Lack of understanding, communication between music and church
A slew of songs in the music industry dealing with God or the church have received mixed reviews. Specifically, Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” has the church defending itself against the allegations of unequal treatment towards homosexuals, while Lilly Wood & The Prick’s “Prayer in C” has people questioning the teachings of a fair God.
Regardless of whether or not these songs are truly portraying this image, the main concern should be the misunderstandings revolving around the Church and its teachings.
In 1994, Jeff Buckley released a song called “Hallelujah.” The song wasn’t exactly widespread in popularity at first, but it gained considerably more traction than the original composer, Leonard Cohen. This song presents several different images, some disturbing and some encouraging, but all moving in some way because the images presented are taken straight from the Bible — even the line, “she tied you to the kitchen chair, she broke your throne, she cut your hair” is directly inspired by a story from the Bible.
According to The Telegraph, Cohen tried to clear up any confusion surrounding his song, saying “this world is full of conflicts … but there are moments when we can transcend the dualistic system and reconcile and embrace the whole mess and that’s what (I) mean by ‘Hallelujah.'”
However, Cohen’s song touched on “sexual scenery” and “religious symbolism,” creating this blend of what Bono says is “the holy and the broken hallelujah.” Just as Bono’s rendition of “Hallelujah” wasn’t taken well by audiences, the “broken” people of the Church don’t feel entirely welcomed either; they want change, but don’t know how to get it.
The church is made up of the people. The problem is that the people who make it up have come to a complacent state of acceptance with the church.
This brings up the reactions to Hozier’s “Take me to Church.” Several different people were interviewed from different sects of Christianity, from Catholicism to non-denominational, and were asked about their perceived mean of the song. The two main responses were that the song was either a misconstrued attack, or was about the speaker choosing secularization and/or lover over the church altogether.
Biology freshman Andrea Acosta-Rivera, a Catholic, was in favor of the former.
“I think that the song doesn’t actually portray what the church actually believes because the church teaches that you should love everybody,” Acosta-Rivera said. “I feel like it attacks the church for something that it doesn’t really do.”
Tyler, a senior who wished to remain anonymous, said he feels that it runs even deeper than that.
“I see a man who really needs the church that he’s made a boogeyman out of … it’s not a song about Christianity, it’s a song about how much we need it and what we are without it,” Tyler said.
In an interview with The Cut, Hozier explains his position on his lyrics and the church, saying that the song was not an attack on faith.
“An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation — that it is sinful, or that it offends God,” Hozier said.
“The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love. Turning your back on the theoretical thing, something that’s not tangible, and choosing to worship or love something that is tangible and real — something that can be experienced.”
This is how artists and groups of people obviously feel like the church has treated them, and their ideas and feelings should be given credence. Maybe this attack isn’t asking for change, but something with the public image of the church should change to promote understanding.
If religion cannot be a safe place for people to exercise their faith, all people of all “hallelujahs,” then it isn’t providing the right service.
Opinion columnist Nicollette Greenhouse is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected].