Snarky, It’s Who I Am It’s Who I Am

Snarky, It’s Who I Am It’s Who I Am October 27, 2016


[Update, I have been variously corrected today that Mr. Tomlin did not write this song. Please absolve him from the guilt of writing this song, but not from singing it. And accept my apologies for wrongly attributing it to him. I don’t have time to go back through and take out his name so please also just forgive me for not doing that.]

Yesterday I solved all the world’s problems, and so today I thought I’d just have a few words about this song. Ponder Anew has already done an excellent take down, which should stop me from piling on, but I don’t have that kind of self control. So, here are the lyrics to the song. And I think I’m just going to go line by line, shall I? Don’t say no.

Here we go.
Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
I’m going to go ahead and posit that the thousand stories are probably scripture and maybe even the teaching of scripture, but I understand that this might be kind of a stretch. I mean, a thousand stories sounds pretty great. Like the Arabian Nights. I wonder what kind of books Mr. Tomlin was reading when he penned this amazing lyric. But of course we can’t help noticing that the thousand stories, which might be a stretch towards scripture, is counter balanced, we might even say opposed, to the tender whispers of love in the dead of night. I hate to ask, but do we really want that from God? Tender whispers? Doesn’t that sound sort of creepy? How do we know it’s God talking to us? It could be a kid that woke up for no reason and is just whispering in our ears.

If you’ve had a thousand stories, shouldn’t that occupy your mind just a little bit with interesting thoughts so that you aren’t really needing the whisper? I know the answer to this question is no. We all need a special special whisper from God. It’s what makes us Christian. That’s what it means to be Christian. If you don’t have a special whisper then you’re probably not saved. How does it feel not to be saved? Bad. As a remedy you’re going to have to sing this song over and over and over and over..

Ok, next line.

And you tell me that you’re pleased

Um. Did God really say that to Mr. Tomlin? That he was “pleased”? Really? I wish God would say that to me. Basically God has only said to me, and this was largely from the pulpit and from the text, that I am a rotten sinner whose rebellion should have sent me to hell but that he decided to redeem me by his own blood not because of anything in me but because of his own will and purposes. I mean, I know God the Father did say audibly to God the Son that he was pleased, and that I might be hearing that later upon the hour of my death, but there’s not a lot of that going on for me right now.

And that I’m never alone

Ok, it’s true, God has promised not to leave me alone. That’s cool. Except…does it have to be so clunky? “And that I’m never alone.” That’s awkward. Why not reach back into those dumb old psalms and say something like, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then God would be the subject of the sentence, which is kind of more interesting and more glorious.

Oh, I see, though, we have to be the subject above because we’re speaking to God. Like prayer or something. Ok, here’s the refrain.
You’re a Good, Good Father

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
Gak. Sorry to say it folks but this line and the one below it are going to be heard over and over. And, while the first line is true, God is a good Father–and I have been assuming all this time that we’re talking about God but I realize I should never assume anything–it’s just dumb to say over and over again, “it’s who you a it’s who you are.”
And I’m loved by you

It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
Um. In the spirit of not assuming anything, I would really encourage the average singer of this song to question if this is true. I know we like to run around saying ‘Jesus loves you’ to all and sundry, but nowhere in scripture does God say that he loves everyone. In fact, in several places he takes the trouble to mark out people who he in fact does not love. And why should we, modern Americans, assume that we necessarily fall into the group that’s loved. Really, loved by God is not Who I Am unless I cling to the mercy of the cross and humble myself before a holy, just, and wrath filled God. Can you imagine the rich man in Luke, singing “I’m loved by You it’s who I am it’s who I am” waking up to the shocking surprise of the place of torment? I mean, essentially he did absolutely believe he was loved by God because of being so rich. That was the sign of God’s love. And we know that we’re loved because of the whispers in the night. But seriously, maybe we should test this out to make sure how far the love extends.

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide

But I know we’re all searching

For answers only you provide

‘Cause you know just what we need

Before we say a word”
Have you though? Been searching for many answers? Is singing this song helping you find any of them? I don’t love the division that’s raised up here between me searching for answers and God being the only one that can provide them. Those two things are not in opposition to each other and you don’t need to leave behind the seeking just because God promises to find you. Au contraire, Mr. Tomlin. Knowing that God promises to find us should spur on our seeking. Furthermore, I am not a fan of mashing together the search for God with the provision of God for our needs. Those are two separate things. They are both in the bible, but two separate things. Maybe Mr. Tomlin could have sprung for another verse. Or not, maybe that would have been a bad idea.

You’re a Good, Good Father

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are

And I’m loved by you

It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Stab my ears with forks.

’cause you are perfect in all of your ways

You are perfect in all of your ways

You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You are perfect in all of your ways

You are perfect in all of your ways

You are perfect in all of your ways to us
I just want to run around screaming but I’ll pull myself together. Ok, ok, breathe. First of all, REPEATING IT OVER AND OVER DOESN’T MAKE IT MORE INTERESTING. This is a true statement: God is perfect. But you ruin it both by the inane and boring musical repetition and by adding “to us”. God is not perfect “to us”. God is just perfect. (You can imagine right now that I’m still in all caps.) God is not perfect “to us”. In fact, if you read the bible, you’ll find that humanity as a whole thinks that God is wrong, evil even. We don’t think God is perfect. We try to limit him and make him into a creature of his creation that is like us who are not perfect. God’s perfection is not something we like or want and so this is really arrogant to say, and smarmy. The average singer of this song, especially after all the repetition, is going to go away thinking that God’s perfection rests on the human person or is in some way connected to it. Just like Truth has been ridiculously reduced to being “my truth”. To Us forsooth.

Oh, it’s love so undeniable

I, I can hardly speak
And yet, the song which contains words continues on.
Peace so unexplainable

I, I can hardly think
I know, I know you can hardly think but you should try. You should make every effort, strain every nerve to just think.

As you call me deeper still

Into love, love, love
Yeah, God isn’t going to do this. He isn’t going to call you past language and thought into a deep love that isn’t measured and tempered by those things. That’s not love. That’s some sort of psychedelic feeling that feels good. That’s not love. Love is an actual thing grounded in reality and human history and language and substance. It has an object, a person if you like, not lots and lots and lots of deep feelings.

You’re a Good, Good Father

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are

And I’m loved by you

It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a Good, Good Father

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are

And I’m loved by you

It’s who I am, it’s who I am it’s who I am

And the chorus again. Sob.

This song is a perfect illustration of the article I was so raving over yesterday. We want all the feelings of relief and consummation without any of the suffering that precedes it. And so scripture, really, is incomprehensible to the modern ear. Because scripture is about the suffering that God endures when we reject him, how he overcomes the valley of the shadow of death to restore what was lost and broken, how we can join with him in his suffering, groaning, awaiting his final exultation and victory over the bitterness of death. But that’s too hard, somehow, too upsetting, or too boring. We just need candy and lollipops and cuddles right now. It’s actually pretty heartbreaking. Rather than worrying over a dead and dying world, rushing out to bring others in to God’s true unshakable love, we stand around in dark rooms singing this over and over.

Here, cleanse your palate with this. And have a lovely day if you can manage it.
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