Thursday, October 1, 2009



We in Ho-Life are guilty of rerecording some songs for this album. Doing this is always a tricky undertaking as a band is trying to either live up to the previously great version of a song, or make up for a shitty version. Which one applies to us? I don’t know. What is certain is that this song (as well as new drugs) was recorded and released on the EP of the same name on Black Pint records about a year ago. At that time I wrote an essay explaining the song. So in the spirit of recycling, here is that essay with some minor adjustments (and, of course, the lyrics).

show me the pale phantom of Bethlehem
we run, we run from reason
no crackers born in the house of bread
the west paints nails through lily white hands
for the nonsense our egos demand

canvasses covered with apostate blood
for more portraits of the prophet’s love
race didn’t draw this battle line
this hate was an intelligent design
and it’s a fucking lie

white Jesus
the coward’s redeemer
that lies to believers
betrays the healer
every page and brush’s stride
so successfully divides

we’ve held tight these mythologies
and their subsequent iconography

we invented our architect
we run, we run from reason
and we placed that lie on a mortal neck
made a one-way mirror of the planet’s roof
let fear fuel our every tribute

share the same worldview as medieval minds
heeding the threats of forgotten scribes
slaughter and slave for paradise
and cry intolerance when criticized
and it’s a fucking lie

Perhaps the most popular argument in favor of religion is the one that puts forth the notion that it provides people with a moral compass and thus serves to unify humanity as a whole.
It keeps us good and brings us together.

A nice idea, for sure.

The raw truth of it, quite unfortunately, is that few of humankind's inventions have caused so much division, bloodshed, and sexual mutilation in the world. Crack open a history book, use an internet search engine, it's hard to miss the centuries of religious inspired hatred and warfare - book burnings and people burnings abound. Embracing the love of a god has time and again lead to segregation and murder.

The depiction of a White Jesus is perfectly indicative of religion's divisive nature. For centuries the west has worshipped its own image, used the son of god's face to buttress the racism and injustice that has infected every aspect of its society. Without a concern for reason or truth, we blocked out the probable race of our messiah, and used the church to reinforce a racist power structure. And could we be any more insulting to our 'savior'? Supposing for a moment that he did exist,* as an inhabitant of the Middle East his skin tone is more likely to have been olive or brown rather than white, so is it not a slap in his holy face to alter his appearance in visual representations because he was of the wrong color? When posed, this question is greeted with a grand, "whatever," simply because the image of a blonde haired, blue eyed Christ has always been the norm. Reason has no place in religion, and as a result critical thinking is downplayed and submission is embraced. Bigotry and stupidity are sure to follow from this recipe.

It would be stupid to suggest that all racism in the world stems from religion, people can be barbaric and irrational without God. But it would be stupider however to ignore the fact that religion fuels and ignites racial, ethnic, and cultural division. The Catholic Church's role in Rwanda's 1994 genocide is pretty solid evidence for this claim. For decades leaders of the country's Catholic Church perpetuated the racial conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. Rather than try to unite the two tribes with their doctrine of eternal love, church leaders called from the pulpit for the Hutus to engage in ethnic cleansing, and when the massacres began, Bishops and Nuns alike conspired with the murderers, leading innocent victims into the machetes of angry mobs, or locking them in churches to be burned alive or bulldozed. Several members of the clergy have been indicted and convicted in international court. So much for religion uniting the community and causing humans to act 'good'.

This horrific example aside, the ways in which religion helps to advocate racial division is demonstrated, not only in the vicious actions of the faithful, but through religious iconography. From the endless debates that have been waged regarding which colour of acrylic should be applied to a canvass to represent the pigment of Christ's skin, to the violence that explodes when someone draws a shitty cartoon of Mohammad, mere drawings surrounding the topic of religion divide us. Faith only brings together like minds. Doubters, skeptics and the unfaithful (not to mention sinners) are pushed away, and often, if you look at the historical frequency of the event, killed. And there in lies the real problem. The books of the three popular monotheisms tell their followers that they are God's chosen, and that the rules they obey as believers apply to everyone on the planet. It is the duty of the faithful to ensure that God's word is spread and observed by everyone. Therefore, gays can't marry. You can't doodle pictures of the prophet. Scientific observation has no merit. It goes on and on and on and on and on until I'm tired of typing.

But let's back up for a moment and contemplate the good that religion does for mankind. Proponents of Christianity love to point out the church's positive involvement in social justice movements, particularly the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. And they're right in the sense that, yes, some facets of the Christian church did help (quite successfully) to mobilize oppressed African Americans, and did champion the notion of equality for all. Martin Luther King was a reverend after all. The largest protest for equal rights in the 60s was the march on Washington, and it was largely organized by religious organizations. Surely this is evidence of religion's ability to unite human beings and create a better world. Unfortunately it isn't. At the time of the march, author James Baldwin was the most popular and critically acclaimed black author in America. Baldwin was outspoken about the racism that poisoned American society, and this made him a superb candidate to join Martin Luther King, among others, in making a speech at the march on Washington. The problem was, however, that while Baldwin was an outspoken opponent of racism, he was also very gay and an outspoken opponent of homophobia. His lifestyle didn't mesh with the Christian beliefs of the march's organizers and as a result Baldwin was not permitted to speak. The message here is very clear – yes, the church wanted to fight for the rights of African Americans…but only for the rights of some African Americans. Homosexuals couldn't join in because they were sinners and could potentially damage the image of this anti-oppression movement.

The myths of all three major monotheisms need to go the way of humankind's older myths. Bellerophon didn't ride a winged horse, neither did Mohammad. Jesus was no more real than Hercules (ok, maybe Jesus was an actual person, but he wasn't of divine lineage, and he couldn't walk on water or change the molecular composition of liquid any more than baby Herc could strangle two serpents in his crib).All gods are the product of human invention - they can't simply be thought or wished into existence. Beliefs without proof, no matter how sacred someone told you they are, require questioning, and, more often than not, unapologetic opposition. Consider claims put forth within our society that do not have the sanctity of religion but are based on beliefs that are as divisive and cannot be supported with proof. How about racism? We've already ventured down that road so let's keep going. White supremacists love to purport that people of darker skin are genetically inferior to Caucasians. Any person with a moron's understanding of modern science knows that there is no evidence to maintain this claim, and wouldn't hesitate to challenge it. Compare the nature and idiocy of the racist's argument to that of the Christian, or Islamic, fundamentalist's (and don't forget the orthodox Jew's) belief that women are inherently inferior to men, and the similarities are obvious. There is no evidence for this outlandishly sexist claim aside from some books that were written thousands of years ago by men who were afraid of the dark and thought that the earth was flat. Questioning and refuting religious claims such as these, no matter how hateful or illogical, however, is considered more than impolite, it is considered intolerance. Kind of funny that you are labeled intolerant for attacking and refusing to respect groundless claims that reinforce intolerance and foster division. Why, that's as irrational as the belief that homosexuals should be stripped of basic human rights and civil liberties because an archaic, outdated, misanthropic book said two people with the same genitals shouldn't fuck.

The White Jesus embodies all that is wrong with religion and overshadows anything that is right about it.** Its proponents may sing and scream and testify that the message is love, but violence and segregation have always been the bastard children of religion. The history of warfare, torture, and mutilation that hangs over the heads of all three monotheisms cannot be ignored. The apocalyptic threat posed by insane (yes, killing someone for an invisible man you've never met is insane) zealots around the world cannot go unaddressed. Religion kills, has killed, and will kill again. Questioning it and challenging it without fear, calling it on all its shit is of the gravest importance. To be tolerant does not require silence. Better to offend the self-proclaimed righteous than to become one of their casualties or allow someone else to be. Compassion, empathy and solidarity do not spring from gods, they are born of humans. We no longer need these myths - the answers they once provided us with have been disproved. All that remains are untruths and fictions touted as facts. The White Jesus is the great divider, the champion of the irrational. It is the perpetuator of a medieval and hateful value system. It is the enemy of truth and of life. It's a fucking lie.
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*Reliable records from this era are spotty at best.

**No, fuck that, there is little to nothing 'right' about religion. At its core is revulsion for critical thinking and inquiry, and a hatred of sex and the human body. It tells the believer that submission is the key to paradise. A lie this big has no redeeming qualities.


  1. I know this is going to make me sound like an asshole, no matter how I word it, so I'm just going to say it.

    Why is the new album sound very 'thin'? I compared the original recordings of White Jesus and New Drugs, and the COTU versions seem like lesser-quality recordings (used both the MP3 and FLAC versions of the new album, and the CD version of the White Jesus EP). In fact, the whole album sounds very "tin-like', almost like it is being played out of an old radio. I've done A/B comparisons, and it's clear the new album is substantially lacking in quality compared to past Hostage Life releases. Was this a conscious decision

  2. hey man
    you don't sound like an asshole at all. you're just speaking your mind.
    we did try and make an album that was sonically different from our earlier stuff. we're totally pleased with all our old material but we didn't want such a 'big sound' for this album. so, yeah, it was intentional.