Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I curse your name a thousand times...

The absolutely gorgeous Eric Clapton song, "Holy Mother," when sung as a duet with Luciano Pavarotti, states:

"I call your name a thousand times."

But the original studio version of the song, which appeared on Eric Clapton's album August, expresses the lyrics as:

"I curse your name a thousand times."

[Click here to listen to the studio version of the song. The line in question occurs at 2:01]

Presumably, for this duet, a decision was made that the notion of cursing God (Who really is the referent of "Holy Mother") was unacceptable.

I'm a practicing Eastern Orthodox Christian. And I wish the duet had stuck with the original. The original expresses such an honest painful wound. And the notion of cursing God from within the depths of our human pain is not an unforgivable sin.

People sometimes express the sentiment, "I won't believe in a God who would allow thus-and-thus to happen." 

It's as if they are mad at God for not existing!

When bad things happen to good people, grief and anger are natural emotions. And when we are then face to face with the question of why God lets bad things happen to good people, it's not entirely unexpected that we would direct that anger his way.

And that's exactly what happens in this song.

I curse your name a thousand times...

This is followed immediately by:

I felt the anger running through my soul.
All I need is a hand to hold.

This is not a person who doesn't believe in God. This is a person in pain, who, in a moment of human weakness, lashed out at the Ultimate Source of existence.

The hands-down best modern expression of the notion of cursing God, comes from an episode of The West Wing, in which President Bartlet curses God off in Latin after the funeral of his secretary at the National Cathedral. Here you can see the scene, with the Latin translated:


 The drama of the Book of Job centers around the challenge from Satan that Job will curse God if he suffers enough. (The Hebrew text euphemizes the word "curse" to "bless.")

After Job has lost everything, his riches, his children, and is a miserable diseased mess, his own wife tells him, "Curse God and die." (ברך אלהים ומת; Job 2:9)

While Job never fails, not everyone has the patience of Job. And not everyone who has ever suffered was thus being tested. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. And sometimes, good people lost their temper.

Cursing God from a place of deep pain is not Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (whatever that even is). God's abundant mercy freely meets all our sin, even a curse in his face.

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