Regina Spektor: Laughing With
It takes a lot of faith to not believe in God.
There’s a saying that there are no atheists in fox holes. That when life is at it’s hardest, people turn towards their maker. At that moment, when you’re at you’re lowest point, no body’s laughing at God.
When I first heard Regina Spektor’s song, Laughing With, on the radio, I had to pull over and turn up the radio. Was I really hearing what I thought I was hearing? Was this a song about God on Triple J? And it was positive? The answer was yes to all three questions. This is a truly touching song about God. Go ahead, check out the film clip.
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving or freezing or so very poor
When times are tough, people turn to God in prayer. It’s like we’re hardwired to believe in God. To trust that he will look after us. To recognise that he is in control. The tragedy here is that not everyone knows who this God is that they’re on their knees praying to.
It’s all too easy to make fun of God. I see countless depictions of God and Jesus in the media that take cheap shots at someone who loves us, cares for us, and has never done anything to us we didn’t deserve. But when things go bad, the laughing stops and the praying begins.
Regina Spektor also reminds us that God has a sense of humour. There is a place for “listening to a good God-themed joke”. We are to laugh WITH God, not at God. We are to share the good times with him. We are to shake our heads when someone presents a picture of God that is not right. And we are to remember that when we really need him, he’s there to listen to our prayers. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.“
Don’t be afraid to come before God in prayer. Even if you have made fun of him in the past. Because he wants to listen to your prayers. He cares for you. Don’t be afraid to find out more about the God who laughs with you when times are good and comforts you when times are difficult.
Head to the Master List for more songs about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Know a song that’s not on the list? Let me know in the comments.
Hadn’t heard this song before…I like it!
I couldn’t believe it when I heard it on Triple J either; I was actually offended. I disagree with your opinions. I wanted to know what Regina Spektor was trying to get across and, if you’re right, then my worst fears are confirmed.
I find the song to be quite unaware of the other ways to react to adverse situations – my initial response when I heard the song was: ‘no one is thinking of god at all when bad things are happening’. Which probably isn’t true – but I’m not thinking of god. I’m consumed by the moment; not thinking of external sources to provide me with strength. I’m looking inside myself and thinking about what I can do about a situation. Or if I found myself in a war situation, I may just be shitting myself.
I thought the song was terrible. Regina Spektor’s stripped-back sound really gives you the time to listen to what she’s saying – and this one really made me sick.
Albert Facey’s ‘A Forunate Life’ talks about his experiences’ in war and it contains the line: “Having faced down the barrel of a machine-gun in a bayonette charge I can honestly say: There is no god”. So while many people turn to religion in adverse times here’s an example of one man who remained an atheist in the fox-hole.
The song isn’t exactly saying that everyone turns to god in a crisis. You could turn to god. You could turn away from god. Maybe you won’t even think about god and not believe in him. But you’re not making jokes about god. When a tragedy happens do you mock people who pray for the victims? I hope not..
Regina has said that this isn’t a set belief. She’s Jewish, but seems to have more agnostic and liberal views.
Well I’m glad that’s cleared up. But to be pedantic – there probably are people who mock those who pray for people in crises and there may well be people who make jokes about god in the same similar situation. So while I accept that near enough is good enough, technically she can’t say no-one.
But again – thank you for bringing Ms. Spektor’s comments to light.
the people who are mocking those who are praying in crisis aren’t going through one themselves so they’re laughing at God when they’re not in a terrible situation. I think Regina Spektor is just pointing out that no ones laughing at God when something horrible happens because no ones is even thinking about God. Also, I dont think she’s pointing out just one God, I think she’s talking about all religions in general.
I would chalenge your assertion that no one is even thinking about God in times of tragedy. If that was Spektor’s point, then why write the song at all? There are times when people laugh with God. But there are times when the laughter stops and people turn to God for help. If Spektor’s point was that nobody thinks of God when times are tough then I don’t understand why there is the contrast between the chorus and the verses, or even why they’re in the same song.
Well, here is an interview where she talks about how she feels about religion and faith and how she has worked different perspectives of them into some of her songs:
She does have a few songs with more sarcastic/satirical views on the subject. Like this song, Baby Jesus:
“the people who are mocking those who are praying in crisis aren’t going through one themselves so they’re laughing at God when they’re not in a terrible situation.”
I was coming at it from the point of view that some tragedies involve everyone, whether they’re in them or not. Things like 9/11, the Bali bombings, the Tsunamis – they affect us all because its a large event; in 9/11’s case – it’s a global event which everyone is involved in because it’s relevant to the future, whether you care about the death and the people or not. Those people who mock in that situation are only being excluded by you because THEY aren’t treating it like a tragedy. It doesn’t mean they aren’t involved.
Alexandra – I wouldn’t go so far as to say that no-one is thinking about god. Whether I agree with it or not, I’m sure some people are. I agree about the all religion thing… but this is a Christian centric society, so…
Thanks for posting the interview – I’ll have to look at it later.
As a non-believer, the last thing I’d be thinking about during a tragedy is god. The assumption of this song is that atheists and non-believers are only one tragedy away from faith, and that we’d only turn to God if we only thought about it more or experienced problems.
Sorry, that’s a mistaken paradigm.
Whether you believe in God or not, I think the song is catchy, and really heightened my curiosity the first time I heard it. Nonetheless, I think the overarching point of the song is abundantly clear… We don’t laugh at God when bad stuff is happening. Instead, most of us seek his protection and comfort. It’s as simple as that.
I think the song is meant to speak to nonbelievers, specifically those who are well-off and in a privileged position to consider religion and then reject it. But more importantly, it’s to address something that negates offense and opinion: your mentality changes at moments of tragedy. There must be many, many occasions where those same people who converted to atheism that, in their darkest hour, prayed in the off chance that some almighty being could make a miracle. It’s an undeniable truth I think. Perhaps “most don’t laugh at God” from “no one laughs at God” would help this idea and allow for the gray area many are seeing in this song. But, hey? Who cares. The message is clear and it’s just a song.
It seems to me like you’re focusing an awful lot on what you want the song to mean. Spektor has said before that the entire song is a meditation on the different motivations behind turning toward religion. Both as a comfort during tragedy and for shallower reasons “he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way.”
Also I’d just like to say that as an atheist who has experienced tragedy, it’s offensive to be told that I’ll convert once life gets bad enough. If you really believe that god is all-knowing and all-powerful, creator of the universe and whatnot, then wouldn’t he be just as responsible for your hardships as your better moments?
“It takes a lot of faith not to believe in God.” Maybe that’s why the agnostics and atheists make better leaders, as they have enough faith to believe in the people, as opposed to any higher being.
Are you insane? This is ignorant drivel. When things get bad, you don’t fucking pray. You do what you have to to make them better.
This is exactly what I hate about religion. It’s a sedative; an excuse to relinquish responsibility for our troubles. There are no atheists in fox holes because, instead of sitting around praying and sniveling, we dig ourselves out. You disgust me.