Rad Lieutenant

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 9 Jan 2024

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,
have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them,
I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Matthew 7:21-23


The details aren't interesting, but the Music vs. Idolatry problem has finally brought me to my knees.  While it's true that I really, actually do see what I do as fundamentally the same as any given car mechanic, carpenter, electrician, plumber, or baker, the fact remains that the reason I am sent careening into a spiraling, morbid depression every time I am confronted with the Music Idolatry Problem, is because I haven't let it go.  That's why it keeps coming back.  While I wouldn't classify my opinion on the topic as a form of REVERSE IDOLATRY, I have to admit, I'm afraid God might.  If it's holding me back, I have to let it go.  It doesn't even matter if I'm right.  Nobody ever made it to Heaven because they were right.

They made it to Heaven because they let go.


This cartoon has been bothering me for a couple weeks, to the point that I have to keep it on my desktop until I solve the problem it presents.  I can't just file it away in the folder of smug, comforting things I agree with, and forget I ever saw it.  If I don't like the music idolaters' glib dismissiveness of the validity of my trade, then I had better be absolutely certain I don't dismiss anything that challenges MY OWN default settings.  If you're going to rebuke hypocrisy in others, you'd better be sure you're not entertaining it yourself.

Trigger Warning:  This scene from Bad Lieutenant contains both Catholicism and bad language.  Watch it at your own risk.  But the moment of repentance Harvey Keitel comes to is among the best I've ever seen in film.  He rails against the overly-Catholic, stylized Christ, venting all his frustrations at Him, until finally he breaks.  Out of nowhere Keitel just blurts it out.  "I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!  I did so many bad things!"  And his spirit and body collapse on the floor in front of Christ, who turns out to be an elderly black parishioner carrying a golden cup.  But the vision was real.  Like many directors who had a Catholic upbringing, you have to look through the traditional religious set and setting they tend to portray, but unlike many other films with Christian themes or undertones, Keitel's repentance in Bad Lieutenant is real.  He isn't using holy, righteous language, he isn't reciting catechisms....  he isn't even defending himself or the validity of his work in a world that doesn't appreciate it.  He's pouring his heart and guts out on the floor the only way he knows how.  And occasionally a bad word will slip out.  But he means it.  He really is sorry.

The hellfire that consumes my soul when the devil pushes my buttons and gets me in aggressive defense mode is unbearable.  I can't stand it anymore.  You can idolize music if you want to.  From now on, as far as I'm concerned, it's your problem.  Clearly, I am hung up on the point, and I truly believe the fate of my soul hangs in the balance.  If I can't forgive the people who dismiss what I do as an inherent act of worship; if I continue to patronize them myself, if I hold on to the radioactive Kryptonite another minute, if I continue to choreograph my own beautiful demise on the ocean floor with leaden shoes of bitterness and pain, if I continue to cut the idolaters to shreds with the eloquent language of the flames of hell itself, then it will be me who is unforgiven in the end.  It will be me who stays chained to the dock, unable to make it to the Heavenly shore.

I may have pointed the gun at them and called them scumbags in the car on the way to the bus station, but I have to put them on the bus.  Like Christ has done for me, I have to buy their fare to freedom and let them go.  The bus symbolizes forgiveness.  Freedom.  Redemption.  Letting Go.  The consequences of my mistakes may catch up with me on the street outside, but hey, consequences catch up to all of us.  The graveyard is full of criminals and professing good people alike.  Whatever it costs to put the scumbags on the bus and set them free, it isn't worth as much as my soul.  Or theirs.

I forgive the idolaters.  I rebuke the flames of unrepentant anger and bitterness in my soul.  I cop to and discard it in a liberating moment of horror and revulsion.  I forgive those who have wronged me.  I forgive you.  I don't care who you are, or what you've done.  I mean it.  God's been chipping away at me with the forgiveness chisel on a daily, grinding basis for over a year, so I'm not saying it from a place of emotional impetuousness.  God bless the scumbags.  God bless the idolaters.  God bless the proxy Satanists, the weirdos, control freaks, and power-trippers... God bless the racist captains of the social-engineering death squads, and even the sanctimonious goody two-shoes juggling noses like microscopes, the farther down which they look, the better able they are to observe other people's flaws.  Down, even, to the subatomic level.  "I am haughty, and have perceived that your atoms are evil.  You are a white man.  A woman.  A malevolent deviant."  You know the type.  I can not spend another minute tied to the dock of that kind of condemnation.  Even if "I'm right," and the music idolaters are everything I say they are.  It isn't my job to point out those flaws.  All that does is bring hell to my forefront.  It's not worth it.  They can idolize whatever they want.  It isn't my problem.

I am free.

Wild Hearts Forever

Wild hearts
confined to the heavens
wild hearts on a wing
wild hearts like triple red 7s
or a full house
aces & kings

Wild hearts
like oncoming traffic
wild hearts
like a pinball machine
wild hearts forever
and then some
wild hearts running free

Tonight's the night
we cast off from the harbor
and sail away past the pier
wave goodbye to the old
familiar mainland
we're all castaways here

     Our course may be charted in stickers
     on a dingy bathroom wall
     but wild hearts without no faith
     ain't no wild hearts at all

     There's a mutiny deep in my chest
     in the space where the dirty rats crawl
     but wild hearts without no faith
     ain't no wild hearts at all

Wild hearts
float like a feather
on the edge of the fairy abyss
wild butterflies of leather
locked in a spiraling kiss

Wild heart
stay beneath my skin
be my weird tattoo
civilized hearts know when they're defeated
but wild hearts never do

Ain't no one gonna tame me
not even you
ain't it enough that your love drives me crazy?
does it also have to be true?

Wild hearts bound
for death or glory
over the galloping waves
your kisses prevent the onset of scurvy
your smile keeps the bastards at bay

You're the sunshine in my sails
you're the ocean breeze
wild hearts
right up to the edge of the world
and the shore of the heavenly seas

And the flames of heaven are lapping
at our toes as the death-blows fall
but wild hearts without no faith
ain't no wild hearts at all


©2016 Nathan Payne

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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket.


Replacing my blog at

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