There’s this ritual you may or may not be familiar with, called immersion baptism.

It’s an evangelical Christian thing, and generally involves people in their teens or adulthood formally becoming members of a church. Stay with me – it’s my partial analogy of Joy Oladokun’s song “Taking Things For Granted.”

One of the meanings attached to immersion baptism is that of “resurrection” – going from death to a new life. It is a little surrealistic, for those who haven’t seen it. When it’s done inside (as it often is in colder climates – some churches practice this ritual in lakes or rivers), there’s something akin to a big aquarium at the front of the church. It’s fairly shallow, goes up to mid-thigh on an average height human.

The pastor of the church, or a designated leader, asks some questions of the initiate who is about to be baptized, meant to elicit acceptance of the faith and consent/affirmation of the baptism ritual. Once that is done, the pastor says “Now I baptize you…” – plus the faith-related statement, and dunks the person backwards fully under the water. Usually the person being baptised has to bend their knees to facilitate the whole thing, because the baptismal tank is shallow, like I said. Getting dunked under the water is representative of experiencing a “death to self,” and being brought back up again is representative of a new life of faith.

Joy Oladokun’s song “Taking Things For Granted” is kind of a humanist version of this baptism.

It’s about an awakening to oneself, to one’s own voice and power.

Sometimes it feels like

I never got out of the water

Even though I did

In Joy’s song, the community does not represent support, but quite the opposite. It seems that the community is observing, watching Joy go under water, but to them that immersion is not part of a process toward new life – it is, instead, a sign of the individual disappearing.

The death of self is occurring, but the new life is not recognized. The individual was a sort of irritant, a sign of difference, a voice that stood out – but then, under the water, the individual in this song drowns and disappears for the community, and is no longer seen. The distinct voice that previously asked questions, and made statements that disturbed, is assimilated into the impersonal whole, and it is assumed that the questions and idiosyncrasies that accompanied the individual have disappeared as well.

I’m learning to write my songs (to right my wrongs)
And speak up when I feel like I’m not being listened to
Some story entered my bones
When I was far too young to know not to listen to

What people say ’cause everybody’s feeling the pressure of
A world that is trying to end us every day
Sometimes, it feels like everyone’s looking at the surface, and
It’s not happening on purpose, but
They’re taking things for granted again

In “Taking Things For Granted,” Joy identifies having a voice, speaking up, as part of asserting life within “a world that’s trying to end us every day.” She is coming up out of the waters of an attempted baptism, not to accept assimilation, but to be part of bringing new life – bringing her life – to her world and to her community.

It’s a battle, though. People have their minds set, and don’t hear – even words that are spoken plainly, are not understood to have meaning.

Sometimes, it feels like this world’s got nothing for me
Getting blank stares in return for what I give
Sometimes, I feel a thousand eyes looking down at the surface, and
They’re watching me drown on purpose, oh
They’re taking things for granted again