Sinead O’Connor

Repairing God’s Broken Windows

Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine.

Risen Magazine: Is it difficult for you to reenter the musical world after being so long away?
Sinead O’Connor: In some ways it’s difficult to reenter the music business. I find promo difficult. Anything to do with actually making music I love. It’s the talking I find difficult because it makes me think too much, and I already think too much.

RM: What are the names and ages of your children?
SO: My kids are Jake, twenty; Roisin [pronounced Rosheen], eleven; Shane, three; and Yeshua, seven months.

RM: What sorts of prayers do you pray with your children?
SO: Uh, well, I don’t pray with my children as such, cuz I’m very conscious of not telling kids how it is. I think they already know. My daughter, she’s eleven now. She said to me one day she wanted me to buy a shed for the garden, she wanted to make a God shed. She said she wants this place where she can…and I think that’s lovely, but if I had been telling her she might not have come up with it.

RM: Are you getting a “God shed”?
SO: When I get a garden (which I don’t have at present) I will be getting a God shed.

RM: If you could only pass one thought to your children, what would it be?
SO: If I could pass one thought to my kids it would be to do their best always to treat people as they would wish to be treated themselves.

RM: How did your childhood influence your music and your faith?
SO: I always knew for sure there was a God. I was born into a very religious [Catholic] country, in fact a theocracy. This had good and bad points. But I was lucky in that I only took on board the good points. When you stepped out of your house in Ireland you were stepping into a church. The whole place was like a church and a large part of people’s lives revolved around Catholicism. My grandmother was very religious, as was my father, but not in a pontificating way, in a gentle silent way. So they taught me, as did school, that one could have faith in God and believe in angels and believe in prayer. I grew up in a very violent situation also. And I consequently had a very tight relationship with Jesus. When I was being set upon I used to see Jesus in my mind, in particular the crucifixion. And I would see Jesus’ blood coming from his heart to mine and that gave me the ability not to feel pain. So I really do believe in Jesus as a savior from that point of view.

RM: Maybe everybody believes in God, even before they hear the word God. I mean, Helen Keller, born deaf, dumb, and blind, communicated that she always knew God; she just didn’t know His name.
SO: Wow, cool. Amazing, yeah.

RM: How can someone confidently communicate with someone who says, “Let there be light,” and there is light?
SO: To me, the fact that someone can say, “Let there be light,” and there is light, means one can utterly trust that person. The fact that He can do that means He can do anything. So one can trust that if He can make light then He can certainly help us with whatever (much smaller than light-making) problems we have. My granny used to say God has very big ears. So I reckon if He can make light then He can hear me. Sometimes I pray for something like a cab and if I believe it, it does happen.

RM: A cursory view of the Old Testament could make one think that God were violent—do you see God as violent?
SO: For me, I see the Old Testament God as being very misunderstood. I accept I have only a limited knowledge of the Old Testament, but from what I observe, the violence of God has been overstated and misrepresented. I see that God as being very human, in fact, with all the range of emotions that humans feel when we have been abandoned by people we adore. I notice that a lot of the time God compares Himself to a jilted husband, whose wife that He adores is sleeping around with other men. He runs the whole gamut of emotions a man would if He were in that situation. One minute He is angry, next He is grief stricken, then He is remorseful feeling that maybe He did not love her well, next He is angry again, next He is sorry He was angry and swears to be more gentle. In short, He speaks out of grief. And one can never say we really know a person when we have only met them in grief or in a traumatic phase of their life. We can only properly understand someone when we’ve met them at a point where everything is OK in their life. People, it seems to me, only read the angry parts and don’t read the grief stricken parts. We all say and do terrible things when we are grief stricken. But people don’t put God’s anger in context, neither the people who like God nor the people who don’t. They all quote the bad parts, ignore the good, and miss the fact that God is actually very, very human. Plus a lot of that stuff was written thousands of years ago for their own political time. If you’re not reading it in context…

RM: Ironically the downtrodden and the impoverished find a loving God where the affluent, well-educated can often miss Him.
SO: Absolutely.

I usually find forgiveness easy because I have so much to be forgiven of. That kind of thing teaches you compassion.

RM: Were you ever a poser?
SO: Well, when I was a kid, twelve or so, my brother had a guitar and I walked around with it so that everybody would think I knew how to play the guitar. [Laughs] But no, generally, no.

RM: Where was your heart in writing your new album, Theology?
SO: Since I was a kid music was safe, and since September 11th, I wanted to make a peaceful record.

RM: If I was the devil, I would masquerade as God, act like a misogynist, a greedy tyrant, hateful.
SO: Yeah, yeah. You know they say it’s easy to lie to the dead, cuz they can’t come back and sue you, but with God it’s just so horrible and you feel sorry for God actually. What strikes me is that there are these different people all representing God, saying this is how it is.

RM: I’m sure God has a plan.
SO: Well, I hope so. But I think you’re right about people misrepresenting God. There was this woman in England from a Christian radio station saying that God isn’t against all wars.

RM: I read where it says God won’t forgive us unless we forgive others. Have you forgiven?
SO: Yeah, yes. I usually find forgiveness easy because I have so much to be forgiven of. That kind of thing teaches you compassion. You have to forgive.

RM: Do you have any recurring dreams?
SO: Yeah, I dream about a horse. It’s the same horse, but in various degrees of health. The first time I saw it, it was on a stretcher, it was like emaciated and hungry. The next time I saw it, it looked better, but parts of its skin were missing. The next time I saw it, it was pretty healthy. So, I guess it has to do with what’s going on with me at the time.

RM: How do your children describe you?
SO: My oldest calls me the She Hulk. [Laughter]

RM: How do you think God would describe you?
SO: Hmm, I’d have to think about that.

RM: Where do you see yourself in 10,000 years?
SO: In an earthly sense, recycled, doing something useful. Otherwise, in heaven doing gigs with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and Curtis Mayfield and Phil Lynott. Muhammad Ali would be my father and Harriet Tubman would be my mother. On my gravestone I want my mobile phone number. And I’m gonna make sure my kids bury me with my phone and charger. [Smiles slyly]