Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord

I thought, for certain, that Hozier would win “Song of the Year” at the Grammy Awards last night for “Take Me To Church.” Not that I’m disappointed about Sam Smith – whose music I enjoy – but “Church’s” fame continues to be strong. Although Hozier claimed in an interview that the song is not meant to be against religion, there is a lot of stinging criticism of religion upon first glance:

My lover’s got humor
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshiped her sooner

If the Heavens ever did speak
She is the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week

‘We were born sick,’ you heard them say it
My church offers no absolutes
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’

The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen.

Obviously, I don’t like the concept of “worshiping in the bedroom,” but the sarcasm against religion is unmistakable. When reflecting over the lyrics of the song, however, this main thought came to my mind: religion should never leave anyone “starving,” which he claims in the second stanza:

What you got in the stable?
We’ve a lot of starving faithful

Religion, when done correctly, should be completely fulfilling – for both body and soul. At its essence, religion is the personal relationship with the Creator. It is the framework for interaction with the One Who – out of His profound Love for us – gave us life when we were dead. And this “life” is not only physical, biological life, but also spiritual life. I was never truly alive until I connected with my Lord and followed His path and lived in His love.

Therefore, such a relationship with God can never leave someone wanting.  If, however, such a relationship with God does leave someone – purportedly faithful – still “starving,” then there is something wrong with the framework.

I can hear retorts that the savages – “barbarian” is too kind a word – of KIL (aka ISIS) sure look like they are fulfilled, like they are not “starving faithful” by any measure. I completely disagree. Look at the fruits of their works: mayhem; murder; pillage; rape; destruction. They are widely condemned by the Muslim world and are even a laughing stock.

What they do is not spiritual fulfillment; it is criminal barbarity. What they do does not feed the soul; it fulfills the basest of human urges. What they do is not the glorification of the Lord; it defies His every word and law to the hilt. Scripture does not support their actions; it will actually be a witness against them.

No. When religion is done right, it brings about peace, love, justice, brotherhood, sisterhood, safety and security. When religion is done right, the soul is uplifted to the highest of heights, giving the believer an inner peace that is truly indescribable. When religion is done right, there is no “fresh poison each week,” but rather the very cure to what ails the heart and soul of the human seeker.

Too many times, unfortunately, religion has been done wrong in our world. Too many times, so much evil has been committed in the name of God that many have dismissed religion as a force for evil, as “Take Me To Church” seems to imply. Yet, this has been the case because religion has been done wrong. And it is our job – those of faith – to work as hard as we can to make sure it is done right.

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