Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

The Paralysis of Analysis November 29, 2012

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 12:26 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[Written on 112812- while on a spiritual high after seeing Shane Claiborne speak, and then having an extended time of devotion/meditation]

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” ~Heb 12:2

The Christian life is a race.  In a race you can’t think about how weak you feel, how tired you are, but you ignore those thoughts and just keep running.  Otherwise you start to dwell on them and then think how to soothe the pain: “just slow down a little, you can still win, or maybe you can go all out to win a later race.”  No, this is the only race we have to run.

Likewise, don’t even entertain negative/depressing/pessimistic thoughts, because once you allow them in, you inevitably start to dwell on them and then on how to soothe them, aside from God.  When in reality God is what you need to soothe them.  And He will soothe them if you give them to him.

Negative thoughts are never from God.  Why would he ever have reason to put a negative thought in your mind?  What good does it do?  Does it increase your faith?  Make you more in love with Him or others?  Make you more likely to share the gospel or serve?
No.  Never.  Negative thoughts are always from the enemy.

Some argue that they aren’t pessimistic, they’re just being realistic. “I’m a realist.”  But since when does God want us to be “realistic”?  Is the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives realistic?  Is the supernatural realistic?  No.  God has told us to hope beyond hope (Rom. 4:18).  Have hope even when it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem realistic.  After all, we really do have something to hope in that should trump all our current circumstances (salvation from sin/judgement, God’s presence and bliss in Heaven, the love and peace of God, the promise that all things work for our good).

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.”  ~1 Cor. 13:13

This is what you’re supposed to believe is realistic:  that you have to do it yourself, you’re helpless, God won’t supernaturally intervene for you, he won’t give you a supernatural filling of peace, you’re left on your own to fight for your whole life trying to survive (finding happiness, not in God but in food and entertainment and your job and comfort).  But is that really more realistic?  Of course not.  But the enemy plants the thought in your mind and once you entertain it, your emotions embrace it.

And yet this kind of thinking directly contradicts Jesus’ whole attitude on Earth, who said: “Do not be afraid anymore, only believe.” ~Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50

Just stop the introspection and live!  Just keep running!
Believe that God is good and really does love you!  Believe that He will actually keep the promises He made to you in the Bible.  Believe that if you resist the devil he WILL flee from you.  Just try it and see that it actually does work.  It gets easier each time, and the first time’s always the hardest.

When that little man in your head starts nagging again just tell him that you aren’t listening today, and keep running the race.  If he starts up again later, then tell him again and ignore him again.  Who is he anyways that you should believe him instead of God?  Instead of listening to him, listen to God.  Embrace the love, peace, truth and goodness of the things of God which he wants you to embrace.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~ Col. 3:1-2

Look up, not down.

Be others-focused, not self-focused.
(But don’t become judgmental towards others as you focus on them, be judgmental of your own sin first.)
Be others-serving, not self-serving.

You can’t change others, so don’t try to change others.  Only God can change them, so ask God to change them.  And leave the ball in His court.  Or does He not truly care for them more than even you do?

Ask that God would create a time of silence in their lives when they can hear Him clearly, hear what He wants to say to them, and ask that He Himself changes them, according to His will, in His timing.  That’s if they even do need to be changed the way you think they do.

Don’t criticize others; encourage them.

If you’re convicted about an area of their life, judge yourself in that area first.  And then let God change them.  If they’re to be changed by you at all, let it be by your love and their own love for God, and His spirit drawing them, convicting them so that they change by their own choice, by the Spirit’s enabling.

And remember that while the Christian life is a race, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Think only good things all the time.

🙂

Advertisements
 

These Elaborate Machines November 6, 2012

[as written 81311 – 31712, with additions on 11612]

 
On 81011 during our Bible Study prayer time, when it came time for my prayer requests, my small group leader prayed over me and lifted up my requests from the night, and I just started praying for the requests myself as if I wasn’t me.  As if from my universal, eternal soul that is not confined to a body or circumstances or personality, but the universal spirit that we all have before being shaped by our lives.  As I (the spirit, of God Himself perhaps, which is universally the same but individually molded depending on each person’s nature and nurture) was praying for Miles Prowers, who he is and has become, all that makes Miles Prowers Miles Prowers, that particular character in God’s story of Earth History.

And it produced in me a bizarre sympathy for me, as if I was praying for a dear friend who I knew more intimately than anyone else.  I prayed for his job, knowing just how stressful it was and how it conflicted with his extreme desires to be an artist.  I prayed for his brother, whom he’d always known and loved since youth.  It was a surreal experience that had no reason for happening, it just happened.  Since then I’ve never attempted to recreate that perspective, because it was kind of weird, and I’m not sure it was God-honoring, though I have no reason to believe it isn’t either; it’s just that I’d never thought or heard about something like that, so I don’t know what to think.

 

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

 
But what are we really?  I can’t figure out how to distinguish between soul and spirit and mind and heart and body.  All I know is that in the beginning God created Adam from the dust and then breathed life into him, as if breathing in His own Spirit into him.  As if he constructed all these little organic machines and then turned them on by breathing His electricity into them.  So then do animals have spirits?  Do they have the spirit of God in them, keeping them alive?  Or was it just His Spirit that sparked them into motion and got fate in motion to carry itself out?  Obviously there is a stark contrast between the most sophisticated animal and the dumbest human, in that the dumbest human is still a human being.  Is the contrast because man has a spirit and animal does not?  As if when you took away the spirit in man he became an animal?  Or do they both have the breath of God’s Spirit in them both keeping them alive and man’s body is just that much more elaborate than the animal’s to allow for consciousness?  The electricity through these elaborate machines of ours.

 

Or do man and animal still have spirit at all after the initial God breathe?  If man is cloned will it be an animal version of man, with no consciousness?  I used to think so, but I doubt it now.  He’ll still have all the functions for consciousness that the physical brain allows.  He may be mentally retarded, as a copy is never as good as the original, but that doesn’t make him unconscious.  We are truly unique, self-conscious beings, but are we only machines made to resemble the one true Being?

 

[11612- An interesting note, made by an old, pot-smoking hippie I randomly met in The Parthenon while writing “Fade To White”: The Bible doesn’t say God breathed animals into being, only humans.  So there is a spiritual difference between us and animals, whatever that may be exactly.]

 

Humans are in a class of their own, caught between the animals and the angels, but the choice is ours as to which end of the spectrum we fall on.

 

And yet there is something supernatural in us that allows us to transcend nature and have intuition, feelings and other supernatural capabilities.  So do we each have individual spirits of our personalities, and that’s who we are?  Or are we anything at all?  Isn’t our individuality just the unique combination of our two parents’ previously-existing traits, mixed together and shaped through our surroundings in life?  If we do have individual spirits, where do these spirits and personalities come from?  The only logical conclusion is that they must have been directly assigned to us by God Himself who put certain spirits in certain bodies to have certain outcomes to make History go according to His great plan.  So it all comes around to the fact that we have nothing God has not given to us and we are nothing that God has not made us.

 

But there is no evidence of individual spirits that give us our personality aside from our nature/nurture make up.  I think perhaps more logical is that there is only one Spirit, that is, God Himself, who, according to His will, moves in us individually to give us those supernatural capabilities in certain times.  He periodically manifests His spirit in our hearts and minds and the natural realm to intervene and guide us away from the natural path of fate so that by divine inspiration we change our natural course, that we would naturally go down aside from His intervention.  Of course if there is only one Spirit, then what are we when our bodies die physically (the breath of life leaves) and yet we live on separately?

 
Ecclesiastes 12:7: “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

 
In Heaven what are our souls if we no longer have the body that created our personality?  Without our bodies what’s left?  If we do each have souls are they all the same generic soul/spirit that manifests differently given a different body to come out of, a different-shaped outlet?  It’s a mystery no mortal can solve.  So then, when those bodies die, wouldn’t the Spirit of God return to its source (God)?  This is the equivalent of Nirvana, where we exist in the afterlife, conscious, but not as our individual personality.  Rather we all exist as The Personality of God Himself.  And yet, there’s no mention of that concept in the Bible (our only sure-fire source of truth on the subject).

Isn’t it interesting that the Apocalyptic Bible passages all refer to us having bodies in Heaven.  Almost implying at times that we have no consciousness until our bodies are resurrected/glorified.  So, “we” are nothing without our bodies, but in Heaven our bodies are there, therefore our bodily-induced personalities live on through the bodies that make them.  Still, it’s entirely possible that at some point in the future of eternity even our glorified bodies will fade away, leaving behind the One Spirit in all of us, and “we” return to experience the euphoria of existence in oneness with The Spirit.

 

John 17:22:The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me.

 
Our bodies are simply our parents’ bodies combined.  God breathes spirit into us, giving us life, but it’s just the natural mysterious energy as it naturally flows through that machine of our parent-combination bodies.  However, when we’re born again, God’s Holy Spirit indwells us, which is not just the spirit of life, but actually God’s own personal Spirit living in us, actually Christ Himself.  So it’s not just our natural bodies at work, but Christ living and working with that physical body.

Which is why you actually witness people change to become different people after they’re Christians.  Non-believers can try to change and do self-help formulas and show signs of change, but they’re still the same people they’ve always been with the same tendencies they give into.  Only when another being comes into your body, living through you and changing you (not of your own energy and will-power), then can a person actually change into a real different person.  Because it really isn’t them anymore. It’s the perfect spirit of someone else, His mind living in our bodies, making choices and offering an alternative to our natural bent.  I am now partially Miles Prowers and partially Jesus Christ, but gradually becoming more of Jesus Christ and less of Miles Prowers, to the point where Jesus Christ is me, just with the looks, personality and memories of Miles Prowers.

 

Who am I? What am I? What even is “I”?  I don’t know.  Something between a random combination of atoms and God Himself.

 

[The mysteries expressed in this essay were condensed into a song entitled “Fade To White”.  You can hear it at soundcloud.com/terremotoothers.  Enjoy!]

//

 

Sociosuicide August 23, 2012

[as written from 81611-6412, with additions and editions on 82312]

 

When first talking to my Dad about the possibility of going part-time to focus on music and life he said, “Don’t do that!  You’ll go through Hell!”  What, as if this is paradise?  Maybe I have to go through Hell to find out what paradise is.  Otherwise I may be in paradise right now thinking it’s Hell all the time.

 
You can survive without money, but there’s no point in surviving if you don’t have time.

 
Why waste the best years of your life?  Why spend the prime of your life confined to a cube, not even taking advantage of your young, energetic, healthy body?
Waste the prime of life slaving to save up money for the end of life when your body’s too achy from all those years of slaving to really enjoy it.  Work during the only years when you could actually be adventurous and do anything you want, only to retire when your outings are confined and safe.  I say the exact opposite: retire while you’re still young and work when you’re old.

 
It’s not like a job is going to be anything too physically-challenging for someone in their 60’s.  Especially since by the time I’m in my 60’s everything will be copy-and-pasting on computers anyways, so I’ll be confined to a cube (just like an old person would be in a retirement home) and clicking mouses all day (just like an old person would be doing anyways, playing solitaire and surfing the web).
Slave your whole life away and by the time you can finally retire you’re too old and achy and fragile to do the things you would do if you were younger.

And sadly you have to factor in the possibility that you wouldn’t even live long enough to retire (especially with the age of retirement getting pushed back), in which case your whole existence was all about school or working since you were like 5, and then ended before your life could be known for anything other than that.  What a shame it would be for you to invest all your time in a job, just longing for the day you retire, only to randomly get killed by a drunk driver at the age of 60.  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you.  Then whose will all these things be which you have acquired?’” [Luke 12:20]

I wonder if an old man on his death bed would be happy he played it safe his whole life, giving up the risk of adventure for the mediocrity of comfort and security?  I doubt it.  After all, he still dies just like the man who dies while mountain climbing or sky-diving.  What does it matter at that point how you die?  And though the latter died sooner, who had a more fulfilling life overall?  You’re going to leave this earth one way or another; you might as well go out with a bang!  And live a more exciting life until that bang comes (if it ever does indeed come).

 
“Stand by and see the salvation of our God.”

 

Whereas on our first trip to the new city I was yelling “Livin’ the dream!  Livin’ the FLIPPIN’ dream!!”  Now I somberly mutter under my breath with reverence “Living the dream.”  Do I have cold feet?  Of course I’ve got cold feet!  But I choose to force those cold feet forward.  I don’t wake up everyday with such a strong conviction of faith so as to meditate on every one of my problems until I have peace about each one, but I do have an over-arching faith that says “I’m scared about these circumstances I’m going through, but I know God will make it all work out in the end one way or another.”  And so my act of faith isn’t staring at my fears in the face and laughing at them, my act of faith is to not think of them at all and trust that God’s plan isn’t dependent on me having faith about each one, but instead having faith that he’ll make it all work out, and it’s not going to help anything by me thinking about them.  Even if my goal is trying to muster faith against each problem individually, chances are if I think about a problem I’ll unavoidably worry; so why even think of them?  My act of faith is to keep flying by the seat of my pants, not paying attention to the details (lest I worry), and trusting that God will make me land where I’m supposed to.

 

[This is something I had to learn from going through major depression during the struggles with my band’s old drummer.  It seemed that he would be quitting the band (which for me was ultimately a sign that my dream of music wouldn’t work out and everything I’d banked my life on was a mistake), and so I was stressed, depressed, and anxious as I was forced to wait for him to get his act together and figure out what he was doing.  The mood of every day hinged on what kind of response I got from him.  Then one day he randomly just hit us with the news that he was moving out of state, which had nothing to do with the band but had to do with family issues, so it was completely out of our control.  That’s when I realized that all this time I was trying to fix the situation and manipulate it to work out in my favor, but in the end the outcome was completely independent of me, and I couldn’t have influenced the situation one bit.  The outcome was still going to happen regardless of me.  I had the realization that instead of spending that month in depression, stress, and anxiety, I could have simply not cared or thought about the situation at all, and instead chilled out and enjoyed life for a month, and the result would have been exactly the same!  …only in the second scenario I would have had a much better month of my life.]
“Stand by and see the salvation of our God.”  For some reason, in times like this, a verse will just randomly come out of my inner being, and the same verse keeps coming over and over (as was the case when I was nervous about talking to Mike Minter on the phone and the line “Why do the nations rage when their king is on the throne?” kept coming to me all week).  This particular line is one that got into my head from one of Minter’s sermons referring to Moses’ statement when the people were dead-ended by the Red Sea (the specific wording I think is a combination with Isaiah 52:10, after being recently amazed by Rich Mullins’ song “52:10”).  Just as in the past when God had everything fall into place miraculously and amazingly, even now I’m seeing the pieces coming together and all I can do is keep going, awaiting the miraculous as in the past, and say “Stand by and see the salvation of our God.”  May I fall into place, and then stand back and be amazed at the puzzle You have made!

//

 

[Interview] Miles Prowers: “Judaism is the one true religion.” May 30, 2012

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 12:44 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

R: Miles, thanks for taking the time to do a short interview for us.
M: Anytime!
R: It seems that on your latest album you had more blatant Christian references than usual.  Would you consider Christianity to be the one true religion?
M: No.
R: Really.  I’m sure that will surprise a lot of our listeners.  So, I’m guessing you’re one of these philosophical types that see all religions as having the same purpose, leading to the same place, and you just try to be devout with the one you’re raised in?
M: Not really.  I’m actually anti-religion altogether.
R:  Wow.  ‘Cause all your lyrics appear to point to a consistent, conservative religious background.  So I guess it’s more of just an artistic form for you, whereas in reality you’re agnostic?
M:  No, I’m not agnostic.  I believe there is one truth, and the same reality for everybody on Earth, and anyone who doesn’t believe that truth is deceived.
R:  But there isn’t one true religion?
M: No, there is.
R: [Laughs]  Okay, now you’re just messing with me!
M: No, I’m being serious.  There is one true religion.
R: Okay, you just said there wasn’t!
M: No, I didn’t.
R: Then which one is it?!
M: Judaism.
R: ………
M: This may surprise a lot of people but Judaism is actually the one true religion.
R: I would have never guessed you’re Jewish!
M:  I’m not.
R: …….. Okay, enough with the questions.  I guess I should just let you explain.  What is it exactly that you do you believe?
M: So I believe in one God who created man, then man rebelled against God, forever separating God’s presence from Earth with man.  God then set up a system to atone for man’s sins so he could once again dwell with man.  This system for atoning man’s sins is what’s known as Judaism, and it’s the one true set of laws that God created to allow man to atone for his sins.  But it still wasn’t anything like the perfect relationship God had with man in the beginning, and depraved mankind continued breaking God’s covenant, thus incurring God’s judgement.  This system of obedience and sin, blessings and curses was frustrating to God, so he told his prophet Jeremiah he wasn’t satisfied with the current covenant and he was going to establish a new covenant and a new law, this time written on man’s heart.  This new covenant would be so much better and easier than the old one that all the world could easily take part in it and have that perfect relationship with God again.  And so God told the prophets that a man would rise up from among them to establish this new covenant, as the Jewish prophet Isaiah said: “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders.”  But what’s interesting about this man whom the prophets refer to as “The Chosen One”, is what Isaiah says next:  “The government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father.”  So what child is this that will be called God, Eternal Father?  What they were prophesying is that this Chosen One would be God himself, born as a man!  God himself enacts the first covenant, God himself enacts the 2nd!  Of course this Chosen One already came in the person which the world knows as Jesus, and he established God’s new covenant.
R: Aha!  So Christianity is the one true religion!
M: No, I already told you it’s not!
R: [expletive]
M: See, that just goes to show that most people don’t understand what Christianity really is, including many people who label themselves as Christian.
R:  Alright, alright.  I’m sorry for interrupting you in this interview.  Keep on going.
M: Most people think Jesus came to start a new religion, but in reality he did just the exact opposite!  Being God, he lived a perfect life, fulfilling every law in the Old Covenant, and though he was perfect and didn’t need to atone for personal sin, he took all the sins of the world upon himself and sacrificed his perfect body as one final sacrifice, atoning for sin once and for all.  This is the New Covenant God mentioned through the prophets, and so all people need to do now is simply believe that God did this and accept this final atonement for their sins. Then God will see them as having the perfect righteousness of Jesus, and with no sin separating them from God anymore he will once again live among all believers of this covenant, as he did in the beginning, only this time inside of them.
R: Okay, hold on a sec.  So you said you believe Judaism is the true religion, yet it seems you believe Judaism is obsolete.  How do you reconcile this?
M: Yes, Judaism has been made obsolete, but it also remains the only true religion established by God, because it was never replaced with another one.  Now the Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, but unlike the Old Covenant, the new one wasn’t a religion of rules you have to follow to be made right with God.  Just like Jeremiah prophesied that the New Covenant would be written on our hearts, when we believe in Jesus’ sacrifice our sins are instantly atoned for, and in our perfection God begins a relationship with us; there’s no need for religion anymore.  And interestingly enough, secular history even verifies this because only a few years after fulfilling Judaism, God affirmed its obsoletion by destroying the Jewish Temple, making it so the Jews were incapable of trying to atone for their sins anymore through the Old Covenant.
R: Okay, before you go any further we’ve got to start wrapping it up here.  So to recap, it seems to me in the course of this interview you said, 1. You’re not a Christian, 2. Judaism is the one true religion, but 3. You’re not Jewish, in fact you’re anti-religion.  And then you go on some spiel that makes you sound like you’re a devout Christian after all.  Do you have one consistent world-view, or are you changing your mind as we speak?
M: Yes, I have one consistent world-view.  No, I’m not changing my mind as we speak. [Laughs]  But you only got 2 of the 3 right.
R: [Laughs] Alright!  At this point I’ll take what I can get.  Which one was wrong?
M: I actually am a Christian…
R: But you just…!
M: Hold on, hold on.  Let me try to clarify myself and wrap all this up in a way that people can understand.
R: Please, by all means!
M: So Judaism is the one true religion, but it was fulfilled and made obsolete by Christianity.  However, Christianity is not a religion, in fact it is the freedom from religion.  Jesus kept every Jewish commandment for us and then with one final atonement God traded his righteousness for our sin, making us righteous simply by our faith in him, so that we no longer have to keep the Jewish laws.  Essentially Jesus abolished religion.  Therefore, to be pro-Jesus is essentially saying you’re pro-abolition-of-religion and thus anti-religion.  The end.
R: Wow, okay, well, that’s not the direction I thought this interview was going to go, and it seems that took all of our time.  But you left us enough to chew on for a while, so I guess that’s it for now.  Thanks for taking the time to have this monologue…uh… interview.
M: Anytime.  [Laughs]  Sorry about that.  But it is the most important thing to me and there’s nothing else I’d rather talk about.  Thanks everyone for taking the time to listen!

 

Religion: √ Other February 18, 2012

[As written on 012912]

“What religion are you?”

This turns out to be a loaded question.
How would the first Christians have responded?  That was before the term “Christian” existed.
How would Jesus (does Jesus) want you to respond?
“Christianity.”
Oh, so Christianity’s a religion?
In most cases, Christianity is a person’s religion…that is, for a person who isn’t really a Christian.  Christianity is the religion of someone who doesn’t understand what Christianity really is.  Of someone who makes Christianity into a religion.

Or you could say, more appropriately,
“I have no religion.” “I don’t follow a religion.”  “I don’t believe in religion.”
As someone at work asked me,
“Are you religious?”
To which I confidently regurgitated the theologically-sophisticated answer I had been taught to believe:
“No.”
Wow.  I thought he was a Christian.  I didn’t realize he’s an agnostic. 
As I realized what he was probably thinking, all I could do is just stand there, stumped, unable to jump back on my train of thought and explain myself.  I just passed up the perfect Gospel opportunity.

In an ideal situation, their question would be:
“What is your religion?”
In which case, the simple, yet theologically profound, answer is:
“Jesus.”

Most people aren’t theologically aware enough to even realize what Christianity actually is, so most people would think,
Okay, Jesus = Christianity, so Christianity is his religion.
…and be on to the next thing.

But hopefully there would be someone who would at that point question you further.
“You mean Christianity is your religion.  A Muslim’s religion is Islam, not Muhammad.”
And then in that glorious, life-changing opportunity you fulfill the meaning of life, you obey the Great Commission, you plant the seed, you preach the Gospel to them in one sentence:

“Jesus didn’t start a religion; He personally took the place of religion.”
And if they question you further, you answer further.

It’s unclear exactly what the minimum is that a person must believe in order to be saved.  The best example of salvation in the Bible is the thief on the cross in Luke 23, who, to my knowledge, is the only instance in the Bible of someone who is clearly, definitely saved.  Of course the apostles were and all that, but I mean, the thief is the only person God Himself ever told “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  You are saved.

Specific details aside, the Gospel as simplified as possible is this:
Christianity = Salvation by God’s grace through Jesus.

[42112- Perhaps the next time we fill out one of those forms that requires us to specify our religion we should check the box “Other”, and if it provides a blank to clarify we should write in “Jesus”.  That would throw off the nation’s statistics, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse (as it would seem to indicate Christianity dying off, when in reality it’s being resurrected in a new form, stronger and more alive than before).]

//

 

Basia is Yearning No More after she Found God April 1, 2011

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 6:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Commentary on Basia’s “Yearning”
[As written 32912-4112]

Let me first say that I was never that impressed with this song’s lyrics, perhaps partly because I listen to a cd that I digitized from an old, battered tape which recorded static, “tape” sounds, sudden muffled voices, and an occasional cell phone buzz from when my phone interfered with the computer recording somehow.  All that, coupled with an ESL Polish singer singing in a British accent, gave me the innocent impression that she was singing along the lines of “home is where the heart is” (specifically I thought the lyrics said “home is in your heart”), aka an over-used expression from a Pole trying to be relevant to English listeners and get a pop hit by singing a common catchphrase (as is typical of western pop).  That is until 3 years later when out of nowhere she suddenly sang the words “Star of Bethlehem,” and my ears immediately perked up as my mind was arrested for the remainder of the car ride, ironically with a sudden yearning to find out what she was singing about.  I started listening with a different perspective now and a new song began materializing: a song that used words like “endless state of sadness” (very unlike Basia’s typical, uplifting, irresistibly peppy vibe), and later I thought I heard her even use the word “God”.  Something deep, dark, dramatic and potentially of eternal significance was coming, surprisingly and out of nowhere, from a Basia album, and gave a new somber perspective to those random whale sounds that seemed to embody mankind’s grievous “yearning”.  As soon as I got home I researched the song for hours (and on into the next 2 days, as it consumed my mind with this unshakable, unexplained yearning), and as the pieces began to assemble they formed a consistent, sophisticated philosophy that instantly elevated this song to a level above the pop world.  I realized this quirky, sassy, pop-star, Polish chick might actually be getting into deeper waters, forbidden ground for mainstream pop singers– but maybe she wasn’t your typical mainstream pop singer after all.  If this was Astrud Gilberto singing it would have been “Home is in your heart”, but this is Basia, a 40-year-old, university Physics graduate, who turned out to be singing “you’re homeless in your heart…”

The song begins by quoting (as mysterious quotation marks are actually used in the liner notes) an apparent natural remedy for emotional distresses with cryptic words, one of which is the “star of bethlehem” which is advised to heal “the state of endless sadness.”  However, while this at first seemed to allude to Christianity curing man’s depravity, right after this quoted remedy she writes (and the liner notes indicate she alone is the lyricist) “but for a simple case of longing what are we to do when homeless in our hearts and souls?”  As if the Star of Bethlehem (Christianity) in reality couldn’t ultimately cure the final yearning of our souls.  This distressed me as it not only seemed to refute the implication of her singing to God, but in fact came off as anti-Christian.  But something didn’t seem right about having a list of these natural herb remedies and then suddenly the spiritual cure of salvation right smack dab in the middle.  That’s when I realized (and confirmed later) that “Star of Bethlehem” was in fact the name of a flower that grows in Europe, as were the others in the list, and this quote is taken from something referring to the mysterious Bach Flower Remedies.

So it turns out the “Star of Bethlehem” is irrelevant to the main message of the song and only sets up the premise, that is continued in the remaining verses, of man trying to fill his void with different worldly things, from flowers to lovers to places.  She says mankind is constantly searching for the answer to the “yearning” of our “hearts and souls”, “but despite of all endeavours–nothing changed, as ever–we’re homeless in our hearts…”

Then this surprisingly sad, dark song (starkly contrasting the sound Basia is known for) suddenly reverses its emotion back to the Basia we know and love, finding hope as it changes to major chords, but this interestingly comes right after saying the world could offer no hope.  Where then does this new-found hope come from if not from the world?  She sings in the chorus that she finds her home, the end to her yearning, in “you.”

Who is this “you”?  90% of the time when a pop song sings to a “you” it’s implied to be intended for a lover, as is what I automatically assumed for this song, as with her others.  However, she refutes this herself in the verse before the redeeming chorus when she’s still referencing the hopelessness of man’s quest for satisfaction:
some of us take daring chances following our lovers– the passion we can trust…
others just cannot sit still– they’re driven by the power of mighty wanderlust…
…but despite of all endeavours–nothing changed, as ever–we’re homeless in our hearts…

She says that while some try to fill this yearning with their “lovers”, “nothing changed”.  The yearning still remains, we’re still “homeless in our hearts and souls”.  As if her personal lover were really a possible solution to this yearning of mankind!  She isn’t just talking about her personal longing, but this inherent longing in all humanity for something deeper.  So naturally when the chorus sings of finding the solution, it isn’t just Basia singing by herself of a personal satisfaction, but rather a group of people all singing about this “home” that they’ve found in “you”.  Who are “you” that can satisfy the yearning of us humans?

In fact this entire song is written from the perspective of “we” humans searching for the solution to our yearning.  The lyrics to the chorus are the only part written from first person (“I’m yearning no more”), and yet the chorus is also the only part that has several people singing, which instantly turns that “I” into “we” anyways.  In fact the only part that seems to be from a single, personal source is after the chorus when the mysterious male voice sings “Come to me”.

As this is a song about finding home, the only other likely option for this “you” is her actual, physical home of Poland, where “i belong, i gave up the world to be with you.”  This is the conclusion that people deduced on an internet Basia forum (where the first theory of the song being another typical Basia love song, and no spiritual connotation, was also accepted there)*, as evidenced in the music video when she is singing the chorus at the end while wearing a traditional Polish outfit, implying that is where her home is (Poland), what her heart is yearning for.  This could also be mentioned in the lyric “we’re trying so hard to make every place feel like home left behind”, but every place they go they’re “homeless in our hearts,” as if only until they return to their true, native, family home do they find home in their heart.  Still it’s not typical that people refer to a place as “you”, or personify it with a male voice saying “come to me”.  It’s much more realistic and typical for pop that she would be referring to a person– her lover (which was already dismissed).  The lyrics themselves refute this concept saying that the pursuit of a place (including their “native” place), like the pursuit of lovers, only leaves your yearning intact, because your home can’t be found in a person or a place.
you circle the globe, go native, go far…but it’s not a country or a town, not a house…
what’s the use of distant travel if only to discover–you’re homeless in your heart

And so you’re left without a complete, satisfactory, natural conclusion (which leaves you yearning…).  But there is a conclusion, and the key to decoding this puzzle, the crux of the whole song, is found in the line right before the chorus.  This instantly changes the entire perspective of the song and sets the foundation for the chorus (indicating its addressee), with one seemingly nonchalant, even out-of-place, word:
wherever we go, god, we’re trying so hard to make every place feel like home left behind, but despite of all endeavours–nothing changed, as ever–we’re homeless in our hearts…

Instead of another typical song of longing for a lover, ignoring the realities of life and distracting you from them with some quirky “yeah yeah”s on a bossa nova beat to gloss over the pain, this song takes a deeper, darker turn, leaving the safe, comfortable formula for pop success and taking a chance in hopes of offering some actual truth to the listener.   As if this singer, notorious for her ability to instantly cheer up the audience, genuinely cared for the audience and sought to go beyond simply cheering them up to actually helping them in real life.  (As it seems from the look in her eyes as she sings this song in her music video– those eyes which genuinely go out of their way to reach out to you and say “It’s okay.  There is hope.  There is an answer.  And I’m trying to make it as clear as possible within the confines of the mainstream pop market.”)
So she lays out on the table, for all to see, the truth that everybody already knows, but which the pop world is paid to pretend doesn’t exist: the truth about mankind’s spiritual depravity and his insatiable quest for satisfaction in a world that cannot satisfy, but only offers vanity of vanities.  She notices that there’s a deeper kind of yearning, different than the physical kind of yearning that can be satisfied by mere physical remedies.  To find satisfaction for this eternal kind of yearning she is forced to look beyond this temporal world to the supernatural, which she does when she introduces “god” into the song, at which point the song becomes hopeful and major.

Apparently I’m not alone in this interpretation though as one version of the lyrics I pulled up on the internet had “You” in the chorus capitalized, implying divinity.  Of course, in the actual liner notes all the lyrics are conveniently lower case (including the beginning of sentences) almost as if to keep you wondering and to pass the secular inspection (as is the case of Thrice’s lyrics being all lowercase, “sneaking past the watchful dragon” as Dustin puts it).

Really the entire song hinges on the interpretation of that one word, “god”.  If she’s addressing God with that word then it only makes sense that when she sings to “you” a few words later that she is singing to God.  But if she’s using “god” as a typical vanity (as is more common in mainstream pop music), as in “oh my god”, then that “you” could be anything, and nothing makes sense.  She could still be singing to God (who she just blasphemed by using his name in vain, in which case she doesn’t hold that high of a regard for him despite him soothing her eternal yearning), or to a lover or place in whom she knows won’t really satisfy her yearning (as she just mentioned) so she’s just teasing herself, ignoring her own advice.  But a few tracks later on this same album (The Sweetest Illusion) there’s a song with similar lyrical allusions called “The Prayer of a Happy Housewife” in which she clearly is singing to God (though not mentioning the word “god” as she does in Yearning).  Here she sings “my grateful thoughts I raise to heaven” and “thank you for this man who’s been always true”, clearly implying that she’s not singing to her lover, but rather to “heaven”.  Does the same person who writes from a devout perspective in one song, treating God with reverence, then turn around so quickly and treat “god” as just a random word to be tossed around in vanity, simply filling the space of a needed syllable, that has nothing to do with the other lyrics?  Not likely.  She knew what she was doing and what this would imply, or else she would have chosen not to use this word.  Especially for a foreigner in the early 90’s coming from a strong, religious culture (which she still embraces), with a reputation for being so positive, uplifting, modest, and family-friendly, it isn’t likely she would suddenly spurn the image she markets and the fan-base she’d grown, for no reason, with a possible, random blasphemy.  As English is her 2nd language it’s not like she’s so casual with words and western culture to just spit up whatever random lyrics come out, and then take the time to have them typed exactly into the liner notes.

When she sings to this “you” in the chorus who soothes her yearning she is suddenly joined with a choir, and being as the only other time she sings with a choir is in “The Prayer of a Happy Housewife” (which has an obvious gospel sound to add to its clear, spiritual connotation), the reappearance of this apparent church choir carries over with it the same spiritual interpretation.  This latter song lets us in to see that Basia actually has a deep, personal relationship with God that surpasses all others, as she sings “i am eternally thankful for what i have and if anything goes wrong then i still have you, i still have you.” So if she has a strong spiritual life like that, and a blatant spiritual message in one song, it isn’t hard to imagine her doing it again on the same album.

Furthermore, if you watch her music video for this song, there is little evidence for the song being addressed to a lover, as the only male-to-female interaction is ballet dancers shown in random parts of the song, keeping with “The Sweetest Illusion” artwork.  But when it comes to the chorus where she’s actually singing to this “you,” you see people alone and surrounded by candles, in what seems to be clear religious imagery to give the song a spiritual connotation.  You see what looks like a monk finding peace and smiling as he looks up to the heavens and clasps his hands in prayer.  And later you see Basia herself surrounded by candles singing the chorus, with her nieces on either side of her bowing their heads with eyes closed apparently praying while she sings to “you”, as if she’s praying with them, but through singing.  All the while they’re dressed in traditional Polish clothing, pointing to her Polish heritage and the Polish religion still strongly integrated in that heritage, which she still holds dear just as she does her country.

The chorus is then followed with a man singing “come to me, i’ll soothe your yearning…”, the only time I recall a man singing anywhere in the 2 Basia albums I have.  Which most simply implies her lover responding to her chorus, and also seemingly denying that a place is what takes away her yearning.  But then Basia sings along with him, as if he’s not actually responding to the song of a woman, but they’re both singing the lyrics together.  It’s as if the response is masculine, yet feminine, as if not from a specific person but rather from something non-physical, like a concept, or a being, beckoning to the audience.

Finally, while “star of bethlehem” is clearly just another flower in the list of herbal remedies, I think it very possible that she chose that quote specifically because those words hinted and implied the coming connotation of the song, which puts that spiritual possibility into people’s minds right off the bat.  I attest to this first hand that, while “star of bethlehem” clearly refers to a flower remedy (that doesn’t take away the spiritual yearning), it was those 3 words that forced me to stop suddenly and take notice of the lyrics I had casually listened to for 3 years, now looking for spiritual meaning.  Also this “flower” is said to remedy an “endless state of sadness”– what does that even mean from a physical interpretation?

Conclusion:

The simplest and most realistic conclusion of this song’s meaning is that the words, the sound, the style, and the visuals were chosen to give this song an evident spiritual connotation that implies praise to God who alone can put an end to humanity’s yearning.

This conclusion, then, leads to some startling additional conclusions.  If she is singing to God then with lyrics like “I gave up the world to be with you, be with you, be with you” she sounds like she is passionately, almost romantically, in love with God, giving up all that the world has to offer for the joy of spending time with Him, feeling His presence (the only solution to her yearning), as if forsaking the sinful indulgences accompanied by the mainstream music scene because of her love for Him.  But this shouldn’t be that surprising considering she was already using the same “you” in Prayer of a Happy Housewife as an obvious reference to God, as well as the same passion for God, which shows in singing how eternally grateful she is to Him and how she’d be content with Him if all the world is taken away (similar to “I gave up the world to be with you”).  But while she quietly sings thanks to God in the latter song, in Yearning she is boldly singing about it at the top of her lungs, to God by name.  Not only is she taking bold steps to loudly sing out to God, but in both of these songs she even comes off as evangelistic, actually encouraging the listener to come to God.  In TPOAHH she sings to God about her audience, “if they only knew, oh if they knew…” and Yearning states “come to me, let me soothe your yearning…”  And apparently in an interview she said this was her favorite song on the album, as well as the single released from it, and also the song she picked to open her show last year; which shows how special it is to her.

Reasons she would not be singing to God:

1. The use of the word “god” is only a casual use, like the common “oh my god”, (though uncharacteristic of Basia’s lyrics and spirit) and all the other evidence is merely coincidence (singing as with a church choir, the religious imagery in her video during the chorus, etc)
2. In which case she actually is singing to a lover (represented by the male voice) as typical of a pop song, and her other songs, (but going against her own advice in the verse that “following our lovers” only ends in being “homeless in our hearts”, and not giving a solution to humanity’s yearning, which the chorus and male voice claim to provide for all)
3. Or she’s singing to her homeland, Poland, who she gave up the whole world to be with (aka any other place in the world, which would be consistent with her ending the song with an old Polish folk song), but again contradicting the whole point of the song that home is “not a country or a town, not a house…” but home is in the heart

Evidence that she IS singing to God:

1. Use of the word “god” in a way that seems to be addressing Him, and not using it in vain.
2. Which is not far-fetched considering her song “Prayer of a Happy Housewife” which is only a few tracks later and blatantly sings to God, in a similar lyrical and sound style to this one
3. The lyrics’ own refutation that the song is not addressing a lover or a place (the only other likely options), nor anything else physical
4.  When she sings the chorus to “you” she is suddenly joined by what sounds like a church choir, implying a spiritual connotation from the gospel sound
5. The music video which has religious/spiritual imagery during the choruses, and no implication of a lover
6. When the male voice sings, she sings along with it, as if it’s not an individual person responding to her chorus, but more of a concept that is responding.  Basia in fact sings along with this “spirit” beckoning the listener to come to Him to find an end to his yearning
7. The beginning quote with the words “star of bethlehem” could have been chosen (while literally referring to an flower remedy) to get a spiritual/Christian connotation into the listener’s mind
8. Basia is referring to a problem humanity has, so also the solution to the problem is for all humanity (not just her personal solution in a lover); likewise when she sings of finding her solution in “you” it’s not just her, but a crowd of people singing to this “you”

*http://www.smoe.org/lists/basia/v04.n002

Personal Note//