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Songs of Sacrilege: Turtles All the Way Down by Sturgill Simpson

This is the sixty-ninth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Turtles All the Way Down by Sturgill Simpson.

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I’ve seen Jesus play with flames
In a lake of fire that I was standing in
Met the devil in Seattle
And spent 9 months inside the lions den
Met Buddha yet another time
And he showed me a glowing light within
But I swear that God is there
Every time I glare in the eyes of my best friend

Says my son, “It’s all been done
And someday you’re gonna wake up old and gray
So go and try to have some fun
Showing warmth to everyone
You meet and greet and cheat along the way”

There’s a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain
Tell me how you make illegal
Something that we all make in our brain
Some say you might go crazy
But then again it might make you go sane

Every time I take a look
Inside that old and fabled book
I’m blinded and reminded of
The pain caused by some old man in the sky
Marijuana, LSD
Psilocybin, and DMT
They all changed the way I see
But love’s the only thing that ever saved my life

So don’t waste your mind on nursery rhymes
Or fairy tales of blood and wine
It’s turtles all the way down the line
So to each their own ’til we go home
To other realms our souls must roam
To and through the myth that we all call space and time


Wikipedia defines the phrase “turtles all the way down” this way:

“Turtles all the way down” is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the “unmoved mover” paradox. The metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of the theory that Earth is actually flat and is supported on the back of a World Turtle, which itself is propped up by a chain of larger and larger turtles. Questioning what the final turtle might be standing on, the anecdote humorously concludes that it is “turtles all the way down”.

Series Navigation<< Songs of Sacrilege: My Church by Maren MorrisSongs of Sacrilege: The Agnostic Gospel Song by Andy Corwin >>


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    Jeff Smith

    This song is about drugs man, namely DMT… not religion. Its pretty obvious, but if you dont believe me, well the guy that wrote it said the same thing.

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    It seems to me to be quite clearly a song showing that taking drugs leads to religious delusion. To say it’s only about drug taking completely misses the point.

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    Many users of hallucinogenics report having spiritual experiences, including many who are non-religious/atheists. Some use these drugs specifically in the hope of just such an experience. A feeling of being at peace, “at one with the Universe” or feeling “more alive” are quite common. Similar experiences are reported by those practicing meditation, sensory deprivation or other means of reaching an “altered state”, regardless of any religious orientation or lack thereof. I personally know a Mennonite, a Buddhist and an atheist who all report such experiences in these terms despite the obvious differences in their theologies.

    Since such transcendent experiences are recorded across human histories and cultures, I think calling them delusions is a bit overboard. I think it is safer to say that there is something about humankind that drives some of us to seek out such experiences and that the similarities in these experiences says something about either how our brains work or the universe we live in. I think further research in these areas is desperately needed for the betterment of humankind, regardless of the outcome of that research.

    If that research proves that these experiences are, in fact, wholly delusional, then I am willing to concede to the science and say that the spiritual interpretation of those experiences is false and lay down my own faith, regardless of my personal experience that seems to indicate the contrary. Until such a time however, I remain convinced that there is a spiritual element to the human psyche and a Mystery that we cannot yet solve/identify. I call that Mystery “God” out of convenience and habit, though I am equally convinced that our collective religious writings and myths often do a rather shitty job of explaining it.

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    Don’t waste your time on nursery rhymes, or fairy tales of blood and wine – to me that alludes to Christianity, blood and wine. Just my opinion

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Bruce Gerencser