Laughing With God and Regina Spektor

Jeremy at Free Old Testament Audio Blog shared this video of Regina Spektor singing her song “Laughing With”:

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I had never heard the song before, but agree with Jeremy, who wrote that “This is probably one of the best, most thought provoking songs I’ve heard in a very long time. It reflects the human heart’s need and longing for God, but also the perversions that make God a joke to many people.” It seems to hit the balance just about right between God/religion as something that provides comfort and hope, and God/religion as something that seems deserving of mockery.

You can find the lyrics here. Read them – there are some you might miss when she’s singing fast. And thank you Jeremy for sharing this!

  • http://www.freeoldtestamentaudio.com/Blog/New.php Jeremy

    Thanks for the link. We have a really, really good college radio station at the local university that I listen to. That's where I heard this song. Wish I would have heard it at church first, but I find "secular" music is often far more in touch with reality.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03734930079710820207 Luke

    AMEN! thanks for posting, great song.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    It would be interesting sometime to have a concert at church to which you could easily invite friends, and have all the songs be ones that have depth of spirituality and/or a powerful message, but all of them be from outside the domain of 'Christian music'.If we try it, I'll let you know.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12334188123201041182 scott gray

    james–what is there about the text that speaks to you, that resonates with you?

  • http://missivesfrommarx.wordpress.com/ missivesfrommarx

    Which god is she talking about? At first I thought it was Avalokiteshvara, but by the time I got to the end I think it's Ahura Mazda she's talking about. What do you think?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Scott, Perhaps it is the fact that whether we laugh at God/religion or find comfort therein says more about where we are, how we are viewing the world, and what other people are saying about God, than anything actually to do with God per se. MFM, I think it is the God of New Yorkers, a fairly generic construct influenced by Russian Jewish emigres singing post-folk-pop as well as a confluence of many other sources.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12334188123201041182 scott gray

    james–i am inclined to agree– we project much of what we need on our 'beliefs' about the nature of god.i don't laugh at god; god, as i understand the concept believed by many of my friends, is an evolving construct. there's not really anything to laught at; in my worldview such a god does not exist. and frankly the construct is not one i find much use or resonance for. but then, i don't suffer much, and when i do, i can figure out often why, and how to respond without requiring a 'god' construct. i don't even laugh at people who have what i would consider unhealthy or blatantly impossible beliefs about the nature of god. but reasoned discussion with some of my friends does leave me baffled about why their beliefs about the nature of god make sense to them.some one once said, when some one tells you something that makes no sense to you about their world view, try and imagine that it's true, and sometimes you can gain a lot of insight into how that person thinks.scottp.s. i feel the same way about scripture– much is projected onto these texts, of our own needs, in how we interpret them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13036816926421936940 Edward T. Babinski

    I think the song resonates concerning human needs and how serious they are. People in serious need aren't laughing much at anything, including "God."If a person does have the energy to laugh and isn't suffering too much (such as the suicide- inspiring suffering of a tinnitus victim, or victim of some other disease), they might have enough energy and wits left about them so as to laugh at light comedy, i.e., uncomplicated laughter, not "at God." Conversely, it takes more energy to laugh "at God" or rather at various "conceptions of God and religion" (that appear dubious to some people's minds)–more energy than many sick people have. Even so, do you believe in a God who would blame people for laughing at conceptions of God or religion that they found to be dubious?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13036816926421936940 Edward T. Babinski

    There's a touching parable in the novel, "The River Why," about an old Chinese fisherman who suffers a series of diseases, each worse than the next, and the person suffering nature's slings and arrows keeps calling God a "Great Clod," and other names. The Great Clod in the sky. The parable ends with the Great Clod lovingly reeling up into heaven the Chinese fisherman who had suffered so much, and without a thought as to whatever names the fisherman had called The Great Clod. Because, "that's what friends are for." Some people laugh in an intellectual/philosophical fashion at various conceptions of God and religion even when they are in the most dire of circumstances. Not everyone, but some. Voltaire was visited by a priest on his deathbed who invited him to "RENOUNCE the devil and all his works." And Voltaire said, "I don't think I shall. This isn't exactly the best time for me to start making enemies."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Thanks, Edward – the first comment makes an excellent point, and it is striking to observe the difference between the modern fundamentalists who advocate tiptoeing around God, with the Biblical depictions of people arguing, wrestling and complaining. And the second one's parable is wonderful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    According to the Bible, God became incarnate as a man, told his friends how to get free money by looking in the mouth of a fish, reminded them to put oil on their heads when they fast, and then flew off into the sky on his way back to Heaven.Why are atheists not allowed to mention any of this because they will automatically be accused of ridiculing religion?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    James is correct that the Bible depicts people complaining about God, rather than the insipid modern fundamentalist view of God.Job complains about God not leaving him alone.In the story, God allows Satan to kill all of Job's family simply to see who is right about what Job would do in those circumstances.There is not one word of regret by God in the entire Book of Job about these killings.This is a much more Biblically-true view of God than the fundamentalist idea that God actually cares for people.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12334188123201041182 scott gray

    stephen–this is one of the things i find baffling about some of my friends' beliefs: why would you deliberately want to be noticed by an entity such as the god portrayed in the book of job? wouldn't it be better to fly under such an entity's radar? wouldn't one's life be richer if job's god didn't notice you?yet some of my friends desperately need to be noticed by this god.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    To be left alone by God is what Job asks for in the book.Job 14Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired man.This imaginary god does seem to leave people alone…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07116685906004492737 Trouble

    I disagree with the reasoning behind this song, which seems to be that there are no atheists in foxholes. Actually, there are plenty. Tragedy doesn't generally cause non-believers to turn to God, it causes them to turn to other humans. The song is based upon a flawed paradigm.


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