Monday, February 12, 2007

Jesus, give me a break...

Am I the only one who thinks that the (now) Grammy-award-winning song "Jesus, take the Wheel" is one of the worst hits ever recorded?

For those of you who have been living in blissful ignorance of this bit of pop culture bilge, it is the ballad of an ordinary woman who loses control of her car on an icy road and rather than, say, steer into the skid, throws up her hands and cries out "Jesus, take the wheel!" and is (I'm not kidding) miraculously saved. The experience causes her to repent her lack of faith and promises to let "Jesus take the wheel" from there on.

What bothers me most about this song is its unbelievably inane vision of life and of religious experience. On one level, this little ditty -- just about the most popular one in the world thanks to the media machine called American Idol that has made Woody Underwear a household name -- is an insult to religious people everywhere because it puts Christianity on about the level of the AAA. Christ as roadside assistance.

But of course the point is more profound than that. The story is a metaphor, but what is the metaphorical point? Apparently that the way to live in the world is to abandon all personal effort and let "Jesus" (as the Sunday school kids call him) control your life. And that to me, is the most horrifying part of the whole thing. Only the worst kind of zealot would suggest that human beings should exercise no agency in the world because, let's face it, the world has plenty of troubles and all the evidence so far indicates that if there is a God, he is not going to intervene to save us from ourselves (why not? well now, that's a question I would like to pose to Gordie Sampson, the Canadian author of this nugget of iron pyrite).

My point is not that Christianity, or any religion, is necessarily a terrible thing, but anyone who teaches, even by pseudo-Christian pop-culture allegory, that human beings do not have a profound responsibility to one another should be ashamed.


Anonymous said...

And wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone in the world understood and practiced that last paragraph........

Anonymous said...

I find that when most people listen to songs they don't actually listen to songs. It takes a while for the lyrics to sink in. They can mouth the chorus line but that's about it. While your message still applies to the chorus line of "Jesus take the wheel (save me from myself)" I still can't help and wonder how many people still don't realize that "I will always love you" is about breaking up with someone and not a song to be played at weddings.
Adding fuel to your fire on how people don't take responsiblity for their own lives, do you know that "Jesus take the wheel" is inspired by a true story of one of Gordie's relatives.
Good message Todd but I'll still hum the chorus ;).

Jehy said...

Jesus didn't take the wheel for Tyler Durden and if Jesus gets near my car, he'll be in the back friggin' seat.

I'm not anti-Christian; it's just a dumb ass song.

James said...

Usually when I drive down the beach, I am happy. I see 2 sets ot tire treads: one for myself, one for the lord in his land-rover. I was driving down the beach one day, and I was particularly depressed, but there was only one set of tire-treads.

I asked Jesus why he wasn't driving beside me that day. He told me: "I was there. I took the wheel."

Steph said...

Wow... I never even bothered listening to the song, I just usually switch the dial as soon as it comes on. Unfortunately this is the attitude of a lot of self-proclaimed Christians.

When I decided to leave my parents church back in gr 12, I thought it would be more diplomatic of me to come up with a reason other than the honest "I think all you people are nuts" reason. So I said, for the sake of maintaining civil family relations, that I would rather take my Sundays as study time and work towards some scholarships for graduation day. My father looked at me and replied:

"You know, Steph, if you keep on having faith and serving God He can give you scholarships in areas you never expected."

To which I replied:

"Dad, what's he gonna do? Come down from heaven and do the work for me? Grant me super-human intelligence if I pray a certain number of hours a day? God helps those who help themselves!"

He didn't speak to me for a week after that. It was one of those moments where I probably should have been much more tactful.