Let’s Celebrate: Happy Rush Day, 21/12

Rush – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart – have always worn their freethought and agnosticism on their sleeve, never afraid of tackling and criticizing religion in their songs.

In celebration of Rush’s 1976 album “2112”, many fans call December 21st “Rush Day”: 21/12.  Below the fold is a(n incomplete) list of Rush songs about freethought, religion, science and skepticism.

I meant to do this yesterday, but other matters were more pressing.

Yes, yes, yes, these first two were from Neil Peart’s “Ayn Rand phase”, but they’re still good songs.

Anthem, from 1975.

2112 Suite from 1976.

Freewill, from 1979.

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears, and kindness that can kill

I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose freewill”

Tom Sawyer, 1980.

Though his mind is not for rent

Don’t put him down as arrogant

His reserve a quiet defense

Riding out the day’s events

The river


No, his mind is not for rent

To any god or government

Always hopeful, yet discontent

He knows changes aren’t permanent

But change is

Show, Don’t Tell, from 1989.

If your argument is so strong, present the evidence and let people decide for themselves.  Evolution versus creationism is a battle for education over ignorance.

You can twist perceptions

Reality won’t budge

You can raise objections

I will be the judge

And the jury

I’ll give it due reflection

Watching from the fence

Give the jury direction

Based on the evidence

I, the jury

Ghost Of A Chance, 1991.

Life and love are random, not “fated”, and that’s what makes it worth living and trying.

I don’t believe in destiny or the guiding hand of fate

I don’t believe in forever or love as a mystical state

I don’t believe in the stars or the planets, or angels watching from above

But I believe there’s a ghost of a chance we can find someone to love

And make it last

You Bet Your Life, 1991.

Life is all about taking chances.

Totem, 1996.

Mythical “gods” don’t create the world that we perceive.  We create gods based on how we perceive the world.

I’ve got twelve disciples and a Buddha smile

The Garden of Allah, Viking Valhalla

A miracle once in a while

I’ve got a pantheon of animals in a pagan soul

Vishnu and Gaea Aztec and Maya

Dance around my totem pole

I believe in what I see

I believe in what I hear

I believe that what I’m feeling

Changes how the world appears

Angels and demons dancing in my head

Lunatics and monsters underneath my bed

Media messiahs preying on my fears

Pop culture prophets playing in my ears

Resist, 1996.

You can surrender without a prayer

But never really pray pray without surrender

You can fight without ever winning

But never ever win without a fight

Peaceable Kingdom, 2002.

Rush were recording in summer 2001, and this was supposed to be an instrumental.  Then 9/11 happened.

I love the poke at abrahamic religions, suggesting they’re no more effective than tarot cards.

Talk of a Peaceable Kingdom
Talk of a time without fear
The ones we wish would listen
Are never going to hear

Justice against The Hanged Man
Knight of Wands against the hour
Swords against the kingdom
Time against The Tower

All this time we’re shuffling and laying out all our cards
While a billion other dealers are slipping past our guards
All this time we’re hoping and praying we all might learn
While a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn


The Hermit against The Lovers
Or the Devil against the Fool
Swords against the kingdom
The Wheel against the rules

The Stars Look Down, 2002.

Life has no meaning, yet we keep looking for one.

Like the rat in a maze who says

‘Watch me choose my own direction’

Are you under the illusion

The path is winding your way?

Are you surprised by confusion

When it leads you astray?

Have you lived a lifetime today…

Or do you feel like you just got carried away?

What is the meaning of this?

And the stars look down

Far Cry, 2007.

Pariah dogs and wandering madmen

Barking at strangers and speaking in tongues

The ebb and flow of tidal fortune

Electrical changes are charging up the dawn

It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit

It’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it

You can almost feel the current flowing

You can almost see the circuits blowing

One day I feel I’m on top of the world

And the next it’s falling in on me

I can get back on, I can get back on

Armour and Sword, 2007.

Religion should be your armour against the ills of the world.  Instead, the religious use it as a sword to kill those who won’t obey.

Sometimes the fortress is too strong

Or the love is too weak

What should have been our armor

Becomes a sharp and angry sword

Our better natures seek elevation

A refuge for the coming night

No one gets to their heaven without a fight

Their unspoken message:  No one gets to their heaven.  Because it doesn’t exist.


The Larger Bowl, 2007.

American christianism says “those who suffer caused it themselves”.  There is no room for kindness and charity.

If we’re so much the same like I always hear

Why such different fortunes and fates?

Some of us live in a cloud of fear

Some live behind iron gates

Why such different fortunes and fates?

Some are blessed and some are cursed

Some live behind iron gates

While others see only the worst

Some are blessed and some are cursed

The golden one or scarred from birth

While others only see the worst

Such a lot of pain on the earth

The Way The Wind Blows, 2007.

Living in the Bu**sh** years, holy wars of empire and religious fanaticism.

Now it’s come to this

It’s like we’re back in the Dark Ages

From the Middle East to the Middle West

It’s a world of superstition

Now it’s come to this

Wide-eyed armies of the faithful

From the Middle East to the Middle West

Pray, and pass the ammunition

So many people think that way

You gotta watch what you say

To them and them, and others too

Who don’t seem to see to things the way you do

Hope, 2007.

Alex Lifeson described hope as a “secular prayer”.  I like that.

Faithless, 2007.

I don’t have faith in faith

I don’t believe in belief

You can call me faithless

But I still cling to hope

And I believe in love

And that’s faith enough for me

BU2B (Brought Up To Believe), 2012.

All is for the best

Believe in what we’re told

Blind man in the market

Buying what we’re sold

Believe in what we’re told

Until our final breath

While our loving Watchmaker

Loves us all to death


Until our final breath

The joy and pain that we receive

Must be what we deserve

I was brought up to believe



  1. brucegee1962 says

    What an epic post!
    I was thinking of the line “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” during the whole Hallmark debacle. Profound words. There are no sidelines in the culture wars.

  2. ColeYote says

    Man, I’m not sure what got into Neil Peart in 2006, but he must have been really pissed off about religion when he was writing Snakes & Arrows.

  3. tapputi fangirl says

    Sorry, getting here late. Signals (1982) had some freethought themes.

    Subdivisions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYYdQB0mkEU

    Growing up it all seems so one-sided
    Opinions all provided
    The future pre-decided
    Detached and subdivided
    In the mass production zone

    Nowhere is the dreamer
    Or the misfit so alone …
    Conform or be cast out …
    Be cool or be cast out

    New World Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQRShD0xuAk

    He’s got to make his own mistakes
    And learn to mend the mess he makes
    He’s old enough to know what’s right
    But young enough not to choose it
    He’s noble enough to win the world
    But weak enough to lose it —

    He’s a New World man…