Sinead O’Connor and Hozier Take me to Church.
OK. Two Irish singers both release songs in the same year, both with gay subtexts, both songs with the same title…
The singers: Sinead O’Connor and Hozier.
The song title: Take Me To Church.
How does that happen? Its as if someone gave them the same high school assignment!
I like Hozier’s better. I don’t say that lightly. There has been a special place in my heart for Sinead ever since I saw those 2 tears run down her face in her iconic “Nothing Compares 2 U” clip.
Its been 7 hour and fifteen days. Since you took your love away.
But… I like Hozier’s song better.
Its more than a love song. Hozier described it as a “bit of a losing my religion song”. He seems to have shared the experience of many (most?) young people who find themselves unable to reconcile their own inner voice of justice, acceptance and compassion with a church that propagates intolerance and violence toward the LGBTI members in its community.
In a youtube interview he talks about his song’s video clip. He references oppressive and harmful laws enacted in Russia with the assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church and visiting US anti-gay Christian activists. These laws further marginalised the already vulnerable gay community and helped to unleashed a wave of violence against them.
His song’s lyrics express his disillusionment and disgust with the church.
Take me to church.
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies.
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knives.
Offer me that deathless death.
Good God. Let me give you my life.
Given that his lyrics are so damning Hozier was surprised at the lack of controversy his song has caused. But he acknowledged that the church has lost the political power it once enjoyed. As he says in this Guardian interview…
“… there is very little loyalty left for the organisation of the church at home. The damage done is obscene. And the lack of action to make reparations, and the lack of political will to make changes. It’s very, very frustrating.”
I hear you, Hozier. Man! I hear you!
Then there is Sinead.
Her “Take me to Church” song is entirely different. It is an affirmation of church.
Sinead can’t really be pinned down as str8 or gay. She came out as a lesbian in 2000. She has been married four times, to men. Three of those marriages were after her 2000 announcement. Recently she said that she was on a dating website and had changed her status to “seeking a woman”. I’m sure that Sinead would not declare herself to be a poster-child for successful relationships but, “Let those who are without sin…”
What Sinead IS very good at is writing and performing great songs and speaking her mind. Her “Take Me To Church” song does both.
The opening scene from her video and the accompanying lyrics place this song in apposition to her “Nothing Compares” video. No more tearful songs of unrequited love for Sinead. Instead, take her to church where different songs are sung.
Songs of loving and forgiving
Songs of eating and of drinking
Songs of living. Songs of calling in the night
The songs of light, a bolt of light
And, love’s the only love you should advise
But Sinead’s “Take me to Church” also contains a warning. Not all churches are good places to be.
Take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s for
Hozier and Sinead have very different songs, different styles and different messages but I’m sure that with their common LGBTI sensitivities they would agree on who are the churches that hurt.
You know that I have to say it, right?
Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA)…
- while you continue to officially describe your gay members’ sexuality as sinful, disordered and “like disease”…
- while you promote seminars where parents of gay people are encouraged to reject their children’s partners and relationships for “years or even decades”…
- while you force your employees into dark closets.
- while, by your teaching, your college chaplains are directed to tell young gay kids that they are not OK…
They singing about you. You are a church that hurts.
Take a bow (or its liturgical equivalent).
And take note. That ain’t the truth and thats not what you’re for.
OK. In the writing of this I have listened to both songs a few times and I’ve changed my mind. I like them both. (I’m sorry Sinead. Please forgive my momentary unfaithfulness) I like them both because both messages resonate with my soul.
I am with Hozier.
I look at law based Christianity and its violence and the damage it continues to do. I see its filth, acknowledge the part I have played in it and declare, “I want no more part of this!” Like Hozier I am loosing my religion. Or perhaps I have lost it already.
But as my religion falls away I find, happily, surprisingly, that Jesus remains.
And so I am with Sinead.
I am with messy lives and loves gained and lost and tired of tears and a yearning for that which is bigger than all of it. I want church. Not a narrow place of rules and the hurt they cause. I want church that is a place of welcome and joy and forgiveness and healing.
And that means
Like Hozier and Sinead
I want a church where my gay friends are completely welcomed and accepted and affirmed.
Is there a church like that?
btw.. Sinead is touring WA late next month.
Here are both songs. Which do you prefer?