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SONG STORIES: Till We Return to Dust

Friday, December 10th, 2010


It’s our hope to see this song performed with muscular and even violent physicality – the kind of dance that makes you want to hit something.  For now, we can only imagine.

This song is a dark prayer, the kind muttered under one’s breath.  The name of God is called upon, but there is no dialogue.  It’s a one-way rant, created to creator.  Unlike many of the dark prayers found in the bible’s prayer book, the book of psalms, this one doesn’t ever turn around and lighten up with a declaration of gratitude or praise.  Rather, it turns in on itself, and tunnels and bunkers deeper in the darkness.  (Of course, just because someone doesn’t answer doesn’t mean someone isn’t listening, which may be what motivates us to shout to the heavens, “How long, O Lord!”, even from the deepest pit.)

The title comes from the story of the “fall of mankind” found in the first book of the bible, Genesis.  After disobeying God by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the first man, Adam, hears God speak some pretty alarming words:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 3:17-19

There’s small comfort in the detail that God doesn’t directly curse the man (or the woman for that matter).  Regardless, it sounds unpleasant.

There is some controversy in church circles about whether a person, at times, might need to forgive God.  One viewpoint is that God is perfect and therefore the notion of forgiving God is bad theology.  Following this logic:  I don’t need to forgive God.  I need to ask Him to forgive me of my crankiness toward him.

The other viewpoint would suggest that the matter is not whether God actually wronged me.  It’s the realization that what I’m so angry about can only be attributed to God’s sovereignty.  He allowedsomething to happen, which in my finite view, feels like a raw deal.  Forgiving God is about my owning the choice to shake my fist at God, not a statement about God making a mistake.

Regardless, it sounds unpleasant.  Ever been there, done that?

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