Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For Sinead

I couldn't thank U in ten thousand years/If I had cried ten thousand rivers of tears/Ah, but U know the soul and U know what makes it gold/U who give life through blood—from "Something Beautiful" by Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O’Connor. I bet just reading that name sets off a firestorm of emotional responses in various readers. Many of you probably thought, or hoped, she’d disappeared. Nope, she’s still around. And she’s just released a new CD. I’ve heard bits and pieces of it, and it’s pretty good. It’s called Theology, and it’s a collection of songs that she’s written containing mostly Scripture, predominantly from the Psalms and the Prophets of the Old Testament. Christianity Today did an album review and an interview with Sinead. I was very impressed with and proud of CT for doing the interview and getting her to open up about her beliefs. Well, apparently, I am one of 5 Christians who feels this way. She has some unconventional beliefs that have offended many readers over at CT. I’ve read both the review, the interview, and some of the comments, and I have some thoughts I'd like to share.

First of all, I’m not necessarily the biggest Sinead fan in the world, but I have a couple of friends that would probably contend for that title! I do, however, think she’s incredibly talented and I have enjoyed many of her songs and CDs. I welcome Sinead’s thoughts on God and could maybe learn a thing or two from her. I don’t agree with all her ideas, but they certainly don’t scare me either. We often react in fear to ideas that are different than our own. Here’s why I think that is: We are deathly afraid of being wrong. Seriously. What would happen if you woke up one day and everything you built your life on proved to be a lie? That’s what happens when you place your trust in a belief system over the person of God. Oswald Chambers said, “When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him.” I love that. Let God be true, and every man a liar. We love that verse when we’re talking about other people. But that even applies to me. And even to you. Let my convictions be damned. If they’re not from God, then I don’t want them anyway. Chambers also says, “My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.” That is all I endeavor to know in this life. And with that involves continually laying down the dearly beloved white-washed belief systems that have made me feel so safe in the past, when they block my view from seeing Him more clearly, knowing Him more intimately, and touching His heart.

I disagree with Sinead on several counts. I do believe God is perfect. And I do believe that He is perfect love and perfect justice, and therefore pronounces judgment, at the same time. He is God, after all! Her “theology” has always been a little bit muddy for me, but that’s okay. Mine maybe for her and even for some of you. I would even challenge her and encourage her to explore the greater depths of His personality and character, even those parts that might make her uncomfortable, as I do the same. It's usually in the wrestling and in the pushing through to God that we catch our greatest glimpses of Him. At the same time, I truly believe that she knows Jesus, and has for a long time. This isn’t the first album she’s ever made about Him. When she talks about Him, and sings about Him, she’s singing about the God that I know and love. No, she doesn’t go to church, so she doesn’t use the same church-y language that we do. When she talks about Jesus being “like an energy” it reminds me of Jesus as a Spirit. That’s how I think of Him and relate to Him. That’s what the Bible says that He is. It’s not THAT different of a concept really. People have never been comfortable with that whole idea anyway. Following a bunch of written-down rules is a whole lot easier, and safer, than a Spirit. But a whole lot more boring and binding.

Our God is a crazy God. At what point in the Bible does He ever do anything that’s safe, conventional, or predictable? He commands His most devoted follower to slay his own son. He tells a prophet to marry a whore. He impregnates a virgin. He’s certainly a lot more exciting, creative, passionate, and unpredictable than we ever give Him credit for. We all have heard the saying, “You can’t put God in a box.” Well, it’s true. And that unfortunately, like Sinead, makes us uncomfortable.

Here’s my point: Let the poor woman speak. Welcome her into the God conversation. She’s been ostracized enough. Let’s not shun her simply because her ideas don’t line up with our own. And let’s remember to have some grace.

12 comments:

Angie Hipps said...

That made for quite an interesting read. I was taken aback by the responses in CT.

Erin said...

Well, Ange, you know I love that lady. And I too believe that she is talking about Somebody she knows and it's the same Somebody I know because I recognize Him by her description. God is no respecter of persons and if you seek you're gonna find. I do believe when Sinead gets to heaven there might be a few points that the Lord needs to illuminate for her, but, of course, the same is true for me. But it's Who you know, not what you know, right? She knows it takes Blood, so she knows a lot more than most people. I also love the lyrics from another song she wrote:

I love the life You've given me,
We are each other's family...
You wrapped Your love around me,
oh since the day You found me,
I've been free, free...

Angela said...

Yeah, not exactly light reading, is it Ang? ;) My favorite comment the last one. I do think the interviewer did a shoddy job of polarizing her views. There's actually a much better interview here.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/
ct/2007/julyweb-only/128-12.0.html
Somebody else stepped up and did a real interview.

Erin, yeah, after I wrote my post, I thought, "Gee, Sinead probably spends more time in prayer and seeking God than I do at this point in my life!!"

holly said...
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holly said...
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holly said...
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holly said...

ok, i am an official heckler here, but i am trying to get at my thought..we all want to do it our way..just like lucifer, adam and eve, the whole criz-ew in the bible, like me! ahh! and we can't. that's the price jesus paid. it's not cheap.

Erin said...

Oh Holly!
I see a lot more hopeful thinking and grace coming from you for Bob Dylan and Bono than for Sinead!!!;)

shannon said...

And how are we any different than Sinead? People start their own churches every day, trying to have it their way, hoping and thinking it's Christ's way. . . . I think this is beautiful! We, as humans, for the most part, may not be listening to burning bushes and we have to figure it out by reading, singing, praying, going to church, sharing our stories and loving and caring. We are, unfortunately, going to sometimes get it right and sometimes, especially in our fervent actions, may get it wrong.

Jesus brought his stories to all people, especially those who didn't believe. He truly loved them with compassion and not judgement. I don't think he'll turn Sinead away, or any of you.

From one of Sinead's new songs, Out of the Depths, it says, "If you keep account of sins oh who would stand?" She's not purporting to be a non-sinner, and whom of you are?

She's reached a lot of people with the words of God, and the pain and redemption of Jesus. I wonder why so many Christians can't see the whole of her and instead pick her apart-- It hurts to think of any Christians doing that to any peoples. It's not a constructive way to get the message across-- it's not the way Jesus did it, either.

Her claims are not unclear to me, not any more unclear than mine or yours. I have heard snippets of what Ang believes and Holly and Erin and Sinead. I am inspired by all these conversations and prayers-- especially by Sinead's albums. But I do not think that I know all of what she beleives or that I can make a judgement on that or what those friends I mentioned beleive. In other words, she hasn't created a theology herself, she just referenced the study of God by her cd title. It's not fair to call a couple brave comments on her faith unclear. . . .

I'm proud that she could say as much positive things about God and get as much as she did across to the interviewer. . have you been interviewed before? It's difficult; sometimes they don't ask the right questions or they have a mesage they are trying to get across. I hardly think it's fair to say she's unclear. In her music, it's clear she loves and worships God (not a new age one, just the One)and it gives her great joy to devote her career to that.
Thanks, Ange, for all the inspiration--

holly said...
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holly said...
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Angela said...

I should have known that a post on Sinead would have sparked a little bit of blog controversy! :) Thanks, ladies, for all of your great thoughts and musings. I have enjoyed reading everyone's responses. I myself go back and forth on the issue. I tend to see both sides of the argument, I guess. And I vacillate between unconditional love and tolerance and good old fashioned boundaries...on a daily basis it seems, and on every issue! It's amazing to me that God is probably a perfect combination of both. And therein lies the search and the struggle. Finding that balance, you know? I suppose it is lifelong. And thusly why grace is of the utmost importance. Each of you made some great points that I am still thinking about. I am so thankful to have such passionately deep thinkers as friends!!