Category Archives: religion

Confession of an Atheist: God exists.

There has, over the last few years, been a slow boiling discussion among some of the people I admire, here in the land of the internet, about God.

When I have time and energy I intend to examine this in more detail, and give credit to everyone- they all spoke persuasively and with critical intelligence.

But right now I am very tired. There is just a little time to get to shelter before the storm hits, and I find myself wondering if I have enough energy even just for that.

So here it is.

God exists.

God is an idea.

God is not only an idea- he is an ideal.

God exists- not as a spiritual or mystical being- but as a pattern of approved behavior coded into the minds of the people who are socialized into His religions- true believer or unthoughtful backslider or holiday attendee.

God is a character in a story. Unlike most stories, the story God occurs in is called religion.

So instead of the readers reading the story and deciding what to think about that character, readers are told, from every direction and on as many levels as possible,

-that THIS character decides what THEY think.  That Wrong is disagreeing with this character and Right is agreeing with Him.

If Zie does somehow exist as a spiritual or mystical being, somewhere out in the universe, it does not change the fact that this pattern of approved behavior exists. It does not change the fact that it gets coded into the minds of those who have been socialized this way- that this Thing is called god- the One and Only.

I will also kick Zier in Zeir goddamn shin if we ever meet- for  leaving us to wallow in this slop that passes  for divinity.

Because God- as described in the book that so many take as literal fact- and so many other take as useful metaphor-

-is a shallow, blustering, gaslighting, rageful, moronic rapist of a homicidal narcissist.

God is the personality (even if as an atheist you don’t believe he is also an actual person) who forms people’s ideas of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

God is the Father.

Because God isn’t an Abusive Boyfriend. God is an Abusive Parent.

Because America has Daddy issues.

And America went out and got a Boyfriend just like Daddy.

 

 

The Most Progressive Church in the Room- Passive Aggression- Allergies

“Who are you?”

She asked- looking at us all. The question was one of the bullet points in the list she had been writing on the white board as people filled in and sat. Now she asked it directly. When the room stared at her, lack of verbal response punctuated by a few nervous chuckles, she asked again. And again.

I was a visitor.  Let them answer their own speaker.

The shape of the sound of her words was a little strange to me. She asked people to repeat themselves if they were looking away from her when they spoke. When the meeting began, the organizer had introduced her.

“She’s deaf” the organizer added.

She said hello to every one and then indicated the organizer.

“You never tell people that about someone. It’s rude.” she looked around at us. “That’s for me to tell.”

Outing is on my mind a lot. Being outed by someone else- in certain situations- was a fear that crawled around the floor of my mind.  So- that made- sense-

I sat up a little, interested.

A little later, the lady sitting next to me referenced the organizer’s introduction and the speaker’s response.

“I appreciate that you stood up for deaf culture-” she explained.

The situations I don’t give out information about myself have nothing to do with LGBT culture. They have to do with my personal fear of the human capacity for cruelty and my personal desire to not be it’s object.

The church flyer had said this was a talk on how to “create inclusive partnerships”. The description turned out to have been ambiguously worded. Buzzwords- our theology of wholeness-  oblige- values- our congregation allows full participation- I had come expecting to sit and listen as someone explained what the church thought. It billed itself as the most progressive church in town.

At the very end of the talk, it was mentioned that this was not an action committee on inclusion. The speaker expressed surprise. She had been under the impression that it was. She moved on from that discovery and continued grilling the people who had wandered in at the beginning- how would they create change? what steps were needed? who did they need to talk to in the organization and how would it be carried out. She carried them through. There were actually steps possible. A national organization had given them a list. They could petition the board. They could do a lot more, they realized, then they had thought they could.

After “Who are you?” the next item on the list was “Who are they?”

Meaning the people who walk into that church building.

“We know that they’re people seeking something!” suggested the lady next to me.

I’d spent most of my life- adult and otherwise- visiting churches. To prove they didn’t have anything for me or to make sure that the thing I was looking for wasn’t there. Sometimes I had been seeking something from them. Usually not.

“Would you know that without asking them?” I finally made an interjection.

“I mean, why else would you drag yourself out of bed on a Sunday morning, get dressed, and make the trip to church?”

A little more surreal.

“So- you wouldn’t go to church except for that reason?”

“Yes! Exactly!”

More possibilities were suggested. ‘They’  were this. ‘They’ were that.

The lady sitting next to me was my new favorite enemy. A woman with disordered grammar came in and sat down by us. She had come up to me after the service and started talking about the government and incriminating papers that had been hidden and people thrown out of helicopters.

The lady plucked a paper plate off the top of the stack and slapped it down in front of the woman, face plastered with a curling smile. Her canines were showing. She shoved a bowl of grapes at us.

She made another suggestion to the speaker.

“They aren’t allergic to white people!” She nodded, smiling widely at the only person of color in the room. One of two persons of color I had seen in the entire church.

Because if you’re uncomfortable here, it’s your problem- not ours. And not a social or emotional problem either. It’s probably some kind of weird medical condition relating to your body.

“They aren’t bothered by being in a room full of white faces.” she clarified.

Because she isn’t racist. People who object to being around her object because they’re racist.

The talk went on.

Near the end, the speaker stopped suddenly.

“Who am I?” she asked us. There were almost tears in her eyes.

She handed out orange printouts. Lists of phrases. Person who uses a wheelchair. Person with deafness. Person with hemiplegia. Not crippled. Not afflicted. Not normal. Not abnormal.

“You need to hear the language you are using.”

“Who am I?”

“I am a person. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am Jewish. I am a rabbi. I enjoy cooking. I love horses”

One of the ‘normal’  people leaned over and whispered to the person next to her.

“What did she say?”

“She loves horses.”

“I am deaf.”

The room was quiet.

“Do you understand?”

“I do not have a hearing problem. I can’t hear. It is not a problem.”

“What you are able to do for others depends on who you are.”

“Who are you?”

 

 

 

Evidence that Demands a Verdict- Part I

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One time in CO you sent me a keith green song.  I wanted to send you this one- I thought that you might treat it as me arguing with you instead of trying to communicate how I was feeling.

But it was how I was feeling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQCAo5tKFyc

These days, I think it would be a different song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Hx4NJw0nU

One day a kid who came in for a massage had a tattoo that said,

“A second chance means nothing, if nothing has been learned”

I stared at that tattoo for an hour while I was giving the massage.

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Hi [—]!  I listened to both your songs.  I love you so much, but I just can’t relate to what you’re thinking and experiencing. To me, you seem full of darkness and despair, and it seems that you have chosen it.  I can’t comprehend how anyone could say that God is a monster and that they would be proud to go to His hell, when He has done everything to set us free from the curse, but I will continue to stand back and respect your right to reject Him.   Like I’ve said before, it’s your life, and you have every right to do with it what you choose, and to believe what you want to believe.

That’s why I sent you the song, The Solid Rock – because if you ever decide you don’t want to live in darkness and despair, you can also choose to leave it behind.  I personally believe arguing with a depraved mind that rejects Truth is fruitless, but it makes me sad to think that you might interpret that as me not caring.    Until my last breath, I will be here in the background of your life, praying for you.

Father God, please protect Tegan while she struggles this out. Your word says “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. You’re a big God, and Your compassion is huge enough to stand by and wait for Tegan to come to the end of her raging self, and to still be there with open arms, offering her Your grace. Thank You Lord, for creating this precious young woman, with all her adorable, delightful ways, and her cute, quirky personality.  Father God, I ask You to grant her repentance leading to a knowledge of the Truth, so she can come to her senses and escape the snare of satan who has taken her captive to his will, hurting and discouraging people, deceiving and being deceived, when You created her to be a comforter and an encourager. This is no life for Tegan and I ask You to draw her back into the light with Your kindness.    In Jesus name, I ask this of You.

I hope you can dome see Schultz soon. He has doubled in size since we got him, but he is still a fuzzy baby. You will like him!  Love, mom

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I’m not, Mom.  Any new skill takes a while to learn and requires practice to become proficient.

But I no longer have to suck up to a being who ordered multiple genocides by calling it the source of moral perfection.

And I no longer have to publicly accuse myself of being an abomination for having biological impulses that I certainly would have done away with if I could.

And I’m becoming happier and happier.

I could get married, Mom.  Do you have any idea what this means to me?  I don’t have to sit at a window, holed up with my books, forever, weeping because of my secrets, staring at a life going past me that I can never have.

But as things stand, I could never invite you to the wedding, do you understand?

That I had to leave you behind in order to save my own life is my despair. It’s my only despair.

And don’t fear, oh you of little faith.  You are worth many puppies.  When I get up the courage to come, it’s to see you.

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Tegan, I really am very, very sorry you feel that way about God, and although I disagree with you, I won’t argue with you. It will take His own Spirit to convince you that you have believed a lie about Him, so I will leave it to Him.

I’ve tried to put myself in your shoes, to see things from your point of view, and I simply can’t.  To me, knowing God is “the pearl of great price”;  the treasure that’s worth giving up everything else for, even including giving ones’ life. Especially now, after what Dad and I went through, I see that nothing we give up in this life is worthy to be compared with living in His presence. Even lust – just not worth it. I can’t comprehend your hatred of Him or your desire to see Him as malevolent. But that you would have to leave me behind in order to pursue lust, now THAT I understand. But it’s your choice.

I wish you all the happiness your life has to offer, while realizing very sadly that when you reject your Creator’s provision for atonement, this life is the closest thing to heaven you will ever experience.  Without a doubt, you’ve made a bad trade, but God Himself gives you that choice, so who am I to selfishly demand that you fake it to make me comfortable?   I love you dearly, my beautiful daughter,   Mom

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Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

“but God Himself gives you that choice”

Nope. Actually not.

There is no possible amount of argument that make genocide not a crime- of ultimate proportion.

If there was- you would be able to argue. And you can’t.

The demand for truth and righteousness require that God (or possibly the Bible) be discarded.

“..to convince you that you have believed a lie about Him”

Magical feelings don’t turn faulty logic and the lack of ethics into sound logic and the presence of ethics.

“But that you would have to leave me behind in order to pursue lust, now THAT I understand”

Yeah you do. It’s in the Bible.

Genesis 2:24New International Version (NIV)

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Matthew 19:5New International Version (NIV)

and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[a]?

Mark 10:7New International Version (NIV)

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[a]

Ephesians 5:31New International Version (NIV)

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[a]

If that DOESN’T involve lust, they’re doing it wrong. Because they’re sure as heck not becoming one flesh with out that.

Finally; re: heaven.

Given the hideous lack of morality displayed by the deity described in the Bible, how do you know that Christianity isn’t a trap of the devil allowed by God to sift the wheat from the tares- and that the only people who ARE going to heaven are the ones who reject it?

 

TO BE CONTINUED

who’s your daddy- so you say you believe in jesus

 

John 15: 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

[T]he 34-year-old was shot in the back as he desperately tried to shield his boyfriend from a shooter’s savage volley of gunfire,” News.com.au journalist Debra Killalea wrote in a news report published Monday. “Tragically, while he managed to get his boyfriend out to safety, he died in hospital from his injuries, according to friends.”

I John 4: 16 …God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

“The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles. That’s who was a victim here, are a bunch of, just, disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar, okay?…

But these people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have tried them, convicted them, and saw them executed.”- Pastor Steven Anderson

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/06/christian-pastor-calls-orlando-massacre-good-news/#sthash.NZIIZcmz.dpuf

John8:43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Death runs Backwards- Empathy Gaps

Back. 

She’s finally crying now.

The “Joy of the Lord” that kept a smile plastered on her face till now- after now- has given way.  She goes into his room where he’s trapped, immobile, in his body. In his chair. His head balding and shorn. She sits with him and cries.

The cancer has rippled and warped his body too badly for him to live much longer.  Despite everything they did.  The special vitamin C treatments that they drove to Indiana for twice a week. The biological dentist who happily let them pay him to remove his root channel- to get out the ‘bacteria that caused his cancer’. And pay for a secondary excavation when the first had no effect.  The trip to bask in a hyperbaric chamber that supposedly simulated the environment before The Great Flood, when people lived 800 years at a whack because the Pre-Flood Earth was so perfect.

Ken Ham said so, you know. Those evil, ungoodly, evolution-believing cancer doctors didn’t believe- because they were deceived by the devil.  They were blinded from seeing that these things were the REAL medicine- far more effective than their worldly gobbledygook.

Except.

They weren’t.

And now not even the worldly doctors can keep him from dying.

 

Back

 

Sitting on the staircase with my flip phone. Others huddled, all around. Everyone crying.

I knew people died.  A seemingly unending stream of great-grandparents and withered great uncles had died over the course of my high school years. Hospitals, family gatherings, potato salad.

This was college. This was some one I actually knew.

Some one who you talked to every day- who made jokes and laughed at them himself and juiced wheat-grass. Someone who was going to live.

I was trying to explain.

“… they were out walking at night, and climbed up on the roof of a building, and there was an uncovered ventilation shaft….”

His friend had been climbing up behind him. They had gotten to the night quiet roof, with the city spread out around them.  A glowing life sized map of itself.

And he had disappeared. While his friend looked.  No sound.

His body was lying in a pile of ash several stories down, bleeding at the seams.

He’d spent the weekend before with a couple of friends and their young son.  He’d spent most of the trip tramping through the woods, teaching the kid how to whittle and cut walking sticks and be a mountain man. Now his fiance was weeping uncontrollably, rocking, brown banks of curls hiding her face. “He was going to be such a good father. He was going to be such a good father.”

I finished, and the silence on the other end makes me think I must not have explained well enough.  The terrible feelings of loss and tragedy.

Finally a voice crackled at the other end of the line. It was a lot like my mother’s. It was my mother’s. It was cold.

“He sounds stupid

 

Back

 

The family had many children. Was it eight? was it twelve? The blur of so many huge families- the only people we associated with -the blur of so many children.  So many faces. Meetings maybe one a month- maybe. Never enough time to get to know anyone.  

Not really.

I don’t remember.

They had many children.  There had been a party at one of the family homes- we had not gone- but many of the families we knew had.  All of them supersized groups- self gravitating, with self contained atmospheres- merged for the evening into a black hole of fake laughter and godliness.

The toddler had escaped. The sibling assigned to that toddler’s caretaking that evening- an girl in her early teens- had lost track of him in the crowded house.

The baby had escaped. Gotten out of the house. Toddled out onto the highway next to the house. Toddled across three lanes of traffic.

And been hit by a semi.

My mother sighed as she finished recounting the details of her phone conversation to the upturned faces and ears of her own many children.  

“But you know, all his hair started falling out a few months ago, and she didn’t know why. Maybe there was something really wrong with him and this was just God’s way of sparing them.”

Maybe it’s all for the best.”

 

End of the Endless

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My father died on Monday. He was buried on Friday. He had an aggressive cancer that he left untreated because “God told him” that he could heal it himself by taking extra Vitamin C and by giving himself enemas with coffee.

His dad had a similar cancer a few years ago.  He had a doctor advise him on treatment, instead of God. Grandpa is alive and cancer free to this day.

One time, before he got so bad, I argued with dad about his decision. The books and articles “God was using” to direct his treatment sounded distinctly like conspiracy theories to me. The conversation ended when he told me I was making him think he was crazy and roared at me to GET OUT.

Which I did.

I was very angry.

I was in the process of moving out already. Not because I had enough money.  I just couldn’t stand being home anymore. It was too crazy making.

Towards the end, when it was clear that he was going to die, he wept pretty frequently. About even little things. It’s possible the tumor was growing into his brain. It had started in his throat, after all. One day he wept and told me he was so sorry he had yelled at me- that day when we argued.

I was sad too. I didn’t give a flying fuck that he had yelled.

The evening after his death I went to see my family. The front room, where he had been all day every day for the past week, hallucinating and begging to be allowed to get up, had been cleaned.

The furniture had been brought back in. The hospital bed had disappeared.

The spring peeper frogs were singing in the ditches. A night wind was flowing through the fields around the house. Someone had set a jar of lilacs on the dresser. Words and phrases from a poem were eddying in the back of my head, but I couldn’t recall them all or fit them together.

The dresser is an antique. I believe it came from his mother. I never knew her. She died in a car wreck when my dad was- 19? Hit by a drunk driver.

He was angry at his dad about something then and moved out.

Dad was born in March- like me. His mother died in May.

The drunk died in the wreck.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers…
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
                      Frisch weht der Wind
                      Der Heimat zu
                      Mein Irisch Kind,
                      Wo weilest du?
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.

-T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Burial of the Dead

The Garden and the Creature: Clay

He took a lump of clay, once

He rolled it in his hands

poked and twisted

He showed you.

this was called ‘a shape’

He pointed out on you

it has a leg, you have a leg

it has a leg, you have a leg

it has a joint, you have a joint

it has a head, you have a head

 

It’s like me!

 

Yes. Just exactly like you!

 

You made it!

 

Yes. Just like I made you.

 

You looked around, suspicious.

 

What else did you make?

 

Everything.

 

(He surely knows everything. He’s answered every question. The Serpent asks you questions, but he never tells you. Not like He does.)

(He’s kneeling to talk to you- like grownups do when you’re a baby and it’s so important)

 

His eyes are shining.

 

That’s right. Only I know everything. That’s why you have to do what I tell you. Only I can keep you safe. Hidden from… monsters. And lions!

If you disobey me, little one, it will make me sad. Very sad. Because you’ll die.

 

What’s ‘die’?

 

This.

 

The clay crumpled.

Spurted through His fingers as He closed His hand.

The Good Wife

She was on the phone, puttering around the kitchen and living room. Cleaning up.  People, kids, around.  Like always.

I was in the door to the mudroom, peeling off my boots. And the mud.

Dad was somewhere in the house, slowly dying.

They had waited too long. When it had been discovered, a surgery could have removed the cancer. ‘God had lead them’ to treat it with extra vitamins and by having a biological dentist dig out his root canal, and by going this one time to sit in a hyperbaric chamber because that’s what the atmosphere was like before the Flood of Noah and people lived hundreds and hundreds of years before the Flood so this would fix it for sure.

When the tumor on his neck was the size of a Florida grapefruit, or larger than both my fists, they decided it was a swollen lymph node. From his body killing so much cancer.  When it peeled itself open and started gushing and dribling fluids, that was his body expelling the cancer.

When he couldn’t turn his head without pain and his right arm and hand swelled with edema to twice their normal size from being pinched by the tumor- they finally broke down and went to a doctor.

But at that point it was too late. It was everywhere.

She was talking to a friend. I couldn’t tell which one. Her voice was animated and eerily enthused. She was talking about his now inevitable death.

“At least he’s had a wife who served him. Not many men can say that!”

She’s fixed him sandwiches whenever he told her. She treats what he says as God’s word for her life- finding reasons for him to be absolutely correct even when God express irrational fears about surgery and then nose dives into conspiracy theories and quack medicines.

And now he’s slowly dying.

Funny.

Many men have wives who are sad when they die.

 

 

 

 

The Worlds of Creation

One of the saddest moments in my life. It was last week.

My little sister was showing me her minecraft world.  I showed up on the doorstep and she ran to get the cracked ipad.

My sister’s world is beautiful.  She has an extensive railway system.  The passengers are mostly cows.  Scattered across the map she has a museum and a mountain castle and a deep cave dwelling (under renovation).  She has a staircase that towers all the way up into the clouds. A king and queen live there.

She showed me the throne room. The king’s chair was golden. It dominated the center of the room.

The queen’s chair was wooden. It didn’t even have a back. It sat unobtrusively in a corner.

She walked her minecraft self into the bedrooms (which were separate). The king’s was impressive. Gold. Crystal. The queen’s was wood. Plain wood at that. She adds an explanation.

“I used to think queens and princesses were better. But now I know they’re not.”

*

I will probably never have a child. I hate being a girl too much.

*

When little sister was a baby, our mom didn’t have time for her. Didn’t have time to make her toys talk in silly voices. Didn’t have time to read to her or show her new things. Was too devoted to her ailing father (who thought he had cured his cancer through prayer) to spend time with her tiny child.  Too obsessed with the horrific end of the world to spend any time on life in the here and now.

I had time.

*

My mother spent my childhood and youth beating into my head that women were created by the all knowing all righteous infinite source of the universe for the sole purpose of handing men sandwiches and getting pregnant as often as humanly possible.

*

None of them talk to me. Oh they talk to me. They smile. Sometimes they even ask me how my day was.  But they never talk about anything below the surface. Never about anything of the organizing beliefs of our lives, never, never answer any of the questions I’ve asked them. Once in a while the mask slips a little. Little brother will mention something that I told mom in strict confidence. Mom keeps little sister away from me at church. The little kids stopped hanging out with me, despite being excited to see me when I show up.

I’ve seen her do this too many times- to too many other people- to not know what she’s doing.

*

I have honored my agreement to not talk about my questions with the little kids. I would have been, and probably still would be, cut off from them entirely- for doing that.

*

The screen shifts, and the view moves through block built trees- cascades of mountains.  A cow is stuck in a train car, being carted off to the farthest horizon for no apparent reason. The world that little sister created pours through our eyes.

The world my mother created  pours through them too.

My little sister believes that she is worth less.

There is nothing I can do or say.

*

Sia

*

Party girls don’t get hurt

Can’t feel anything anything-

When will I learn?-

I push it down, push it down…

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier

From the chandelier

I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist

Like it doesn’t exist

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night

Feel my tears as they dry…

Help me, I’m holding on for dear life

Won’t look down won’t open my eyes

Keep my glass full until morning light

‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight

On for tonight