Neil Young asks some great questions in his “When God Made Me” song that he performed last night at the televised Shelter from the Storm benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Through the magic of our digital video recorder I listened to the lyrics several times. They moved me. Young had a sort of gospel choir backing him up, but “When God Made Me” isn’t really a Christian song, in my opinion.
It asks questions about God’s intentions, but doesn’t answer them. I liked that. Here’s an example:
Was he planning only for believers, or for those who just had faith? Did he envision all wars that were fought in his name? Did he say there was only one way to be close to him?
The complete lyrics can be found on the Neil Young News weblog. It’s interesting to read the comments on this July 11, 2005 post. Some people view “When God Made Me” as a secular anthem akin to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” while others see the song as a paean to liberal Christianity.
It all depends on how you answer the questions posed in the lyrics in your own mind, I guess. That’s why I liked the song so much.
There were several fervent gospel performances of the “Praise Jesus!” variety on the Shelter from the Storm benefit which struck me as over-the-top and preachy, though I’m sure fundamentalist Christians ate them up.
Neil Young’s quiet thoughtful style was a welcome change. Plus, I could understand every word of his lyrics. The gospel, rap, and rock performers left me wondering, “What the heck are they saying?”
The way I see “When God Made Me,” it offers a glimpse of how much better religions would be if their focus was on asking questions that didn’t have ready-made dogmatic answers.
I’m going to make it the Church of the Churchless theme song.