"Bearing Witness" as written by and David Shannon Bazan....
I clung to miracles I have not seen
From ancient signatures I cannot read
Though I've repented I'm still tempted I admit
But it's not what bearing witness is

To full of fear and prophecy to see
The revelation right in front of me
So sick and tired of trying to make the pieces fit
cause it's not what bearing witness is

When the gap between
what I hoped would be
and what is makes me weep for my kids
I take a cleansing breath
and make a positive confession
But is that what bearing witness is?

Though it may alienate your family
and blur the lines of your identity
Let go of what you know
and honor what exists
Son, that's what bearing witness is
Daughter, that's what bearing witness is


Lyrics submitted by ruindpzzle

Bearing Witness song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI have to disagree with the previous comment. David Bazan is not claiming that God cannot be a reality for him, he is saying God is not presently a reality for him. The main theme here is that Bazan sees no evidence. It's not that God does not or cannot exist, but rather that all the claims made about God (specifically about the Christian God and the Bible) are not reflected in the reality around him. This is why he is most comfortable with the term agnostic though he is back and forth when it comes to atheism. How can one bear witness to something one has not ever seen?

    As the New Atheism movement declares itself triumphant in the war against religion, I find David much more admirable and more intellectually honest. He cannot believe the Biblical narrative because it is too hard to "make the pieces fit" --- and even more to the point I think he believes they do not fit. To Bazan, the whole puzzle seems irrelevant because the God seems absent from the world. I happen to disagree (though I still have my own huge questions about the whole thing). I find the New Atheist perspective appalling because it is fraught with intellectual arrogance (which to me is an oxymoron).
    godsfoolishnesson October 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs an agnostic, I usually see the world in fairly non-spiritual terms, but this song always brings to me the possibility of belief. I hear the song and think he's saying that the bible and the rhetoric of the church do not have to be the definition of his faith (either faith in god or faith in a secular reality.)

    There is no outright denial of god here, just the statement that it doesn't lie in the trappings of the church, but in the personal observance of the world. Bearing witness implies that you bring the proof to the table through your own existence.

    Atheism and Agnosticism need not be so offending to people who have faith in god and their church. Especially because so many of us develop our worldviews in a society whose rules and structure are completely the making of those who believe in a specific doctrine, I have always found true agnostics/atheists to be people who respect the right of the individual to choose for themselves.

    I think his point "let go of what you know and honor what exists" is celebratory of life, and a testament that religion and faith are divergent systems. Or put another way, that if you come to faith, let it be through the miracle of your own life, and the world around you, not because it was put to you the way it was put to him.
    anametobecalledbyon October 26, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningSeems to be about a personal realization that God can not be a reality for him upon analysis of the world around. Some apprehension is again expressed ("I'm still tempted, I must admit"), but he seems to be saying that he simply cannot believe in God after seeing the world for what it is. He must confess his unbelief and "bear witness" to what he now sees to be true.

    Further, it seems to be a message to future generations (including his own children?) to be honest with themselves about it.

    Bazan's songwriting of late appears to provide a unique view of the crumbling of one's ideology. Social psychologists could study these words and learn something.

    If I may comment further, Bazan's loss of faith seems to be based upon a revision of his worldview. He appears to have developed a more realistic and thus more negative perspective (as we all do with age and experience). Theodicy is the name of the game. To balance his perspective, the words of Thomas Merton may help. Merton reminds us that the real phenomenon of interest is not that bad things happen to decent people, but that there are any decent people at all in such a bad world. That is the thing at which I have come to marvel. Of course, the New Atheists may chime in here with evolutionary explanations for altruistic behavior and with memes and such, but as a scientist (seriously) I think Dawkins, et al. make a lot of assumptions with little data. Unfortunately, some colleagues are not comfortable with abstract thought and feel a need to limit everything to the mechanics of the very finite space of the universe that we humans occupy. That is perfect for the things that exist within this space, but for those that purportedly do not we encounter deep problems when we try to apply those limits. I digress...
    thelbon May 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti definitely agree with godsfoolishness. Well said
    baddiarydays10on October 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe thoughts expressed here (in the comments) are a dramatic example of how people can all see the same thing but their interpretations can widely vary.

    I believe Bazan is making an observation about how faith needs to manifest itself in order for a person to be a positive influence on those around him. There is nothing in the song that explicitely discounts or denies a Christian worldview. The ideas expressed in this song, rather, can depict a very mature faith. A mature faith acknowledges just how vast is the amount that we DON'T KNOW.

    So everyone who thinks this tune is about how Bazan has "outgrown" or "moved on" from his Christainity, keep listening and know that the opposite is probably true.
    davidmaon January 20, 2014   Link

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