In an interview with One Chord Progression, Matthew Sweet was asked who his favorite carpenter was? I’m not sure if the interviewer meant one of The Carpenters or just carpenters in general, but Sweet replied, “I don’t know any carpenters but Jesus so I guess it would be Jesus. He is just all right. I’m not religious, but I sometime feel like I follow Jesus’s teachings more than religious people. I am open and inclusive with everyone. I think religions are bad but Jesus is just all right.”
That kind of sentiment always cracks me up because Jesus pretty much taught that you needed to be religious. I suppose it’s possible that someone (not me) could try to make the argument that when Jesus told Peter “upon this rock I will build my church,” his intention was to start the world’s first non-religious religious institution. Still, if that had been the case, you would think that the early Christians might have mentioned that instead of wasting their time starting an organized religion.
Oh well, despite such silly statements, Matthew Sweet has turned out a heck of a lot of good power pop over the last few decades. One of my favorites of his is “Divine Intervention” from the album “Girlfriend.” It’s one of the many songs on the album that explores Sweet’s emotional turmoil over the breakup of his marriage to his first wife. “It was the most terrible experience of my life.” he told Rolling Stone magazine.
You can feel the palpable sense of complete abandonment in “Divine Intervention.” When Sweet belts out, “Does he love us, does he love us?” it’s a lament worthy of a Psalm.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.” (Psalms 22:3, NABRE)
Most of us have experienced that feeling at some point or other, haven’t we? Even Jesus himself had a moment on the cross in which he felt God wasn’t there for him. But seasons change, and things eventually come back around. God was there all along. Even Sweet’s desperate cry of a song can’t help but end on a hopeful note. When he comes, the sun shines. Here it comes.