If you’re a Spotify user, chances are you’ve looked at your 2022 Wrapped.  If you’re not a Spotify user but spend any time on any social media platform whatsoever, chances are you’ve seen a lot of other people’s 2022 Wrapped reports.  I know some people get annoyed with everyone sharing, but I think it’s fun–seeing other people’s lists gives me music ideas and helps me get to know them a little better.  

Although my list is somewhat corrupted by my kids’ listening habits (I mean, unless I listened to a lot of video game soundtracks this year without realizing it), four of my top five songs are strongly connected with my religious journey and relationship with the Church this year.  So I thought it would be fun to share them & the connection to my Church experience in 2022, and would love to hear yours in the comments.  Bonus points if your songs or artist relate to your Church experience, but feel free to share them just because you like them or if they do in some way represent an important part of your life in 2022.  

This post is a little more personal than most, so apologies in advance if you find my inner life super duper boring. But when it comes to music, if you listen to one song 50+ times a year, that probably says something about your inner life. So without further ado …

  1.  Reckless Love, Cory Asbury:  

    “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
    Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
    I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
    Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God”

This song’s title captures in two words the entirety of my theology.  I’ve been deconstructing my belief system for several years, but this year I was in many ways able to transition to reconstruction.  Or, as Richard Rohr puts it, I’m attempting to move from order and disorder to reorder (although this process is not linear and I don’t think it ever ends). 

Discovering  Marcus Borg at the end of last year revitalized Jesus and Christianity for me; his thinking and writing about those topics has made them more compelling to me than they have been in years.  (Actually, more compelling than ever, because as an orthodox Mormon I didn’t understand much about Jesus.)  I wrote a lot of posts specifically about insights I gained from Borg’s work–including here, here, and here–and his work also informed many of my other posts & comments over the year.  Concurrent with this revitalized interest in Jesus and Christianity, I started listening to a lot of Christian Contemporary Music.  Which my kids hate and tease me mercifully about. 

It’s somewhat repetitive and meditative (like a modern version of monks chanting?), and there are definitely a lot of songs with an underlying Protestant / Evangelical “we are fallen and bad”, which doesn’t jive with me.  And yes, it can be a little cheesy.  But overall, listening to music about God’s love that is not just pure but is reckless has been really healing for someone getting over a lifetime of believing in a judgmental, intimidating, authoritarian God of requirements and favoritism.  I realize that not everyone experiences the Mormon God this way.  I did.  And just as primary songs implanted in my brain a problematic version of God (one who only wants me to return to live with him if I do the things I’m required to do before it’s too late and whose love depends on a lot of “ifs, ands, and buts”), I’m using new music to rewire the way I think and feel about God.  

  1. Cornflake Girls, Tori Amos

    “This is not really
    This, this, this is not really happening
    You bet your life it is
    You bet your life it is
    Honey, you bet your life”

This is a major throwback for me since until this year I hadn’t listened to Tori Amos since college.  Its prominence on my playlist was a direct result of the Heavenly Mother crackdown of 2022, which I addressed at length here.  How are these things connected?

Well, as detailed in this episode of 60 Songs that Explain the 90’s (that particular episode is a real NSFW situation, so consider yourself warned – but the podcast overall is hugely entertaining and nostalgic for 90’s kids like me), it turns out that Cornflake Girl is about women who betray other women in support of patriarchy. 

In school, Amos referred to female friends who would betray her despite close friendships as “cornflake girls” while the girls who were loyal to each other (and fewer in numbers, as in raisin bran) were “raisin girls”:

“Never was a cornflake girl
Thought that was a good solution
hanging with the raisin girls” 

More specifically, though, Cornflake Girl was inspired by a book by Alice Walker about Female Genital Mutilation (FMG). In the book, Walker described that it was often close female relatives and sometimes mothers who performed the procedure on younger women. Amos described her reaction to this information:    

“In the book, it wasn’t the men, it was the mothers, the ones you trusted more than anyone, telling you it’s the best thing for you. It brought an ache to my being. What we as women haven’t really owned is how we withhold from each other — we’ll cut each other out of our lives so fast if we feel our position’s being threatened. We don’t look at how vicious we can be toward each other. You can blame men for eternity, but the blame is not going to give us self empowerment.”

So, in the lines I quoted at the top, Amos is describing the disbelieving response of someone something like this is happening to – a betrayal by your own mother (“This is not really, this, this is not really happening”) and then the response (“You bet your life it is, you bet your life it is, honey you bet your life.”).  It’s pretty chilling when you understand the inspiration.

The last portion of the song is about men who think they have all of the answers:  

“And the man with the golden gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows so much, yeah

And the man with the golden gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows so much, yeah

And the man with the golden gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows so much, yeah

And the man with the golden gun
Thinks he knows so much
Thinks he knows so much, yeah, yeah”

I listened to this podcast episode, and thereby rediscovered Tori Amo, right around the time that rumors about April General Conference started swirling and accounts of Renlund’s talks in regional conferences were being published.  I couldn’t help but compare women who sit silently or, worse, supportively, while men (with the golden gun, who think they know so much) spiritually mutilate their sisters and daughters by attempting to sever the connection between us and our Mother God. By telling us we aren’t allowed to have or speak about our own spiritual experiences or practices or trust our own inner authority.  By hurting our ability to see ourselves in divinity and divinity within ourselves.  By telling us that we don’t have a place in the eternities as a Goddess but only as (one of multiple) auxiliaries to our God-Husbands.  

Those women, those mistresses of patriarchy, are Cornflake Girls.  And I’m really mad at them.  I get that they are victims of patriarchy but they are also grown-ass privileged women with their own minds if they have the will to search themselves and they. should. do. better.

And of course, I’m also really mad at the men who think they know so much, think they know so

much (all the eyerolls here)–who have the hubris to think they know more the feminine divine than women do and that they get to tell women how to relate to God.  

And I listened to this song A LOT to process that anger.  

  1.  Bones, Imagine Dragons

I’m including this for completeness, but this is on my list due to my kids’ listening habits.  I do think it’s a great song, and I did take one of my kids to the Imagine Dragons concert (which was a lot of fun), but this song is not personally meaningful to me apart from the connection with my kiddo who loves it. 

  1. Precious Things, Tori Amos

    “These precious things
    Let them bleed
    Let them wash away

    These precious things
    Let them break
    Their hold on me”

Seriously, going from not listening to Tori Amos in twenty years to two songs in my top five?  Intense year.  

Precious Things has been described as “at its core an exorcism”: Amos is singing about her contempt for the expectations imposed on her as a woman and artist and sexual being, but at the same time she calls those things “precious.”  Not unlike Gollum from The Lord of the Rings calling the ring that both enslaves him and extends his life “my precious”, Amos “seeks to expunge, but the nature of this is that whatever is being rejected must at the moment of rejection have its teeth in you.  ‘Let them break their hold on me’ can only be said from within their grasp.”

This song was on repeat for me this year because I’ve been thinking a lot about my own “precious things”—things that tie me down but have also given me a sense of stability, comfort, and identity.  

I know not everyone’s experience is the same, but I’m grappling with the way Church, patriarchy, and “priesthood authority” have taken root in me so deeply that it’s hard to even know where they end and I begin.  It’s been really painful for me to think about ways I outsourced my moral authority to others for much of my life, how much I based my decisions and behavior on what I thought other people wanted me to do, and how much I fawned over and cared about pleasing people who had zero respect for me and didn’t consider me fully human.  Listening to this song on repeat (and repeat and repeat) has been therapeutic as I’ve worked to break Church authority’s hold on me and reclaim my self-sovereignty.  But when you ignore your own voice for 40 years, it’s hard to know where to even find it.  

  1. Way Maker, Leeland

    “You are
    Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper
    Light in the darkness, my God
    That is who You are

    You are
    Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper
    Light in the darkness, my God
    That is who You are”

Yeah, my list isn’t very diverse.  This one is pretty similar to the reasons I like #1.  I was surprised it was high enough to be in my top five, but I guess I love the directness and intimacy in how it addresses God (not as some distant Thee or Thou) and the way it describes God being in our midst all the time (whether we see it or not).  As I reframe the way I think about and stand in relationship to God, it’s been a good soundtrack.  


Some runners up?  Well, besides more Christian Contemporary, I really dug this version of Redemption Day (with Sheryl Crow and Johnny Cash), and Anti-Hero was super high on the list especially considering how recently it was released (but seriously, the lyrics are just brilliant).  


Ok, now it’s your turn. 

  • What were your top listens in 2022?  Did they have a strong connection to things that were happening in your religious life (or other aspects of your life)?
  • Do you totally hate my music and have now lost all respect for me?  It’s ok.  My kids constantly deride my “Jesus music”.  But go easy on me.