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Old 08-11-2007, 10:15 AM   #1
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The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

I can't help but notice the religious ambiguity of some of Tool's "Judeo-Christian" songs/lyrics. I surmise that they express some degree of reverence or at least a fascination to the denomination and some of its values; but I wouldn't deem them to be totally devout. Since Maynard is the main lyricist, I believe it is because of that fact alone that there is any mention at all of God, Angels, etc. that Tool incorporates in their music because of Maynard's upbringing in his family's strong traditional beliefs. The reason I stated the religious amibuity is although some of the songs are about or related to God, he also blasphemes God by pairing profane expressions to the name of the holiest of holies; though they could just be a preconcieved choice of words to appeal to those die-hard metal fans (Like me!) to convey that cynical response us metal heads can relate with. If one were to attempt to analyze the complex inner mind of the great (good stuff) Maynard, one could say that the cryptic religious messages he scribes are tailored to mirror the spiritual quandary he's in. Thus he may feel that he might have strayed of the path of rightiousness because of the choices he's made in his past yet still holds steadfast to his faith as far as exibiting it in spoken and written word to the masses via music. But then again the lyrics could be nothing more than utter nonsense they manifest to amuse themselve and make them filthy dirty stinking rich; In which case all i would be doing now is spewing forth a load of pasturized elelphant shit all over the internet when I could be doing somethin more productive like chugging down some of this good ol jager. That, my friends, is for you to decide.

Last edited by U N Owen; 08-11-2007 at 10:50 AM..
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Old 08-11-2007, 10:22 AM   #2
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

It's clear that, like most Americans, Maynard grew up in a Christian home/community. Christian tropes and imagery are simply the tools available.
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Old 08-11-2007, 10:39 AM   #3
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

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Originally Posted by T-13h View Post
It's clear that, like most Americans, Maynard grew up in a Christian home/community. Christian tropes and imagery are simply the tools available.
Yes but they're not the only tools available, they just seem to be the ones Tool favor over all else maybe because it is upon the christian beliefs that they base their philisophies of life and the afterlife. Though I don't think its simply because christianity is mainstream ( Metal bands usually claim to be non-conformists ). Its just interesting to see that this band makes more references about God than the Doobie Bros. yet you wouldn't expect to find a Tool CD in a christian book store.
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Old 08-11-2007, 10:57 AM   #4
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

In reference to Judeo-Christian ethic and belief, I don't think there is really much ambiguity at all in the lyrics. Maynard does not believe.

His struggle is with his mother's belief, not his own. For most of the references to her, I think he was basically incredulous as to why she would believe in the face of what she was handed in life. For WFM/10,000 Days he was simply granting her a measure of respect within her own belief, not accepting it or converting to it in any way. It's called a temporary belief system, and he used a similar device before in 46+2 to entertain an extended metaphor for human & personal evolution.

Organized religion disgusts him because it left one of its most devout followers (Judith) out in the cold for more than a quarter of a century. This informs lyrics which directly challenge or reference theology, such as Jerk-Off, Opiate, Eulogy and Flood.

As to whether the lyrics are mere nonsense to make money, I question such a conclusion when dealing with a band that basically flouted every standard in the industry (except for being "melodic") and yet were a complete financial success anyway. When they signed their original contract with Zoo they insisted on complete artistic control over media, promotion, artwork, videos, Etc. This is usually the first thing to be handed over to the majors by bands that are desperate to sell out so they can get on MTV. Tool took less money for this, and have benefitted greatly because of it. In my opinion, the psychological ambiguity in their lyrics isn't really the money-maker. it's the sound and the melody that people enjoy (DESPITE the lyrics) which has made them millions.

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Old 08-12-2007, 01:31 AM   #5
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

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What standards have Tool 'flouted' again? There's plenty of bands that make long boring rock songs. Stairway to Heaven was 8 minutes long and popular 20 years before Tool even started making 'music'.
Yeah lets not forget The Pink Floyd as well.
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Old 08-12-2007, 12:22 PM   #6
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

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What standards have Tool 'flouted' again? There's plenty of bands that make long boring rock songs. Stairway to Heaven was 8 minutes long and popular 20 years before Tool even started making 'music'.
So? I didn't say they were "the first". If you look up the word "flout" in the dictionary you'll find a surprising lack of primacy attributed to it.
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Old 08-12-2007, 01:29 PM   #7
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

This guys an English buff. Watch your pints and quarts.
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Old 08-14-2007, 01:15 PM   #8
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

I think religious ambiguity is right on. Though I don't think it's so much a matter of wether Herbert "believes" or not. Maynard obviously "believes", otherwise the time and energy wouldn't be spent on the subject. I think its more of an internal struggle he has with his own faith. The awesome magnitude of the existence we experience, had to be created by something for some good reason. But why then would his mother own her particular fate? The age old question of "if there is a God, how he be letting little babies die and sht?" Then one must also presume that James is plenty intelligent enough to understand the "everything happens for a reason, wether we understand the reasoning or not" bit. However, he obviously holds great resentment in the case of Judith. Moving towards his general distaste for orthodox religion, it is much more a matter of "think for yourself". Probably best put by Chris Rock as the Apostle in Dogma, that people should stop "believing" so much, and just have "a pretty good idea". People die over beliefs, people kill over beliefs, but people having a good idea seems to only spawn intelligent conversation and the evolution of that good idea.

Atheism is a far cry in this case, again, if there were no belief, there would be no use in referencing. I would lean more toward Agnosticism which simply "believes" that we are not provided with enough information to even form an accurate hypothesis regarding our existence. Therefore, we can only continue to gather and question the available information on our evolutionary journey. However, this even seems to fade as Herbie expresses his obvious resentment towards the Judeo/Christian faith which in turn, validates its existence and his belief in it.
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Old 08-14-2007, 09:19 PM   #9
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

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The awesome magnitude of the existence we experience, had to be created by something for some good reason.
Are you ascribing this belief to MJK? I'd like to see some lyrical references.

Belief in the existence of organized religion and belief in the validity of its tenets are not the same thing.
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:19 PM   #10
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

Logically, if he did not believe in the Judeo/Christian orthodoxy, then I would imagine that he wouldn't ever give it much thought, much less sing and voice his discontent as often and strongly as he does. By saying, F your God, you would be validating the existence of said God. Otherwise there would be no God to F, much less talk about. You can't be mad at a God you don't believe exists.

Believing in the mere existence of organized religion is a given, we know it is there as are the trees and ocean. Now, wether or not we choose to believe in the validity of its tenets is a different story.

I can't begin to allure to what James may or not believe, practice, or subscribe to. I do however, think its obvious that he holds a little grudge against the Judeo/Christian ideology of God.

On an afterthought, this theory might also be supported by his great dislike for Scientology......then again, doesn't everyone?!
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Old 08-16-2007, 08:54 PM   #11
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

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Originally Posted by gjamison27 View Post
Logically, if he did not believe in the Judeo/Christian orthodoxy, then I would imagine that he wouldn't ever give it much thought, much less sing and voice his discontent as often and strongly as he does. By saying, F your God, you would be validating the existence of said God.
...or you could be pissing on someone else's beliefs, maybe? Using biblical tropes such as "angels on the sideline" does not mean that he "believes" that they literally exist. It's possible (and more likely) that he's using satire to poke fun at the self-righteous who believe they are doing God's will by going to war.

Quote:
You can't be mad at a God you don't believe exists.
But is he really speaking to God, or his mother? I don't think he's addressing God at all. I could be wrong, but I don't think there is any clearly direct statement towards God in Tool's catalog.

Quote:
I can't begin to allure to what James may or not believe, practice, or subscribe to. I do however, think its obvious that he holds a little grudge against the Judeo/Christian ideology of God.
I would like lyrical examples of what you're talking about.
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Old 09-04-2007, 01:05 AM   #12
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

"All you know about me is what I sold you"

Guys, please, listen to the man, don't waste your time. Don't sell him short by thinking you're going to figure out personal shit he doesn't want you to know about him. I'm sure of a few of the things which he deems as true, just a few things which he lets out on purpose in the lyrics, [a gift] for those who need to know those things also. But to pin his belief system based off of his lyrics is a fucking wild goose chase. Go visit him at the Vinyard and try to become friend with him if you wanna know that.
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Old 09-04-2007, 05:50 AM   #13
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

The band has sold us quite a bit to chew on. I agree that figuring out MJK the actual person is pointless, but the characterization of him within the context of Tool is absolutely worthy of discussion. It engulfs the whole of their oeuvre.

And in that sense, yes, it would be pointless to argue what he believes if he hadn't brought it up. But much of what the band has to offer, lyrically and visually, addresses that particular issue.
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:16 AM   #14
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

Lyrical examples are admittedly tough for me to come by in support of my statements. In part, due to much new light shed upon by your own views there Octopod. For that, I thank you. Herbert's art leaves much open to interpretation and double entendre. This, I believe, is the root of intrigue and the beauty of the art itself. Which brings me to the latest subject of discussion.

No arguments here and I dare say that no effort is being made to identify specific, particular, personal beliefs or belief systems of the creator. The more accurate aim of the discussion is more focused on the interpretation of the presented art. As I have previously stated, "I can't begin to allure to what James may or not believe, practice, or subscribe to. I do however, think its obvious that he holds a little grudge against the Judeo/Christian ideology of God." The latter portion of the statement referring only to the interpretation of his lyrics, and not his actual belief. I did however, not word it accordingly.

I do ponder though, how much of any artists work can be interpreted completely seperately from there own beliefs and belief systems. How many Christian artists dedicate the subject matter of their art to Allah, Buddah, or Atheism altogether? How many Arians create artwork in support if civil rights? Therefore, one must conclude that given the large amount of Judeo/Christian subject matter within James' art, he would certainly give it some significant level of validity in his own life.
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Old 11-08-2007, 02:11 PM   #15
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Re: The religious ambiguity of the great Maynard

You...didn't just call Maynard a Christian, did you?
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