"A Democratic Spirit is one that combines rigor and humility, i.e., passionate conviction plus sedulous respect for the convictions of others. As any American knows, this is a very difficult spirit to cultivate and maintain, particularly when it comes to issues you feel strongly about. Equally tough is a D.S.’s criterion of 100 percent intellectual integrity — you have to be willing to look honestly at yourself and your motives for believing what you believe, and to do it more or less continually.
This kind of stuff is advanced U.S. citizenship. A true Democratic Spirit is up there with religious faith and emotional maturity and all those other top-of-the-Maslow-Pyramid-type qualities people spend their whole lives working on. A Democratic Spirit’s constituent rigor and humility and honesty are in fact so hard to maintain on certain issues that it’s almost irresistibly tempting to fall in with some established dogmatic camp and to follow that camp’s line on the issue and to let your position harden within the camp and become inflexible and to believe that any other camp is either evil or insane and to spend all your time and energy trying to shout over them.
I submit, then, that it is indisputably easier to be dogmatic than Democratic, especially about issues that are both vexed and highly charged…”
My band is re-releasing our first few albums on vinyl pretty soon, and so I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now copy-and-pasting all the lyrics I have long since lost into a Word document, and then listening to all these old songs, double-checking to make sure the words from the internet are correct.
1. My voice was insufferably bad 5 years ago. I remember standing in front of the microphone in the studio for the first time and actually asking, “How should I sing?” I had no idea what I was doing and it is very, very apparent. I still have no idea what I’m doing, the difference is that I have since learned to better hide that fact.
2. It’s interesting listening to all these songs in order and hearing me go from doubting Christian, to potential agnostic, to confident agnostic, to straight-up baby-killing morally-vacant atheist. This got me thinking that, since one extreme generally leads to another (I’m looking at you, coffee-guzzling, pulpit-occupying, former drug addicts!), it’s due time for me to find some sort of crazy Eastern or New-Age religion to profess on the next record. Problem is, since swearing off organized religion a few years ago, I haven’t really kept up on what’s new in the whole world of congregating to sing-to/talk-about something no one can see. My gut reaction is to become a Christian Scientist or maybe a Scientologist, but both of those are too established and trendy, and besides, I can’t believe in any religion South Park has already made fun of. Mashing together theism and science does seem to be like the Girl Talk of belief these days, so maybe I could just make one up?