Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Complain about the present and blame it on the past/ I'd like to find your inner child and kick it's little ..."

In a recent post on the top opening lyrics in rock songs, I gave the top billing to Patti Smith's intro to a rework of the old rock anthem "Gloria." She declaims that "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine." I noted that the lyric, while evocative and thought provoking, is theologically incorrect. One of the commenters posted as follows:

"And the top (although theologically incorrect) opening lyric:"

Perhaps Patti sings in the voice of Lucifer, the fallen angel, the most successful rebel of all time. Given your bigoted comment, my guess is that you'd view her as sinful, evil, condemned - but not "theologically incorrect."

Please post when you intentd to teach your law school class about "correct theology." Mullah Omar as guest speaker, no?

Others suggested that this guy ought to lighten up and I certainly agree, but doesn't this reflect a widely shared, if curious, assumption that a statement of belief, at least if it is not hedged with affirmations of relativism,should be regarded as offensive to those who don't share it?

I actually like Patti Smith, even though she can only be taken in small doses and her politics are a mess. I have no idea what, if any, religious beliefs that she has. (She did do a haunting recording intertwining "We, Three Kings" with the infancy narrative from Matthew.) She has apparently explained the line by stating that she did not want anyone to have to die for her sins and that is a very human - even Christian - sentiment. I recognize the pedigree of theories of substitutionary atonement but I struggle with that too. It's one of the reasons that I like the line, although mostly I think it's a neat expression of alienation with just a hint of mischief.

But, it turns out, that I believe that Jesus Christ did, in some way, die for her sins. Whether she believes that or not, I don't think that she is sinful, evil or condemned. She might - you might - believe that ny belief is wrong, but the fact that I believe something that you don't does not make me bigoted. It does not mean that I hate you or that I want to conduct a pogrom against you.


JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

"but doesn't this reflect a widely shared, if curious, assumption that a statement of belief, at least if it is not hedged with affirmations of relativism,should be regarded as offensive to those who don't share it?"

I defended that statement because you did hedge it with an affirmation of relativism. I'm not sure it the statement would be offensive if you hadn't. But it would be totally annoying. If someone tells me "Jesus died for your sins," I think that person is a douchebag. If a person tells me, "I believe that Jesus died for our sins," I won't think they're a total jerk. Some people just act as if they know things that they can't possibly know. And that's annoying.

Anonymous said...

Mithras died for your sins.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the comment you focus on; what was offensive was your sloppiness, not your faith.

And now you continue. You offer a trite, throwaway, cutesy arrogant phrase about "incrrect theology" to make your post about rock lyrics seem deep, and now you claim to have engaged in a solemn expression of faith that garnered a negative response - as is the trend with these godless liberals.

The line is "incorrect," only if one is an adherent to a particular faith - yet you offer this as faact not faith. And, this is standard tripe, assert an issue of faith as fact and then play wounded when someone points out the disconnect. As an aside, I respect and enjoy discussions of faith and theology, when identified as such, i.e., when honestly had. It's simply about intellectual honesty.

You just can't seem to resist tossing an arrogant throwaway line into a post because you think it makes you sound deep or thoughtful.

Your own self-importance also made for sure that no discussion of the lyric or the artist flowed. Its just bad writing on your part.

Love religion and enjoy it to be discussed freely, respectful and, sincerely. Don't whine when you throw it in as spice in a clumsy way and are called on it.

Anonymous said...


Did you even read the last paragraph of this post? It clearly addresses the fact that these are just Rick's beliefs. If one is against the war in Iraq, I'm sure that person does not always say "I believe the war is wrong". They simply say "the war is wrong". but it is still only their belief. At this point in time, one can't know for sure. That doesn't make them a "douchebag". You've got alot of interesting things to day but don't be so sensitive and defensive.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Personally, I try not to speak in absolutes. You will rarely hear me say something like "the war is wrong." You may hear me say something like "I believe the war is wrong because X, Y and Z." But with a position on the war, X's, Y's and Z's are plentiful. An opinion on the war has to be based on how you weigh the costs and benefits as you understand them to be. And whatever your opinion is on the war, most of us will still acknowledge that it is an opinion, no matter how well informed we may believe our opinion is. With a position like, “Jesus died for your sins” there really aren’t any reasons to believe it. In fact, that statement doesn’t even make sense. But when people say it they rarely ever advance any reasons at all, and most of the people I’ve questioned about it can’t even explain how there could possibly be a causal relationship between “sin” and a magic dead guy. Most people just say they “know” it. They won’t even acknowledge that it’s, like, just their opinion man. That's what is annoying. BOCTAOE

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

I also think we might be talking past each other. At no point have I gotten defensive of sensitive about anything. My first comment was more of a response to the comments to last post with the song lyrics. I was agreeing with Rick there, but disagreeing with him re: whether or not he should hedge statements of belief by noting that they are mere statements of belief (or something like that).

Anonymous said...

Well anon, that explains it a lot better. You are a bigger dipstick than I thought.

"The line is "incorrect," only if one is an adherent to a particular faith."

Without that 'particular faith' as a frame of reference it is utterly meaningless. Did she mean Jesus the Red Sox shortstop from twenty some years ago?

Most of us accept that the 'Jesus' who died for somebody's sins, but not hers is the same Jesus in the Bible that has John 3:16. (That is a chapter and verse, not the time, for those who need a frame of reference). IF that is the case, it can be reasonably construed she is singing about the popular belief among those wacky Christians that Jesus died for EVERYONE'S sins not somebody else's sins. Hence it would be theologically incorrect to popular Christian doctrine. I guess your rant would make sense if Rick was an outspoken believer in Norse Gods.