My God (Jethro Tull from the album Aqualung)

People what have you done:
locked Him in His golden cage.
Made Him bend to your religion
Him resurrected from the grave
from the grave.
He is the god of nothing
if that's all that you can see.
You are the god of everything
He's inside you and me.

So lean upon Him gently
and don't call on Him to save you
from your social graces
and the sins you used to waive.
The bloody Church of England
in chains of history
requests your earthly presence at
the vicarage for tea.

And the graven image you-know-who
with His plastic crucifix
he's got him fixed
confuses me as to who and where and why
as to how he gets his kicks.
Confessing to the endless sin
the endless whining sounds.
You'll be praying till next Thursday to
all the gods that you can count.


Ian Anderson: "'My God', the first track, isn't a song against God, or against the idea of God, but it is against Gods and the hypocritical church of the Establishment; it's a criticism of the God they choose to worship. It's very dissatisfying to me that children are brought up to follow the same God as their parents. God is the abstract idea Man chooses to worship; He doesn't have to be worshiped. I say He only has to be acknowledged. Children are brought up to be Jewish, Catholic or Protestant just by an accident of birth. I think that's a presumptuous and immoral thing to do. Religion makes a dividing line between human beings and that's wrong. I think it's very wrong that we are brain-washed at school with a set of religious ideas. It should be up to you to think and makes your own decision". ".... 'My God': This is a blues for God, in the way of a lament. So many religions operate as a social service instead of a spiritual one".
* Ian Anderson in Disc and Music Echo, 20th March 1971

This is a song of criticism against organized religion, especially the fixed and monopolized idea of God as presented in the lines

locked Him in His golden cage.
Made Him bend to your religion
Him resurrected from the grave
As this idea of God is imposed upon believers it doesn't serve them much, for all they can see is He is the God of nothing. What would the world be like if we each had to develop our own concept of God based upon experiences, rather than the one that is handed to us by organized religion? You are the God of everything, he's inside you and me.

The third verse concerns the image of Jesus. This image, imposed by the church is a concrete idea - it leaves no room for searching and development of a more personal concept of Jesus. But the graven image you know who, with his plastic crucifix, he's got him fixed. The image of God and Jesus as imposed by the church are difficult for the narrator to relate to.

The essence of the song is that the minimized and limited God will not help you out. It is not any use to pray or confess - you had better take responsibility for yourself and your own life.

and don't call on Him to save you
from your social graces
and the sins you used to waive.
...
You'll be praying till next Thursday to
all the gods that you can count.

The bloody Church of England
in chains of history
requests your earthly presence at
the vicarage for tea.
These verses were not the original ones. The song was written before the Benefit album and was preformed live for the first time in April 1970. During the Carnegie Hall Concert in New York, parts of the song were recorded on "Living in the Past" and on the "25th Anniversary Box Set", My God was played and recoded before it was part of Aqualung. The original verse was:
The Jewish Christian Moslem
is waiting to be free.
Each claiming just a part of you,
also a part of me
The reason for the change is unknown. It could be that Ian wanted to make the song less offensive, or possibly he wanted to point his criticism to the situation in the United Kingdoms.

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