"Heresy" as written by and Trent Reznor....
He sewed his eyes shut because he is afraid to see
He tries to tell me what I put inside of me
He got the answers to ease my curiosity
He dreamed up a god and called it Christianity

God is dead and no one cares
If there is a hell, I'll see you there

He flexed his muscles to keep his flock of sheep in line
He made a virus that would kill off all the swine
His perfect kingdom of killing, suffering and pain
Demands devotion atrocities done in his name

God is dead and no one cares
If there is a hell, I'll see you there
Your god is dead and no one cares
If there is a hell, I'll see you there

God is dead and no one cares
If there is a hell, I'll see you there
(Your god is dead) God is dead and no one cares (and no one cares)
(Drowning in his own hypocrisy) If there is a hell, I'll see you there

Lyrics submitted by implode, edited by madpoet

"Heresy" as written by Trent Reznor

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Heresy song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI really don't think people are taking this song in the correct sense. I don't think this song is about Christianity as a whole or religion as a whole. It's about some of those fanatical denominations and sects of Christianity or religions that pop up. And I am not going to point fingers at any in particular because that would bog me down in unrelated topic. First think about the title. Heresy, which means, 1. Adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma. 2. an opinion or doctrine contrary to church doctrine. 3. dissent from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice. This automatically tells you he's speaking of some sort of heretical belief within some sort of religion. First, we need to learn to differentiate between "God" and "god." Let's start with the latter; "god" refers to a deity that people might worship and is not a proper noun and refers to a thing, a word versus a name. Now the former, "God" is a proper noun or a name to simplify and is refering to the Christian god (notice the lack of capitalization there) God. So where you find Trent saying, "your" or "a" before "god" he is using the word not the name. And in other cases he is using the god's name God. So lets replace "god" with "deity" and "God" with "Yahweh". Example: "He dreamed a god up," change to "He dreamed a deity up," and "God is dead" to "Yahweh is dead." This will make the song make a little more sense and help you to understand my explanation of the song.
    Now on to actually explaining the song. And as such please note which version I am using by noting the capitalization.

    /He sewed his eyes shut,
    because he is afraid to see,/

    Trent speaks of the fear people have of the truth, particulary in a later song he created called "Right Where it Belongs." These two lines mean that this person whoever "he" is has decided to blind himself to the truth.

    /He tries to tell me,
    what I put inside of me,
    He's got the answers,
    to ease my curiosity,
    He dreamed a god up,
    and called it Christianity./

    This person after refusing to see the truth has created his own answers and truths, and has decided to tell others what he thinks. Some sects do not pass judgement on some questions because they are not of any significance and are up to the judgement of the individual to decide. This person has answers to some of these unanswered questions and others. Either because he believes what he is preaching is Christian or because he feels it would draw more followers has decided to call his "religion" Christianity.

    /God is dead,
    and no one cares,
    if there is a hell,
    I'll see you there./

    Trent or the person in this story referenced in the first few lines has discoverd that what he got into is not Christianity and that the real god, God, is dead to the new leader's followers and those followers don't or seem to not care. The last two lines here I think affirms some sort of belief in god or Christianity. The last two lines Trent is saying that due to this group's heresy they are going to hell and because he as either taken part in it he will be there with them.

    /He flexed his muscles,
    to keep his flock of sheep in line,
    he made a virus,
    that would kill off all the swine,
    His perfect kingdom,
    of killing, suffering and pain,
    demands devotion,
    atrocities done in his name./

    Obviously, his following has grown enough to include people who are not as fanatical or devoted to the religion, and as such some sort of dissent from within has formed. To keep any rebellion from happening he must remove the dissenters or the "nonbelievers" and scare the people who might go either way from becoming nonbelievers themselves. The "virus" is a representation of whatever he may have used to remove these nonbelievers. This kingdom of killing, pain, and suffering is of the nonbelievers and the devotion he demands is by the true followers of his order.

    /God is dead,
    and no one cares,
    If there is a hell,
    I'll see you there,
    Your god is dead,
    and no one cares,
    if there is a hell, I'll see you there./

    /God is dead,
    and no one cares,
    If there is a hell,
    I'll see you there,
    (your god is dead) God is dead,
    (and no one cares) and no one cares,
    (drowning in his own hypocrisy) if there is a hell
    (see you) I'll see you there, (you there)/

    The last section of this song is basically the same as the chorus except now the hypocrisy of this man's god is evident and his followers still have not realized it.

    Now this is my own interpretation, but I think the basics of the song is not that religion or Christianity as a whole is bad, but that there are religions or denominations of Christianity that are wrong and hypocritical. I've never fewed as Trent as anti-religous but rather anti-corruption, so against corrupt religions. I think he may have realized that people have put religion on some pedestal and whether religion is a product of God/gods or man, religion is not whats evil and wrong but the people that use it for such ends. I've used the cliche sentence, the sword isn't inherrently evil, but the person that wields it.
    neoritteron September 14, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI feel a bit 'guilty' (is that the right word? Awkward perhaps?) listening to this as a Christian, just because the lyrics are so far from what I believe, but it is a very interesting song with a killer beat; even 10+ years after this style of music was thought of as 'cool' and cutting edge, I still enjoy listening to it.

    I am always aware with music that these are just words in a song; they may not be what the artist truly believes, he may just be playing a character, he may just be trying to vent anger over feelings of being mislead/indoctrinated in his youth. I think it's probably the latter, because whether you believe in Hell or not, surely nobody wants to go there? I mean, you can jokingly think that if it does exist it'll be full of rock musicians and guitar solos and hookers and blackjack, basically one big party - but if it's a Christian invention and the Christians say it's not a great place to be, then if it DOES exist then I don't think anyone can truly WANT to go there. I mean, confused goth kids and embittered atheist adults can always joke about ending up there, even if they don't actually believe it exists, but if they did believe it existed, they'd probably change their tune. Following this logic, I'd say Trent was probably just using hyperbole to play a character, which makes for a very interesting listen!

    (I prefer 2008's 'The Slip' anyway......)
    peanutisminton December 05, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOK, there's a lot of Christian-bashing here, but let me clear something up. Not ALL Christians are hypocritical and homophobic. In fact, TRUE Christians are NOT. The media, of course, projects the image of the typical Christian to be intolerant and a hypocite. It's flase "Christians" like these that give us TRUE Christians a bad name. We are NOT biggots. We are NOT stuck-up. We ARE accepting! And here's a SHOCKER for you: A BIG part of our religion is being NONJUDGEMENTAL! So why isn't this what the media portrays? Well, I don't know. I guess that the media figures that we REAL Christians are so interesting...
    Chrissy3784on April 12, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think this song is about today's society or whatever, I think it's fairly straightforward. It's an attack on Christianity. I find it interesting that Pretty Hate Machine was full of religious pondering, and wishing to be able to be close to a God, (such as "Hey God, why are you doing this to me?" and "I want so much to believe." in Terrible Lie) where in the Downward Spiral, there was a sense of complete rejection and anger towards the idea of God. It shows a deep inner evolution, where his feeling of abandonment grew stronger and lead him from sadness to anger. I'm not sure, but I'd guess that Trent was raised as a Christian and was once a very firm believer. Maybe I just feel that way because I relate to it, though.
    KickerOfElveson April 23, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOf course, this serves as a cry against Christianity from Trent, but its is also the first step in the crumble of the protagonist. Following his personal tragedy in Piggy (which I believe to be a very harsh breakup) he decides God does not care about him or anyone else, and turns his back on the religion he's been following his whole life (God is dead-HIS God is dead). In the first verse (He sewed his eyes shut) he is talking about himself, about who he used to be, whereas in the second verse (He flexed his muscles) He refers to God himself. I'm probably over analyzing, but I think the voice in the background on the last chorus (Your god is dead! - drowning in his own hypocrisy) is Mr. Self-Destruct himself, putting these ideas in the protagonist's head.
    HammerFloydon September 25, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentreznor explains simply why christianity is nonsense - god is dead. genius.
    ltjpezgirlon April 14, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with just about all of you except odin_lowe. no offence or anything but Trents bi I highly doubt he himself would agree with you as well. AIDs isnt only a virus to kill off 'gay' people (who have every right to be here) Its to kill off everyone. Religion is retarded, simple as that. A ploy to make weak minded people behave. Its just an awesome song.
    justsyntheticon September 28, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti am a catholic but can relate to just about everything that has been said here. i question my faith everyday because if i didn't, i wouldn't be living it. i believe in the ideals of catholicism but it's history hasn't always stuck to them. i feel that catholicism is good natured and has the best intentions. some idiots take it the wrong way, take the bible literally, kill in the name of God just like islams. that doesn't mean that islam is a war mongering religion. they both have extremeists who are retarded. i feel that jesus embodied everything we should all strive to be, compassionate, giving, forgiving, and questioning of authority. i like nin and this song is okay, it makes me question my faith even more which in turn makes my faith stronger. rid your notions of the evil catholic. most of us mean well and care for the world
    Pope1342on March 07, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNext to The Fragile album, this has got to be one of my favorite songs. It is powerfully prophetic! Regardless of Reznor's views on Christianity, his lyrics not only present an historical look at this religion, but flagrant hypocrasy occurring today with the mix of religion and politics. As a Christian, I am saddened, but not surprised, at what people have done with and to Jesus' teachings. Jesus taught to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (one of the MANY things he taught); and many Christian churches in America are doing demonstrating everything BUT this. Certainly, what does this say to another who is hurting and looking for answers. If this is what we, as the church, portrays, I can see how another would be turned off.
    Anita Lockon April 06, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song to me is some guy wrote off the "downward spiral" album in an extremely sinful and angry state. It referes to the fact that God is somehow "dead" etc as a message. There are lots of hypocritical Christians. I have met some that sure as hell (irony) are not. Pointing the finger at Christians is easy becuase most of the preachers they show on TV are idiots.

    The LAST thing anyone would expect is Jesus to come back, after all, everything balances itself out in the end. All of Trent's sin, all of my sin, all of Twiggy's sin has to be paid for somehow.... might take some divine blood spilling imho.
    vecter1212on April 13, 2006   Link

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