Friday, March 23, 2012

Joan Osborne "One Of Us"

I grew up in a family where Religion played a sincere and apparent role.

Meaning, we were good Catholics. We never missed Church. Religious discussions might come up at the dinner table. My father had been in the seminary and his sister was (and still is) a nun.

But when I moved into the South, it was evident that Religion played a much larger role in people's day-to-day lives.

Not so much in the morality or piety---I don't think people in the South had greater or better convictions than the people I grew up around. But that Religion was much more a part of the social structure.

Growing up, my friends were usually kids I went to school with. And my parents' friends were people they worked with, or were folks from the neighborhood.

But for many of the people in the town where I lived (Abingdon, Virginia), the people that they were more likely to socialize with, were the people from their Church.

Churches weren't just for Sundays. Churches organized picnics and trips and hikes and had classes/services on Wednesdays. A person's relationship with their Church wasn't just about Religious beliefs, it was about interacting with the world at-large---so much of what they might experience in a day could be filtered through Religious eyes.

I co-hosted a nightly call-in request program. It was mainly frequented by Middle and High School kids who wanted to send out dedications to their friends and such.

It was interesting to chart the reaction of the listenership to Joan Osborne's "One Of Us," which became an unlikely hit in 1995.

Some folks were horrified that we would play a song that suggested that God could be a "bum like one of us." That was practically sacrilege.

And others didn't really seem to hear what the song was about. They only caught the lyrics "God Is Great," and jumped to the conclusion that this was a Contemporary Christian song, singing the praises of the Lord.

It made me wonder if sometime being too close to something, prevented you from seeing it. If you focus on it being about God, are you missing that it's really a message about everyone?

See the video on Youtube.


  1. We share an Irish-Catholic upbringing, and like you we had a nun in our family. At one point, I seriously considered going into the seminary (my kids still can't get over that one).

    I once had an opportunity to invterview Eric Bazilian, who claimed to be an atheist. Joan Osborne was raised Catholic, but she left the church years ago.

    In college I took a course on the humanity of Christ. It always fascinated me that someone who claimed to not believe, combined with someone who had left her religious upbringing were able to capture the image of God as one of us, because in essence that's how I always saw Jesus. From the imagery of Christ hanging out with fishermen as described in the New Testament, it was easy for me to imagine him sitting next to me on that bus.

  2. Jesus is God who came down here, to the earth He created to rectify a relationship between people and God. (because our fellowship with god as a whole people was broken due to the sin that Adam and Eve brought into the world) He did become one of us....but I don't care for the lack of sovereignty some of the lyrics suggest. BUT, it did and does still have people thinking about their Creator...oh how He wants a relationship with each and every one of us!

    1. I meant to type "God" in the parenthesis, but typed god instead....woops!