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July 15, 2006


Lindsay Beyerstein

The song sets up an interesting contrast between "the glory when he took our place" and "he takes and he takes and he takes." Allegedly, God loved us so much that he gave us Jesus to die for our sins. And yet, in the narrator's mind, God is taking away his girlfriend for no good reason.

When the cardinal dies, there's an interesting sub-irony. Jesus's blood was supposed to wash away our sins. God is supposed to see every sparrow fall. Suddenly, the bird's blood is all over the window, enabling the young man to glimpse the Divine.

So, in one sense, the accidental death of the cardinal is unredeemed--it's just one more bit of carnage that God sees, but doesn't do anything about. But on the other hand, the death of bird somehow enables the grief-stricken boyfriend to get closer to God, so maybe the bird's death does have a redemptive aspect after all.

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Scott Paeth teaches Religious Studies at DePaul University