“Your God” by Cheryl Wheeler

Cheryl WheelerOne of my regular readers (JMF, I think Rick Fane, it turns out) turned me on to singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler. She is an amazing talent. But that’s pretty much a given when someone can stand up with a guitar and entertain an audience. She has a powerful, but interesting voice, and writes well-crafted, often deeply moving songs. She’s also very funny, which is not exactly unusual for folk singers. It may be just a matter of being more grounded than most musicians. And if you were as angry as a lot of folk singers are without a sense of humor, you’d probably go into political organizing.

I’m no kind of expert on her. I’ve heard perhaps a dozen or so of her songs. I’ll probably create a Pandora channel for her, because I am sometimes in the mood to listen to this kind of music. In general, she reminds me of Cris Williamson and Holly Near, although at this point I like her quite a bit more. Anyway, I came upon one of her songs, “Your God.” It is a very simple song, but the lyrics are funny and insightful. I’m thinking of learning it so I can play it for the Jehovah’s Witnesses the next time they come to my door. (Not that it would matter to them.)

Here are the lyrics:

Is your God the same God who’s working with the Pope?
Is it the same God suspicious of Tinky Winky[1]?
Is it the God corralling virgins into herds of 72,
Deciding where to send them when the glorious martyrs are through?Is your God the same God who’s burning the science books
And trampling lives to hoist the “right to life” signs?
Or is he running the breeding program from the temple by the lake
Till one big in-bred family will be an entire state?

Are they his priests who can’t keep from buggering little boys?
Is your cash retaining their attorneys?
I guess he had to overlook the nastiness with the tykes,
To keep the grace of marriage from the clutches of fags and dykes.

Is your God the same God who won the Super Bowl?
I hope it’s not that loser God the Colts had.
Or is your’s the God decreeing all the women wear a sack,
Presiding over stonings and beheadings in Iraq?

Is your God commanding you
To tell everybody what to do?
To kill your brain, praise his name
Bury the bastard who’s not the same?
Spew your heinous and hateful shit
Like something holy was driving it?
To take over all the earth and skies above?
Oh mercy whatever happened to the God of love?


On a spiritual level, I’m with Terry Eagleton. If you look at the world or the Bible (or other Abrahamic religious books), there is no “God of love.” So at best, I can only see Jesus as calling for a spiritual revolution that would end with heaven on earth. The “God of love” would have to be ourselves, because nothing in the world points to a loving god. And indeed, apologists have given up on the question and simply define everything God does as good. So the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed roughly 300,000 people was yet another example of “God’s love.” What makes Cheryl Wheeler’s song so great is that most of the people who believe in the “God of love” actually make the the world less “heaven on earth” and more just like hell.

[1] Tinky Winky was the character on Teletubbies who Jerry Falwell accused of being a gay role model for children.

6 thoughts on ““Your God” by Cheryl Wheeler

  1. @Rick Fane – Sorry about that Rick!

    No, I had not heard of Larkin before. Interesting song. I’m going to have a forward this to a young friend who is looking to add more percussive aspects to his guitar playing. She also seems to be using an open tuning, which I’ve been trying to get him to do.

  2. Thanks so much Rick — she’s great! I howled at the Colts line.

    Incidentally, a new Planned Parenthood opened near me recently, and a crazy right-wing Christian group distributed flyers all over explaining why this was a Bad Thing.

    Doing due diligence, as is my wont, I looked up the crazy right-wing religious group’s website. They had links for how to train to become a "sidewalk counselor." If you think "sidewalk counselor" means "person who strolls sidewalks and tries to console visibly depressed strangers," you are wrong. But you don’t think that. Because you are not an idiot.

    No, "sidewalk counselor" means exactly what you feared it did — intimidating young women, Mafia-style. There’s a reason these assholes used to be prosecuted under racketeering laws — they’re racketeering. They ain’t saying you aren’t allowed to buy booze from an establishment owned by a rival faction; they’re just saying. Nice fertile abdomen you got, there. It’d be a shame if someone messed it up, because as we all know contraception and abortion ruin your body and you’ll never have children, you vile slut. But we love you with God’s love; we’re sidewalk counselors.

  3. I was the one who posted the link to a Cheryl Wheeler song on Youtube. I was tempted to recommend "Your God" some time later, but I didn’t want to be pushy.

    So anyway… have you heard of Patty Larkin?

  4. @JMF – I find the whole "sidewalk counselor" thing interesting. I am a free speech absolutist. Just the same, having the right to say anything is not the right to scream it in someone’s face.

    It has occurred to me that the best thing would be to put sound canceling headphones and full hijabs on the women coming into the clinics.

    Looking at the people at clinics, at the border, Terri Schiavo’s hospice, I just don’t see "Christ’s love" anywhere to be found. I see intolerance and bigotry how ever one wants to justify it. I see ideology placed before humanity. And I always think of what the Merovingian said in [i]The Matrix Reloaded[/i]. The only reason these people hate the "sin" of abortion is because they were told to. They are good at following orders. If they had been raised to believe in "honor killings" they would do it too. It is a black and white world to them. I only believe in grays, but what they do is pretty close to pure black.

  5. I’m pretty hardcore about free speech myself, so this is a tricky issue. For me, it comes down to the intimidation factor. If you want to stand behind the anchors on some live morning-show with a sign saying "Abortion=Murder," fine. But of course that doesn’t convince anybody; that rainbow-wig "John 3:16" guy at baseball games and golf telecasts didn’t convince anybody.

    To convince people to adhere to your beliefs against their will, you need force. And that’s what "sidewalk counselors" are doing; using force. When you go to the doctor, you’re vulnerable; if medical clinics used this feeling of vulnerability for pimping "to see the best doctor, buy a Platinum Membership card" they’d be banned from that practice. (Well, Democrats would ban them. Repubs would approve!)

    Women going to health clinics are scared and nervous. It shouldn’t be allowed for any intimidator to get anywhere near them. Not even across the street; not there, period. It’s useful public policy to allow women to make their own choices about when they give birth. It’s also morally preferable to empower people who are in a tough spot, over people who are trying to beat the vulnerable down.

    Now, if the "sidewalk counselors" set up shop outside college fraternities, decrying hookup sex, I’d have no problem with them. I’d still disagree with their meddling, but I wouldn’t be offended by their intimidating vulnerable people. Hell, I’d enjoy watching those street battles; but the "sidewalk counselors" would lose, and quickly, and go back to picking on those weaker than themselves.

  6. @JMF – I agree. And I think 8 feet is far too close to avoid intimidation. But that was a 9-0 decision…

    Perhaps you’ve heard about the Christian on some college campus who is pushing back against hookup sex. But he isn’t going after the frat boys. He’s just calling young women sluts. Which is about what you would expect.

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