To Challenge and Confess, “Treading Paper” (Part 1 of ?)

“But our hearts tell a different story

Our hands feel a different pulse.”

                  – Thrice Treading Paper

According to my Google Music account, I have listened to Thrice’s album Major/Minor over 100 times.  In the past several months, it has kept me company through many hours of thinking, reading, and writing as I finished up the last, large assignment of my schooling. Major/Minor is an incredible album, beautifully crafted from the music to the lyrics, the artwork to the ordering of the songs.

This post will inaugurate a blog series through the album. Thrice isn’t for everyone, so the point of this series isn’t to convert readers into listeners of the music that I like. Rather, Major/Minor warrants attention because it is a magnificent example of art, and more importantly, beauty.


Major/Minor is so named because the band found a theme within the music of the album in which whenever a major chord would be called for they found themselves playing a minor chord and when a minor chord would be normative, they found themselves playing a major chord. Lyrically, there is a similar pattern. Throughout the whole album, the themes of black and white, heads and tails, life and death, are split apart, giving the lyrics of the album the core theme of challenge and confession.

YouTube Video of Treading Paper with the lyrics below

Major/Minor is an 11 song album with “Treading Paper” as the 6th and central song of the set. The song wrestles with questions of meaning, contrasting life between “what you see is what you get” and “anything means anything.” As the song says in the first verse and the first refrain:

All my life, I’ve been treading paper in the space between the words.
And there implied is that I’m but another body for the birds,
carrion, absurd and accidental atoms – beating air,
carrying on; unwitting orphan of an unyielding despair.


If anything means anything,
There must be something meant for us to be,
a song that we were made to sing.
There must be so much more than we can see.

Are the words, the facts, on the pages of life all that there is? And if we read between the lines, pushing and pulling life to mean whatever we want it to mean, are we orphaned to despair its meaninglessness? The song ends confessing:

[There is] Something fathomless, deeper than our pride can dive;
numinous, higher than our hearts can rise,
transcendent, further than our thoughts can reach;
immanent, closer than the air we breathe.

The remainder of the album will contrast and confess the fathomless and numinous, the transcendent and immanent, seeking them out from in between the lines and making them the words on the page.






Michael Michael (16 Posts)

I am a Ph.D. student at Trinity College Bristol. These blog posts contain some of my incomplete thoughts on political theology featuring less footnotes and more exclamation marks.

1 Comment To Challenge and Confess, “Treading Paper” (Part 1 of ?)

  1. JoshJosh

    I really enjoy how you’re taking these songs/albums and illuminating them with the gospel. Thanks, brother


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