One 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 it the same God suspicious of Tinky Winky?
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.
 Tinky Winky was the character on Teletubbies who Jerry Falwell accused of being a gay role model for children.