Theodicy Behind “Tie My Hands”
People have struggled for centuries trying to comprehend why an almighty all good God would permit any struggle or evil to exist; this is known as theodicy. Theodicy is a concept that even theologians don’t have an answer for. Like religion, theodicy cannot be answered, and its theories cannot be proven. One of the United State’s most impactful disasters happened in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck the state of New Orleans. As a result of this disaster, over one thousand people lost their lives, and over one million people were displaced in the region. We as people ask, why would God allow for this to happen? Surely some of these victims were religious people who did right by their faith, so we ask, why were these people made victims of such a tragic natural disaster. Katrina is perhaps one of the best examples of God allowing for bad things to happen, because it is a natural disaster, and whether or not humans have free will doesn’t matter in this scenario. This situation is different from murder, from genocide, from war. This hurricane occurred naturally. Anyone who believes God has control of nature, as well as people’s destiny, would find this particularly questionable while discussing the topic of theodicy. New Orleans native and award winning rapper Lil Wayne, who’s real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. and New Orleans Native and award winning singer Robin Thicke both present the struggles, questions, and hopes of hurricane Katrina victims in their song “Tie My Hands”, which raise to discussion the issues of theodicy quite blatantly.
The song “Tie My Hands” has a unique way of presenting the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. In Lil Wayne’s first verse, he starts by discussing the failures of the government, which instantly creates a sense of helplessness. The following verse by Robin Thicke is designed in a way that allows Thicke to step into the shoes of a New Orleans resident who has been affected by the hurricane. This verse shows struggle and question about this person’s future. The hook by Robin Thicke reads, “You tie my hands, what am I gonna be? What have I done so bad? What is my destiny? You tie my hands, what am I supposed to see? What have you done so bad? What am I gonna be?” This verse shows a clear confusion, which relates directly to several of the issues of theodicy, the first being that of free will. Did people do something to deserve this natural disaster? Have the people of New Orleans done something to deserve an educative lesson? Was this a force of communion in order to get the citizens of New Orleans to acknowledge God?
The fact that all these questions are raised from this natural disaster shows that when bad things happen to people, there becomes a discussion about God. Doubt is raised, and those who are faithful become skeptical, while those who are skeptical turn to faith for answers. For this very reason it is possible to draw the assumption that God is indeed all powerful and all good, and he allows for bad things to happen in order to bring people closer to him. What this answer does, is raise further question. What id the religious and godly followers of God do to deserve such a tragic event? It is a mystery that we are left with. Perhaps God uses these individuals because he must. Perhaps God is non existent. Theodicy helps one develop these thoughts, because of the constant struggle of how good can allow for evil.
In verse four,. Robin Thicke sings, “These kids so fast they grow, They learn so quickly now, That there’s nowhere to go, That there’s no future future.” This verse strikes close to the heart as it describes the realizations and fears of children who have become victims of the hurricane. In almost all religions, children are innocent. For example in Islam it is believed that if a child passes away before they complete puberty, they rest in heaven. If God is so merciful to children, it is hard to understand why he would allow for these kids to go through an inevitable struggle that could potentially taint their futures.
Finally, we see a breakthrough in this song. In verse five, Lil Wayne says “And if you come from under that water, then there’s fresh air. Just breathe baby, God’s got a blessing to spare.” This line shows us clearly what Lil Wayne’s belief relating to theodicy is. He sees that this struggle, brings people closer to God, yet more accordingly, brings God to people. Lil wayne claims that through struggle, God is found, and God is there to help. This idea is best associated with communion. THrough struggle, God brings his followers closer to him. God is reassuring, and he is the light at the end of the tunnel. God serves as hope, as progress, and as will. For those who believe in God, many can recall the idea, “everything happens for a reason”. Given what we know about theodicy, we can conclude that God does allow for bad things to happen for two main reasons: because he wants to remind people of their dependence on him and bring them closer to him, and because it God has these occurrences written out, and because of destiny, bad things are inevitable.
In Bruce Lincoln’s piece “Holy Terrors” he discusses this issue of theodicy using the 9/11 twin tower event when terrorists flew planes into New York’s twin towers, killing thousands of people. In one passage, he states “Having dealt with starvating Afghani children and frightened children in the foreign lands, Bush returned to address the situation of american children in the least successful passage of an otherwise deft rhetorical performance… the other children Bush had described had entered his narratives only as objects: objects of suffering, pity, fear, and terrible circumstances far beyond their control; others who had been worked on by evil others to their detriment”. This part of the passage shows us how the struggle of pain and evil correlate directly with spirituality and religion. Lincoln then goes on to discuss how these children were used to create a sense of hope for future prosperity. Whether discussing religion or not, it seems like one can claim that bad things happen in order to build a stronger future. Maybe 9/11 happened to unite the American people, maybe it happened to bring us together as a nation and seek diplomatic success. This principle can be applied to religion as well. Maybe bad things happen to good people as a way of making people closer to God, or stronger in faith, or stronger as people.
Theodicy embodies several important factors, each of which serves as a new discussion and a new open ended question. But, it seems when discussing the infamous question “Why do bad things happen to God people while there is an almighty all good God?” we can always infer that everything does, in fact, happen for a reason.
These things happen to strengthen people’s ties with God; through pain comes peace and prosperity.