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Top 40 Philosophy: Hozier, “Take Me to Church”

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, Music, Theology, and Top 40 Philosophy

We’ve done all the other songs in the top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, so today we’re jumping down to #6, Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” The video below is about the anti-LGBT laws and violence in Russia.

Hozier is Irish, evidently, and “Take Me to Church” is about having a better religious experience in romantic love than in “real” church — given the serious problems with many real churches.

We might see this song as hopeful, then, taking it to show that even if we are cut off from encountering God through church, other avenues remain open. Even if we do not see God in the group that is supposed to be the Body of Christ, we can still see God in individuals who are God’s image.

Alternatively, we might see this song as evidence of someone who, because of the faults of the humans who claim to speak for God, has decided to worship a faulty human instead of God.

But this is Top 40 Philosophy, not Top 40 Bible Studies, so we don’t have to decide between these alternatives. What I want to focus on here is the interesting fact that when people reject God, they often do it for moral reasons. That is, they experience themselves as faced with a choice between God, on the one hand, and the Good, on the other, and they choose the Good.

This choice should make perfect sense, even to us religious folk. Since we believe that God is the Good, if anything is opposed to the Good, we must assume that it is not God. Therefore, if someone experiences God as opposed to the Good — and if they have understood the Good correctly — then they are right to choose the Good, because the “God” in question cannot actually be God.

Other people choose against God not in favor of the Good, but in favor of the True. That is, they have come to the conclusion that it simply not true that God exists, and thus they choose to believe that God does not exist.

What this means, however, is that when people choose the True over God, they are actually — at least in a way — choosing the Good over the God once again. They choose to believe what is true because they think that truth has fundamental value, and that being in line with the truth is fundamentally important. That is, they believe that truth is fundamentally good. Once again, then, they are doing their best to align with the Good, rather than against it.

Very often, in other words, Christians and atheists are on the same side, morally. They are not enemies, but allies. Perhaps, then, if we want to promote peace and harmony, we should all take a course in the Transcendentals.


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