Harder To Believe Than Not To

[Image: 'I Predict 1990' Front Cover]

Sections:

Lyrics

Nothing is colder than the winds of change
Where the chill numbs the dreamer till a shadow remains
Among the ruins lies your tortured soul
Was it lost there
Or did your will surrender control?

Shivering with doubts that were left unattended
So you toss away the cloak that you should have mended
Don't you know by now why the chosen are few?
It's harder to believe than not to
Harder to believe than not to

It was a confidence that got you by
When you know you believed it, but you didn't know why
No one imagines it will come to this
But it gets so hard when people don't want to listen

Shivering with doubts that you left unattended
So you toss away the cloak that you should have mended
Don't you know by now why the chosen are few?
It's harder to believe than not to

Some stay paralyzed until they succumb
Others do what they feel, but their senses are numb
Some get trampled by the pious throng
Still they limp along

Are you sturdy enough to move to the front?
Is it nods of approval or the truth that you want?
And if they call it a crutch, then you walk with pride
Your accusers have always been afraid to go outside

They shiver with doubts that were left unattended
Then they toss away the cloak that they should have mended
You know by now why the chosen are few
It's harder to believe than not to

I believe


Recorded Appearances


About The Song

From Clone Club News Flash Winter 1988, Winter 1988:

This song, recorded very simply in London with a chamber group of orchestral musicians, takes its title from a line found in the collected letters of Flannery O'Connor, a critically acclaimed fiction writer from the Deep South. Her literary friends in New York City had a hard time believing that a writer of her caliber could be something as common and unfashionable as a follower of Jesus. She reacts in her letter to a criticism that Christianity's primary function is as a crutch for the weak-spirited. She writes how they just don't understand the cost involved in Christianity, that "It's much harder to believe than not to believe."

That quote stuck with me, and the song is written from the point of view that the cost involved in Christianity--the ideal of taking up your cross everyday and following Jesus--makes it hard to believe, because Christianity demands things from us that we don't naturally want to give. In the words of the playwright Dennis Potter, "There is, in the end, no such thing as a simple faith."

From Steve Taylor: Rock 'n Role Model, CCM Magazine, January 1988:

To Taylor, that innate sense of responsibility is a Christian's cross to bear. Which is why the popular notion that Christianity is a "crutch" for the weak particularly gets Taylor's gander--and why he ended the album with a rather mournful song, replete with orchestra and opera singer, that asks "Can't you see by now why the chosen are few/ It's harder to believe than not to."

"The whole idea of 'Harder to Believe Than Not To' is that Christianity demands a lot more of us than if we went through life thinking that we were the end-all and that there was nothing more. It makes very great demands on our ethics and our attitudes, so that it's not just a matter of what we do but why we do things. It should force us to be very thoughtful.

"The title comes from a quote of Flannery O'Connor, a writer in the Deep South in the '50s who died quite young. She wrote very moody and rather bizarre short stories and novels full of religious imagery and a lot of extreme characters. I was reading through her collected letters, and there was one instance where she was writing to another friend about her Christianity and about how all of her literary friends in New York--she was very popular with the critics--had a hard time believing that a writer of her caliber could be something as common and unfashionable as a follower of Jesus. She wrote about how they just don't understand the cost involved in Christianity and that 'it is much harder to believe than not to believe.'

"That quote stuck with me, and the song is written from the point of view that the cost involved in Christianity--the idea of taking up your cross every day and following Jesus--makes it hard to believe, because Christianity demands things from us that we don't naturally want to give."

From Steve Taylor: This Joker's Wild!, Gospel Music Today, January/February/March 1988:

There's a writer of short stories and novels from the South named Flannery O'Conner who wrote in the '40's and '50's and then died quite young in the '60's. She was a Christian, but a very rare writer in that she was both a Christian and a popular writer. Her novels and stories were full of religious imagery and extreme characters.

Her literary friends in New York were very taken with her writing and she was also very popular with the critics, but they couldn't understand how she could buy into something that was as weird, in their minds, as Christianity. And she writes in one of her letters to a friend that they just don't understand the cost involved in Christianity and the cost involved in being a follower of Jesus. It is not an easy road and it requires a lot, probably more than we were initially willing to give.

So I look at that song as a kind of correction of the preponderance of many songs in Gospel music that dont necessarily paint an accurate picture of the Christianity that involves a greater cost.

From Now The Truth Can Be Told Liner Notes & Song-By-Song Essays, Now The Truth Can Be Told Insert Booklet, August 23rd, 1994:

A personal favorite. I travelled to London for the chamber orchestra session conducted by very legendary orchestral arranger Del Newman (think Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" among a myriad of others). The classical setting seemed appropriate, especially since the haunting melody in the introduction was lifted from Sergei Rachmaninoff's now-public domain.

The song takes its title from a line found in the collected letters of Flannery O'Connor, acclaimed short-story writer and novelist from Georgia. Her literary friends in New York had a hard time believing that a writer of her caliber could profess to be something as common and unfashionable as a Christian. She reacts in her letter to the criticism that Christianity's primary function is as a crutch for the weak-spirited, writing how they don't understand the cost involved in following Jesus, that "it's much harder to believe than not to believe."

The quote stuck. The cost of discipleship--the ideal of taking up your cross everyday and following Jesus--makes it hard to believe, because Christianity demands things from us that we don't naturally want to give. In the words of playwrite Dennis Potter, "There is, in the end, no such thing as a simple faith."