Questions about God

Here’s a contemporary British artist asking interesting questions about God:

Lyrics below:

Him, by Lily Allen

Would you please take me away
from this place
I cannot bear to see
the look upon your faces
And if there
is some kind of god
do you think he’s pleased
When he looks down on us
I wonder what he sees
Do you think
he’d think the things we do
are a waste of time
Maybe he’d think
we are getting on just fine
Do you think he’s skint
or financially secure
And come election time
I wonder who he’d vote for

Ever since he can remember people
have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He’s lost the will he can’t decide
He doesn’t know who’s right or wrong
But there’s one thing that he’s sure
of this has been going on too long

Do you think he’d drive
in his car without insurance
Now is he interesting
or do you think he’d bore us
Do you think
his favourite type of human
is caucasian
Do you reckon
he’s ever been done
for tax evasion
Do you think he’s any good
at remembering people’s names
Do you think he’s ever taken
smack or cocaine
I don’t imagine
he’s ever been suicidal
His favourite band
is Creedence Clearwater Revival

Ever since he can remember people
have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He’s lost the will he can’t decide
He doesn’t know who’s right or wrong
But there’s one thing that he’s sure
of this has been going on too long


10 thoughts on “Questions about God

  1. Maybe interesting questions, but terrible writing – especially her rhymes… some are so forced (though admittedly not as bad as ‘shopping from Tesco’ and ‘I think that it is called al fresco’…) – like caucasian and tax evasion, while others are not so bad (or not so rhyming at all!).

  2. That may be so, Dave. However, one could argue that it is consistent with a contemporary style of poetry where ryhming is not mandatory. I personally admire artists who push the boundary and break the rules. We could have a debate about poetic skills, but that was not the issue I brought up. I happen to disagree with you – I think her rhyming is very quirky and musically interesting. Not everybody’s cup of tea, I grant you, but I like it a lot. It’s subjective, so not worth arguing over. She’s not writing a hymn, mind you 🙂

    I posted the song because I think she’s raising some very interesting questions of the 20 somethings generation which resonate with a lot of people. As a Christian thinker I have to take her questions seriously and explore their meaning sensitively. To ignore them is to become superfluous theologically, I believe.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hey, I’m all for pushing boundaries and I appreciate the contemporary style where rhyming is not mandatory. My main point was where it does rhyme, it sometimes seems poor and forced to me, and overall the rhyming style doesn’t seem to be consistent (i.e. sometimes going for rhyme, sometimes for assonance, sometimes not at all). At what point does it become stylised prose?

    Fair enough to disagree, but surely subjective things are *always* worth arguing over 😀 or at least they are things that people almost always do argue over…
    (I thought the whole blog was going to be ‘highly subjective’….?)

    And to be fair, in your opening description you didn’t specify you only wanted comments on one issue – in fact you described her as an artist, therefore any aspect of her artistry was up for comment, surely?

    In any case, I agree with you that the questions are interesting and worth taking seriously – arguably covering some of the ground of Joan Osborne’s ‘One of us’ (and yes, I would also criticise the writer of that track (Eric Bazilian)’s cavalier use of grammar! :-D)

    And I wouldn’t want to ever become superfluous or ignore theological issues… so here’s a couple that jump out at me – the god whose existence and nature is being questioned is apparently male, possibly a monotheistic god, that (potentially, if he exists) has interactions with and interest in humans. (compare the ‘New Atheists’ who are usually disbelievers in – or argue against – just such a god, rather than, say, the Hindu pantheon, or pantheism itself). Of course this is probably because of the cultural and historic Christian background against which she is working.

    Maybe even more interesting, this god is not in the foreground of the song – rather the questions are directed from the author to an audience, where it is their opinions on this questioned god that are apparently sought, or else the author’s own musings that are put across.

    I am suspecting, though, that this god’s views expressed in the second part of the chorus have been projected and are really the writer’s own views… maybe that’s not a surprising conclusion but it’s late, so apologies for going on at such length and stating either the obvious or the completely wacky…

  4. Thanks, Dave! The reason I said it’s subjective is that there can be no absolute truth when it comes to taste – and this IS a matter of taste. I happen to like her music and her rhyming a lot. It’s fresh, imaginative and quirky. If you don’t like it, well that’s just fine. You’re entitled to your opinion, and I won’t try to convince you I’m right and you’re wrong. That’s where the Latin maxim comes from – De gustibus non disputandum.

    Also, there are a number of ways of looking at the song. One is to analyse the poetic and musical techniques. Fine, but that’s not what I was after neccesarily. (Besides, we tend to be biased in that analysis if we don’t like a particular artist, for any reasons, religious or otherwise.)

    Another is to take out the orthodoxometer and measure the content. Again, that’s not what I was after. I’m not expecting her to be orthodox, and I resist the temptation to be offended by her aparent lack of orthodoxy.

    My main question is how does the artists look at God and what kind of questions is she raising? What are some of the prejudices about God that she’s projecting? I find that fascinating, so I will try in the next few posts to explore some of the issues that caught my attention. Watch for the ‘Lily Allen’ tag.

  5. Pingback: Follow up 1 – Lily Allen « Daniel's Think Tank

  6. Hmm, almost seems like you’re implying that one cannot give an unbiased opinion on someone one doesn’t like (as compared to someone you *do* like?). Maybe I’ve picked you up wrongly.

    But then maybe you’ve picked me up differently from what I meant, too – I certainly wasn’t simplistically trying to ‘measure’ her orthodoxy or lack thereof, rather to enter into the redefined, narrower, field of discussion you wanted by looking at the views of God the song, apparently, was expressing. But I guess we all see the things we want to, and avoid those we don’t – either in her lyrics or in each other’s comments…

  7. Your last sentence is exactly what I was talking about. We are subjective beings. If I like someone, I’ll find things I like about that person. If I don’t like someone, I’ll find things I don’t like about that person or what that person does, and emphasize them. It is quite a natural way of being.

    I appreciate you don’t like her rhyming and I responded to that by saying that it is a matter of taste. You can of course dispute that, but what is the point of doing that? This tension cannot be resolved. So we agree to disagree on this.

    Secondly, I did not say you measured her orthodoxy. You didn’t do that in your comments. I said that is ‘a way’ of doing it.

    I was however struggling to understand the conclusions or final point of your analysis of the content. I’m still at a loss here! I’m not saying I disagree with your analysis, I just failed to see the implications you were suggesting.

  8. We can of course agree to disagree – that’s fine, as I wasn’t disputing that it was a matter of taste. I’m not convinced, though, that you can so tightly control the boundaries of what is and isn’t discussed here – yes of course you can delete comments, perhaps you could selectively edit them too (if you would want to) but the whole point of a blog is an interactive experience, where other ideas/perspectives/areas are brought into the discussion than simply those the blog author expected. I recognise the fact that on some topics (that we are not supposed to talk about!) you may have to be a severe editor, but otherwise why not see where the discussion leads – the best blogs (in my not-so-humble opinion!) are those that end up in unexpected discussions. Additionally, most of the bloggers and blog-commenters I have come across are likely to avoid a blog where they feel there is any sort of censorship or overly tight control. Just my tuppenceworth of course, but you might want to consider that.

    You’re right – you did not say I measured her orthodoxy, and my apologies for the implication. However, at the time it seemed a reasonable inferral, as an answer (to my post) that first considered poetic/musical techniques (under which rhyme scheme naturally fits so I took that as a direct response to mine), then you discussed measuring orthodoxy (and did not otherwise appear to respond to my attempt to consider the theological questions/issues in the song) before giving your own area of interest and a ‘coming soon’ comment.

    I apologise for not-fully-thought-out responses and making inferrals of things you didn’t say. Perhaps my best plan for a while is to retreat to being a lurker and see how things develop…

  9. Thanks for your comments, Dave. Lots to think about and very good points.

    Obviously people can post whatever they want, and I have actually approved comments which were off topic, and even answered to them, up to a point, where I felt the blog is not an appropriate place to go deeper.

    I do want to choose however which comments to respond to and which to ignore, simply because of my lack of time. The only comments I have deleted were the ones in other languages and I will delete personal attacks and offensive language. If you knew where I came from, you’d understand what I mean 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s