of ours, other than heterosexual, our position that these our siblings cannot have the full privileges of membership, but only partial membership, has changed,” he said, as many in the congregation stood to their feet in applause, and other sat in silence. “Full privileges are extended now to you with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill, and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.”

“Everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused,” the pope says in the letter.

“Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children … priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.”

How are these things related?

We live in interesting times in which there is massive confusion about sexual and gender identity – or as I have indicated in other posts,(Sexuality R Us, and Living Waters and the Question of Identity) – confusion about identity; period.

  • I suspect Hozier’s song will get a lot of airtime (for the record: I think it is a “beautiful” song, a great tune, with meaningful lyrics that speak to Hozier’s experience, even though I would love to offer something redemptive in response to his pain). The song and music video will conflate all things sexually hateful with the some imaginary notion of “take me to church,” and pop culture will continue on in a merry ignorance of our universal need for wholeness (the prelude to holiness).
  • Some might say “it’s about time that a Pope make the declaration that he did,” since the Catholic Church has had to bear its image being identified with sexual abuse. Untold cases, unspeakable woundedness, and unmitigated silence has contributed to open, unedited scorn being poured upon the Papacy. How could it endure more hypocrisy in the area of sexuality? The Pope’s official order, though so late in the day, is a sadly needed step.
  • I suspect there will be a growing movement of the politically correct to join the Legal Leaders for Diversity in openly discriminating against Christian professionals in legal, medical and other professions, while Christians work out how to speak to the issues of the day in the public square in a time when the predominate majority so violently oppose any opinions but its own.
  • I suspect there will be an appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia (excuse my ignorance if such an appeal is not legally possible), as other provincial legal societies line up to try to discriminate against Christians. It is a remarkable open season to heap abuse on a people group who follow the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • And, most sadly of all, in the spirit of inclusion, I suspect there will be more churches who simply get confused about what the issues are. I have no axe to grind with Carrie Underwoods’ church.  I get that they want to be inclusive and loving; but I believe they are missing the great opportunity of our times to speak truth and grace.

The issue is: to whom do we belong and who defines our identity?

This is more enigma than dogma. The new dogma of the politically correct is a curious expression of social darwinism that appears to unleash a pent-up hatred that has found its target on Christians – whatever they believe that to mean. We live in a time where people defiantly define themselves, insisting that whatever means of self definition is as “true” as any other means. This may be the essential mark of our narcissistic age.

For the record: I too, wouldn’t go along with Hozier’s invitation to “Take me to Church” – not the church he talks about.  In profound contrast, “the church” is the body of Christ – the mystery (enigma) of His presence and the expression of His kindness.