“Losing My Religion”

By David Ramos

One summer, years ago, I remember going to this club at Ramey Base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico called Cocomo’s with my little nephew. What the club lacked in size it more than made up with an outstanding DJ and no cover charge. I sat at a table and waxed philosophical as the DJ spun his magic. The club was open on multiple nights. Bored and within five minutes from my sister’s home, Cocomo’s became a haven and an adventure in acoustic andrenalin. I remember a song that used to always arrest me, one that I would eventually request every time I was there, it was a female rendition of REM’s, “Losing My Religion” set to club music—it was fantastic! There, sitting alone in what amounted to “a corner” I contemplated the lyrics of this song as the beat, the lights, and my loneliness crashed upon me like the waves of “la playa de Boriquen.”

I thought about my youth passing me by as I watched the precious naivety of my nephew and observed him don social roles with his school buddies. I thought about the inherent contradiction of even being there, was I not sitting in “la sillas de escarnecedores (sitting in the seat of the scornful)? I thought about the various religious constructs that I was weaned upon as many of them began to cave in upon the weight of their own idiosyncratic cultural nuance, upon the weight of manufactured fear and guilt, upon the weight of years of eschatological manipulation and terror because “cuando suena la trumpeta” (when the trumpet sounds) you didn’t want to be in Cocomo’s, Blockbusters, or Six Flags because that meant a one way ticket to “el lago de fuego” (the lake of fire). However, ironically, God was there—yes in Cocomo’s, hanging out with me, speaking to me, loving me, alleviating my pain and loneliness. While I am not encouraging us to go back to the days of Studio 54, my point is that God doesn’t necessarily abide in our air tight theological notions and has the reputation of surprising us humans with some divine incongruence.

The word for religion comes from the Latin word “religare” which means “to bind back” or “to bind together.” It has historically been a positive word implying healing or restoration, however, it has of recent, developed negative connotations implying rigidity, narrow mindedness, and/or religious zealotry or jingoism. We see this notion espoused even by many of us evangelicals when we stress to others that Christianity is a “relationship” not a “religion.” If religion is a theological construct, or merely philosophical architecture, then perhaps “losing” some of it can be a good thing, if of course this construct impedes or opaques truth. However, if religion is the delicate, intricate and essential weaving of spirit, soul, values and meaning, losing it would be a travesty. Shedding human or cultural constructs that have grown in the garden of personal meaning and devotion is especially difficult.

Okay, I admit, it may be difficult for most to get theological amidst the beat of House or Techno, for me I could hear the clarion voice and presence of God while we both watched my religious constructs crack as I, like a surfer clinging to his board in rough waters, desperately clenched and held on to that which “held me together.”

Losing My Religion

Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

Click here to view REM’s Losing My Religion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7vs21ZKrKM


  1. i think that was the holy spirit tutoring you at Cocomo’s, hermano… where can i download that version of the song… great post, jefe

  2. Thanks Rudy; I have not been able to find it. Next time I’m in B&N I’m going to try and use their database. It’s a great version–I’ll let you know if I get lucky.
    Paz mi hermano

  3. Wow.. you said it beautifully … Shedding human or cultural constructs that have grown in the garden of personal meaning and devotion is especially difficult. I like the full version of the lyrics.. thanks .. And I yearn to be in Esabella!!

  4. Sandy,
    Thank you! I will be praying for your trip, I know that it will be transformative. We have to finish that conversation–it was deep. God meets us in the deep waters.

  5. David,
    Great article on the effects of a restrictive religious worldview on our spirituality in contemporary settings. I’ll keep reflecting on that.

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