Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Maynard James Keenan

In high school Tool was my favorite band, in spite of what one might rightly perceive to be an anti-Christian slant in their lyrics and presentation. While I wouldn't call them my favorite today, I continue to cherish the quality of their music and the thoughtfulness of their message. Maynard James Keenan is the lead singer, and his lyrics are always powerful. "Reflection" is from their third full-length album released in 2001, Lateralus, and reveals surprisingly Christian language in its evocation of spirituality and the need for freedom from narcissism. If one were to changes the gender of the personal pronouns, a "Christianity and Culture" class could probably be fooled into thinking the lyrics were by a Christian! However, I don't want the power of the song to be reduced to what sounds "Christian"; the words are compelling in their own right, and deserve to be heard in their own tenor. In that spirit, enjoy!

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By Maynard James Keenan (of Tool)

I have come curiously close to the end, down
Beneath my self-indulgent pitiful hole
Defeated, I concede and
Move closer
I may find comfort here
I may find peace within the emptiness
How pitiful

It's calling me...

And in my darkest moment
Fetal and weeping
The moon tells me a secret
My confidant
As full and bright as I am
This light is not my own and
A million light reflections pass over me

Its source is bright and endless
She resuscitates the hopeless
Without her, we are lifeless satellites

And as I pull my head out
I am without one doubt
Don't wanna be down here
Feeding my narcissism
I must crucify the ego
Before it's far too late
I pray the light lifts me out
Before I pine away...

So crucify the ego
Before it's far too late
To leave behind this place so
Negative and blind and cynical
And you will come to find
That we are all one mind
Capable of all that's
Imagined and all conceivable

Just let the light touch you
And let the words spill through
And let them pass right through
Bringing out our hope and reason

...before we pine away...

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Love is a Justice

Pens are growing sniper scopes
And books protective shields,
The wind controlled by suited men
And rain called down by market forces.

When water droughts are bioengineered
To the specificity we deem Deity
Just missed by a nose, that will
Be happiness and unsuffering, the
Will of the people – individuals
Incorporated – enacted by
Scientific fiat; why, because we can!

But love is acceptance and presence
Love is a justice unwilling to be
Unnatural, unsatisfied by alteration
Rather, pleased with transformation
Love is communal but not corporate
Love is sweat tilling the earth, graves
Replenishing the earth, rest letting alone
The earth – only by day is love,
Even by hour and minute, but not
Then, only now, for love will not
Wait or regress: love is the time we
Have, have been given to love and be loved
By earth and family, friends and God,
Children and spouse, food and house.

Love is only this, and never that.


  1. Maynard James Keenan was raised a Southern Baptist and stated “I witnessed first-hand the hypocrisy of this particular form of Christianity. But it was a gradual thing. As I got older, I began to see people claiming one set of beliefs and acting in ways which directly opposed these views". "My views against Christianity or religion in general are directed towards the 'middle men'-those who are in power and use religion as a market force by which to manipulate human beings for their own personal gain. The middle men taint any purity of spirituality that could result from genuine religious/mystical experiences". What Maynard is saying is that he is against who use their views as a tool for power, manipulation, and the accumulation of wealth and material gain-the exact things of which Christianity is opposed. So it is the element of being ingenuine, insincere, and hypocritical to the point of using a belief system as a means for entirely secular ends.
    This is exactly what I see in most “good Christians” today. It is a mind frame that is held by a Christian that to them, gives them some type of justification for the wrong acts they commit and their cases are for the greater cause. I challenge you to take a good look at the Christians you surround yourself with