this is no longer my blog

Saturday, October 09, 2004


from a distance

So last night on my car ride home I heard Bette Midler's "From A Distance." It's a very singable song, and I used to really like it. But as I listened to it I begin to really think about what the words are saying. Thanks to seminary I can't even listen to a song about God without analyzing... So I thought I'd go through the song here on my blog and share some of my insights and thoughts. The song will be in italics and my thoughts will not.

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.

[This is true. I've seen pictures of the earth from a distance. It does look blue and green and you can see some white from the snowcapped mountains. But there is also browns and there is some white that is not from snowcapped mountains... We do have a large continent that is mainly white, and it's kinda greyish, too...]
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

[I would like to think that these things occur even when not from a distance. But don't streams really run into rivers and rivers are the ones that run into oceans? I suppose maybe occasionally a stream might run directly into the ocean, but that would be a rare occurrence...]

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.

[Depends on where you're at and who's singing... (see my post about church choirs for more thoughts about this)]
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.

[I would like to think this voice of hope and peace is the voice of every woman as well as every man... In fact, men are often known as the ones with the predominantly violent dispositions, and it is often the women who are voices of hope and peace and reconciliation. Anyway...]

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.

[Even from a distance the slums in India look pretty poor and lacking... In fact from a distance I think they look a lot worse than up close and personal. But most people just see them from a distance and are too scared to get any closer...]
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

[I don't know where she's sitting, to watch from a distance, but I wouldn't mind sitting there too... Holy crap all I hear about in the news are guns and bombs and disease. And Compassion International keeps sending me information about all those hungry mouths to feed... She must be sitting in some fancy mansion where all her neighbors are multi-billionaires.]

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.

[Well, especially during this election year, it is painfully obvious - and the candidates strive to make it even moreso - that we are not in a common band. In fact there are so many things that divide us- abortion, guns, prayer, homosexuality, international relations... the list could go on]
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.

[And what's this about us all playing songs of hope and peace? More like songs of dischord and strife and conflict... And, once again, I'd hope the songs of hope and peace were the songs of every man AND woman...]
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

[This is the part, in particular, that really gets my goat. God is watching us. Nice. I like that, I can agree with that. I believe that God does watch over us... Our goings out and our comings in... But from a distance? So our God is impersonal, and watches us from a far away throne up in heaven through binoculars? Or God is present in and with and among us, in the daily striving and working and living and breathing and eating and loving and fighting... I like that image of God better than a detached and distant one... But that's just me, I guess...]

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.

[Indeed. From a distance it is hard to distinguish those things which set us apart. From a distance you cannot tell if someone is Buddhist or Republican or Catholic or Gay or French or any of these other things that we often use to keep us separate. From a distance we all just look human.]
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

[Even up close it's hard to tell what all this fighting is for. Seems pretty stupid and pointless to me.]

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.

[see above comments... I don't want to type them again... Or copy and paste... too much work.]

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

[how about God is celebrating with us, and God is struggling with us,
God is loving us right here among us.
Oh, God is working with us, and God is playing with us,
God is loving us right here among us.
I like that version much better... And it has the same singable tune. Neat.]

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