There was a time when I watched "American Idol" just about every week. I have lost a lot of interest over the years, but Amy still watched a little bit. We watched the last 30 minutes of the finale to find out who won more for information sake than anything else - I didn't really particularly care for either David. Anyway, we are sitting there and out walks George Michael to sing a song entitled "Praying for Time". You remember George Michael, former member of Wham!, huge pop star who then found himself in a disgraceful sex scandal. Anyway, I listen to him sing this song as Paula Abdul sways and cries to his little ballad. By the time he was done, I was crying too - becaues I had just lost 4 minutes of my life to listening to this song. My critique is not at the quality of his singing, but the song itself. The song either is nonsense or hypocritical, depending on which verse you are looking at. If you missed it, allow me to share the lyrics (acquired off of Yahoo!) with some of my own commentary (in italics) alongside:
Oh yeah OK
These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
The open hand? Whose open hand? Is this a reference to the poor in the world? I can go with you there, but the line "They will not be the last"? They aren't the first either. Jesus himself, 2000 years ago, said, "You will always have the poor with you."
Look around now, these are the days
Of the beggars and the choosers
Who are the choosers? Is this a reference to the rich and hoarding (referenced later)? Odd place to drop this reference with where the song is getting ready to go next.
This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses
This may be the only section of this song that, I think, makes sense and makes a good point. Only one question, Why is this year the year of the hungry man, as opposed to say, the year George Michael sang on "Feed the World" or the year George Michael sang on "We Are the World"?
At this point, I am thinking, OK, 21st century protest song. Not my cup of tea, but alright. George is trying to get people motivated to make a difference in our world.
The rich declare themselves poor
Can somebody help me out here? Who are these rich people declaring themselves poor? If that is the case, Forbes list of the wealthiest people in the world could be misinformed.
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much but we'll take our chances
'Cause God stopped keeping score
Huh? What is it that God stopped keeping score of?
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back on all God's children
Crept out the back door
Hold the phone! So now the fact that the some unknown rich are declaring themselves poor is evidence that God has abandoned creation? Poverty and hunger is God's fault? Never mind Jesus' command to the rich man to give all that he had to the poor, never mind Jesus' challenge that at the final judgment, believers will stand before God and he will ask what they did to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and welcome the stranger. (Please don't miss the sarcastic tone in this next sentence) Yeah, that really sounds like God just turning back on needy people in the world.
And its hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say its much too much too late
Nope, not a protest song. We are in complete universal self-pity. Nothing good in life, no hope of anything changing, too late to do anything.
Well maybe we should all be praying for time, oh yeah
Umm, didn't you just say a few seconds ago that God had left? Exactly then what is the point of praying if God is not around to listen? A tad hypocritical, it seems.
These are the days of the empty hand (There's that anonymous empty hand again)
Oh you hold on to what you can (I thought the hand was empty?)
And charity is a coat
You wear twice a year (Christmas and ...?)
This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there
Is over here
??????? I can't even understand it, let alone critique it.
So you scream from behind your door (Wow, you could really hear me screaming? I thought sound only came out of the TV)
Say what's mine is mine and not yours
I may have too much but I'll take my chances
Cause God's stopped keeping score
OK, think I see here that the "empty hand" this second time around is maybe referring to people not offering help to the needy - their hands are empty. OK, so this is supposed to change things how? I mean, if God's not keeping score, then why should anybody help anybody? I never knew how to put a defeatist attitude to music. It's like Eeyore went pop.
And you cling to the things they sold you (Who sold me what?)
Didn't you cover your eyes when they told you?
That he can't come back
Cause he has no children to come back for
What? OK, make up your mind! Did God choose to leave or was God forced to leave? Why aren't we his children anymore? We were a little earlier in the song.
It's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time, oh yeah
Ok, now the whole "praying for time" line really doesn't make sense. Not only have you just said God left, but that God can't come back and do anything about it anyway. So what exactly is the point of praying?
I obviously have some serious theological issues with George Michael here. Beyond even the flawed view of God that I think this song is based upon, I still find it hard to address those issues because the song just doesn't make logical enough sense to even form an argument against. I am sure that someone, somewhere, will proclaim that this song makes some kind of beautiful and/or powerful statement. To me, it is nonsensical nihilism. Give me somebody like Bono anyday - someone who has proclaims the difficulties of the world and challenges, even dares, folks to step up and make a difference.