The song One of us by Joan Osborne

I did hear that St. Theresa is about a prostitute. I didn’t know that about the writer of One Of Us.

Yes----the information about “One Of Us” is in the Wikipedia entry on it. :thumbsup:

The answer is quite simply yes, it is sacreligious.


Because God IS “one of us”. He became “one of us” when he was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and born of our Blessed Virgin.

This song questions the hyposatatic union and the second article of faith in the Creed.

The song did touch on an interetsting truth, in posing the question whether we would want “certain knowledge,” if that meant having to believe in all the necessary things that would go along with it, like heaven, hell and the saints.

We are deprived certainty as a concession to our weakness, it seems to me.

Look what happened to the apostles. All died violently, except St. John, who was marooned.


I think those of you that are quick to conclude that it’s sacrilege aren’t considering different perspectives. When presented to a life long devout Catholic it obviously seems questionable which is understandable to a point. But… as someone who’s completely clueless as to what they’re own personal beliefs are (as I was when it came out) it’s a song that essentially makes you focus on the questions that matter when determining just what one believes. I will say that musically I can’t stand it but it really does ask an honest question. Are you ready to believe in God and everything that belief might entail?

Whether or not it denies the divinity of God is a matter of interpretation and the intent of the writer… I did a little more digging and since the person who wrote the lyrics (not Joan Osborne) did it to “impress a girl” I doubt we will ever know for sure.

Thought-provoking post.

I have always liked this song.

I do not think it is sacreligious. The way I look at the song is that the song asks the question, “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?” and the answer is “Yes, he was (and is).”

I view this song not as asking if God is one of us, but can we see God in the person waiting for the bus, trying to get home?

The choir just sang this song, “What if God was One of Us?” at the Easter Sunday liturgy at our church. Personally, I am very upset. It’s not a liturgical song. I am thinking or writing a letter to someone.

You know, I’ve heard of certain religious groups having a problem with this song, but I personally think the song asks some of the really tough questions (even if Osborne herself is far from a practicing Catholic). I’d heard she was Jewish actually (or grew up Catholic and dabbled in Judaism). I guess she’d be defined as spiritual really.

"Just a slob like one of us" to me is not offensive. The song asks what if God were ordinary like us…a slob in comparison to the Great I AM.

**“If God had a name, what would it be and would you call it to His face?” **Christians profess that when God came to earth as “one of us” his name was Jesus. If you met Jesus on the street, would you just go up and talk to him like an ordinary man? A major question and if Osborne did dabble in Judaism, the question makes a lot of sense. Jews typically have a lot of trouble believing that the Messiah would live as an ordinary man.

**“If God had a face, what would it look like and would you wanna see? If seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the Saints and all the prophets.” **Quite the question on Divine Mercy Sunday with the readings about Thomas. Many people say they can’t believe because they’ve never seen God, so you can’t prove he’s real. Many of these people probably would rather it stayed unprovable because they’d have to change their convenient lifestyles if forced to recognize the Truth.

Okay, a very odd and poor song choice for Mass in a Catholic Church. :eek:

Agreed, regardless of the merits and meaning of the song as pop music to listen to on the radio, there is a difference between pop music and liturgical music. Does the song in any way bring the assembly into fuller participation in the Mass, or enhance the praise and worship of God in the Mass? Lead the assembly into deeper contemplation of the mystery of the Eucharist? etc.

Actually, I kind of like this song. To me (and songs will vary with personal interpretation, unlike scripture), it is referencing the commandment of Jesus to treat each of us as we would treat Jesus Himself:

Matthew 25
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

"What is God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?" The song is saying (to me, at least) that the slob, the stranger on the bus, is in that sense, Jesus, and we need to work to see Jesus in all people - not just our children, not just our friends, not just those we love, but the difficult person at work, the strange man or woman on the bus who makes inappropriate sounds and who we avoid sitting near, the guy who’s aggressively panhandling, even the guy in jail.

To ask “what if God was one of us,” is a rhetorical question, as clearly He was. He entered into space and time from infinity and became one of us, with all the messiness and blood and pain and tears that is a part of that, and that act continues to reverberate to this day. Osborne and the songwriter might not have intended the song as a rebuke against Manicheanism, but that is what it is. For those who hold a vague deist conception of a creator who is a vast and cool and unsympathetic intellect, and who walked away from his creation like a deadbeat dad and doesn’t involve himself in our affairs, much less the sorrow of a slob on the bus…No. God cares and gave us His only begotten son in the flesh and the blood, to redeem us. If you believe in the Christian Faith, you have to believe in that. And that leads us to some very specific conclusions about the prophets and the angels and the sacraments and the saints. And as WingsofEagles said, many people avoid committing to the very specific truth about who God is, and what He wants from us by avoiding this fact.

God became one of us, and now we have to repay the debt by treating others as we would treat the Son of God.

I don’t see this song as disrespectful at all. It’s a song about the consequences of faith.

And that stranger on the bus, trying to make his way home, nowadays, might be our own Pope…

I imagine Matthew 25:35-40 is what pops into most peoples minds (who are familiar with scripture). However, it asks “what if…” questions, which the Christian need not ask as our faith depends on the affirmation of God, as His personhood and nature are revealed in scripture (and defined by the creeds, and explained by tradition and Church teaching).

The “what if” implies a no to these answers. Hence the implication is that God really is as the deist describes, that is, a denial of the Incarnation (and hence smattered with Gnosticism and Manicheanism) as opposed to the wishful thinking of the songwriter (who may only be hoping for a purely immanent God as per, for example, process theology).

“Yeah, yeah, God is good…” portray resentment, cynicism, and doubt. No thought is given to the creative and salvific roles of God, and the line about the Pope implies that God’s work is not being done here on earth.

Hardly liturgical music. It would be a good topic for a priest’s sermon.

I would agree that it is not appropriate music for Mass, I don’t think rock or folk are good choices for liturgical use thematically or aesthetically, though I may like them at other times. But as a song that may make people with a secular bias who are listening to the radio question their beliefs, I think it’s worthwhile. Not every song needs to be liturgical in content, and not every Christian song needs to be preaching to the choir, or the already committed.

I guess its liturgical inappropriateness would not have been noticed by most in attendance, especially the fair weather types who only show up at Christmas and Easter.

I don’t know, this might be true, but I also think many fair-weathered Catholics would find a pop song at Mass to be a bit odd.

Lyrically, the song is probably at the same level as works like Jesus Christ Superstar; it tries to provide an “up-to-date” view of Christ and His relationship to God, without realizing that Arius and co. were doing it ages ago. It does raise some important questions, and can be a good starting point for a discussion on Christ’s two natures,

Musically, it’s pretty dreadful. :frowning: Especially when there’s a much better song with the same title, but none of these lyrical issues:

Enjoy! :thumbsup:

Whatever the original writer’s or singers intent, I think it has a good message, and indeed, one that the posters of CAF, so many of whom teeter ignorantly on the cusp of Manicheanism, need to hear. Indeed, Christ became a slob like any man. He went to the bathroom and burped and sometimes when he sneezed, snot probably came out of his nose.

I also think this little passage about St. Martin of Tours is relevant:

*Christ appears to St. Martin.
ACCORDINGLY, at a certain period, when he had nothing except his arms and his simple military dress, in the middle of winter, a winter which had shown itself more severe than ordinary, so that the extreme cold was proving fatal to many, he happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens[8] a poor man destitute of clothing. He was entreating those that passed by to have compassion upon him, but all passed the wretched man without notice, when Martin, that man full of God, recognized that a being to whom others showed no pity, was, in that respect, left to him. Yet, what should he do? He had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder. Upon this, some of the by-standers laughed, because he was now an unsightly object, and stood out as but partly dressed. Many, however, who were of sounder understanding, groaned deeply because they themselves had done nothing similar. They especially felt this, because, being possessed of more than Martin, they could have clothed the poor man without reducing themselves to nakedness. In the following night, when Martin had resigned himself to sleep, he had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man. He contemplated the Lord with the greatest attention, and was told to own as his the robe which he had given. Ere long, he heard Jesus saying with a clear voice to the multitude of angels standing round – “Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe.” The Lord, truly mindful of his own words (who had said when on earth – “Inasmuch as ye have done these things to one of the least of these, ye have done them unto me”), declared that he himself had been clothed in that poor man; and to confirm the testimony he bore to so good a deed, he condescended to show him himself in that very dress which the poor man had received. *

So indeed, Christ is the slob on the bus, and don’t you forget it.

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