Category Archives: Music

“Take me to Church” – Songs of Spiritual Longing and Pain

take me to church

Christians often get their proverbial knickers in a twist when trying to figure out how to engage with the wider world. There is a lot of energy spent on thinking of ways to be (or seem) ‘relevant’ or ‘genuine’ or ‘attractive’; ideas which sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. Or work for a while and then stop working.

What if the issue isn’t about ‘them’ (the outsiders) not wanting to engage with us, but actually about us and the messages we are sending out to ‘them’? Messages which say “WARNING!” rather than “WELCOME!”

What if the issue isn’t that those outsiders are spiritually uninterested or unengaged, but rather that they are, but that we are not able to see it, or respond appropriately to it?

I am really struck this week by two secular songs, both called ‘Take Me to Church’. Both of these songs, one by Sinead O’Connor, and the other by Hozier, express a desire to go to church (actually, to be ‘taken’ to church).  This desire isn’t the simple one anticipated by asinine evangelistic ploys, though. It is not one that will be satisfied by the easy answers offered by the standard model. In these songs, the statement ‘take me to church’ comes with qualifications that we should listen to. They set out a fear and a longing for church, they ask for – demand – a different model to the one they have both experienced before and come to expect. Will the Church listen?

Sinead O’Connor’s song is gusty and upbeat. She begins with a disavowal of ‘love songs’ (“What’ve I been singing love songs for?/I don’t wanna sing them any more”), she wants something else instead: “songs of loving and forgiving/songs of eating and of drinking/songs of living, songs of calling in the night […] songs that mend your broken bones/ and that don’t leave you alone” (Verse 2). If I were starting a church tomorrow, I might just choose those words as my mission statement. This song really gets what the Church is supposed to be. It also really gets how often the Church is not as it should be.

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Getting Personal with God

Journey Through the Field of Life has an excellent post with links to ideas for personal worship, great for anyone wanting to “go deeper” in their faith journey…I am particularly interested in the idea of creating a personal worship playlist incorporating non-Christian songs that still speak to/of our faith (she suggest’s Nirvana’s Come As You Are). I also love the idea of praying for Facebook friends when online – it subverts the “me me me” culture of social networking and is exactly the kind of thing to be intentional about…

Proud of Pride?

Pride weekend  is a really big deal for MCC Newcastle (the church I call home) because it is our once-a-year opportunity to reach out into the LGBT community in a HUGE way (there are lots of other chances throughout the year, of course, but Pride is the biggest.) The Outreach and Publicity team started planning our outreach at Pride months ago and came up with t-shirts, leaflets, free badges and so on. There was a real buzz around the MCCN stall, especially younger people wanting a free badge and sometimes a chat about faith too. I was there, helping at the stall and also marched in the Parade…
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