most theologically frightening song ever

From a distance (1985, Julie Gold, famously recorded by Nancy Griffith and Bette Midler): most theologically frightening song ever.

The implications:

1. That God is myopic.

2. That God is mistaken about our essential nature, and doesn’t know us as we truly are.

3. That, therefore, we might have something to fear if God ever finds out what it’s really like down here.

4. That we can develop a positive, hopeful vision of justice and mercy only if we abstract ourselves from the real, hard, close truth about our lives and our life.

5. That God either can’t, or can’t be bothered to, come down here.

God help us all if that’s what God is like.

I believe in an entirely different reality, where God is not a myopic, absent, delusional creature; where he knows us fully, in all our neediness, violence, and greed, and still loves us; where the true vision of justice and mercy is formed in the trenches, where we really live, by a God who is so intimately connected with our suffering that he decided to ‘come down here’ and live it out, right alongside us. And where the true ‘hope of hopes’ involves, not a self-deception born of a kind of desperate squinting at humanity, but the knowledge of a real man, Jesus, who also happens to be that intimate God, and promises to take up and redeem all that is hopeless in our lives.

That was on my mind this morning.

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
it’s the heart of every man.

It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.

4 thoughts on “most theologically frightening song ever”

  1. What do you make of this one?

    Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

  2. Both excellent candidates for Worst Theological Song. One of my favorites: “God is a Middle-Aged Woman,” by Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, which starts out, “God is a middle-aged woman/With planets for earrings/And international date lines at the corners of her eyes.”

  3. I used to hate the Joan Osborn song “What if God was one of us?” But now that you mention it, though with some obvious problems, it is a much better song than “From a distance” or “Imagine.”

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