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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Oh Jesus" Part 2

In "Next Time," the chorus reads:

Oh Jesus, next time make it easy
Give me a cold, cold heart of stone
Or Mama, next time
Don't you leave me
On my own

"Oh Jesus," can be felt both as an exasperated curse and an actual ironic request for Christ to grant reincarnation! I refer to "Jesus" to emphasize just how dire and intense the experience is. The magnitude of this reference also acts as a contrast to the truth of the matter, which is that much of my suffering would have been avoided if my mother had been able to stay with me and do what a mother is intended to do. I believe that when our needs are fully met as infants and children, no religious "heroes" are needed.

The second reference to Jesus is in the song "Sinner's Child," where I focus on the suffering and shame experienced by the children of criminals and any violent or antisocial individuals. One of the most damaging aspects is that these children usually have no support and no choice but to hold their suffering in silence.

When Judas turned on Jesus
Were his orphans meek and mild?

To emphasize my point I needed a major historic criminal—and you can't get much bigger than the man who betrayed the "son of God"! Can you imagine, within a Christian culture, being the son or daughter of Judas? What would a child do with all of that shame, hurt, and anger? Would they be able to be meek and mild like the baby Jesus was supposed to be? What happens to these children? Does anyone notice? Does anyone care? 

The song, "Hard Task," is a lament to the exhausting and painful aspects of modern life. In the first verse we see a single mother, in the second, a factory worker, and the third, a man about to commit suicide. The third verse reads:

Fifty years is just too long
For nothing good to come down
A lonely ledge on the tenth floor
Is Jesus gonna catch him when he hits the ground?

It's bad enough that people are driven to suicide by the alienating apsects of modern life, but even worse when they are conditioned into thinking that a saviour is there to usher them into a better "life." It's sad to me that instead of applying efforts and funds to making modern life better, billions of hours and dollars are spent on building and maintaining the illusions of saviours and heavenly states. What more powerful cultural icon could emphasize this sad contrast than Jesus?

To sum up, when writing about the contradictions and challenges of modern life—within a blues-gospel musical environment—there are few images as powerful as Jesus of Nazareth.

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