March 24, 2014

What is Boy George singing about God?



I found that this morning at NPR.org, which manifests zero interest in the religious orientation of the song, which is called "My God." There's this puzzling sentence:
In 1982, the Irish Catholic singer joined a Jewish drummer, a Protestant guitar-and-keyboard player and a Jamaican bassist to form Culture Club.
I say "puzzling," because I can't tell if George remains a Catholic or if he just was one in 1982. He's still Irish, and maybe Catholic is, at least to NPR, something like an ethnic group and it sticks to you for life. Then the other members of the band are Jewish, Protestant, and Jamaican, which is a funny lack of parallelism. Are we talking about ethnicity or religion or just whatever diversity factor makes each one seem most "diverse"?

Mostly, NPR quotes George about school:
"Well, I hated school from the minute I got there to the minute I was thrown out. I was different. Even from the age of about 6 years old I was kind of made to feel different by other kids — you know, I was a quite pretty kid, and I got called 'girl' a lot, and 'woman' and all of that. And school is really not a place to be different. School is not a great place to have feminine features or a big nose, or to wear glasses or the wrong shoes. School is a scary place for kids. So I didn't like it, and I didn't want to be there. And it was a great day for me when they threw me out."
That's vaguely connected to the amorphous "diversity" angle, but come on! He's singing about God. What's he saying? I take it that's the single with a video so that's what NPR stuck up on its website, and George takes the publicity in the form it's offered. He's got a new album, which you can buy here.

Actually the lyrics fit NPR's stock diversity theme. I'll edit them down to 3 lines to make that obvious:
He said “Jesus loves you don’t you know?”...
I said, “Jesus loves me don’t you know?”
My God is bigger than your God
Remember that God spelled backwards is "dog," and you can pair George's song with the old Ken-L-Ration jingle.

20 comments:

Gahrie said...

The writer is probably assuming the Jamaican is a Rastifarian....I think there is a law somewhere that all Jamaican muscians are Rastifarian.

Pogo is Dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo is Dead said...

Boy George's God is big enough to allow him and a friend to chain a male escort to the wall and beat him with a metal chain while in a cocaine-fueled frenzy.

The courts weren't as lenient, however.

EDH said...

"What is Boy George singing about God?"

Perhaps because it sounds like somebody gave him Warren Zevon's voice.

Dave Daniels said...

He had a band called Jesus Loves You in the early '90s, so this is nothing new for him.

mccullough said...

Church of the Poison Mind was my favorite Culture Club song.

Culture Club was huge in the summer of 1984 when I was 13. Boy George has aged pretty well.

chrisnavin.com said...

I remember NPR had a story a while back about a Jehovah's Witness who found secular Enlightenment through his quite post-folk songwriting.

They're going digital as well.

chrisnavin.com said...

I had a moment of secular Enlightenment while listening to Pete Seeger at an environmental protest while talking about the Kennedy's with a peace activist and her life partner who worked for the government.

traditionalguy said...

Is he singing that his faith is in a God bigger than humanity's diversity? OK, that's true.

It's usually trying to please the small gods that gets people into trouble.

paul a'barge said...

Althouse. Listening to NPR.

Why would you do that?

Bob R said...

"...maybe Catholic is, at least to NPR, something like an ethnic group and it sticks to you for life."

I think that's pretty close to true. Compared to most of the mainstream protestant denominations, Catholicism has a much stronger cultural component that means a lot to people even if they reject it as a belief system. I know people who haven't been to church in ten years who consider themselves Catholic, none who consider themselves Methodist.

Ipso Fatso said...

At his age shouldn't he be "Man George" by now?

Pogo is Dead said...

Boy George: "My God is bigger than your God"

His God is also uncut and a bear, is my guess.

cokaygne said...

Until the end of the XX Century in Ireland and to a lesser extent, England, "Irish" and "Catholic" were one and the same. That is still mostly true in Scotland.

There were some upper-class English Catholics, but that world was foreign to working-class people. Amongst working-class people, people of Irish (Celtic) descent were Catholics and working-class Catholics were of Irish descent. Those of Irish descent who practiced a Protestant religion were considered "British" and considered themselves to be British.

This stuff was important to some of the British and Irish people. Nowadays this characterization of people by their religious beliefs or lack thereof, or by their ethnicity is important to American liberals. You are your demography.

NPR, as a mouthpiece of the Democratic party, buys into the Democrats' view of politics as a struggle between ethnic or religious or gender groups. This is nothing new with Democrats.

Tammany Hall practiced this sort of politics for decades, as did other urban Democratic political machines.

In Tammany's view, a "balanced" political ticket consisted of a Catholic, usually Irish, running for the highest executive office, a Yankee Protestant, if one could be found, running for a meaningless token office, a Jew running for an office that dealt with money because Jews are experts at money doncha know, and a non-Irish Catholic running for something on the bottom of the ticket in a district where his (no ladies need apply) ethnicity had a majority of voters.

Renee said...

Even in my worst moments as a sinner, I was still Catholic.

Maybe he doesn't deny God or Jesus or the Church, maybe he has difficulty understanding their teachings. But we all do.

How is he any different?

Scott said...

"His God is also uncut and a bear, is my guess."

@Pogo is Dead: You just made me spit tea all over my keyboard. How dare you.

Will Cate said...

Ya know, at first I thought it's just another attempt by an 80s pop star to revive his moribund career, but then I saw that George Michael currently has the #1 album in England. Guess anything's possible.

However, Jethro Tull also did a song called "My God" (1971, LP "Aqualung")... and it's much better than this.

SOJO said...

Weird to hear his low voice. Seems simple enough. Apparently, he hasn't lost his faith. He's preaching the big Love here to what he sees as a more narrow view.

Ex-Catholics seems to have a harder time moving to modern secular atheism than others. They retain that need for mystical Love. ;)

The Godfather said...

@Althouse regarding your comment that "maybe Catholic is, at least to NPR, something like an ethnic group and it sticks to you for life", I remember hearing an IRA leader, who said he was a communist, and was challenged on the ground that communists are atheists, so how can you claim to represent Catholics, respond: "Yes, I'm an atheist, but I'm a CATHOLIC atheist."

Jason said...

If chaining your significant other against the wall against its will and beating it with a metal chain until it gets the hose again in a cocaine-filled frenzy is wrong, then the Protestants have already won!