Tough Topic Tuesday

Tough Topic Tuesday- "Laughing With"

I love this song. I first heard it playing in the halls of my church a few weeks ago. The words are haunting. Regina Spektor has always incorporated scriptural and spiritual themes throughout her music, but she never tells you to believe one way or the other; instead I think her art begs the listeners to think for themselves. And this song definitely stirred up the think tank.

When I found the song on YouTube I noticed it had been viewed nearly 500,000 times (denoting that whether you like her or the song, it is culturally relevant, she is impacting people one way or the other) and there were already well over 3,000 comments. A debate was broiling. What does the song mean? Is it for Christians? Is it for Atheists? Can it be for both? What does it mean that we are all laughing with God? What does it say about God’s character? What does it say about humanity? You can read some of their comments below.

Of course there are always people who want to pick a fight or prove a point, but the vast majority of comments seemed well thought out. And the comments intrigued me. The more I read, the more engrossed I got. Page after page I read people’s thoughts on God, religion, and humanity. I felt like an audience member for a Dr. Phil taping. I felt like a sociologist doing cross-cultural research. Then, slowly, I felt like a believer in Jesus who was simply eavesdropping on a conversation someone was having about me. I was listening in as someone talked about me. About my savior. About my way of life.

For a moment I was shell-shocked. I forget that my beliefs are quite alien and foreign. I forget that not everyone believes the way I believe. I forget that many people have many reasons to denounce that which I have committed myself to. I, the lover of diversity and freedom of choice, was momentarily overwhelmed by how detached from reality I have really become. I’ve been walking around with my head in the clouds; there is a huge, huge world out there.

If you have been raised in an evangelical background, like myself, you were taught that people were either “Saved” or “Unsaved.” Then we got politically correct and decided that it was a slap in the face to tell someone they were “lost” or unsaved, so we changed it to “seekers.” Now, I am not sure what the PC term is, but I know this, if I were on the other side of things, the only label I would want would be human, friend, or person. Being known as unsaved or lost would inherently mean that I was a project to those around me, a thing to be converted, or an object to be won and changed.

And while I love that God has called me to be a part of His love and work in the world, it is He who labels, He who changes, He who authors true conversion… if He does that through me because I have been a friend, because I have loved, because I have been honest and real with those around me, then may it be so. But I can only confess that He alone knows a man’s heart and truly saves that which is lost, broken, and hurting.

I do pray for sensitivity. Not because I am not brave enough or bold enough to share what God has done in my life. Not because I am ashamed of what I believe. Not because I believe that it is wrong to share my beliefs… I choose sensitivity because a person’s faith, their spirituality, and the messy business of knowing and following Christ is quite the journey. In my experience it’s not as easy as a simple prayer and I certainly did not choose to follow Christ out of the fear of hell. A pamphlet or “track” would not have done the trick, nor would a strange person walking up to me in the mall asking private questions about my soul. Forcing God on people has clearly not worked.

So my question today is: In a world full of real people, with real beliefs, real pain, real joy, real life… what relevant role can a Christian play in the spiritual journey of another human?

That’s the sort of question that I must wrestle with. Today I am reminded, not everyone speaks my language.

“Laughing With” YouTube Comments:
(please note: UNCENSORED comments)

"I understand what Epowerboy means when he says he doesn't want to be saved. I think he means he doesn't need to be saved because there is nothing to be saved from. Saved from sin? A sin is a sin only if you believe in those sins. They mean nothing to a non-believer. Many people lead good lives without the need for a God or religious guidelines."

"This song is powerful. Its meaning is so deep because it's not trying to tell you a specific answer about who God is, but simply pointing out something all of us can completely agree with and understand: that we as humans are beings of such limited scope and control over our circumstances. There are times in our lives when we are humbled by the vastness of creation -- by it's beauty and its sorrow. And this tells us something about The Creator."

"I laugh at all those moments with the mention of gods. I'm facing down the barrel of a shortened life of continued levels of pain, and I am laughing right now at this song, at the idea of gods, right at this moment. Just because something feels nice, doesn't make it any less a delusional idea. Just because something is comforting, doesn't make it true. It would be nice if clouds were made of ice cream too, but so what? It's childish, it's wishful thinking. It's just sad."

"In reference to the person who said, “All you idiots who don’t believe are going to hell.” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another," John 13: 34-35. If you, yourself, believe you are a Christian you would present such a statement with more grace. You should be ashamed of the way you said this; Christ would not have done so. Grow up, read your Bible."

"This song is a cheap shot to all the people who find religion in desperation. It would be like making a song about how No one thanks god when their child is born with a disability. Regina has one thing right though - God really isn't funny because A - he doesn't exist, and B - if by some chance he did exist and all the things attributed to him were true, he'd be the most sinister bastard in the Universe."

"I don't see this song as anti-religious at all. Half is the old, "There are no atheists in foxholes," idea, which I agree with. The other half is a comment on the kind of shallow (and yes, laughable) faith that reduces God to Jiminy Cricket, a Genie and Santa Claus. Not all Christians see God so small, or simplistically, but the ones who do will likely find the song offensive. Faith and belief are complex. This song illustrates that beautifully. I was simultaneously moved and convicted by it."

"I think this song is beautiful satire at the idea that while a person whom is going thro a traumatic moment may ask "God, why me?" and not even have to believe in any god at all; and yet, when things are working fine or one is better off, the idea of a being controlling fate may become a humorous reflection. In the end, though, we're all laughing at our helplessness, whether we believe or not. I don't believe, just for the record."