Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why I like Marilyn Manson and don't like the Liturgy

(Note to reader, I use videos in this post that you can chose to look at and listen to or not. They may be offensive to some, or just puzzeling or seem like a waste of time, there are several of them. However some of my point may be lost if they are skipped over.)
Something people often can't figure out about me is that I identify as Goth (with a nod to Punk): dress the part go to dance clubs etc, but I have no desire to see a Rock band let alone a a worship band in a Christian worship service. This goes along with believing that I like icons and the liturgy and chant etc. They have trouble putting together these two tastes, or likes. Here's the shocker, I don't like those things. I don't enjoy listening to chant, oh my is it boring to listen to! Now I like what Delerium does with chant. Wow, that is amazing- But don't you dare think you can do what Delerium does in a Christian worship service.

Here is a sampling of what I really like- its punk its goth, its anarchy, it all proclaims that the world is at its end, that everything is simulacrum and shifting. Dance, mosh, point out that everything that claims to have lasting importance will crumble to dust in the end. Ya, that's why I like Marilyn Manson.

Marilyn Manson - "Rock is Dead"
And the Clash

White Riot
And a raw live version to get a sense of the anarchy-

"White Riot", Live (1978 Victoria Park London)
And Sisters of Mercy

"Temple of Love" (You must listen for the last line it turns the whole song on its head in a way)
You may want to skip the Sisters of mercy song below, its a long song, but what a song-

"This Corrosion"
And there is Bauhaus

"She's in Parties"
And to conclude this little survey Clan of Xymox

"A Day".

But really though there may be truth in this, it is also unintelligible without the Church. The truth that the world is at its end, that all is shifting that those things that stand up and ask our ultimate allegiance in fact are not owed it, can only be the Truth if there is the Church. Only, if there is a Christ, If God came to Earth as a human and that reality set in motion is present in and through the Church. The Church primarily forms its members in this new reality in its worship, hearing of Scriptures prayers, hymns and Eucharist. These things are not about my taste or likes and dislikes. Had I not be raised in Church, raised to believe that church and worship does not exist to make me feel good or a certain way, but exist to forme us and conform us to that new reality through our worship of God, ie. through the sacrifice of thanksgiving, I would have little use for the liturgy. As the sample of what I do like (and you can get a sense of the type of Goth I am) I think that may be obvious that I don't gravitate to the traditional. In fact one might expect from what I like that I would be a proponent for the contemporary innovations that seem to multiply and spread in the US and other parts of the world.

But what is missing from this account thus far is why I am in fact drawn to these forms of Rock-n-Roll and "popular culture". What is missing is that I was baptized as an infant and have been raised and remained in the Church. For nearly 38 years the reality I have known is one that is of eternal life and of the age to come and not of this world that is passing away. By the Grace of God, I have known the reality which is found in the Church. But the death Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, and Pentecost have had their effect on the "World": The news has gotten around that what we see around us while much of it good and true is not the ultimate reality. Though few seem to accept what that ultimate reality is, and certainly I am not saying that the above artists know the Truth in this sense, but they have seen an important truth. So I bring to Punk and Goth, a hope that sees through to the other side of this music that dances in glee anger and desperation at the end of the world. But this music, this scene, is also part of that world that is simulacrum and passing away. To tie the Church's worship to this or that style of the world, of that which is passing away is to misunderstand the Truth of the Church, to not see that we are already tasting eternal life, that we as members of the Body of Christ already "know" what is beyond, because it is here. The age that is passing away and the age to come are overlapping, we don't have to wait till we die to taste and see. But it is certain that the more we attempt to cloth are selves in that which is going to pass away the more we will be blind to who we truly are.

BTW to further bring home the point about taste and likes. Punk and Goth are not the only styles of music that can express that we are at the end of the world, and poke holes in that which demands our allegiance, without in truth being owed it, Hip-Hop and Rap often do this as well. Life at the end of the world. I will give one example here, it is the first rap album and I remember, by NWA Straight Outa Compton, because I am Goth and this is a Goth blog, and I don't like Hip-Hop enough to sift through possible videos to give you more examples. But here it is-

The truths found here are partial at best. I don't like Rap and Hip-Hop, I can appreciate it, but I have never bought a Hip-hop album. Yet I would say it is saying much the same thing as Punk and Goth bands above.
I want to say there is truth here, and yet these depictions what the music (even without the lyrics) conveys is only part of the truth. If we want to see beyond this we don't simply appropriate this or that form, rather we say the Church is a particular thing and there are things that are appropriate to what it is and things that are not appropriate to what it is. This judgment should have little if anything to do with taste and our likes and dislikes.

So yes, the liturgy, chant and hymns and icons feed me, because they form me, and they tell me what is beyond this world that is passing away, they allow me to taste and see. They all tell me who I am as a member of the Body of Christ, they tell me who and what the Church is. These things remind me that the Church and I as a member of the church am not of this world but of the world to come. With this awareness I then can go into the world and dance for joy at the end of the world. And if people ask me how, I can say because I know and live in the world that is to come. If We don't try to ape what is passing away then I can say come and see why I dance with you at the end of the world but do so with hope. I like Goth and Punk, but I am Christs and I live in the Church and its liturgy and hymns. And in this there simply is no room for the question of Taste, and what I like is irrelevant.

If you are from a denomination where worship was some hymns a scripture reading and a sermon may not have a good reference point. When I speak of Christian worship and liturgy I am speaking of something much more than "old hymns" or good preaching, or even a standard American Protestant service before the Liturgical reclamation and reform of the last several decades. I am speaking of that worship that is centered on the eucharist(communion).