The Flaming Lips – Vein of Stars
- At War with the Mystics
- Year :
- RIYL :
- Butthole Surfers / The Polyphonic Spree / Modest Mouse
Ask a few people about their favorite bands, and one phrase you are likely to hear repeated is “it’s as if he/she/they are singing words just for me,” or something similar. One of the things that makes The Flaming Lips a band that I absolutely love is that, probably more than any other artist, it seems like Wayne Coyne is writing songs based on ideas that I have had. Obviously, this is not true, but feeling like someone out there is having the same thoughts as you is a pretty wonderful sensation, and having those thoughts and emotions preserved in song forever is about as validating as it gets.
There could have been a number of songs that I heard while I was struggling with my own religion, but this is the one I found.
I was raised Episcopalian, which I once heard accurately described as “lazy Catholic.” My church experience as a child involved no saints, no confession, and no confirmation. That last one really bothered me, as it seemed like every week one of my friends was telling me about the endless amount of money they got. As far as I could tell, getting money was the only reason anyone had a confirmation. Still, my parents and I went to church most Sundays, my grandparents were very active within the church, and even I ended up in my junior choir, singing the best Christmas and Easter songs that could be adequately performed by third-graders.
All this to say, religion, and God, was an established part of my upbringing.
But that didn’t mean I didn’t have questions.
I don’t remember how old I was the first time I wondered if God was real, but I remember being young enough to be afraid to tell my mom that I thought such a thing. I recall asking something about the question itself, while being very careful not to do anything that would indicate the thought was mine. This was how I learned that such thoughts are put into our heads by Satan himself, to turn us against God. I was terrified, but the questions continued. I would look around during Sunday mass, watching everyone as they repeated prayers in monotone unison, which even carried over into the songs, and how it all resembled what happened to “brain-washed” characters that I saw on cartoons the morning before. (You can imagine my excitement when I first saw this.)
Over the years, I grew away from my church, and despite the fact that I clearly didn’t feel whatever it was that my religious friends felt, I couldn’t bring myself to say that I didn’t believe in God. I had been told that Atheists were evil people, filled with hate and destined for Hell. The moment I said out loud what I had been thinking, I was locking myself into that same destiny.
I don’t know when it happened, or how long it took, but one day I realized that while I can be a bit of a sarcastic ass from time to time, I’m not evil. I try to do right by other people when I can, and I don’t do it out the fear of an eternal fiery pit. I didn’t believe in such a thing. For that matter, I didn’t believe in destiny. My life is what it is because of the choices I make. Yes, sometimes things beyond my control happen that I then have to deal with, but that’s life. Things happen, we respond. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not, and I don’t believe it has anything to do with religion or destiny or karma. I try to do right by other people because this is life, it’s the only one I have, and these are the only people I’ll share it with. I can do nothing about the world before I was born, and there is little I can do about it after I’m gone, so I’m going to make it the best I can now, for myself and for those around me.
I don’t know if this is what Wayne Coyne had in mind when he wrote this song, but it sure seems that way.
It’s just you and me, and maybe it’s just as well.
Comments are closed.