Friday, December 10, 2004

Describing some Threads: Lutheran Pietism and Goth

This might be a good time for a little description of some of the properties of a few threads that form the warp of this tapestry.
First would be to unpack Lutheran Pietist Goth. There is also monasticism and mysticism but I think they will wait for another post.
What follows are brief attempts to give some account of these threads and not intended by any means to be exhaustive.
Lutheran Pietist:
I have posted on this briefly elsewhere on this blog. But let me expand. Lutheran Pietism emerges out of the Lutheran Churches in Europe as Lutheran orthodoxy so emphasized justification by faith that there was in fact a disconnect between confessed belief and the actions and life of the Lutheran believer. The orthodox Lutheran's tended not to make the connection between being pronounced justified by God through faith and being "made a new creation." The emphasis on this "new birth" or Second birth spoken of by Christ in the Gospel of John the third chapter is the counter balance to the Lutheran teaching of justification by faith. This is Lutheran because it does not deny justification by faith and finds itself working within the Lutheran church and teachings that originated with Luther (as opposed to Calvin or Zwingli or the Anabaptists). My particular strain of Lutheran Pietism did not remain within the Lutheran Churches though we did remain and are still influenced by Luther's theology. The Lutheran Pietist denomination I am part of is the Evangelical Covenant Church. Up and until the past fifty years our confirmation materials were Luther's catechism. The denomination emerged out of the Lutheran Pietist movement in Sweden surrounding the work of the pietists C.O. Rosenius and P.P. Waldenström and their publication Pietisten was read by most early Covenanters.
Goth or Gothic:
Not the time period nor the Teutonic tribe (though I am German and Swedish), but the popular rock subculture. This is an easily misunderstood group in part because it is difficult to define what Goth is: is it a musical style, a dress code, an aesthetic, a club culture, a philosophy, or way of life? Is it all of these? There is music that can be called Gothic, its themes tend to be mythical and focused on darker themes, like death: Such bands as the Cure, Depeeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, Dead Can Dance, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party, Clan of Xymox all could be called Goth and yet their sounds are also very different. Many of the earlier Goth bands were first associated with Punk. My own sense of Goth is that it is a subset of Punk, and my own articulation of Goth has a Punk edge. However, most Goths I know love David Bowie whose music is not stylistically Goth. Goth certainly is expressed in a particular dress; the basis of all Goth dress is (per the stereo type) black. However, a bit of color appropriately worn or if you are confident in your Gothic credentials white is not unheard of. But the style of dress spans medieval and Victorian to punk and fetish (leather/PVC/latex, chains and buckles and belts). Certainly Goth's gather generally at Goth clubs or Goth nights at clubs. It is for many a way of life: the music the dress the clubbing form an identity that one attempts to keep across social situations (to the degree that this is possible and keep a job, a difficult task depending on what particular style of Goth dress you gravitate towards). For myself being Goth has to do with aesthetics: it is the love of beauty and the alternative expressions of Beauty and dance that has always drawn me to the Goth scene. The ability to emphasize the darker more melancholic tones of human existence, the celebration rather than the avoidance of death. Though I bring to this the view of one who serves the one who overcame death by death, and do not enter into the vamperic and ocultic aspects of the Goth scene. I take a particularly Christian approach to these: more Bram Stoker's theistic Christic universe than Anne Rice's disordered hopeless atheistic but magical world. I find though, as this description might indicate, difficult to define "Goth". I can paint you a picture give you broad outlines but pin Goth down is really difficult. It is and it isn't that list I began this description with.
Do feel free to ask for further explanation and/or description. Also, to ask how this all weaves together, though that is in part what this blog is about.