“If I had been God, … I believe I would have done a better job.”
-Roger Waters, “Déjà Vu”
“I like the song God wrote better. The one that says,
‘If I was a human, I’d do a better job.’ And he did.”
Full disclosure: Pink Floyd fan here. They’re often playing throughout my day, as I write, or when I just need to chill. Sometimes I converse with them. I nod and rebut and shrug and hum.
So it was that I spent a few hours yesterday simultaneously grooving and cringing to the melodic blasphemies of Roger Water’s cry-along hymn, “Déjà Vu” (aka “Lay Down, Jerusalem). Care to join me for 6 minutes? No need to be a fan, but he’s a worthy conversation partner for sure. And the screen imagery is pretty powerful.
Maybe we all take our turn with the delusion that we know better than God. We just don’t write such pretty songs about it. Or say it aloud so eloquently that people would weep at our great ‘wisdom’ (see 2:00 in). Poor ol’ Roger.
Like John Lennon, he imagines a world without war or injustice or religion or tears. And he conceives accomplishing this without the Incarnation or the horror of the crucifixion. If he had been God, things would be different. I’m wondering how this would work. How would dear Rog’ prevent all these wrongs in our world? How would he propose to restrain our impulsive will-to-power? Would he handcuff me to a gurney whenever my selfishness, greed, and envy begin to surface? Or would he take preemptive measures? A lobotomy, perhaps? High doses of THC and saltpeter? Perhaps he would have rearranged human neurology to avoid the inconveniences of human freedom. Does my realism make me sound cynical?
But let’s not point the finger at a few clever lyrics written in authentic lament. There’s nothing here you won’t find in the Psalms. It’s a compelling confession of humanity’s shadow-side. An echo of our first choice to grasp rather than receive, to alienate rather than participate. Poor ol’ Adam.
The real issue is that deep down, I believe I know better than God too. Every time I turn from love or mercy or grace or forgiveness, I sign on to the “Déjà Vu” confession of faith in self-worship. Every single time I choose the forbidden fruit of willful DIY autonomy over surrender and unselfish love, I reveal my true colors. In every act of resistance to divine love, I assert my conviction that I know better. And I bear the scars to show for it. And so does Jesus. Poor ol’ Brad.
I alluded to the creative genius in Waters’ concert imagery. As a wannabe author and mystic, I promise you: one picture is worth far more than 1000 words. One screenshot may even arrest you into silent meditation where God whispers his word. And for that, I’m once again grateful to dear ol’ Roger.
I suggest a visio divina (divine seeing) of the following still in five steps for the image below:
- Gaze: What are your first impressions?
- Meditate: Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.
- Listen: Listen quietly for God’s voice.
- Respond: Pray about your experience.
- Live: How will you live this into the world and a deeper connection with God?
For context, we see a Palestinean amputee against the backdrop of tear gas and using a sling in a fiery clash with the Israeli Defence Forces. Waters uses it as an expression of what a messed up world God has made. But to me, there’s a deeper message. How about you?