God Hates Flags: Song Explanation From Reese

Disclaimer: I hate this. It goes against every fiber of my being to have to explain what a song I have written is about. Not out of some sense of elitist pride or anything, but because I think the most important thing about any piece of art is not what the creator wants it to be, but how it is perceived. For me, there are countless songs that I heard while growing up that have no significance, spiritually or nostalgia-wise, to the artist, but mean the world to me. I don’t want to ruin that for you. That being said, enough people have asked, including the other devious people in my band, so I have been peer-pressured into doing it. Please don’t let this ruin our music for you. Draw your own conclusions, too. And, did I mention that I hate this? I hope you hate it, too. – Reese

FIF_BTPAS
You can buy the new EP at FiveIronStore.com

God hates flags.
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

There you are, hogging the front page.
Drawing blanks when thinking of sin’s wage.
If everyone has fallen short
some humbleness is overdue.
If I wished your face got stabbed,
well, I’d be just as bent as you.

There’s a chip that’s on my shoulder,
sucking us into quicksand.
The temperature is getting colder
a backwards ticking second hand.

There you go bullying again,
stealing the spotlight from better men.
If God is love, you got it wrong,
waving all your placards and flags.
The very fact that you’re alive,
says God must also love douche bags.

And the only saving grace,
we only ever need speak of,
if ever there’s a question,
the answer is to love.

Explanation:

YEAH! This is the absolute best part of not being on an actual label. I mean, yes- we can play Glilman Street now. And yes, we are pretty much the punkest band you have ever seen. But, what I’m trying to say is- this song may have made some of you uncomfortable. So, let me explain myself.  When Five Iron rolled through the first time, I was very concerned with trying not to offend people. To be fair, if you have spent much time in the Church, or around church-type people- they get offended VERY easily. The president of our label, Frank Tate, had given us a speech on this subject so many times that it became an inside joke: “Uh, I don’t think that’s going to go over very well in the Midwest, guys.” The last four years we toured, I was an actual pastor of a church (Never mind what our church was called, please keep reading.) So I tended to use that as a basis of how I wrote lyrics. I wanted to engage people, to edify them, to challenge them- but not offend them. Very pastoral. Well…

What I realized in those 10 years I spent not being in Five Iron, was that I was working very hard to avoid offending the wrong people. I may be wrong, but that is my current conviction. Because what I see, is that most of the world is disgusted with what an absolute political puppet the Evangelical Church has become in America. When did the name of Christ become synonymous with stockpiling ammunition and boycotting Walt Disney? No one who has even just seen a cartoon about Christmas or looked at even a really bad painting of Jesus – can put those things together. Much less, anyone who has read the New Testament. If Jesus truly broke down all of Scripture into two basic bullet-points: To love the Lord God with all your heart, and to Love your neighbor as you love yourself- then what are we doing? If love is the filter through which all scripture should be interpreted, what is this farce we are calling His Church? Yes, I somehow barely avoided saying that I wanted to stab some people in the face. I did not, however, stop myself from calling members of the Westboro Baptist Church- douchebags. Those are the kind of people I want to offend. Not out of spite, but out of a sense of justice.

No matter what your stance on homosexuality is (and you can read mine here if you wish, although I do not speak for everyone in our band), if you love Jesus Christ- that love should temper everything you do. I have decided that I am not going to waste any more energy trying to avoid offending churchgoers. What I do want to do, is share the love of Christ with the people who need it, and to show them that He is just, merciful, and true. Sorry if that gets in the way of your picket lines.

BONUS!!!
Here is an earlier bridge I kind of wish we had saved:

I remember some old book somewhere,
something that might ring a bell.
It said that it is love,
that steals our souls from hell.

AND TWO OTHER VERSIONS. (Not about homophobia or the Westboro Baptist Church, but equally as depressing. So depressing that everyone made me rewrite them.)


cooled by the wind of a passing subway
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

Heat seeps out from between the cracks,
the pavement sucks my sweat out as a tax.
Just to barely feel the breeze
to only ever not be here.
As the subway breathes its cold air,
I lean in with a prayer.

There’s something to be said for freedom
like sparrows who will fly away.
To only ever know peace,
like the wind from a passing subway.

Smoke curls around the concrete spires,
the avenues are boiling through your tires.
Did you hear the story?
Some lady who went insane.
Dropped her grocery bags and,
stepped into the train.


a murder of crows.
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

Shadows. The back seat of some plane.
Gin and tonic shoulders pain.
In remembrance of you,
take a swig for the coming storms.
I’ll pretend I’m not alone.
I’ve got my spite to keep me warm.

Ive been busy plotting murder,
pulling knives out of my back.
Ive been busy plotting murder,
the skies are spitting, swarming black.

Clutch my pen while words are left to scrawl.
Why do you persecute me, Saul?
And the ravens claw the air,
circling to steal my heat,
to take my breath away.
I’m sinking into my seat.

In remembrance of you,
take a swig for the coming storms.
I’ll pretend I’m not alone.
If you take my words away,
my spite will keep me warm.

5 Comments

  1. As much as you hate these song explanations, I love them.

    1
  2. Ooo, interesting alternates! I actually like the alternate bridge better than the, “the answer is to love,” one. And I kind of want to hear the other song versions. They’re way more depressing, yeah, but the lyrics seem to feel more natural.

    I love the title pun in the final “God Hates Flags” though, and the chorus is very catchy.

    2
  3. I like the songs, but it seems to me hard to reconcile the face stabbing and douchebag lines with your previous note about loving your neighbor.

    3
    • Would you have found it easier if he had said “white-washed tombs” instead of douchebags?

      3
    • I think Reese explained that pretty well in his write-up. Actually, the lyrics spell it out rather clearly: “If I wish your face got stabbed, well, I’d be just as bent as you”.

      It’s a knee-jerk reaction in anyone to feel anger or rage at what bigots and extremists like the WBC do “in the name of Christ”; it’s easy to condemn, mock or threaten them, but it takes a lot more to extend them grace. I get angry at fundamentalist insanity all the time, but it accomplishes nothing to harbor the same hatred and resentment. That verse is clearly speaking against giving into that anger.

      Still doesn’t make them not douchebags. You can accept and love someone as a human being equal to yourself in every way, but it doesn’t excuse their active decision to verbally or physically assault other people with an ideology of hate. Are the WBC dickwads? Absolutely, but like a Good Samaritan, I would not let my bias prevent me from extending them the same grace. That’s the most important lesson that could taken away here.

      3

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