Empires

by Wen Reagan

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about

With the lyrical influences of Derek Webb and Andrew Peterson fused with the musical influences of Caedmon’s Call, Wilco, and Steven Delopoulos (Burlap to Cashmere), Singer/Songwriter/Producer Wen Reagan provides a provocative inspection of kingdom building in his concept album, Empires. Empires questions the disparity between the consumption-driven, prosperity-based empire building of American Christianity and the humiliating, self-sacrificing kingdom building of Jesus’ biblical witness. Songs such as “The Christian Nation” and “The Empire Politik” question the myth of American national righteousness and the marriage between Christianity and American politics, while “The Empire of the Ministry Industry” and “The Kingdom Come” consider the state of the American church in regards to the consumption-driven market economy that surrounds and permeates it.

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released October 1, 2007

©2007 Wen Reagan. All Rights Reserved.

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Wen Reagan Durham, North Carolina

Wen Reagan is a singer-songwriter and worship leader from Durham, NC. Wen leads worship at All Saints Church in Durham, NC and often writes songs with his wife, Casey.

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Track Name: The Land I Was Told Was Free
The sun it rose and then it set
on these fertile hills
then the fire arose with a roar
with a roar
The armies came, the houses burned
life was sold for gold
my empire has fallen apart
I can't trust these walls,
their bricks, their ramparts
So I flee
from awakening the song in me
to a land I was told was free
but here their eyes are closed
and they cannot see
This is no land of the free
The buildings rose, the people sang
progress all around
but their hearts were nowhere to be found,
to be found
With business suits and high-heel boots
they traveled through the land
but the chains still wrapped around their dirty feet
and their hearts were muzzled down on every street
So I fled
from awakening the song in me
to a land I was told was free
but here they close their eyes
and they cannot see
this is no land of the free
In story books, melodic hooks
the blurry dream lives on
the golden land where freedom always rings,
always sings
And in their hearts and in their minds
an image of a king
one whose blood will come to cover everything
one whose staff and rod will comfort and will bring
Me to flee
from silencing the song in me
to a land that I know is free
and here their eyes are blessed
with sight so they see
the true land of the free
Track Name: The Christian Nation
What would good ol' Benny say
and good ol' Georgie too
if we told them that they were
founders of the national christian zoo
well, would they approve?
Where the power politics
and the pulpit radio
and the prayers for the world to see
heal the sick and the blind for just a fee
for just a small fee
well don't you worry
it's deductible and tax-free
So if america is a christian nation
then I'm a righteous man
Hide your children, hide your pets
here comes the next great threat
liberal tax collectors steal away
our moral heritage and what we all say
is a god-given right
to live as sanitized, middle-class suburbanites
So if america is a christian nation
then I'm a righteous man
How do you love and tell the truth?
I don't know, I don't have a clue
but I know this is not the way
to live the Kingdom and proclaim it too
Track Name: The Kingdom of Broken Hearts & Kings
I could guess a thousand different things
but I would fall on broken hearts & kings
She believes
in words she doesn't speak
and she recalls
dreams she doesn't keep
she's build a great wall
to corner in her soul
it's so pretty
until the fake bricks fall
I could guess a thousand different things
but I would fall on broken hearts & kings
He's inclined
to follow in their lead
all the best men
the ones who do succeed
he lives the best life
the one with the big green bills
while his third wife
is running for the hills
I could guess a thousand different things
but I would fall on broken hearts & kings
My broken mind
directs my broken mouth
and broken hands
pull this dirty plough
but in this painting
the air it looks so clean
so how come I
haven't learned to breathe
I could guess a thousand different things
but I would fall on broken hearts and kings
and in time, we will learn to live
for the one thing we've all been dying for
and we've all been dying of
broken hearts and kings
Track Name: The Burning Book of Rebellion
I write a chapter every day
and the ink is my blood
I sold the copyright away
for cheap joys and pride
I engrave my lofty deviance
on every single page
bind it with a cover of elegance
boldly building my own cage
But there He is, burning
the book of rebellion
there He is, casting
Casting the pages into the fire
there He is, bleeding
for my rebellion
there He is rising
rising from the fire
Well this worn book's as old as me
gathering up all the dust
in its pages I design another effigy
of the perfect one that was cursed
Well I dot my I's and curl my C's
with intentions best laid
just to write out a novel of tragedy
where my lover is betrayed
betrayed by my kiss
There He is, burning
the book of rebellion
there He is, casting
casting the pages into the fire
there He is, bleeding
for my rebellion
there He rising,
rising from the fire
Won't you, won't you,
burn that book on down
burn it down to the ground
Track Name: The Military-Industrial Complex of the Heart
The fear-mongers give a sign
but where can we draw the line
between danger and our lives
I don't know what to believe
with all the wolves in sheepskin that deceive
swapping cross for empire
We trade your love for our fear
we worship in the name of securities
but how can we demonize
when the enemy bought our hearts
Culture war ringing in my ears
drowns out the death on the inside
crooked fingers giving crooked lies
How can we define them this way
so afraid of what they are
It's the same flesh and blood
We trade your love for our fear
we worship in the name of securities
but how can we demonize
when the enemy bought our hearts
Our fear it powers industry
give to hate required energy
feeds the politicians
and the pulpit preachers who polarize
consumption in terms of morality
fear runs our conscience's economy
We trade your love for our fear
we worship in the name of securities
but how can we demonize
when the enemy bought our hearts
Track Name: The Kingdom of Blood & Wood
The Spirit is a raging river
my soul a canyon deep
the river it runneth over
it runs to sow and to reap
and to find
at the fount of it all,
blood and wood intertwine
My heart tumbles over,
confused by the rage of life
but my heart is refined by the river
smoothed over by rage and the strife
and the fire
at the end of it all,
blood and wood intertwine
And this river runs its course through my life
smoothing over the stones,
it rips right through
cutting like a knife
through this canyon deep,
deeper than I know,
the river runs its course to the core
where blood and wood overflow
Track Name: The Empire of the Heart
She waits, she longs for
the right words, the only words
that will make her clean now
She rhymes and she reasons
for the words, the little words
that will make it right now
And her blood, it's a bitter wine
She waits, she longs for
the right one, the only one
that will make her clean now
But this time it's the wrong one
like all before, from every shore
they fail now
And her blood, it's a watered wine
Can you see her heart?
As it cries out for love
as it breaks in two,
smashed on the rocks
See this pain?
This insatiable heart,
this death and decay
on the inside
I wear this mask that
hides the shame, the dirty shame
of my life now
Inside, my life is
broken down and run aground
on the rocks now
And my blood, it's a tainted wine
Can you see my heart?
As I cry out for love
as it breaks in two,
smashed on the rocks
See this pain?
this insatiable heart,
this death and decay
on the inside
Here I am, O God, save me
We wear the fig leaves made of lies
we murder love with our own eyes
while there's death on the inside
We cast our crowns for glory days
we choose the wayside and then the grave
'cause there's death on the inside
Beside my love, beside my dreams
there's death on the inside
But your blood, it's a perfect wine
Yes your blood, it's a righteous wine
Track Name: The Empire Politik
Between the freezing, raging poles
where should I go?
Do I shoot these manufactured bullets cold
or give them to my foe?
And what would you do?
You drew no party line
you said give to him what's his
and give to me what is mine
There's no middle in america
the truth has been swept clean
all I see in america
is the forgery of a king
How to follow you in america?
Pick one island of the two
no one swims in this great divide
no one swims but you
We're screaming moral majority
and the gay authority
her blood thickens with war
the beautiful mulatto's gone
in this blackish whitish lore
There's no middle in america
the truth has been swept clean
all I see in america
is the forgery of a king
Leave that northern tale of terror!
For santa is craving war
Leave that antarctic hollywood!
'Cause the penguins are with Mr. Moore,
I said the penguins are with Mr. Moore

There's no middle in america
the truth has been swept clean
all I see in america
is the forgery of a king
So when your kingdom finally comes
what will be the sign?
A nation down upon its knees
and no more party line, singing
no more party line
Track Name: Babylon
The Sand it burns my feet down to the bone
I hear my wife and children cry and moan
our caravan it drudges through the sun
as you take it all away and on to Babylon
We pass right through the giant door Ishtar
I know that you've sustained us here thus far
but the blue and gold in turn disguise
the tears in my eyes, the tears in my eyes
If we're paying for our sins
then let your wrath rain down
for I would rather die
than live in misery in this town
for I've seen your temple walls fall
among the blood and greed
all we've raised with our hands
turns to dust in the wind
but where are you
here in Babylon
Pulled apart as we try to say goodbye
pulled from the sockets were his eyes
forced to dine among this city's great
he drinks your cup of fate
here in Babylon
We suffer what we've sown and what we reap
we sit between these rivers and we weep
they force us to sing songs of our true love
the love we lost today
the love we lost that day
If we're paying for our sins
then let your wrath rain down
for I would rather die
than live in misery in this town
for I've seen your temple walls fall
among the blood and greed
all we've raised with our hands
turns to dust in the end
but where are you
here in Babylon
And as the tanks and soldiers move
they spill blood upon this ground
are we oppressors in this land
or saviors of the lost and found
we will reap everything that we sow
here in blood and greed
all we've burned with our hands
will testify in the end
what will you say
here in Babylon
Lift your eyes!
He will come and make straight a way
through this desert heat
Lift your songs!
Peace he'll bring with his right hand
and joyfully we'll sing
Lift your heads!
He breaks this bondage with his voice
He calls us all by name
Lift your hearts!
He restores all things for good
and he will bring us home
one day
Track Name: The Rising and Falling
Blood spilt is blood laid,
the foundation of an empire is made
domination is the restoration of
Glory days that come and go,
O, exploitation, burns a hole
in the soul of a kingdom raised
yet destined for the grave
Oh, can't you see? Oh, can't you see?
Empires rise and empires fall, but
I will remain,
I am the one who paid for all this pain
Life we trade for a profit made
solutions for the problems we make
When the truth is sold, sought is gold and
Glory days that come and go,
O, exploitation, burns a hole
in the soul of a kingdom raised
Oh, can't you see? Oh, can't you see?
Empires rise and empires fall, but
I will remain,
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
of the world

Broken, tattered, and torn
destitute and poor
broken, tattered, and torn
crowned with a crown of thorns
Track Name: The Empire of the Ministry Industry
Sell it all, sell it fast
soak it in, it won't last
Flatter me with placid words,
shower me with the absurd
Now ministry is an industry
made of partial truth chemistry
founded on marketability
we try to buy and sell what is free
Sing a song, sing it well
make it big, preach to sell
See in terms of economy,
supply and demand of theology
Here I am, I'm the worst of all
I sing these words and still I fall
I seek a penny, seek a dime
for singing you this song
entrenched by the fear
that is woven in, that is woven in
Now ministry is an industry
made of partial truth chemistry
founded on marketability
we try to buy and sell what is free
we try to buy and sell what is free
I try to buy and sell what is free
Track Name: The Empire of Dirt
I toil all day for silver and gold
to buy more dirt and stack it
higher than my neighbor can
A lover of dirt 'til the day I die
The violence here in my heart, it
covets the mud of my neighbor's sty
But to see
it's from dust I came and dust I will be
my empire of dirt yields a dying tree
The nation we forge is a vanity
land of the brave and land of the
freedom to define God's enemies
We build this country for the glory of God
forsaking the poor in the name of
comfort and safety, peace and all that
We see it's from dust we came and dust we will be
our empire of dirt yields a dying tree
He utters his voice and the earth it melts away
I seek her voice with all my days
to crowd out folly's tongue
to crowd out all I've done
but it doesn't matter, light or dark,
they both turn to dirt
when you speak a Word
just a Word
To see it's from dust I came and dust I will be
my empire of dirt yields a dying tree
the fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh
better a handful of quietness
and to see it's from dust we came and dust we will be
the empire we forge is a vanity
the fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh
better a handful of quietness
He utters his voice and the earth it melts
the hevel of my life is an empire of dirt
Track Name: The Ring
Please don't turn your head
'cause I need you eyes tonight
please don't leave my hands
'cause I need your warmth tonight
Her hands are small, so small
but wonderful, so wonderful
she always moves them to serve
If I don't die for her,
then what am I worth?
I sold my life
to be bound to her lips
so bind me there
Please call my name again
I need all of my flesh and bone
Please wife of my youth
spread your sweet perfume
Her hands are small, so small
but beautiful, so beautiful
she always moves them to love
If I don't die for her,
then what am I worth?
I sold my life
to be bound to her lips
And I'll give my life
as I wear this ring
I gave it all away
only to get it back again
Bound by blood and bone,
bone alike
Death and faith we cannot strike
May we find Him beautiful, so beautiful
the One who keeps our covenant alive
And I'll give my life
as I wear this ring
I gave it all away
only to get it back again
He keeps our covenant
as He wears our rings
He gave it all away
only to get it back again
Only to get it back again
Track Name: The Kingdoms of Wisdom & Folly
Her throat is an open grave
beckoning the dead
She whispers lies in their ears
With spices and choice fruits
she beckons the passerby
to come and drink of her wine
But will you come to me?
Will you come to me?
Will you taste and see
that I am good, that I am good
I'm all that you want
I'm all that you need
when she's left you out to dry,
out here among the dead
I'm all that you crave
I'm all that you thirst for
when she's all you can see
even when she's all that you want to be
She cries aloud in the street
beckoning the wise
to come and eat of her bread
She's more precious than jewels
all her paths are peace
so come and drink of her wine
But will you come to me?
Will you come to me?
Will you taste and see,
that I am good, that I am good
I'm all that you want
I'm all that you need
when she's left you out to dry
out here among the dead
I'm all that you crave
I'm all that you thirst for
when she's all you can see
even when she's all that you want to be
I can't tell the difference between
wisdom and folly until it's too late
and to the grave entrapped in a fool's death
I'll never know who's right or wrong here
I can't see what empire I'm in
allegiances are blind without
the fear of the Lord
Without the fear of the Lord
So will you come to me?
Will you come to me?
Will you taste and see
that I am good, that I am good
Track Name: The Kingdom Come
You never promised me that comfort
but you said I'd have all I need
you never promised me dignity
but that one day I would be free
You never promised me those riches
nor success from my hands
but you promised me your joyful suffering
and all things lost for your name
If I forget that here, I'm the fool
in this world full of kings
then I forget just what you promised me
and what those promises will bring
what those promises will bring
Joy has never meant comfort
but my joy is your peace
and though to Jabez you granted
well you don't always say yes
'Cause sometimes we call and you're silent
as we're stuck in our own mess
and sometimes we're broken 'til the end of our days
but we know that your promises don't change
If I forget that here, I'm the fool
in this world full of kings
then I forget just what you promised me
and what those promises will bring
what those promises will bring
Your promises, they are a fine wine
they take their own time to bloom