Issue #279 / April 2024

I’m in my kitchen on Magnetic Island making fish wontons with Wild God on repeat. I love the song and the line that catches my attention each time is ‘wild God searching for what all wild Gods are searching for.’ What are all wild Gods searching for?

MADONNA, PICNIC BAY, AUSTRALIA

Do I even matter? Do you believe in me?

OLLIE, WILLIAMSBURG, USA

Dear Madonna and Ollie,

In the gospels, the miracles of Jesus add a weird and beautifully impossible patina to the New Testament stories. When I first encountered them, though, it was not Jesus’ supposed supernatural powers which I found compelling, but his acute humanness – his vulnerability, his ordinary fragility.

When Jesus talks to the multitudes by the sea at Capernaum he expounds a series of bizarre ideas that revolve around the eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood. This is all too strange for most of the onlookers and unconvinced they move away. Jesus turns to the disciples, his closest friends, and asks, “Will you too leave me?” Later, in the garden before he is crucified, he appeals to his friends to watch over him while he prays, but they fall asleep. “Could you not watch with me for an hour?” he laments. These poignant scenes of a sad and wounded Jesus show his deeply human need for the love of his friends. Time and again he asks his disciples to believe in him, for what is a friend if not someone who believes in you.

In the song, ‘Wild God’, the old man ‘with the long trailing hair’ has escaped his retirement home and is flying across the dying city, searching for someone to believe in him. He swoops over the land, the sky, the sea, through his history, through his memory, like a ‘prehistoric bird’, casting around for someone who will look upon him and believe. “Where are my people?” he cries. The wild god of my song is searching for what we all are searching for – not something to believe in, but rather someone to believe in us.

In this therapeutic age we are told that our self-worth should not be dependent on the validation of others, that it is an inside job, but the truth is that we are social animals who depend greatly on respect and commendation from others. This is what binds us together, it is what dignifies us – a true and common regard. Small acts of ordinary kindness or courtesy, or the simple gestures of appreciation toward each other, speak into our increasingly individualised world saying, “I believe in you.”

Whether a wild god, the son of God or a mere mortal – we are all locked in a mutual dependency, supporting and lifting and seeing and believing in one another. The song ‘Wild God’ ultimately says, “Things truly matter. We are of enormous value. We believe.” Perhaps all my songs say that.

So, Ollie, to answer your question, yes and yes.

Love, Nick

 

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