God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’ve lost all they got and they don’t know what for
NPR’s World Cafe: “Do you feel that people only turn to religion when we are stressed? And do you see that as hypocritical, or just natural?”
Regina Spektor: “No… there’s not any kind of specific dogmatic way I feel. I’m suspicious of people that have it all figured out, and feel very strongly and specifically about such giant issues, and such mysterious things. So, if anything, I’m critical of people that hijack these concepts and these questions, and these kind of, worries that people have and use them to sort of make people feel like they know better, about how the universe works, or how God or, however you call it, works. But a song like this, it’s more just ideas. And, kind of my own questions. I don’t have a hard line with people.
Cafe: “Did your parents immigrate from Russia, to begin with, for religious reasons?”
Spektor: “Yeah. The main reason was, they wanted to have freedom to be Jews and to practice Judaism. And we did, as soon as we got to the Bronx. We became part of a really nice Jewish community, and I got to go to school and learn Hebrew and learn all the traditions, and all the stuff that they didn’t have a chance. Now I love learning all the mystical side and the stories. There are definitely things that I wish weren’t in there. And it’s like, why sometimes they have to mix in… Why can’t it just be good things? There has to be something that’s sexist, or homophobic, or self-righteous or self-congratulatory, etc. Stuff that doesn’t seem very spiritual, or it doesn’t seem to bring anyone closer to any higher power. So, to me, that kind of stuff, I’m very picky. And I, there’s a lot of things that I love about Judaism. And I’m a practicing Jew. But I always wish that there’s something… When I listen to interviews of people that are Christian or Muslim or Buddhist, there’s always those things that irk people in their own… It’s like, in your family. You love your family, but there will just be those certain things that drive you crazy and you wish they weren’t there. I guess your religion is like that.”
Me: Is your religion like that? Are you skeptical of certainty?
You can hear this interview, along with several of her songs, at NPR World Cafe’s website. You can read the complete lyrics, and discuss the meaning, of Spektor’s song “Laughing With” (excerpted at the top of this post) here.