This was my favourite song when I was about ten:
Ridiculous late-nineties pop, yes? When I think of Savage Garden (which, in fact, I try to do as little as possible), I think of that song. And when I think of that song I think of the second and last verses. The last because it was the verse which caught my attention on the radio:
I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse tv evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity.
God only knows what the second line means there, but even at ten I had a healthy objection to TV evangelism in all forms, and thus Savage Garden cemented their place in my ten-year old heart.
The second verse became my favourite after a couple of serious interpretive conversations with my mother.
I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires
I can't really remember exactly what my mother said about the sexuality line- I do
remember that I'd never heard the word before. I assume I got a sensible grown-up explanation, and I did the same thing with that information which I did with all information I wasn't old enough to properly process: more-or-less forgot about it. I didn't REALLY understand what 'gay' meant until I was fifteen and one of my teachers told me that the Uniting Church wasn't Christian because they had gay ministers. I held my head high and declared "yes we do and I'm proud of it"; and then went home and asked for a proper explanation of what gay was and why some people couldn't be ministers. (I seem to remember that explanation included "you know a lot of churches won't let women be ministers? Well, this is sort of like that".) But well before then, the idea had been cemented into my head that Savage Garden were right, you can't control or choose your sexuality.
The thing that, in my mind, makes this particularly notable is that I know
my mother is personally uncomfortable with homosexuality. All these explanations by stages over the years always included her prancing, hand-bag carrying coworker when she worked on Oxford St, and so on and so forth. I think people messing with the binary gender system freaks her out, perhaps. It'd be easy, if you felt like that, to sit back and be homophobic, or preach "love the sinner hate the sin", or all the variants thereon. And yet I was always taught that gay people ought to be treated just like everyone else.
Next line in the verse talks about monogamy. I'm fairly sure my mother's never HEARD of polyamoury, so I think we read 'monogamy' in Catholic terms (one lifelong indissoluble heterosexual marriage) for the purposes of interpreting the song. Never suggesting that marriage or monogamy are BAD things (well, duh, she's married, and last I heard monogamous therein), I was still raised on the belief that love and trust are more important than legal pieces of paper. I can remember going into many many doomed battles with the conservative elite at school over that
The verse goes on to talk about inequality and financial imbalance, and I know that I was definitely taught that the way money and power get distributed in society is unfair. I usually like to blame (or thank) Easter Camp and UCATSA for prodding me into having a social conscience, but I forget how much groundwork my mother did before I ever got to an Easter Camp.
Now the awesome part: you know where I can remember this conversation happening? Sunday School
. My mother bought the Savage Garden album, and took it to Sunday School and played it for the older class, and sat around while church was going on, with a bunch of other people's children as well as her own, and talked about not letting the sun go down on arguments, about trust being more important than legal bits of paper, about sexuality, about social justice, and about TV Evangelists being awful.
Some churches would have strung her up by her toes just for playing something which references the principle of Karma, let alone these dangerous social and moral views.
The moral of today's lecture is: even dodgy nineties pop can be important; my church was pretty awesome for letting us do whatever Mum wanted; and my mother's pretty awesome, all things considered.