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Nov 27 2007

Atheism in Pop Culture Part 6: “Dear God” by XTC

Ingrid is going to love this one. It’s the video of XTC’s musical screed against religion, “Dear God.” Video below the fold, since putting it above the fold screws up my archives.

I’m especially fascinated by the “talking to the God that you don’t believe in” format. It’s such an interesting narrative device; of course it’s internally contradictory, but that actually helps it capture the contradictory feelings that so many former believers have towards religion. (I used it myself in a story I just wrote, in which a member of an abusive religious cult is praying to the God that she’s lost her faith in.) I’m trying to remember other examples, but my brain is still mush from my travels — can anyone think of any?

Via Spanish Inquisitor.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Louis Doench

    Wooohooo!
    Been awhile since I heard that song, and I’ve never seen the video.
    Thanx

  2. 2
    Noxx

    Oh how I love that song. I’ve never seen the video, but play it all the time (and sang it incorrectly, I’ve just found out). There’s another song about God playing a big joke on humans, that I recall was very controversial. It seems nothing threatens the religious more than someone who does not buy it. A fundy Christian would sit with a fundy Muslim over an atheist every time.

  3. 3
    Nurse Ingrid

    Yes! XTC rock, and this song is completely amazing. I especially love the rant at the end, when Andy Partridge is swinging those hammers at the tree.
    It was this song that inspired me to start an Atheists’ Greatest Hits mix CD, which I am going to finish as soon as my ITunes is fixed. Other tracks will include “New Test Leper” by REM, “If You’re Feeling Sinister” by Belle & Sebastian, and “Blasphemous Rumours” by Depeche Mode. (Noxx, is that the song you’re thinking of? “I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours, but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humour, and when I die I expect to find him laughing…”)
    Send in your suggestions for Volume II, folks!!

  4. 4
    keelyellenmarie

    Back when I was working on shaking off the last remnants of my belief in god, I wrote a lot of internally-contradictory stories and letters fighting with a god I no longer believed in. I think I was just so angry about having wasted so much time believing in and caring about and devoting myself to a god who, when you think about it, couldn’t possibly be “good” in any sense of the word I understand, that I wanted to be angry at him. Like a child yelling at parents that he/she has discovered is not actually a good person, claiming that the parent has no more power over them, because he/she can see the truth now. Except that my reason for proclaiming that god has no power over me is that I don’t believe that he is real… so of course the whole argument makes no sense. But then, I had many “conversations” with god back when I still believed in his existence and they served, so why not have a few more illogical conversations to end things if it makes me feel a bit better?

  5. 5
    Laura Upstairs

    Ingrid *is* going to love it. Now how about a few more XTC videos? Generals and Majors, maybe? I don’t know if there even IS a video for that, but there should be.

  6. 6
    yoyo

    back when this came out my wicked friends and I, hedonists all, decided to start our own religion ala scientology. our charismatic front person was a young guy (we were all under 20) called nigel. which coinicided with another XTC track. “we’re always making plans for nigel”.
    Thanks for the memories, at that time I had already embraced atheism due to my growing feminism but my best friend was struggling with her catholisism.
    In fact her mother was more upset that Trish refused to go to church than that she caught her in bed with a bikey.
    go figure!

  7. 7
    Duncan

    I’ve never much liked this song. Putting the first verse and final words into The Mouth Of A Child is as creepy when atheists do it as when believers do it. I’ve never gotten the point — is it somehow more authoritative when a Child says it? The song itself is shallow, village-atheist cliches, and the video makes it worse. What’s the idea of knocking the people out of the tree because he’s mad at God? Too revealing, much like our Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris atheists today who want to kill all the Islamofascists until they realize that we atheists want a world of Love, dammit! I’ll kill you if you don’t give up your religious hate!
    A much better song in this vein — possibly the only good one I know of — is Randy Newman’s “God’s Song.” http://youtube.com/watch?v=cyvztDNJTZw

  8. 8
    Geoff Arnold

    For some reason, this reminded me of Raymond Smullyan’s story (in “500 BC and Other Philosophical Fantasies”) about the “proof” from a freshman’s term paper: “God must exist because he wouldn’t be so mean as to make me believe he exists if he doesn’t.”

  9. 9
    Greta Christina

    Well, Duncan, of course you’re entitled to your opinion about the song, and while I don’t agree with it, I don’t really feel like debating it. But I have to ask you this admittedly tangential question:
    Where, exactly, has Richard Dawkins said anything about wanting to kill all Islamofascists?
    I know Hitchens has said words to that effect. And I’m not defending it. It’s indefensible.
    But I’ve never read anything by Dawkins that could even remotely be interpreted as endorsing violence against anyone, much less wanting to kill all Islamofascists. That’s a very serious accusation — do you have any evidence to back it up?
    Sam Harris I don’t know about, since I haven’t yet read that much of his work. But what I have read, while it’s certainly harsh, has not endorsed violence. Again, what exactly has he said along those lines, and where has he said it?

  10. 10
    Paul Crowley

    Another example would be Nine Inch Nails, “Terrible Lie”. “I think you owe me a great big apology…”

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