Take Me to Church Lyrics and Meaning, Another Christian Analysis and Critique

Take Me to Church Lyrics and Meaning, Another Christian Analysis and Critique

Take Me to Church Lyrics and Meaning, Another Christian Analysis and Critique

Regarding the song, Take Me to Church by Hozier, Taylor Marshall writes a line-by-line commentary in his blog post, Take Me to Church Lyrics and Meaning, A Christian Analysis and Critique:

The God throughout the song is a girlfriend… revealed religion is cast into doubt… “they” [Catholics] teach original sin… So unlike Catholicism, there are no moral absolutes – only relativism… the liturgy is sex. It’s the place of union between him and the “god”/girlfriend… acknowledges original sin – but he loves it… remember, “Church” here is sexual reference in this song… he hands over his life to her the “god”… the god/girlfriend is also a goddess… egalitarian ritual – sex… hey, at least he knows it’s sin – he’s Irish!… a reference perhaps to leaving earth into the “heavenly bliss” of sexual embrace… he ends with a reference the sexual completion as a kind of baptism or absolution…

Marshall summarizes the meaning of the song:

It takes rich Catholic sacramental language but re-signifies the imagery as a sexual encounter. And that’s the so-called “genius” of this song. […] The devil doesn’t needs a league of heavy metal Satanists. He’d almost prefer to have people mocking the Christian sacraments and ritual.

Finally, Marshall concludes:

I know it’s a catchy song. There’s a part of me that likes it. But seriously, this is probably one of the most sacramental songs every popularized – and it sacramentalizes the wrong values.

The following quotes come from songfacts.com:

Speaking with The Irish Times, Hozier said about matters of the heart: “I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment – if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes – everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense.”

Hozier attracted further attention with the release of the song’s Brendan Canty directed music video, which criticizes the repression of gay people in Russia. “Growing up in Ireland, the church is always there – the hypocrisy, the political cowardice,” Hozier told Billboard magazine. “The video has the same theme – an organization that undermines humanity.”

Hozier added that the song is not an attack on faith. “Coming from Ireland, obviously, there’s a bit of a cultural hangover from the influence of the church. You’ve got a lot of people walking around with a heavy weight in their hearts and a disappointment, and that s–t carries from generation to generation,” he explained. “So the song is just about that – it’s an assertion of self, reclaiming humanity back for something that is the most natural and worthwhile. Electing, in this case a female, to choose a love who is worth loving.”

So why is there such a glaring disconnect between Marshall’s perception of the song and Hozier’s stated meaning? I would blame the disconnect on the idea that Marshall never checked to see what Hozier said about the song, but apparently he did. Marshall quotes Hozier in his blog post:

In an interview with New York Magazine in March 2014, the artist Hozier stated:

“‘Take Me to Church’ is essentially about sex, but it’s a tongue-in-cheek attack at organizations that would… undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation — that it is sinful, or that it offends God…

But it’s not an attack on faith… it’s an assertion of self, reclaiming humanity back for something that is the most natural and worthwhile.”

Hozier’s lyric-writing method reminds me of the way I went about writing this poem, that is, taking two ideas that seem to be totally unrelated and weaving them together to create layers of meaning.

“Yellow Newspaper”

The pulpit dressed in subway wall tiles
mural people crowding-working-playing St. Crosswalk Chapel

Where the windblown lady tries to pass
the four-dog-walking denim man on a cell phone isn’t off

To one side. Avoiding cracks in deference, PLEASE NO

Loitering-smoking-spitting-radio-playing to the altar.
Dreadlocks beating on a Catholic drum under NY

It isn’t a yellow cab lectern saying
DON’T WALK DON’T WALK DON’T WALK

Wheeled onto the stage of the sun bleached sun
when the Christian rock band sits down, as it is.

No standing any time. But sometimes people do stand

out of the dust. They cry twisted metal tears and press painted nondenominational hands to banners covering high wrought-iron fences that keep the mega-churches safe from God Bless America.

Ascend every Sunday to the large imposing wooden Central Park where the new yellow leaves

die over and over like Gothic cathedrals,
the old guard
preaching, “Return to the days of John Lennon!”

even though entertainment forgets.

Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy NY Times, the sign says, not knowing

how the statues lost their color to the stain glass windows.
And suddenly, there’s spiked hair and leather reading a book and eating an apple.
Your doppelganger.

Take a picture and think deeply, precisely,
seriously, before you are cool again.

I think that interpreting song lyrics is like interpreting poetry (or scripture for that matter). The interpretation one constructs can say more about the intentions of the interpreter than the intended meaning of the original work.

Comments
  • Lanny A. Eichert February 17, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Alice, your interpreting scripture for that matter: the interpretation you construct says more about the intentions of you, the interpreter, than the intended meaning of the original work. Your intentions are not honorable, since they intend to prove what is not there in the Holy Bible, which ends with a populated Lake of Fire without remedy. Everlasting torment doesn’t end. You know everlasting and eternal are the same words applied to both God and torment.

    • Alice Spicer February 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I’ll take this portion of your comment as a compliment, “…the interpretation you construct says more about the intentions of you…” because I interpret scripture in such a way that God is both love and all-powerful, and with that, the “populated Lake of Fire without remedy” is an impossibility.

      • Lanny A. Eichert February 19, 2015 at 12:42 am

        Alice, don’t you recognized your OWN words used negatively against you? This is what I mean when you wrongly self-interpret dishonorably. Shall I be more specific and say deceitfully in a demonic way under the hand of Satan as you are currently his useful tool as you parrot his words from Genesis 3: 4, thou shalt not surely die (forever, because you’ll be post-mortem purged and saved in the end). Deceitfully with intent is your motivation, but you would hope it is without malice, yet you don’t realize it is. You have lead others astray, especially Mary and Stephen, as here illustrated by their comments. You are as the Pharisees, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel, and making disciples of your heresies, twice children of hell than yourself. Since you’re yet unsaved, you can’t help being in opposition to God’s truth. You know nothing as you should.

        The “populated Lake of Fire without remedy” is how the Book of God ends, if you haven’t noticed, poor Alice. You do NOT “focus on what’s right, true, or good”, dear Alice, because ET is undeniable reality which makes your foolish denials so obvious. God’s goodness requires ET, another fact you’ve foolishly overlooked in your hasty denials. Your scheme fails again because there is only one resurrection per person, therefore those resurrected to judgment/damnation don’t get another chance to be resurrected again. They are discarded into the Lake of Fire alive and live there for the rest of eternity, otherwise their John 5: 29 resurrection isn’t resurrection and Jesus is wrong. Alice is wrong and Jesus is right. Alice is a false prophetess and Satan’s tool, as is every one promoting lies.

  • Mary Vanderplas February 17, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I think the reason his perception of the song is different and negative is that his values are fundamentally different from the values of the songwriter. For Marshall, using sacred imagery to describe a sexual encounter is sacrilege. It doesn’t matter to him that the songwriter thinks that it’s okay to do this, that the songwriter doesn’t see it as a desecration of what Catholic Christians hold dear. For Marshall, it’s plainly wrong – a mockery of sacred tradition and of the faith itself. While he is well aware of where the writer is coming from and what the intended meaning of the song is, he doesn’t think that the attitude toward the faith the song conveys is a respectful attitude or that the moral values the song expresses are wholesome values.

    I like what the songwriter says about coming against repressive organizations that promote shame rather than acceptance and affirmation when it comes to sexual identity and orientation. And I like his perspective on sexuality and sex generally as good gifts (of God) to be enjoyed and affirmed as part of our humanity.

    I love your poem – weaving together images of a Sunday morning church service, and rule-based religion that seeks to guard truth and that excludes, with the sights and sounds of Central Park. On first reading, it speaks to me of the need to acknowledge changing times and, in the church and society, to embrace newness. Very powerful – thanks for sharing!

    • Alice Spicer February 18, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Thanks for your comments, as always. I enjoy reading them, and usually see the blog post from a slightly different angle than I might otherwise.

    • Lanny A. Eichert February 19, 2015 at 12:57 am

      Mary, embracing newness is equated with embracing error in orthodox reformed thought. You are discarding your tradition for Alice’s heresies. Shame on you for exchanging centuries of confirmed truth for new era enlightenment false doctrines. You should know better.

      For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. {2 Timothy 4: 3 & 4}

      At your age you really should know better than to be led astray by a child.

  • Stephen Helbig February 17, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    “An organization that undermines humanity.”

    Throughout history one can track humanities overall progression, and despite the lack one feels or sees contrary to the somewhat known phrase “You’ve come a long way baby” , one can see and still recognize great room for advancement to the goals being continually placed before us, by our inner yearnings and leadings of our true heart . ~ Aren.t you glad. 🙂

    Today , there seems to be a growing awareness hindrances found in organizations that undermines this yearning and leading in our heart, and I would like to focus primarily on some key words the artist Hozier used, and yes I know these words may be taken out of his original context, but I also believe it is descriptive to a growing drive found today in relationships.

    “‘Take Me to Church’ is ,,, a tongue-in-cheek attack at organizations that would… undermine humanity…it’s not an attack on faith… it’s an assertion,,,, reclaiming humanity…( I’ll add “GOD INTENDED HUMANITY”)…”reclaiming humanity back”

    Again ~ “But it’s not an attack on faith… it’s an assertion of self… (I’ll add “The True I AM Self”),… reclaiming humanity back for something that is the most natural and worthwhile.”

    I must admit I just “the other day” heard this song for the fist time, even thou it was published quite some time ago, and at my initial hearing it spoke to that inner poet found in my heart. I recognize with Alice the truth that ” interpreting song lyrics is like interpreting poetry (or scripture for that matter)”. I think the most important sentence to your blog today is ~

    ~ “The interpretation one constructs can say more about the “INTENTIONS” of the interpreter than the intended meaning of the original work.” ~ 🙂

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    p.s. ~ Our intentions will and must be to ~ “Love God & Love man”, thus fulfilling our true design, ~ As God so Loved ~ ( Psalm 111: 2-4 ) Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonders to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and compassionate.…
    .

    • Stephen Helbig February 17, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Correction to 2nd paragraph (first sentence) in my above comment ~ add ~ (to the)

      “Today , there seems to be a growing awareness (to the) hindrances” …

      • Stephen Helbig February 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm

        Alice, your sentence ~ “The interpretation one constructs can say more about the “INTENTIONS” of the interpreter than the intended meaning of the original work.” seems to correlate well with the final admonition found in your poet ~

        “Take a picture and think deeply, precisely, seriously, before you are cool again.”

        • Alice Spicer February 18, 2015 at 6:25 pm

          How so?

          • Stephen Helbig February 19, 2015 at 8:53 pm

            Alice Spicer February 18, 2015 at 6:25 pm

            How so?

            ~ Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow COLD.
            ~ They lie all night naked without clothing, and have no covering in this COLD.

            ~ I do not like “Cold” Alone, when referenced as seen above, but please note a cold breeze on a hot day is something different, and can even be refreshing. We must now think upon A COLD (cool) Love without passion. ~ “Take a picture and think deeply, precisely, seriously, before you are cool again.” ~ (1)Are you a cool lover?

            Now let us combine this “poetic admonition” above with the final two sentences in your blog following your representational poem , ~

            “I think that interpreting song lyrics is like interpreting poetry (or scripture for that matter). The interpretation one constructs can say more about the intentions of the interpreter than the intended meaning of the original work”.
            ~ Now let me please combine and shorten these two sentences to the following one, ~ “The interpretation one constructs of scripture can say more about the “INTENTIONS” of the interpreter than the intended meaning of the original work.”
            ~ NOTE: ~ “Take a picture” of this statement,” and think deeply”, “precisely” in your heart and mind, “seriously” please!.

            The questions and provoking thoughts which will follow now become ~ Are “our intentions” the same as God’s and Are “God’s INTENTIONS” indeed the SAME AS OURS? ~ What do this mean? ~ If our intentions are not the same as found in THE ORIGINAL WORK (God’s plan), the interpretation now becomes an idolatrous manifestation (a believed lie), instead of the original intended meaning of the work being brought forth and made visible in us and thru us in Christ . Our interpretation must therefore be God’s “Intent” or we are worshiping at the wrong table built by man. ~ NOTE: ~ God is not a man that he should lie. ~ God IS Love ~ So let us engaged our souls fully with the purifying effect of our inclusion in his glorious work of our redemption, and know this for a surety, ~ The gates of hell will not prevail against the testimony of His truth; ~ The weapons of our already won warfare in Christ Jesus, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, tears down every argument and all resistance to the “knowledge of God”. ~ Yes indeed Love Wins.

            ________________________________________________________________________________________________

            p.s. ~ (1)Are you a cool lover? ~ Brief footnote: ~ The ideal combination for us, (and in us), is this, ~ A cool head and a hot heart. :) ~ Note if either the coolness of the head works down too much and affects the heart, that is bad ( A Cold Chill ~ brrr it’s cold) ~ or, ~ If the heat ( Hot Passion) of the heart gets up into the head/mind, we see a hot head, always bad, (and nobody likes a hot head). ~ But recognize that there is a sure success to preserving the poise between these two (The Hot and Cold we find in Revalation.3:15)
            ~ There is a meeting place found in the writings upon our Hearts and Minds according to promise which the Prophet Jeremiah stated, (Jeremiah Chapters. 31), which we find fulfilled in Jesus Our Christ. “Take a picture and think deeply, precisely, seriously, before you are cool again, (a lukewarm cool lover)” ~ And Know this, ~It is in our quiet times as we retreat to God with knees bent, and ears keen, quiet before Him to hear His still small voice, when our times of refreshing comes, and comes ever more. Our calmness for the mind, and the fresh fuel for our heart, become the true vibrant steadiness for the will of Him holding us all under His Mighty Hands with great care for us in His Love (which is His Will) .~ “Take a picture and think deeply, precisely, seriously,.” ~ For this is our heritage, our inheritance, our land of promise restored.

            p.s.s. ~ Why should any amuse themselves, in seeking reasons for loving Love itself? Let us love without reasoning about it, and we shall find ourselves filled with love, before the others have learned the reasons which induced to it. Make trial of this love, and you will be wiser in it than the most skillful philosophers. In love, as in everything else, experience instructs better than reasoning. Come then, drink at this fountain of living waters, instead of the broken cisterns of the creature, which far from allaying your thirst, only tend continually to augment it. Did ye once drink at this fountain, ye would not seek elsewhere for anything to quench your thirst; for while ye still continue to draw from this source, ye would thirst no longer after the world. But if ye quit it, alas! The enemy has the ascendant. He will give you of his poisoned draughts, which may have an apparent sweetness, but will assuredly rob you of life.; ~ Chapter 5 Madame Goyan

            p.s.s.t. ~ A here’s a freebee to ”think deeply” upon in your “KNOWER” you know that one God promises to write upon, In Your Heart and Mind, ~ Food for thought ~ What about this second death and the Lake of Fire? ~ “The lake of fire is the second death”…(Rev. 20 :14) ~ Let me put it philosophically according to SOTERIOLOGY ~ The negation of the negative constitutes a position of the positive, which cannot be destroyed. ~ The death of death produces, Life forevermore according to Commandment (Ps. 133:3)

            p.s.s.s.t. ~ I totally love Alice’s reply to the very first comment in the blog comment section above ~ “Because I interpret scripture in such a way that God is both love and all-powerful, and with that, the “populated Lake of Fire without remedy” is an impossibility.” ~ Alice
            ……….. /–)
            ………/ …/
            ……./ ….(__ ____
            ▓▓…….. ..((_ l___)
            ▓▓…….. ..((_ i___)
            ▓▓…….. ..((_ k__)
            ▓▓—-.___ ((_e_ )

            Note; ~ Alice, upon reading Lanny’s first comment and his accusation stating “Your intentions are not honorable,” ~ I literally laughed out-loud and immediately pondered upon what indeed IS HONORABLE. ~ (by the way I first read his comment before your response.) ~ Well anyway, I was reminded of this scripture concerning what is honorable ~ (Phil. 4: 8) ~ “Finally, brethren, (sister Alice), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” ( Kinda goes well with your response a day and a half later.)

            p.s.s.s.t. ~ A here’s a freebee to everyone else ~ Food for thought ~ What about this second death and the Lake of Fire for scripture states ~ “The lake of fire is the second death”…(Rev. 20 :14)
            ~ Let me put it philosophically with regards to Soteriology ~ The negation of the negative constitutes a position of the positive, which cannot be destroyed. ~ The death of death produces Life forevermore according to Commandment (Ps. 133:3)

            • Alice Spicer February 25, 2015 at 8:33 pm

              Love this… “In my own experience, the church is a catalyst for experiencing freedom and joy in community with others.”

              • Alice Spicer February 27, 2015 at 8:35 am

                Oops, I meant to copy and paste this line and not the one above:

                Love this… “The gates of hell will not prevail against the testimony of His truth; ~ The weapons of our already won warfare in Christ Jesus, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, tears down every argument and all resistance to the “knowledge of God”. ~ Yes indeed Love Wins.”

                • Stephen Helbig February 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm

                  In reading your (February 25, 2015 at 8:33 pm) reply, I immediately noticed that it was something Mary addressed in one of her comments and so I Followed the bunny trail after my initial Hmmmm… ~ While trying to follow your train of thought. I too “Loved This” as well as your latter above, ~ Maybe :)even more so. ~ WHY? ~ (I thought you’ve never ask. 🙂  ) ~

                  Well let me run down my bunny trail with you a little further. ~ In concluding my “Hmmmm…”, I focused on the Good Work of our Lord and His Love. ~ Who does indeed “BUILD” community and meets us each exactly where we are. ~ So I too can say with you I “Love this”, and I also relate to this truth as Mary states in Her Comment…
                  ~ “In my own experience, the church is a catalyst (means, channel, vehicle, medium, and mechanism) for experiencing freedom and joy in community with others.”

                  ~ (WHY) ~ Because God is everywhere and he is our catalyst. ~ So let us each continue to move “on and on”. ~ In the Glory Cloud He has provided, ~ “ For we with open face beholding as in a glass the Glory of the Lord, are changed from Glory to Glory.

                • Lanny A. Eichert February 27, 2015 at 4:56 pm

                  Not YOUR love gospel, dear Alice. Love does NOT win. Everlasting torment is His truth. The Bible still ends with a populated Lake of Fire without remedy. Truth wins.

                  But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. {Romans 2: 2}

        • Lanny A. Eichert February 19, 2015 at 2:18 am

          Stephen, you certainly are NOT thinking deeply, precisely, seriously while you support Alice’s errors. No, you just rattle on and on from one disconnected word to another in all your posts.

          • Lanny A. Eichert February 19, 2015 at 2:20 am

            in most of them, any way.

    • Alice Spicer February 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      When it comes to controversial works in the arts, it’s probably best to focus on what’s right, true, or good, because that’s where you share in heart of the artist.

    • Lanny A. Eichert February 19, 2015 at 1:09 am

      Glad you’ve come a long way DOWN, Stephen? The centuries have NOT improve man, but made him all the more evil. Your thinking is inverted, poor man, from what it should be. No wonder you don’t get anything correct, Stephen, and you will not until you get to believing the Bible the way God wrote it.

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